From Page to Screen: Exploring Faiths through Video Production

Blog Contributed by Rev. Annie Elliott

Ashley McCaughan and Raymond Huang, two students in Annie Elliott’s World Religions class, explore the Shinto faith with the help of illustrations and accompanying voiceover.

Over the past year, I’ve learned that creating concise, informative, and engaging content requires a variety of skills and a tremendous amount of planning.  This summer, as I wrote the syllabus for my World Religions class, I reflected on both the knowledge and the abilities that I wanted my students to study over the course of the semester.  I cannot imagine a world where our students will communicate solely in writing in their future educational and professional lives, so I wanted to support their growth as creators of content.   Luckily, our students are excellent writers by the time they take this class as juniors and seniors, so I had no qualms about assigning my students the production of a short video rather than a research paper.  Their assignment was to create a 3-5 minute video about one of the faiths we were not able to study in-depth over the course of the semester and to share the video in class for the benefit of their classmates.  

Before they began their projects, I shared with the class the methods I had used to create some of our chapel videos, particularly the drawings that accompanied several Really Big Chapel homilies and one of my Little Chapel lessons last spring.  I suggested three methods of producing this type of content: filming oneself drawing on paper, utilizing the screen-recording feature while drawing on an iPad, or using one of the programs available online that facilitate the process using stock imagery.  These options allow for folks with different technological and artistic skills to try this method.  

Two of my students, Ashley and Raymond, collaborated on this video to fulfill their assignment.  Ashley recorded herself drawing on paper to complement the information shared via voiceover, and Raymond used an iPad to create drawings.  This February, many in our community watched the Chinese New Year video that Raymond developed with many of his fellow US students and his sister, Sophia.  I loved to see it!
If you’ve been wondering about the iPad method, please check out this video, in which I draw a May Day scene and show a bit of the process.  I use an iPencil and an app called Procreate to create the drawings, but there are lots of options.  I am happy to help if anyone would like to try this in the classroom!

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