Remix #4: Video

Hamlet / Puddle of Mudd Pop-Up Video

For my final remix project, I used a music video to a song I use when I teach Hamlet by William Shakespeare.  In the past I have brought in the songs “Lithium” by Nirvana and “Psycho” by Puddle of Mudd to use as possible connections to Hamlet’s precarious mental state.  Both of these song lyrics have been useful in helping students grasp the complex mental processes, and possible mental illness, of this complex character.  In addition, I allow students to cite song lyrics along with critical articles and movie scenes from a number of different versions of the play to achieve a thorough synthesis of secondary sources for the research paper they write at the conclusion of the unit.  Starting with the songs is a fun and low stress way to introduce the skill of multi-textual synthesis used when writing a literary analysis research paper.

The reason I opted for the Puddle of Mudd song is because I like the video better and it is more recent and therefore more identifiable for the students.  Also, I am a horror movie buff, and I love how the director integrates the classic horror movie allusions with a tongue-in-cheek tone.  Once I decided on the video, I simply copied it over to Google Popcorn Maker, and then poked around with it a bit.  Here are the steps I followed in creating my remix:

  1. I located the video on YouTube doing a simple search for the song title.
  2. After reading up on several possible video editing programs, I decided I liked Google Popcorn Maker (http://popcorn.maker.org) best after watching a TED video demonstrating the program.  I cut and pasted the URL for the YouTube video onto the site and created a project.
  3. Using the “pop-up” function, I dropped in leading questions, prompts, facts about the play, and other Hamlet-related content at appropriate points in the video, following vocal cues from the lyrics whenever possible.  By double-clicking on the proper “event” tag, I was able to enter any text I wanted in the pop-up bubble and then by hitting the “enter” button, the text was dropped into the video file.
  4. In addition to occasional pop-ups, I also entered several images (also retrieved from Google Images) by saving the image to my desktop and then dragging it into the image box provided under the “image” event tab.  Once the image was imported, I experimented with the size and placement of the image over the video.  Again, I attempted to choose images that reflected either the lyric content or the pop-up messages I had inserted.
  5.  Next, I experimented with the Wikipedia event tab by inserting links to definitions of terms used in the song that relate to Hamlet’s mental state at various stages throughout the play.  By inserting the link, the Wikipedia entry is displayed as a layer on top of the video.  Once again, I did some strategic movement, resizing, and placement of the display.
  6. Finally, I inserted a text box over the fade out of the video at the very end, quoting Hamlet’s last words on earth.  After one final posing of the ultimate question of the play – Is Hamlet insane? – I liked the idea of ending with “The rest is silence” because it implies that no answer is forthcoming in this lifetime.

I really enjoyed creating this video project and I will be using it in the next week as I start Hamlet with my AP Literature class.  Although I have used the song lyrics alone in the past, I look forward to incorporating a multi-modal approach to make the text-to-text connection.  Students will be more engaged through the combination of visual and aural mediums, and the depth of analysis will be greater as students grapple with the questions pertaining to the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia prior to the death of King Hamlet.  I anticipate a great deal of discussion to be generated by the video.

As much as I enjoyed making the video, I did struggle with making the images overlay cleanly on the video.  The edges bothered me because they made the images seem to contrived and detached.  Looking back, I could have taken the extra steps of importing the images into http://pixlr.com and rounding the edges of the images to make them blend more cleanly into the video.  This is something I will definitely experiment with in the future.  Also, I am not a very visually creative person, so it is difficult for me to make artistic decisions about where the overlay images should be placed over the video.  This is not something I anticipate mastering over the course of a semester, but I will continue experimenting with all of the video editing programs I have learned about.

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About dmart67

David is a high school English teacher and girls lacrosse coach in Marietta. He is married and has two children
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