Thursday, 31 January 2008

Drama project tools

Celtx is a nice free project work tool that can help give real shape to your class projects and make for much greater involvement and collaboration between students. It's a fee piece of software designed for creating media type projects such as movies, advertisements, screen plays, theatre plays etc.
Once you've downloaded and installed the software, you choose what kind of project you want to create and then complete a series of templates which help you to outline various scenes, describe characters and assign roles, create story boards, index the different scenes and move the around. You can even upload images and videos of various parts or the project.

What's also really nice is that you can upload the work to the Celtx centre server and work collaboratively with a group of people online and when you have finished you can even publish your work for other users of the software / site to critique.

How to use this with students
When ever I've tried to do drama, video or machinima projects with students, it's often been a bit of a disappointment, they end up producing something that isn't very good or well thought out and they don't really produce much language along the way. With a tool like this you could structure the whole of your project and have them involved the whole time, so that they work together towards the actual project performance over a number of lessons.

There are some useful example projects which are downloaded with the software too and examining one of these could also form the basis of a lesson

A good way to get students into using this might be to take an existing short story and analyse it and input the information from the story into the software to turn it into a play or movie.
There are some nice tips here on common grammar and other mistakes when writing a screen play.

What I liked about it
  • It's free and a reasonably small download
  • It can be used by groups working collaboratively online
  • It can help to give real shape and a professional feel to creative / drama projects
  • You can download versions for MAC as well as PC and in quite a few different languages
  • It's nice to be able to share projects and look at other people's projects on the user community
  • It's pretty simple to use
  • There are some online tutorials to help you understand the software, though they tend to be a bit long and wordy.

What I wasn't so sure about
  • Project work can be quite an undertaking for a teacher and a class and involve loads of planning and commitment. You would need a good bit of practice with the software to make sure you are comfortable with it before launching into a project.

If you are already running drama type projects and want to get students more involved in the creative process and working on their own original projects, then I think this is a really useful professional level tool.

It would also work really well in conjunction with Moviestorm if you were thinking of launching into a Machinima project and would help you and your students to keep track of the work you do within the movie creation software.

I've actually downloaded this myself and started using it with some of my own creative media projects, so I'll let you know how I get on.

Hope you find it useful

Best
Nik

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