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OTTO - Annotating & Deconstructing Film Noir


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I was initially excited about the prospect of annotating a film using OTTO. The film selected for this exercise, "Kansas City Confidential" is not one of my favorites but I've seen it enough times to feel comfortable with tackling this project. After completing the process I've decided that the concept is good but the experience was not totally satisfying for me.

 

Two things come to mind:

  1. If the goal of the exercise was to simply watch a film and mark elements described in the directions then the project was on target. This could be done with a comedy, looking for gag jokes or pratfalls as elements on the comedy list. Seeing elements and marking them on a frame-by-frame, scene-by-scene timeline is almost devoid of the film in its entirety. This task is just an exercise in recognition.
  2. If the goal was to assess a noir film in the guise of noir elements then I am not so sure it should be picked apart in unbound ways. One thing that I learned in this course is that restrictions can glean interesting things. 

 

I think an initial viewing of the film in its entirety should be required prior to a project like this one. Films play differently when you watch them from start to finish. The film might have a different impact when watched in its entirety and various scenes may take on more importance weighed against the whole film. Based on some of the comments that were flashing on my screen, it was apparent that some people had not seen the film which airs on TCM on July 24th. More so, the flashing comments were intrusive and distracting to the point where some threads spun away and seemed to be more about things outside of this film than about the task at hand. 

 

Perhaps some of these suggestions can be explored for future projects. I realize that some of these suggestions might be hampered by the capabilities of OTTO.

  • Require watching the film in advance of OTTO.
  • Instead of identifying elements as the pop up, assign viewers to identify one scene or frame that identifies each element on the list: theme, history, costume, dialogue, acting, etc. I think there will be overlap and variation in what is identified. 
  • Allow the viewer to see the color dot clustering only after the project is over.
  • Allow the viewer to see where her/his dots fall relative to the clustering. 
  • Allow the viewer to extract or go to scenes (via time marks) based on elements (acting, costumes, etc.) so that the viewer can explore where others saw that element and why. This allows for focus on where major clustering fell and where minor clustering (outliers) fell as well. While the major clusters might have obvious elements in terms of noir, the minor clusters or outliers might shed some interesting information worthy of further exploration and discussion.

 

 

 

 

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Thank you, 500efr, for your very excellent insights with regard to OTTO.

 

I do admire the iLearn Research team at Ball State University for developing OTTO.     

 

However, the minute I went to the OTTO site, I knew I didn’t want to do it.  I think you absolutely must SEE THE MOVIE FIRST.  When I do my Daily Dose of Darkness, I watch the clip in its totality and then scribble down my first impressions.  The Daily Dose is less than five minutes.  How can you begin to annotate a movie you have never seen when the action is constantly changing? 

 

Technology is a wonderful thing, but not always the appropriate thing. 

 

Again, thank you for your very insightful comments about OTTO, which very well may have its uses under the right circumstances.  

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I was initially excited about the prospect of annotating a film using OTTO. The film selected for this exercise, "Kansas City Confidential" is not one of my favorites but I've seen it enough times to feel comfortable with tackling this project. After completing the process I've decided that the concept is good but the experience was not totally satisfying for me.

 

Two things come to mind:

  1. If the goal of the exercise was to simply watch a film and mark elements described in the directions then the project was on target. This could be done with a comedy, looking for gag jokes or pratfalls as elements on the comedy list. Seeing elements and marking them on a frame-by-frame, scene-by-scene timeline is almost devoid of the film in its entirety. This task is just an exercise in recognition.
  2. If the goal was to assess a noir film in the guise of noir elements then I am not so sure it should be picked apart in unbound ways. One thing that I learned in this course is that restrictions can glean interesting things. 

 

I think an initial viewing of the film in its entirety should be required prior to a project like this one. Films play differently when you watch them from start to finish. The film might have a different impact when watched in its entirety and various scenes may take on more importance weighed against the whole film. Based on some of the comments that were flashing on my screen, it was apparent that some people had not seen the film which airs on TCM on July 24th. More so, the flashing comments were intrusive and distracting to the point where some threads spun away and seemed to be more about things outside of this film than about the task at hand. 

 

Perhaps some of these suggestions can be explored for future projects. I realize that some of these suggestions might be hampered by the capabilities of OTTO.

  • Require watching the film in advance of OTTO.
  • Instead of identifying elements as the pop up, assign viewers to identify one scene or frame that identifies each element on the list: theme, history, costume, dialogue, acting, etc. I think there will be overlap and variation in what is identified. 
  • Allow the viewer to see the color dot clustering only after the project is over.
  • Allow the viewer to see where her/his dots fall relative to the clustering. 
  • Allow the viewer to extract or go to scenes (via time marks) based on elements (acting, costumes, etc.) so that the viewer can explore where others saw that element and why. This allows for focus on where major clustering fell and where minor clustering (outliers) fell as well. While the major clusters might have obvious elements in terms of noir, the minor clusters or outliers might shed some interesting information worthy of further exploration and discussion.

 

 

I agree with your points. I first used OTTO in my 2013 Film Noir course and it operated as a substitute for the message boards. It is meant to be an archive of comments that are similar in their analytical approach to what one would write on a message board. I think this community is much more familiar with "live-tweeting" along with a film and that choice definitely dominates in the comments so far on Kansas City Confidential at OTTO. 

 

I realize that I did need to stipulate that one should watch the entire film first, and identify those moments that they want to comment upon more deeply. Ideally, OTTO has the capabilities to be a concordance guide to viewing the film -- letting a knowledgeable community annotate the film in ways we would highlight a great book in the margins and add our thoughts for further reflection.

 

I will see what I can do about clarifying the instructions. 

 

That said, I am also fine with seeing how OTTO can be used in many ways, and it does have the capability to be a real-time viewing experience, more along the lines of a "live-tweeting" session, in addition to its more scholarly uses. 

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Thank you, 500efr, for your very excellent insights with regard to OTTO.

 

I do admire the iLearn Research team at Ball State University for developing OTTO.     

 

However, the minute I went to the OTTO site, I knew I didn’t want to do it.  I think you absolutely must SEE THE MOVIE FIRST.  When I do my Daily Dose of Darkness, I watch the clip in its totality and then scribble down my first impressions.  The Daily Dose is less than five minutes.  How can you begin to annotate a movie you have never seen when the action is constantly changing? 

 

Technology is a wonderful thing, but not always the appropriate thing. 

 

Again, thank you for your very insightful comments about OTTO, which very well may have its uses under the right circumstances.  

 

Thanks for your post! I agree that seeing the film first would elevate the level of the comments from "in the moment" observations to sustained analytical inquiry. I will work to clarify those instructions.

 

When I use this tool in other courses, we do have much more elaborate instructions that can help guide the students to get the most out of this tool, but I decided to forgo those instructions on Monday to see some of the potential uses that this community might come up with. 

 

For example, I could ask a very specific set of questions about the film, and then OTTO could be used to identify the evidence to help answer those questions. I tend to see OTTO as a kind of textual concordance that can go along with the video track, so that if you are seeing further commentary or insight about a particular shot or scene, you could go to OTTO as a kind of "electronic book" to see what some knowledgeable individuals have said about that shot or scene and then you could review that comment in the context of the film itself by rewinding or fast-forwarding the film. 

 

I do agree that seeing the film first is probably a requirement if we want those kinds of comments. 

 

Thanks for your post! 

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For me, watching a film I never saw before an annotate as I go along was a good exercise. Then go back and read the other notes, then go back and watch works for me. Doing it this way allows me to record what I'm thinking real time. In a sense I've done this before on alot of classic movies. There has been plenty of movies where on first viewing, I hate it. Then I read message boards or reviews people rave about it so I watch again, sometimes I like it and see what others see, sometimes I don't.

 

For me the message boards allows us to watch first and then put our thoughts online, When it's done that way I've been seeing things about a movie I never caught before or viewed that way..

I wonder what would happen if it was required to be viewed first then comment versus comment as we go along would the results be the same??

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For me, watching a film I never saw before an annotate as I go along was a good exercise. Then go back and read the other notes, then go back and watch works for me. Doing it this way allows me to record what I'm thinking real time. In a sense I've done this before on alot of classic movies. There has been plenty of movies where on first viewing, I hate it. Then I read message boards or reviews people rave about it so I watch again, sometimes I like it and see what others see, sometimes I don't.

 

For me the message boards allows us to watch first and then put our thoughts online, When it's done that way I've been seeing things about a movie I never caught before or viewed that way..

I wonder what would happen if it was required to be viewed first then comment versus comment as we go along would the results be the same??

 

Hi MyMoll: 

 

Great points you raise! I think the overarching context of how one approaches OTTO would be a determining factor:

 

In Context #1, you could watch the film in OTTO and make annotations are you along - this would be very similar to how we write notes in the margins of books! In that use of OTTO, having a tool like this would create a "margin" outside the film we could write on and you could make notes to yourself and keep them private for your own personal use (that's one of the reasons we have a box marked private)

 

In Context #2, the one we started with Kansas City Confidential, I was interested to see how it could be used as a collaborative viewing tool, and I think that turned out amazing. As opposed to "live-tweeting" a film, OTTO keeps all those notes right on the video timeline for easy review in the future. We now have 1,200+ annotations and you can really see what others saw and reacted to in the film. In this context, again, you could watch the entire in film in OTTO from start to finish and enjoy the energy of annotations from other students. 

 

In Context #3, OTTO can be used as a replacement for message boards, and be a different way to creating an archive of insightful commentary on the film. In this context, viewing the film first would be a requirement, since the goal, like an encyclopedia entry in Wikipedia, would be to leave behind annotations that are more in-depth than just our initial questions or first thoughts about a scene. OTTO's Third Context would operate along the lines of concordance, as we have with many written books, that allow additional insights to flow out of the source text!

 

I think each context (of the three I mention) would yield very differently written annotations.

 

I don't think there is a right or wrong way to use OTTO. For this course, I put it out there as a fun experience, and I hope that it is being seen as such.

 

I will be adding Detour and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers today to OTTO with instructions that are closer to my "replacement for message boards" ideas.

 

Again, participation is optional and does not affect anyone's grade in the course, but I think it is fun to play around with new tools and new ideas. 

 

Best, Prof. Edwards

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Professor Edwards, Thanks for adding Detour and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.  I've watched these films loads of times. i look forward to participating in these two!

 

 

 


 

I will be adding Detour and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers today to OTTO with instructions that are closer to my "replacement for message boards" ideas.

 

Again, participation is optional and does not affect anyone's grade in the course, but I think it is fun to play around with new tools and new ideas. 

 

Best, Prof. Edwards

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I tried the OTTO site for Kansas City Confidential. I had already watched the film, and I added just one or two annotations. I was interested in seeing how it worked, and it was pretty easy to use.

 

I hope that you use the OTTO tool for another film course and introduce it even earlier. It's a great way to share ideas and thoughts on a film.

 

For someone like me, who likes to take notes on a film and then let the ideas coalesce into a written piece, OTTO is not as practical. I thought it was easy to read everyone's thoughts on the TCM Message Board, but OTTO is a great supplement to that. Maybe if I had a chance to use it more, I would feel differently about it. But getting everything done these last couple of weeks left little time for this kind of project. Maybe the next course!

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I must have come in after the opening credits. What is OTTO? (Google didn't help.)

Log in to your Canvas account, go the film noir course, click on Modules at the left, go to Week 8, and click on "Part 1 of 2: Closing Arguments." Scroll down to see Professor Edward's discussion of the OTTO tool.

 

I hope this helps. It's fun to at least give it a try!

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Log in to your Canvas account, go the film noir course, click on Modules at the left, go to Week 8, and click on "Part 1 of 2: Closing Arguments." Scroll down to see Professor Edward's discussion of the OTTO tool.

 

I hope this helps. It's fun to at least give it a try!

Thank you. It sounds intriguing.

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Hi CigarJoe:

 

OTTO stands for "Open Text Tool for Online video" and it is a custom learning tool developed by my team at Ball State University for teaching and learning through online video. 

 

In Module 8 of the #NoirSummer Course, I introduced OTTO to the #NoirSummer students as a way to annotate and discuss three public domain films: Kansas City Confidential, Detour, and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. It is an optional project for #NoirSummer, and no one is required to participate. 

 

For example, we have over 1,700 annotations on Kansas City Confidential, and several hundred more on Detour and Martha Ivers. 

 

It is designed as another way to have collaborative discussions around online video that allows you to leave you comments on a film directly on the video timeline. 

 

OTTO can be found at: https://ilearn.bsu.edu/darkness-otto/ (FYI, you need a Google account to sign in, such as a gmail account)

 

Hope this helps,

Prof. Edwards

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Hi CigarJoe:

 

OTTO stands for "Open Text Tool for Online video" and it is a custom learning tool developed by my team at Ball State University for teaching and learning through online video. 

 

In Module 8 of the #NoirSummer Course, I introduced OTTO to the #NoirSummer students as a way to annotate and discuss three public domain films: Kansas City Confidential, Detour, and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. It is an optional project for #NoirSummer, and no one is required to participate. 

 

For example, we have over 1,700 annotations on Kansas City Confidential, and several hundred more on Detour and Martha Ivers. 

 

It is designed as another way to have collaborative discussions around online video that allows you to leave you comments on a film directly on the video timeline. 

 

OTTO can be found at: https://ilearn.bsu.edu/darkness-otto/ (FYI, you need a Google account to sign in, such as a gmail account)

 

Hope this helps,

Prof. Edwards

OK Thanks 

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