Carson Conversations Forum | Norman Hollyn
Norman Hollyn, Michael Kahn Endowed Chair in Film-Editing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, speaks at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts. His talk: “The Carson Foundation’s Challenge.”
icon search Searchable Transcript
Toggle between list and paragraph view.
[00:00:00.568](upbeat piano music)
[00:00:07.686]All right, so first I just wanna start,
[00:00:10.768]I'm a combination of digital and old-fashioned here.
[00:00:14.614]But I do wanna say that I come from New York,
[00:00:18.072]I listen to all of my podcasts
[00:00:19.627]at 1 1/2 speed, so if I tend to be too fast,
[00:00:23.539]please yell out, slow down, damn you!
[00:00:27.499]And I answer very, very well to that.
[00:00:30.859]So having just heard Robert's speech, talk,
[00:00:35.507]what I wanna say is that that went pretty dark.
[00:00:44.145]And I'm now gonna go darker.
[00:00:48.019]Okay, now, I'm also a glass,
[00:00:51.557]forget the glass is half-empty or half-full,
[00:00:53.808]I'm a glass is on its way to being all full kind of person.
[00:00:57.608]So that hopefully we'll end up at this stage
[00:01:00.208]with some thoughts that I hope you all
[00:01:03.866]take and run with on where to go from here.
[00:01:08.467]But what I wanna do is, after I figure this out,
[00:01:11.317]what I wanna do is start by saying that
[00:01:14.747]what I'm gonna talk about today to a large degree
[00:01:17.787]comes from the fact, I told Megan this, that,
[00:01:20.557]forget what it was we had talked about me talking about.
[00:01:23.389]In the last several weeks alone,
[00:01:25.556]on three separate occasions,
[00:01:27.735]I've been interviewed or asked to talk about
[00:01:31.314]some very real fears
[00:01:33.866]that people in the traditional film industries have,
[00:01:38.615]as well as parents of students and students themselves
[00:01:42.607]have around the issues of AI and machine learning.
[00:01:45.975]And so, what I wanted to do
[00:01:48.807]is to start with what's behind that.
[00:01:53.797]And what I generally find is that these fears and worries
[00:01:59.477]tend to come around five different things.
[00:02:03.626]So if I could paraphrase them,
[00:02:07.546]here's why they're worried.
[00:02:08.677]One of 'em is, yeah, you know, I understand film.
[00:02:12.317]But just what in hell is emerging media?
[00:02:15.605]I don't understand what that means.
[00:02:18.167]And so as a result, I'm afraid of it.
[00:02:20.687]We're kind of conservative beings in a certain way,
[00:02:23.647]most of us, so if we don't get it,
[00:02:25.986]we can't jump in and embrace it.
[00:02:28.026]So that's one, then the second one is,
[00:02:32.546]and I just punched a whole bunch of VR, AR, MR, XR, 3D,
[00:02:38.695]whatever R you want, isn't it just a gimmick?
[00:02:43.197]I mean, look at what happened with 3D several years ago.
[00:02:46.037]It's gone, and usually then in parentheses say, thank God.
[00:02:49.828]So, how do we know
[00:02:52.978]that this stuff that you're talking about is sustainable?
[00:02:56.367]I think Robert actually gave you a couple
[00:02:57.896]of very strong reasons why these things can be sustainable.
[00:03:01.635]But are we just running after something
[00:03:03.938]that's gonna disappear, isn't it just a gimmick?
[00:03:07.647]The next one is, and this I find both from a student level
[00:03:13.577]as well as from people in the industry,
[00:03:17.906]they're gonna come and take my jobs.
[00:03:20.847]All right, machine learning, AI, is all about taking jobs.
[00:03:26.045]All right, so that's another fear, fourth fear,
[00:03:31.804]there's a lot of stuff you're talking about here.
[00:03:34.165]How can our students learn everything?
[00:03:35.936]Don't they become jack-of-all-trades, masters-of-none?
[00:03:38.834]If we do that, what does that mean for learning?
[00:03:41.394]What does that mean for their ability to specialize?
[00:03:44.733]I put a couple of those words in air quotes.
[00:03:48.624]And then the final one, is,
[00:03:56.462]People have been talking about that for years,
[00:03:58.573]and as far as we can tell,
[00:04:00.172]interdisciplinary just means students get confused
[00:04:02.794]about who's in charge and what,
[00:04:04.805]and that ultimately what's going to happen is
[00:04:07.874]nobody gets tenure because there's no home offices,
[00:04:10.754]and blah blah, blah blah,
[00:04:11.942]boy, I am scared about all of this.
[00:04:14.853]All right, so one of the reasons why Megan asked me
[00:04:17.693]to talk here, I'm assuming, is because in my day job,
[00:04:22.405]when I'm not here in my second home, here in Lincoln,
[00:04:26.464]I'm in Los Angeles, and I teach, I'm full professor
[00:04:30.114]at the University of Southern California's
[00:04:32.394]School of Cinematic Arts,
[00:04:34.034]which is the new name for the film school.
[00:04:37.931]All right, so, all moving images.
[00:04:40.474]And we struggle with the exact same things.
[00:04:43.293]We struggle with them sometimes
[00:04:46.354]to a greater degree than you will,
[00:04:48.962]and sometimes to less of degree
[00:04:50.519]because of our location and all of that.
[00:04:53.748]So let me just start off by saying what I think
[00:04:57.548]are the differences between the schools and ways
[00:04:59.999]so we can really help clarify some of this discussion.
[00:05:04.111]So, we differ from Carson here,
[00:05:07.465]in a number of key ways.
[00:05:09.345]One is our size.
[00:05:11.654]We are, last time I checked,
[00:05:14.625]the technical term, I think, is ginormous.
[00:05:18.882]Both in terms of our students and our faculty.
[00:05:21.985]I'll give you a couple of data points in just a minute.
[00:05:25.094]Secondly, our location.
[00:05:27.763]When I first started working with the Carson school,
[00:05:31.362]one of the things that seemed most, most important to me
[00:05:36.225]was that you're not trying and replicate
[00:05:38.933]a 20th century film school in the middle of Nebraska.
[00:05:43.038]All right, we are, we can do, and we do at times,
[00:05:46.752]at USC, replicate a 20th century film school,
[00:05:50.145]except we do it where we can have tons and tons of people
[00:05:53.185]come from the industry right outside.
[00:05:56.603]And the industry, much though they say they're not,
[00:05:59.363]is still a 20th century industry.
[00:06:02.843]So we can do that.
[00:06:05.715]You can't, nor should you want to.
[00:06:08.871]All right, so location's a big difference.
[00:06:11.115]We have seven different divisions
[00:06:14.206]inside our film school alone.
[00:06:16.674]This is as we like to say, flippin' ridiculous.
[00:06:22.155]And any time I do consultive work with schools worldwide,
[00:06:26.115]I say, do not do what we do.
[00:06:28.902]Don't do that, because that works really, really well
[00:06:32.035]if it's 1985.
[00:06:34.326]Does not work so well in a world
[00:06:36.336]where everybody has to collaborate across these boundaries.
[00:06:39.555]All right, so that's one thing, by the way,
[00:06:44.086]whatever I say here, stays here, right?
[00:06:48.264]Learn and tenured?
[00:06:49.416]That's it, I am tenured, but I have a strong dean, so.
[00:06:54.774]Doesn't necessarily matter, all right,
[00:06:56.195]and that falls right into the interdisciplinary major.
[00:06:58.796]We actually have been working very hard,
[00:07:01.976]through our Media Arts and Practice division,
[00:07:05.265]to help faculty and students work across the entire campus.
[00:07:10.584]We're not there yet.
[00:07:12.486]It's gonna be a long time before we're there.
[00:07:14.255]But UNL, I think, is much better
[00:07:17.336]at this interdisciplinary stuff than we are.
[00:07:19.383]So that's another big difference between SC and UNL.
[00:07:26.664]So just a little bit of data behind it.
[00:07:28.523]So that's our statistics from a year ago.
[00:07:32.574]So we have, in the cinema school alone, this is not USC,
[00:07:35.803]but cinema school alone, all right, we are about, what?
[00:07:42.424]All right, we make, across all of our students,
[00:07:45.544]across people who are just taking classes with us,
[00:07:48.624]with minors and all of that,
[00:07:50.304]we actually make about 1500 films each year.
[00:07:54.864]So we are a studio ourselves that creates certain things.
[00:07:59.454]We have 100 full-time faculty,
[00:08:01.887]and over 200 part-time faculty,
[00:08:04.398]because we have an immense, in Los Angeles,
[00:08:07.699]an immense source for these kinds of things.
[00:08:10.675]But also take a look at the number of staff
[00:08:14.754]that it takes to fully run
[00:08:17.952]what we consider an emerging media arts school.
[00:08:22.743]That's 144 full-time employees versus 96 full-time faculty.
[00:08:28.314]There are more people who help us keep on track
[00:08:31.325]than there are people who are doing the teaching.
[00:08:33.751]In that way.
[00:08:34.584]So that's just a reality
[00:08:36.583]of running a film school like that size.
[00:08:40.293]I like the living alumni number there.
[00:08:42.680]It's rounded to the nearest hundred.
[00:08:46.930]We do good marketing, by the way.
[00:08:49.511]All right, and here is what our program looks like.
[00:08:52.223]So we have seven divisions
[00:08:53.692]across many different subject areas.
[00:08:57.933]And these are our minors and certificates that we give.
[00:09:01.373]That's a partial, each of these gives varying,
[00:09:05.179]maybe three undergrad degrees as well as grad degrees.
[00:09:10.030]And those are the minors.
[00:09:11.129]So this is an immense,
[00:09:14.339]I was gonna say, Titanic,
[00:09:15.710]but that comes with the wrong implications.
[00:09:18.169]It's an immense ocean liner that needs to be steered.
[00:09:21.419]Is it any wonder that we have problems
[00:09:24.499]in terms of doing the steering?
[00:09:27.249]All right, so now let's go back to the questions,
[00:09:30.081]those five questions that our faculty,
[00:09:34.059]our students, our parents,
[00:09:36.196]and also people in the various industries
[00:09:41.369]have been asking me.
[00:09:43.409]So the first one is, I understand film,
[00:09:45.129]but what's this emerging media stuff?
[00:09:48.059]Don't get it, all right, so.
[00:09:51.997]Yeah, we know who he is, and at one point,
[00:09:54.238]he was colorized, all right?
[00:09:56.749]The industry moved,
[00:09:59.806]forget the colorization part, and Ted Turner,
[00:10:01.798]thank you very much,
[00:10:03.499]we did move from black and white film to color.
[00:10:09.713]That was an emerging art at its time.
[00:10:12.546]Sound was an emerging art at its time.
[00:10:16.125]Widescreen was emerging at its time.
[00:10:19.635]Television was emerging, and frightfully scary
[00:10:23.925]to the people who weren't in it, film was emerging.
[00:10:28.747]All right, there was a point where there was no film.
[00:10:30.896]Then all of the sudden, there was stuff going on in film.
[00:10:33.627]So it's all, it was all emerging.
[00:10:35.965]The one thing that's similar about all of this in my mind,
[00:10:40.735]is as new things came in, the older media tended to go away.
[00:10:46.616]So you didn't see a lot of black and white films
[00:10:48.755]after we went color, you saw very few silent films
[00:10:51.723]after we introduced sound.
[00:10:54.485]The new media becomes the lingua franca of the moment.
[00:10:59.616]It's what our students know when they come in.
[00:11:03.805]And to kind of go backwards, is weird.
[00:11:06.393]There are a few times when they go weird,
[00:11:08.667]and that's all right.
[00:11:10.136]But in general, old media tends to go away.
[00:11:14.936]So my definition of emerging media
[00:11:16.867]is a really, really basic stupid one.
[00:11:20.456]It's what's coming up now and it's what's coming up next
[00:11:24.136]that we don't know about.
[00:11:27.045]If we know what emerging media is,
[00:11:29.056]it's no longer emerging, in my point of view.
[00:11:31.715]So that what is structured that we have to,
[00:11:35.065]we have to figure out create it.
[00:11:36.515]This is where our students are really,
[00:11:38.555]really valuable at SC, and I believe here,
[00:11:41.845]after talking with a large number of them.
[00:11:44.576]That what emerging media means to them
[00:11:48.885]is hopefully different than what it means to me.
[00:11:52.809]And if I listen to me, then I'm usually wrong.
[00:11:58.696]If I listen to a bunch of the students,
[00:12:01.546]then I think we get better
[00:12:03.925]at defining what emerging media is.
[00:12:07.066]Or we simply react to it.
[00:12:09.506]That's not what I see for this institution.
[00:12:15.294]Yeah, no point in that anymore.
[00:12:16.717]So, how about, isn't this just a gimmick?
[00:12:19.787]All these Rs?
[00:12:21.296]VR, AR, MR, XR, it is just a gimmick?
[00:12:27.747]Why, so these are just a small sampling
[00:12:32.015]of some headlines, recent, so, BAFTA,
[00:12:36.077]the British Association of Film and Television,
[00:12:38.885]British artists, are showing all kinds of,
[00:12:43.586]and beginning to give awards to,
[00:12:45.285]and beginning to acknowledge that in an art form,
[00:12:48.065]in a storytelling form,
[00:12:52.656]mixed reality has a future.
[00:12:55.819]And in fact, when you move things like
[00:12:58.917]the Motion Picture Academy and BAFTA off of their dime,
[00:13:03.357]that takes an enormous amount of effort,
[00:13:05.185]and they're not gonna do it
[00:13:06.233]until they feel there's some value in it.
[00:13:08.448]When the studios start to look at it and go,
[00:13:10.454]mm, what's going on, as they are now,
[00:13:13.014]almost every big movie which is coming out
[00:13:15.745]has some kind of MR component hanging off the side,
[00:13:20.484]even if it's just using marketing.
[00:13:23.294]All right, so here's one.
[00:13:27.465]Here's another one, it's going on right now, in France.
[00:13:30.814]Cannes Film Festival, and they have an entire VR section.
[00:13:36.063]I don't know how good it is, but people who I know
[00:13:38.385]who have seen this are like, oh my God.
[00:13:41.882]And it's not about the VR, what is it about?
[00:13:44.924]It is about the refugee crisis.
[00:13:47.265]This is a story that Inarritu wants to tell.
[00:13:52.824]And he's simply using a different medium to tell it.
[00:13:55.684]Why the hell not?
[00:14:02.876]What about this, teaching science using AR?
[00:14:06.916]There are people who say right now
[00:14:08.823]that AR's value right now, forget in the future,
[00:14:12.846]right now is in medicine,
[00:14:16.554]is in engineering,
[00:14:19.092]is in instructional material,
[00:14:21.303]anything where you want to be able to move around,
[00:14:24.553]get inside, see things from different perspectives.
[00:14:27.924]So why not?
[00:14:30.532]And so these are things
[00:14:32.072]people are beginning to pay attention to.
[00:14:34.023]Oh, here comes the scary one, all right?
[00:14:38.364]What about this, so, this guy over here on the bottom left,
[00:14:43.131]he's done a few things with emerging media.
[00:14:45.621]All right, Mark Zuckerberg.
[00:14:49.732]Phil Hodges, who has done a lot of work around metadata
[00:14:53.404]as well as machine learning,
[00:14:58.463]says basically that anything that can be taught
[00:15:02.712]in three days or less is a candidate for automation.
[00:15:06.703]This is the really dark part, all right.
[00:15:08.535]So, Robert, I see you and raise you on this one.
[00:15:12.455]Anything that takes this length of time can be automated.
[00:15:18.505]All right, I think that's a good start for a conversation.
[00:15:20.983]I don't fully believe that, but if, there is.
[00:15:24.263]So with that, looking ahead, what are we teaching?
[00:15:30.913]All right well, here's someone who disagrees, Kai-Fu Lee,
[00:15:34.962]who comes from Google and Microsoft,
[00:15:38.751]believes something quite different.
[00:15:41.471]That yeah, or maybe it's the same, actually.
[00:15:44.551]Yeah, we can't teach art in three days or under.
[00:15:49.421]All right, that's lifelong.
[00:15:51.381]So AI can actually help us do what we want to do
[00:15:54.910]and there are actually things
[00:15:56.801]that we're developing right now at USC and in other places,
[00:15:59.710]you'll hear from some of those other places later on today,
[00:16:03.683]if I ever shut up,
[00:16:07.331]that will help creatives do this.
[00:16:11.531]And it's not just in a storytelling,
[00:16:14.011]well it's storytelling, it's not just in a,
[00:16:17.062]what we've known as creative side of things.
[00:16:20.513]It's creatively looking at
[00:16:22.660]many different interdisciplinary forms,
[00:16:27.073]science, engineering, medicine, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:16:30.606]So there's so much there
[00:16:33.713]that people grow up in a world of story,
[00:16:37.051]in a world of cinematic visual story,
[00:16:40.091]we can help that.
[00:16:42.342]This is what our students should be thinking about.
[00:16:45.822]So there's Kai-Fu Lee.
[00:16:48.331]Here are some of the things that I believe
[00:16:53.601]are candidates for elimination right now.
[00:16:56.723]Assistant edit, so my field is editing.
[00:16:59.945]I tell my editing students, assistant editing,
[00:17:02.475]well, in five years,
[00:17:03.963]that job won't be the same as it is now,
[00:17:07.014]so don't learn everything the way it is now.
[00:17:10.195]Learn to learn how it's different,
[00:17:13.334]and now is a fantastic transition point for you.
[00:17:16.326]Class is on its way to being all full.
[00:17:19.105]All right, so the learning to learn part is important.
[00:17:22.406]This transitionary time,
[00:17:24.423]where it would be really, really good
[00:17:26.567]to have people like ourselves,
[00:17:28.445]like the people at the Carson school,
[00:17:31.348]to be able to direct some of the way
[00:17:35.169]in which these things are moving.
[00:17:37.467]Think yeah, but what happens if we add this?
[00:17:40.329]Sean will, I hope, talk about this a little bit later.
[00:17:42.794]We did at dinner last night.
[00:17:44.913]In terms of how the artist
[00:17:48.990]influences the technology
[00:17:51.550]and vice versa, it's collaborative.
[00:17:53.992]Okay, so the good news for you is,
[00:17:56.525]I'm not in the home stretch.
[00:17:57.883]No, I promise I am, I promise I am.
[00:18:02.161]So how can they learn everything, is really the question.
[00:18:06.275]I've hinted at this already.
[00:18:08.501]It's about how you teach them to learn.
[00:18:11.673]I think one way to do it is to have a tough curriculum,
[00:18:15.412]but a curriculum which is nimble, so it can change.
[00:18:20.220]If we're doing interdisciplinary work,
[00:18:23.310]that happens over, you know, five weeks here,
[00:18:27.912]and then another five weeks somewhere else,
[00:18:29.933]it's stupid to fit it all into a semester structure.
[00:18:33.893]The very structures that we teach,
[00:18:36.733]as Robert so accurately pointed out,
[00:18:38.992]the sage on the stage back to all of you
[00:18:41.710]who are nodding your heads,
[00:18:43.733]except for the few who have nodded out completely,
[00:18:47.453]those are the things that we can take and say,
[00:18:50.893]how do you encourage that?
[00:18:52.998]Oh yeah, you can work with some over in this school.
[00:18:57.191]And we'll support that financially.
[00:18:58.853]We'll support organizationally.
[00:19:01.116]We'll support that bureaucratically.
[00:19:03.781]As opposed to create problems.
[00:19:06.133]So the flexibility and the tough curriculum
[00:19:08.261]is really, really important.
[00:19:09.773]How do you go out somewhere else
[00:19:11.401]and bring back what you've learned into this degree?
[00:19:18.781]Yeah, so very quickly, I have some slides here.
[00:19:21.661]So, why interdisciplinary?
[00:19:23.820]Take a look at where it's being used right now.
[00:19:27.381]So VR, used for dementia patients,
[00:19:31.803]help them reconnect with certain things, that's medical.
[00:19:36.253]All right, and I know that you guys are doing it already,
[00:19:39.872]that there's so much movement
[00:19:41.720]towards interdisciplinary work.
[00:19:43.206]I will also say that you're not there yet.
[00:19:46.349]There's a lot of stuff that's in the way.
[00:19:48.808]And you'll get there,
[00:19:50.560]but it's a positive side of what you do
[00:19:55.108]that you can build on to get to the next step.
[00:19:59.288]And I think we covered this,
[00:20:02.463]so this one I can easily zip through in the sense of saying,
[00:20:07.627]that there is some things that we do in terms of
[00:20:10.095]fostering classes in partnerships with companies,
[00:20:15.178]in partnerships with other schools,
[00:20:18.128]that don't necessarily have a syllabus.
[00:20:21.997]The first day,
[00:20:22.830]I shouldn't admit this in front of all of you,
[00:20:24.758]please don't tell my dean.
[00:20:26.256]The first day, Chuck, I see you writing this down.
[00:20:31.398]Don't do this.
[00:20:32.949]The first day of every class,
[00:20:37.217]I rewrite the syllabus with my students.
[00:20:41.156]All right, I still have a syllabus.
[00:20:43.105]Because if I don't, I get fired.
[00:20:47.577]I still have to have a syllabus,
[00:20:49.108]but the syllabus is largely theirs and mine.
[00:20:52.737]I'm there to give the whole perspective.
[00:20:54.468]You say you wanna learn that here?
[00:20:55.689]You will, in two semesters.
[00:20:57.939]I'm not worried about that.
[00:20:59.258]So let's put that on the back burner.
[00:21:00.879]You don't wanna learn that, I think you need to
[00:21:02.631]in order to do what you're gonna do in the next semester.
[00:21:05.318]But wow, you've already learned that?
[00:21:07.231]All of you now already know that stuff?
[00:21:10.434]Let's throw it out.
[00:21:12.368]What are the things you're not seeing?
[00:21:13.959]What are things you are seeing?
[00:21:15.478]And we come up with a different syllabus
[00:21:16.911]that I sneak onto the websites.
[00:21:19.812]So, the ways in which (coughing)
[00:21:23.521]we can use more innovative teaching methods and pedagogy,
[00:21:27.389]the way in which we try and do things like this.
[00:21:31.416]I mean, this is an amazing event
[00:21:33.132]with some people who really think forward.
[00:21:35.951]And the challenge is gonna be what happens afterwards,
[00:21:39.081]'cause I know damn well coming from academia,
[00:21:42.120]that the next thing that's gonna happen after that is,
[00:21:44.249]yeah, this is all good, but.
[00:21:46.809]All right, and so the improv nature
[00:21:49.178]of what the future demands,
[00:21:51.120]where we say, yes and?
[00:21:53.408]Rather than, no but?
[00:21:55.401]Is gonna be really important moving forward,
[00:21:57.420]and I would beg of you to get to that place
[00:22:01.190]before you go to the other place.
[00:22:06.929]So, if you wanna come talk to me, that's where you can.
[00:22:11.660]A lot of the slides that I've had up here
[00:22:13.459]have links to them, so if you want any of that,
[00:22:17.159]you can go there, and thank you so much.
[00:22:19.308]This has been a great pleasure, thank you.
[00:22:21.988](upbeat piano music)
Log in to post comments