This videotelling activity involves a young Dutch man called Zwier, his new DJI Phantom drone and a ditch filled with ice-cold water. In the activity, students get a list of story items like these and have to predict what happens.
- Activity: Videotelling
- Topic: Drones and aerial video
- Age group: Upper secondary & adults
- Time: 30 minutes
- Language level: B1 +
- Language: Narrative language
(Note: you can download the full PDF lesson plan for this activity above.)
This activity makes use of a comical incident that was caught on camera near Amsterdam in December 2014. The incident involved an aerial video enthusiast and his new DJI Phantom drone. Students are given the following list of items from the story:
They have to refer to this list of items to predict what happens in the story and construct an imaginary narrative of their own.
Note: It is possible that some students will have seen the ‘Great Catch’ video before. This should not be a problem. When you give out the isolated story items (see above) ask if anyone is already familiar with the story. If so, put these students into the same group and ask them to recall what happens and put the narrative into words.
Videotelling text: part one
Drone arial videos are becoming more and more popular these days. Perhaps you’ve seen some on YouTube – bird’s-eye views of urban landscapes and city landmarks for example.
For amateur enthusiasts, the DJI Phantom is a popular model. A drone from the DJI Phantom series can cost anything from between 500€ and 1500€. That’s quite an expensive piece of equipment and it doesn’t include the video camera.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the battery died while the drone was in flight? Well, the DJI Phantom has a safety feature. Just before the battery dies, the drone will make an automatic landing. A GPS (Global Positioning System) inside the machine will guide it back to the same spot where it took off from. Clever, eh? What could go possibly wrong?
Videotelling text: part two
It’s a cold day in December. A young Dutch man called Zwier goes out with a group of friends to test his new DJI Phantom drone. He places it in the middle of a quiet road. It takes off vertically and Zwier flies it above the houses, the trees, the roads and the canals.
After about 15 minutes however, Zweir has a problem: the battery starts to die and the drone begins to make an automatic landing. But instead of landing on the road, the drone slowly starts to come down above a water-filled ditch. The problem is that Zweir didn’t set the GPS correctly!
The ditch is wide and deep and the drone is going to land right in the middle of it. Zweir has no choice. He runs to the ditch and jumps in, fully clothed. The ice-cold water comes up to his waist.
Zweir moves to the centre of the ditch as quickly as he can, desperate to catch the drone before it lands in the water. The water gets deeper and deeper as he goes: up to his chest, up to his neck and then up to his chin.
The drone is just centimetres from the surface. With all his effort, Zwier reaches out his arms and makes a heroic one-handed catch. He spits out a mouthful of water and smiles. His friends cheer and applaud him.
Zweir’s heroic catch was caught on camera – the camera attached to the drone that he saved! He puts the video on YouTube and within weeks, it is viewed over 4 million times.
I hope that you and your students enjoy the activity :)