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During a recent discussion with Dr Gershon, these points about the pedagogy of television production came across. Dr G and I were discussing the ideas of teaching the process of production as an extremely important matter to the students. There really are no absolutely wrong ways of producing television, but there are inefficient ways of producing. We as educators have to keep this in mind while we are teaching students as the students are here in a higher education scenario to gain our knowledge. The biggest way to make sure we keep this in mind is to continually think about the audience. While teaching process, the outcome is also extremely important.

For example, while writing a novel, the dozens of rewrites are never known to the reader. While sculpting, the multiple additions of clay are never known to viewer. While making television, the corrections and reframing of shots are never obvious to the audience. We have to guide our students, but not crush their unique creativity.

(When I’m teaching the television bootcamp course here, if the student makes an error because they did not follow the director’s command, I judge whether the audience realized the mistake. If the audience could not tell because the student recovered, a smaller amount of points are taken off.)

This is an excellent time to teach this subject. Over on the left, in the links, you can see the article that states that people are watching more tv than ever. With dozens of new channels on broadcast and hundreds of new web shows, our students have a wide world to choose from.

When it comes to short form production, we are listening to our students and getting advice from them. To quote my personal hero on the subject, Kirk Mastin from University of Washington on his website:

Todays’ media consumers value authenticity, brevity and excellent storytelling over extravagant production values and special effects.

The rise of YouTube, viral videos, and video podcasts are a testament to the rise of a new type of consumer: The Digital Native.

The students know we know the most important parts of television production and the fundamentals based on Zettl and McLuhan, but now, in this new world where the “Digital Native” is our student, we have the responsibility of listening to our students more than ever. While they may have the knowledge of the new trends, we have to know we are coming across most likely the biggest Renaissance of the field. Television, a close-up medium, was originally made for the small screen. It required high quality production and authenticity. Now, the screen is smaller and the distraction larger.

Let’s listen AND teach. Higher education is still necessary for learning the crafts of quality. To quote my friend George Nicholas, a cinematographer:

New technology is not an excuse for poor craftsmanship.

But the embrace of new tools and outlets and knowledge and trust that all mediums will co-exist, will continue to strengthen not only ourselves, the educator, but our students.


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December 2008
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