Lip dub: A Classroom and School Approach

After reading the earlier #ETMOOC post “Lip dub: I’m havin’ a good time!” you are definitely considering exploring this innovative and engaging activity with your class. However, your enthusiasm becomes somewhat dampened when you learn more about the two lip dub innovators, Alec Couros and Dean Shareski. When you discover that Alec is a professor, currently on sabbatical, from the Faculty of Education in Regina and Dean was a learning consultant for the Prairie South School Division in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, you say to yourself … “Well if I didn’t have a full-time job with a classroom of 32 needy students, I, too, could play around with technology and have fun creating lip dubs.”

Don’t give up on this activity just yet. True, Alec and Dean did an amazing job of encouraging and facilitating the collection of lip dub video clips from individuals in different geographical locations. However, I plan to demonstrate how much easier it is for a regular classroom teacher to create a lib dub activity with her/his classroom than the effort required to produce the more complex #ETMOOC lip dub.

Singing with Microphone

On November 8, 2012, I attended a Manitoba Association for Computing Educators (ManACE) Technology Information Night (TIN). I invested $5.00 to offset my supper costs and was rewarded with three different 30-minute classroom-based, professional development sessions shared by Manitoba educators. The one learning opportunity that really resonated with me was presented by Christin Mackay, a Grade 4/5 teacher from Stevenson-Britannia School. In her presentation, “Creativity & Collaboration – Making Video Mashups”, Christin showed her engaging lip dub video that she and her 26 students created. Not only was her class’ lip dup video inspiring, Christin’s “behind the scenes” strategies in this classroom-based collaborative effort, were equally important. To help other classroom teachers, I’ll share Christin’s week-long lip dub activity tips below:

  • First, she selected a Sesame Street song which was popular with her students. The “What I Am” YouTube video, in which “” from “The Black Eyes Peas” sings with the various Sesame Street characters, was played for the class. This would become the audio track for the students’ collaborative lip dub video.
  • Lyrics for the song were prepared. For example, the YouTube video “What I am by – Lyrics (Sesame Street)” is a good resource.
  • Lyrics were displayed on a screen.
  • The song was played in class while the students viewed the lyrics and sang along together.
  • Students learned the song and were invited to sing along with a partner.
  • A student, who was reluctant to sing, was accommodated by allowing him to demonstrate his “air drum” technique.
  • Six computers were used on the day of the actual video recording.
  • Christin stressed that it is very important that the “frame per second” ratio is set to the same value on all computers being used.
  • The camera was positioned behind the lyric display screen.
  • Students, in pairs, came up to sing the whole song which was captured as a video clip.
  • After the 13 student-pair songs were recorded, Christin selected an “extended” video clip which best displayed the actions of each pair of students. Each “extended” video clip contained extra frames preceding and following the complete line of the song.
  • During the compilation process, it is important to ensure that every line of the complete song is represented by a student-pair “extended” video clip.
  • The individual audio tracks were removed from each student-pair “extended” video clip.
  • Although other movie-making applications would work, iMovie was used to edit and arrange the clips into the lip dub video.
  • Assemble all 13 “extended silent clips” into the new lip dub video timeline in the appropriate order.
  • Add the “What I Am” audio track to the video project.
  • Trim and “tweak” each of the 13 “extended silent clips” so that each video clip synchronized best with the particular “What I Am” audio track segment.
  • Add a title and credits to the video and save the resulting movie with a backup.
  • Share the final lip dub with students and celebrate. However, in order to protect the privacy of your students, do not transfer this lip dub video creation to an Internet video sharing service like YouTube or Vimeo unless you have appropriate parental approval.

Christin’s tips and strategies helped me better understand the lip dub process from a teacher’s point of view. Although there exist lip dub videos created by older students and adults, Christin shared important steps that demonstrate how younger elementary students can also be engaged in this fun, collaborative, learning adventure.

When comparing Christin’s classroom lip dub with Alec’s more ambitious #ETMOOC project, there are several factors which will appeal to those who might consider creating a class or school lip dub. Some of these important differences include:

  • Christin did not need to formally pool her students and engage a survey service to rate which songs were most popular with her students.
  • Her students sang the entire song so Christin had much more freedom in selecting a video segment that best showcased each student-pair. In addition, she had much more latitude in trimming video clips since each student-pair sang the entire song rather than the more restrictive single line.
  • Classroom or school lip dub activities have much more consistency with regard to video capture hardware and software. Alec had no control over the application or device used to capture the individual participants’ video clip. Nor did he have control over the video image size, resolution, or portrait or landscape formats. Christin, on the other hand, could ensure that all student-pair’ videos were captured in a consistent landscape format avoiding the dreaded “Vertical Video Syndrome” as demonstrated in this comical Public Service Announcement (PSA).
  • To accommodate collecting individual video clips (from Smart phones or web cameras on Macintosh and Windows-based computers), Alec had to set up a process for participants, from around the world, to send video files to him and the video editor. On the other hand, classroom teachers need only save consistently formatted student videos to a local computer or server.
  • With consistent video format, resolution, and layout, the classroom/school video editor need only extract an “extended” video clip showcasing each pair of students and save them in lyrical line order.
  • Based on the large number of video file contributions, Alec had to develop a file-naming convention so that each #ETMOOC video clip could be easily matched with the particular line of song lyrics. In Christin’s case, she did not need to establish a rigid file naming convention because she was working with a more manageable number of video files. Her main concern was to make certain that all student-pair video clips represented all the lyrics and music in the original song.
  • Undoubtedly the #ETMOOC video editor had to manipulate a large number of video clips in a wide variety of file formats, resolutions and layout sizes. Compiling and editing such diverse raw video clips required a highly talented video editor familiar with the advanced capabilities of a fairly powerful video editing tool like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro or Pinnacle Studio. On the other hand, it would be possible for a classroom lip dub to be easily edited and arranged on an iMovie or Windows Movie Maker-like applications with its more limited number of audio and video tracks.

As I was revising this post, I was delighted to receive an email from Paul Stewart – a Computer Technolgy teacher from Garden City Collegiate. Paul had just read my previous post entitled “Lip dub: I’m havin’ a good time!” and wanted to share with me the invigorating experience that his high school students had as they organized a school-wide lip dub. The following two videos were shot in “one take” and showcase how such a lip dub activity can enhance school spirit:

After viewing both of these videos, I was so impressed with the steadiness from the camera’s point of view. I emailed Paul and asked if the students used a tripod, on a moveable dolly, to capture the video. Paul indicated that in the 2011 lip dub the camera was hand-held by a student for the total duration of the “one-take” lip dub. However in the 2012 lip dub video, students made a home-made steadicam to help stabilize the shots. Paul even checked with the students to find out that they built the steadicam after watching the instructional YouTube video entitled  “Awesome Directors Project : $15 DIY steadicamin 15 minutes!”. This “do it yourself” project is one that students, who are engaged in making videos, might like to attempt. Undoubtedly the resulting steadicam device can be used to make more professional looking videos.

In closing, I will list a variety of different innovative lip dub YouTube videos to motivate students and their teachers:

I trust that the information presented by both Christin and Paul will help motivate you to engage the students in your classroom or school to demonstrate their creativity through a lip dub activity. Should you become engaged in your own lip dub learning adventure, I encourage you “pay forward” your tips, resources, and experiences by leaving comments at the end of this post to help motivate and encourage other students and educators.

Take care & keep smiling 🙂

Credits: – Flickr – Creative Commons image “singing” by Anthony Kelly

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6 Responses to Lip dub: A Classroom and School Approach

  1. Brian, thanks for the comprehensive list of great lip dubs. I certainly could have used the steadicam assistance when we did our lip dub last spring. We did ours all in one take going backwards and then reversed the video and couldn’t really use a dolly, which would have helped greatly, because of the places the students wanted to go. In addition, our cameraman was sick on the day we filmed, and we had to use a substitute. My advice, we planned our route based on how long the song was, only to slow the video down after being reversed so that the viewer could see all of the ‘stunts’ easier. This was a mistake because we ran out of song and had to replay it to finish out the video. Still a great experience. We modeled ours after the Shorewood Lip Dub. Thanks, again!

  2. admin says:

    Hi Debbie … Thanks for sharing your practical tips for creating a student lip dub. I must admit that I would never have thought about shooting the video backwards. Following up on your advice, I searched and found these instructive variations of the Shorewood High School lip dub:

    However, from a technical point of view, I still cannot understand the benefits derived from shooting the lip dub in reverse. The “Seattle Pi” blog suggests that this “reverse shoot” lip dub was inspired by “a backward music video directed by one of their heroes — Spike Jonze”. However, I’m still wondering if the reverse video process was just a method to “raise the bar” and challenge their Shorecrest High School rivals or if there is, indeed, a practical benefit to this process. Perhaps some of our readers can answer this question.

    In researching this concern, I found the following two resource “Five Steps To Shoot A Perfect Lipdub” and “How To Make A Great Lip Dub Video” and “which may be of a useful to our readers.

    Take care & keep smiling 🙂 Brian

  3. Jen Servais says:

    Can you explain the copyright issue involved with this? Our school would like to do a lipdub but am concerned about copyright infringement.

  4. admin says:

    Jen … I’m glad that you raised this very important question. I am a retired educator … not a lawyer, so I had to search to see if there was a definitive answer regarding lip dub copyright issues. Obviously, if one is to engage students in such an activity, it would be wise to keep the resulting video for only “in school” showing rather than upload it to any video display service such as YouTube or Vimeo. Furthermore, it seems that each country has its own copyright rules and may deem “fair use” differently, so rules in Canada may differ from the United States or Great Britain.

    Recently, I have participated in two different Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) at the university level. In these educational forums, students are encouraged to remix and enhance copyrighted media as part of the “fair use” creative process. I’m sure that the instructors believe, like Larry Lessig’s TED Talk, that there are certain “Laws that choke creativity”.

    To help readers decide on how to best proceed with lip dubs, I share the following references:

    Should you choose to explore the lip dub process with your students, make sure you take advantage of this “teachable moment” to discuss the copyright issues and ramifications.

    I hope that other readers will take time to share a comment on how they deal with lip dub copyright in their classes and schools.

    Take care & keep smiling 🙂 Brian

  5. Valerie Roy says:

    Thanks for the great source of information. I’ve done such a project last year 2013. I used VideoPad Editor. It’s costly, but pretty simple to use and it offers good possibilities. I was willing to motivate my students with lipdub again, but was looking for tricks to make it simpler and not so time consuming. Thanks for all the details on how to pair students and have them do their line with the aligned camera. It’s great! I’ll be writing more when I realize my project. Thanks again for sharing your experience and keeping all the good links. They’re a wonderful source of info and …. motivation! Valérie

  6. admin says:

    Valérie … You have no idea how motivating your comment was! I appreciate you taking time to share ideas including the Video Pad Editor that you used with your class. I maintain that educators often can learn so much more by exploring the comments following a post.

    I encourage you and your colleagues to use this comment area to share additional, practical, classroom tips and links to help others with the educational lip dub process.

    Take care & keep smiling 🙂 Brian

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