Michaël Bourgatte

When video annotation supports audiovisual education

Paper Presentations IModels for training digital humanists in accessing and analyzing audiovisual collections

Since the 1990s, French authorities work to include audiovisual studies in school curricula(from 7 to 18 years old). It basically linked with the discovery of film heritage in cinema-houses and their analysis carried out by teachers in the classroom. Due to a lack of time, skills, methods and resources (training programs, online databases), educational teams have difficulties with the inclusion of video and movie analysis in their program. So, they generally stop the experience after the screening.

The project was reaffirmed and even strengthened in the context of the recent change of curricula (2015-2016), which is closely related to the rise of the Internet around the 2010s and the mass dissemination of audiovisual content. Moving pictures (UGC, audiovisual advertisements, video journalism, etc.) are increasingly present in our daily life and people –particularly new generations – have to develop a critical mind.

This audiovisual content represents more than 90% of the Internet traffic in France. Forecasts show that there will be a strong increase of web traffic this year: “In 2016 […] the amount of video data going through IP networks every three minutes will be equal to the whole film heritage of the 20th century” (SSF – my translation). This increase flow in both producing and viewing video content announce a clear cultural paradigm shift that is gradually switching us from a written society – as Jack Goody says – to a videographic one – following Lawrence Lessig.

This phenomenon questions the authorities and the educational stakeholders. To meet these needs, I was involved since 2010 in several projects either commissioned by the French government or initiated by research labs. The idea was to search for ways to train and support children and teenagers in understanding the meaning of moving images. This led me, for the last 6 years, to organize several workshops in grade schools and high schools from Paris with a group of Masters Degree students of the Sorbonne University following courses in audiovisual education.

Activities are based on the use of the open source video annotation software developed with the IRI (a research and innovative lab based in the Centre Pompidou): Lignes de Temps (which translates to “Timelines” in French). The goal is to give means to the learners to understand moving images and control their feelings in front of them through an annotative work: add comments or tags; capture movie shots; create mashups; explore screenwriting, filmmaking and editing. A set of functions available with this very software.

These experiences raise three questions. The first one focuses on leading people to master film grammar (what is a shot-reverse technique? What is the value and the role of a sequence-shot?). The second question concerns the relationship between the discovering of film heritage (an institutional goal carried by public authorities) and the future ability of learners to develop a critical mind against the (digital) media. The last point is linked with the use of digital technologies and their key role for teaching and learning.