How remixing gave me my creative wings

This week’s assignment was to watch a series of informational videos about copyright issues. This is a very difficult subject with a lot of grey areas, so while a part of me wishes that I was learning this in month 1 of this EMDT (Educational Media Design and Technology) program, in month 11, I see that I now have a bigger capacity for understanding the complexities of the copyright law.

Flickr photo by hey mr glen

The video that stood out to me the most was Larry Lessig’s TED Talk about Remix Culture.  It reminded me of a Christmas gift back in 2001 that changed my life. It wasn’t even a gift given to me. It was an iMac G4 that my dad bought for my mom. Even though my mom loved the gift, my brother and I were so excited to rip the box open and explore all the new possibilities of this beautiful, pristine white machine. My brother and I spent Christmas day playing around, chatting online, and downloading music.

When I woke up the next day, I could tell that my brother was excited and proud about something because he had called the whole family down to the computer to watch something that he created in iMovie. As soon as we gathered around, he pressed play. All of a sudden we heard the piano intro to Natalie Cole’s This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) with a title screen that read: Culang Family Christmas 2001. We swayed to the rhythm of the upbeat song and watched in awe as all of our family pictures from 2 nights ago appeared in a slide show. I remember thinking that it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen! Me being the competitive person that I am, finished watching with the thought that I could do what he did, but even better.

My 1st grade student and his artwork (2005)
Photo by Genevieve Pacada

At that time I had just graduated college and I was student teaching in a 1st grade class in Dublin, CA. Just a few months earlier, while I was volunteering in my mom’s 1st grade classroom, I created this art project based off of the picture book What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele, and illustrated by Ashley Bryan. I gave each student a line of the famous song, originally by Louis Armstrong, and I taught them their line in sign language. After they learned their parts, we would practice singing the song together, while each student took turns signing their line. Once we mastered the song, I had them paint a picture of their line based on the picture book and the artwork was displayed around the room.

After watching the slideshow that my brother put together in iMovie, I knew that I wanted to do the What a Wonderful World project with the 1st grade class that I was student teaching in, but this time I wanted to put it all together creatively into an iMovie project. I used Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World song along with pictures of each student signing their line with a transition that led to a snapshot of their artwork.

When I completed the project, I was so proud of my work and the parents all thanked me for burning a copy of it onto a DVD and giving it as an end of the year gift to each of the students. I never uploaded any videos to YouTube, but there are copies of my work out there.

I never got permission to use the song What a Wonderful World, nor did I get permission to  use the picture book as inspiration for my student’s artwork. It was used for educational purposes and I did not make any money off of it. Was I wrong for creating this project with my classes?

After creating this project, I became interested in doing more with iMovie and I feel like my creativity started to blossom from that point on. Now, I feel like possibilities are endless for me and that’s exactly what I want for my students. I want them to be fearless in trying new things, not afraid to let their imaginations take flight. It’s too bad that copyright laws limit what we can do, but I am thankful that creative commons exists.


4 thoughts on “How remixing gave me my creative wings

  1. I love your Christmas memory! When I got my first iMac I did the exact same thing. I made slideshows of everything. From birthday parties to family events to random pictures I found. Apple programs like iMovie and iPhoto make it really easy to look like you know what you are doing!

    As for your class project, I have done something very similar. I had my middle school students create a music video to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “ Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” medley in PowerPoint using images they found off the Internet. Using custom animations and recorded timings they were able to make the images appear to the appropriate lyrics in the song. The project was a big hit and a lot of the students wanted to share their work with their parents, something you don’t see many middle schoolers eager to do. I never asked for permission to use the song. To be honest, it didn’t bother me and I would probably do it again. I understand the need to give credit where credit is due, but when does that need become inhibitive and suppressive to the furtherance of society as a whole, both personally and corporately?

    • I love how Apple makes everything so user friendly. That is the reason that I will always be an Apple person. I think that it’s awesome that you have really similar memories and I really have to think that it was truly meant to be that we are in this EMDT program together. We were lucky to have that experience of playing around with Apple computers when we were younger and look how much technology has allowed our creativity to shine through. Kids now a days are fearless and many of them are coming up with some amazing creations at a really young age. They’re not thinking about copyright laws, because if they all did, they might not be creating at all.

  2. Pingback: Week 1 Comment Post: Gena Pacada « oddnumb3r5only

  3. Wonderful story about the endless possibilities for creativity and how out of step our laws are with what we should legitimately be able to do. Thanks for sharing your story.

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