Archive for the 'teaching' Category

Millions of Markets

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

This is an update to a previous note on some video work I recently finished for the Center for Transportation and Logistics at MIT. The videos are now available in the FutureFreightFlows YouTube channel. I chose Millions of Markets to be featured in this post because it offers an interesting vision at the gateway of the Technological Singularity. Regardless of the questionable veracity of its claims, the so called Technological Singularity is a fun thing to fantasize about. I really can’t wait to be synthesized, augmented, cloned, and uploaded.

Here is the official explanation of the project, as found in the FutureFreightFlows YouTube channel:

This video is one of four fictional newscasts to be aired on 2 November 2037. They are all part of the Future Freight Flows project run at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) for the National Academies. Four separate future scenarios were developed over the course of a year through a series of focused expert panel sessions, practitioner acid testing, and industry wide surveys. The key driving forces and critical uncertainties were identified and formed the basis of the underlying scenarios. While originally designed to be used for freight transportation planning, they can be employed for a wide variety of different planning purposes. To find out more, visit FutureFreightFlows at MITCTL or send email to future[at]mit[dot]edu.

Finally, here is a flickr group with photos from the shoot.

IAP – Teaching Animation

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Early this year I was offered the opportunity to teach animation over IAP by the MIT Student Art Association. IAP, or Independent Activities Period, is a special four week term at MIT that runs from the first week of January until the end of the month. The class would consist of three weekly sessions of three hours each, and I was required to start teaching right away.

Originally, I was asked to teach a software based 3D computer animation class, but I preferred to forget about computer software and approach animation from a more general perspective. I think learning animation is more exciting -and useful- than learning how to use a computer program. The most sophisticated animation software in history doesn’t help to become a good animator, but a basic set of animation skills can easily be applied across a broad number of mediums.

My first challenge was to find a way to remain entertaining for 3 whole hours. I summoned my favorite moments from Frank Espinosa’s teaching—here at MIT—and from when I studied animation at VFS, including a copy of the classic Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas.

Having talked about some basics and history of animation over the first session, I needed to outline some kind of program that could be run as a workshop over the remaining couple of sessions. My purpose was to help the students produce simple animations from scratch to completion over a 3 hour interval, and use the results to start a discussion on storytelling, timing, and animation.

After being introduced to Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind Protocol, where he describes a program for people to produce amateur movies over an amount of time similar to what I had in mind, I adapted his approach to design a number of animation recipes, hoping to help the students focus on a range simple enough to conceive a situation and animate it in a short amount of time.

In the end, Computers and digital cameras played an important role in facilitating a quick way to test and screen the animations, but the use of editing or animation software was avoided. I wanted motion to be controlled by adding and removing frames by hand, so that none of the thinking during the animation process could be delegated to the computer.

The following pictures are frames from a Stop-Motion animation created last Sunday by Vvva and Lezno PlaK using a tatami mat, a broomstick, a hand cut banana peel, a hand crafted paper robot, and a Motorola Razr cellphone camera to capture each frame. The recipe they followed required them to create a biped character, and think about a situation where the character would walk until an external force stopped it.

my new job

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Right after I graduated in June, my friend Jhonatan -the Telmex visiting scientist in the MIT Media Lab-, invited me to work on an idea that I found interesting for a number of reasons. He wanted to know if it made sense to combine a MIT mobile technology class based on real world projects with a group of student reporters from a film college to help the MIT students report and communicate their progress, as they develop solutions to the problems they face. “I think it makes sense”, I said, and we began talking about how to set up such a thing, later to be called “Reality Courseware” by Jhonatan himself. I spent the Summer putting together an internship program scheduled for deployment at MIT during the Fall.

On the one hand, I saw an opportunity to experiment with documentary video, education, vernacular perception of technology, MIT as a narrative, social feedback systems and distribution of cultural content from a very flexible perspective. On the other hand -and most importantly- I saw the potential to bring together a team of documentary filmmakers and a group of MIT students in a situation that could reveal unexpected truth to everyone involved. Three months after my initial meeting with Jhonatan, the class taught by him and his collaborators has an additional group of fourteen film and television students from Emerson College that are helping the MIT students communicate their ideas, share their dreams, broadcast their work ahd expand their horizons.

After I finished setting up the internship over the Summer, I am now playing the roles of Producer and Creative Advisor to help put together and distribute this content. What will be the result? Only time will tell. For now, I am finding the process of leading the film students and learning from them incredibly rewarding.

We decided to structure the class website as a journal. The instructors and advisors will update it all the time news and related material: 6.976 / MAS.965 / SP.716 – nextlab I: Designing Mobile Technologies for the Next Billion Users. In addition to this website, we will launch sites for each project, and the content generated by the film students will be regularly posted there, along with other relevant materials.

You can access each Project journal by following the links in this page.

Here are a few frames I grabbed from videos I’ve been shooting of the film students at work (you can see pictures of all of them in action in the nextlab flickr group).