Wednesday, February 14, 2018

GEG Student Film Festival @ Google Chicago

At the end of January, the 2nd Annual GEG (Google Education Group) Student Film Festival awards were held in Chicago, IL at Google Headquarters. It was a great experience! This event honors the film and storytelling efforts of student groups ranging from elementary through high school levels. Each year there is a theme. This year’s theme was In Another’s Shoes.

Winning entries ranged from literal interpretations - What would happen if you put on another person’s shoes and became them? - to illustrating empathy through multiple perspectives, and even documentary-style interviews of individuals who optimistically persevere through circumstances others would find difficult. Topics covered included friendship, bullying, female athletes, and physical and mental disabilities. One elementary group even featured some digital animation!

In addition to screening the winning films, students, teachers, and families were treated to some demonstrations and speakers from a variety of filmmaking areas: improv, sound effects, digital effects, podcasting (via Nate Butkus’ The Show about Science), and even a couple of YouTube entrepreneurs:Mitchell Brown and Scotty Vrablik, creators of Clean Minecraft Videos.

I was given the opportunity to represent WeVideo and talk about some of my favorite features, so of course I chose GREEN SCREEN! In this presentation, I gave a few ideas for how to take the tool and create different effects with it (like supersizing something that would otherwise be very small, or using green screen as a tool to uncover and reveal parts of the screen). I want students to feel free to experiment with the technology and try out ideas, no matter how weird or zany it may seem at first. Well, then again, I’m a big fan of all things weird and zany, so…

via David Chan on Twitter

I had never been to the Google Headquarters in Chicago before, so this was super exciting! I live in the suburbs, so I took the green line and walked the few blocks over to the building. There’s no mistaking you’re in the right place! Once we checked in, we were brought upstairs where the conference room and stage were. Although it was a small stage, there were no less than four screens for the audience to watch on, allowing everyone a fantastic view, as well as a podium and timer for the presenters to stay on track! It sort of gave you the feeling like being on an awards show where if you stayed up there too long, you could get played off the stage! Ha! Each student group had the opportunity to give an acceptance speech after the screening of their short films. It was wonderful to hear the stories behind the work.

Outside the conference room, I loved all the various seating options and little “nooks” where you could hang out and work, or even just enjoy the view… or perhaps take a little power nap? The Google chefs made us all lunch, which was super delicious and had options for all of our varied diets. As a vegetarian, I very much appreciated that!

In the end, I had a wonderful day, and really enjoyed seeing all of the amazing work done by students of all ages and backgrounds. I love that there are services like WeVideo out there to help students tell their stories and make the otherwise impossible, possible!

Note: This blog post was first published on the WeVideo blog at:

- Mrs L.

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