Teaching Tools

Equipment in the Classroom

Equipment in the Classroom

Posted by: San Francisco Film Society

Working with Equipment

Bringing moviemaking equipment into your classroom is a great way to get students excited about the lesson, but it can also be a recipe for chaos. Establish a protocol for accessing and using the equipment and set usage guidelines before beginning your production lesson. Regardless of the type of equipment you are using and the dynamics in your classroom, students should have a good sense of how the equipment works and how they will use each piece of gear.
A good way to encourage accountability when working with equipment is to bring students into the planning process. Have them make a checklist of the equipment needed. Identify which cameras, microphones, sound recorders, computers, and software you will be using as a class and what students should keep in mind when operating each device. Encourage them to think through the details—tapes, data cards, batteries, and camera cases are also part of the equipment inventory. Will students be sharing gear? Make a plan and identify roles (see Roles in Film Productions). It’s a good idea to introduce the gear in a controlled environment, before the creative demands of production compete for students’ attention.
Be prepared to troubleshoot. In advance of your production day, remind students that technical malfunctions are part of every filmmaking process, and establish a protocol for equipment failure. It’s part of the process, so try to use equipment failures as a teaching moment. Be prepared to calm students and to encourage them to be patient while you work together to solve the problem. A malfunction can be especially frustrating in the classroom, but the fix is almost always simple. Remember to:
  1. Restart Equipment
  2. Check settings
  3. Check batteries
  4. Check cables and connections
Remind students that technical problems occur on even the most sophisticated film sets and that learning how to troubleshoot and adapt is part of learning to be a filmmaker.

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