Using Modern EdTech To Teach About Classic Films

ray briggs snowmanOver Christmas, an updated version of Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’ hit the TV screens here in the UK. Aside from the fact I can’t quite believe it was 29 years ago that it premiered, I have to admit I am slightly intrigued; and if nothing else, I always see lots of benefits in bringing the old to the new.

Over the last few years many old or ‘classic’ films have been remade and adjusted in order to appeal to a new audience. Some argue that they have lost their essence and power in the remake; while others feel it can be a great way of showing our younger generation classic films that will no doubt be talked about in years to come. Producers of remakes constantly come under scrutiny from certain film-goers and fans who begrudge seeing their favorite film altered, but that’s not to say these people won’t still watch the remakes, even if it is just to make comparisons (and criticize!).

Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’

So…back to The Snowman. The film, which is an adaptation of Raymond Briggs picture book, has become something of a Christmas tradition in the UK. America has Rankin Bass creations and Charlie Brown, and we have The Snowman. The film and its characters have become film stars in their own right and the soundtrack, ‘Walking in the Air’, still conjures up memories of the classic animation.

The new ‘fresh, not identical’ version of The Snowman has been produced, using traditional techniques and many of the original creative team, at a cost of £2 million. So, is it a brave move, or should we just see it as a great way of letting children enjoy the classic animation in the same way that those children did 29 years ago? I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with it, but equally I don’t envy the creative team on this one! As with any remake, adaptation or sequel, I have a feeling the production team behind can’t win!

Teaching About Classic Films

If you are teaching your class about film, why not discuss remakes with them. Show them the original version and then the new version, and get them to compare and contrast the two. What a great way of looking at how animation and film techniques have changed over the years?

For a practical task, you could ask your pupils to adapt their favorite film clip in a video editing program, such as Serif’s MoviePlus, or create a retouched version of their favourite scene. I’ve no doubt children would love to use the special effects that the software offers, such as old film or romantic diffuse glow, to enhance existing clips.

MoviePlus has more than 80 customizable transitions, including cross-fade, blur, and new 3D rotation. It also enables pupils to add captions, titles and credits with a variety of professional text styles; so they can bring words to life using animation presets or superimpose any transparent image onto their videos.

Other features enable pupils to adjust lighting and color balance, improve clarity, enhance vibrancy and much more in movies and still images, as well as reducing video noise, remove unwanted camera movements or make many other improvements.

Serif’s free online teacher resources cover a wide range of cross-curricular topics and provide fresh new ideas on enhancing creativity in the classroom. Visit for more information. Thumbnail via Wikipedia.