Daniel Wagner

Entertainment Lab for the Very Small Screen (ELVSS)

The ELVSS project challenged film students to adapt the traditional storytelling conventions they’re learning to emerging creation and delivery platforms.

25 Students in the Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland were lent iPhones to shoot and iPads to edit material, and created an interweaving series of very short films, for optimum delivery on mobiles.

Called to question in the teaching are new considerations for creating and packaging narrative. How might story structure be adapted to best suit the realities of the new delivery media? What effect do video compression and smaller screens have on our choices related to Shot Size, Framing, Camera and Actor Movement, Editing, etc? What are the sonic possibilities and how can we further them to create richer environments? What are the potentials for interactivity (such as QR codes and user-enabled hotspots)?

By the end of the 11-week course, they produced five mobisodes, each of which connect to one another at one or two points. Along the way, they’ve been guided to grapple with creating their own macro and micro working and learning structures and have learned to negotiate between creative teams. The learning that occurs is not data transferred from a lecturer’s head to the students’, but is an experiential journey in an unfolding idiom where the outcome is both unfixed and unknown at the beginning of the process. It is the use and recognition of the potentials of the tools that become the learning content itself.

Students in a contemporary best-practice film school, forging a new pathway, are being challenged to apply traditional cinematic methods and sensibilities to newly-developing concepts and new media tools.

Dan has been working in various aspects of the entertainment industry for quite awhile now. In the mid 70’s, he was part of an experiment in social-change-focussed television in Los Angeles, serving on the programming staff and also on the camera crew in their live-TV studio. Moving to San Francisco in 1980, Dan became a segment producer for a local TV programme, also directing music videos for some influential left-field bands of the day. Since 2005, he’s been a Lecturer at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. He teaches both Cinematography and Emerging Technologies and is the E-Learning Community Coordinator for the Department of Performing and Screen Arts at Unitec.