February 02, 2009

Media Workshop Experience January 2009

On Wednesday January 21st we held the first Media Workshop Experience event for students.

This was a collaboration between the Careers Service (James Mears and Stephanie Redding), Arts E-learning, the Arts E-Squad (Nikesh Parmar, Catherine  and Pesala Bandara), and Tracy Playle of PickleJar Communications.

We had various aims. James and Stephanie are looking for new ways to give students simple but meaningful experiences that might help to seed an interest in media careers. I am looking to develop the idea that students, with relatively little training, can create good short movies that might be of use to their departments, the university, and as part of their own personal development. I am also establishing interest in an ambitious project that aims to get people at Warwick to create videos: the Warwick Media Workshop (join the Facebook group).

The event took place in the Teaching Grid. We began with a short talk and a demo movie (see below) illustrating what is possible in just a short time using the available equipment (iMacs, Screenflow, iMovie, Sanyo Xacti SD card based cameras). Tracy then gave 15 minutes of advice and tips (very good). The students split into four groups, each with a camera and iMac. Two of the groups had already formed from a shared interest (there was a group from the Arts Centre Stars programme). The other groups were mostly strangers, and hence faced the additional tasks of integrating into teams, and coming up with an IDEA. The groups then developed their IDEA, using techniques (including storyboarding in Powerpoint).

We noted that they spent much longer than expected in developing their ideas, and didn't really get a good sense of feasibility (must look into ways to get them to be more realistic). This meant that none of the teams completed within the three hours, and two of the teams carried on for an extra hour. All of the teams, however, had good movies in the edit stage, and we were able to watch and enjoy their draft edits. The level of creativity was quite surprising. Tracy had advised them, as a means to spark ideas, to find simple props - one team based their movie around a food tray (boxing ring), an apple (boxer representing healthy food) and a hamburger (boxer representing junk food). The teams have been invited to complete their movies in their own time.

As a venue, the Teaching Grid worked well. However, noise was a problem as each group performed scripted material. Having to move 4 iMacs into the Grid, and then return them to the office was far too difficult. This will be easier next time, as the Media Workshop project has based an additional iMac in the Grid.

Here's the demo video, illustrating some of the possibilities...

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