Anglia Ruskin Summerschool

I recently went back to Anglia Ruskin University for two days to run a ‘journalism and broadcast’ summerschool for a group of 14 year-old students. Working with Matt, we ran through some (by now very) familiar ground but as ever tried to provide a twist to make the event unique and fresh for the participants. On this occasion we looked at still images telling a story and then the use of digital video to capture a point of view. With more time we would have looked at how broadcast technologies could be used, creating a short TV schedule and running it live.

The group were excellent – every single person remained engaged despite some pretty intensive talking at various points. They were enthralled by the editing process and the ability to re-tell a story to create an event that just didn’t happen. Use of five shot technique, editing for story telling, cut aways, audio creation and so on really helped bring their work alive. I can honestly say that this group were amongst the very best in terms of their concentration and drive to succeed.

One very notable trait was that we spent a lot less time explaining the technology than ever before, and a lot more time on how to get the best story out of the footage. It is almost as if the young people were fully aware of how the technology would support them, and in fact were almost unconcerned with it to the point where they didn’t question whether it would or wouldn’t work, just that they could rely on it and get the best result from it.

Once again, we were using Apple kit. This time we provided a number of desktop machines to augment our small and ageing fleet of powerbooks.  If ever we needed new equipment for these events it’s now! However, the desktop power macs did us proud – incredibly heavy to move around, but ultimately the most reliable kit for the job.

We edited with iMovie again. I am always amazed at how versatile this software really is compared to some higher end authoring apps we use, such as Final Cut Pro. iMovie does the job up to the point where someone wants multiple video tracks. Using garageband to create a soundtrack is usually a second activity for a different part of the day, however during this event we found the participants anxious to multitask and were firing up garage band during the import process. We  were intrigued to see how they would review the footage but as it turned out most of the groups used a shot list and storyboard, despite not having introduced that. Times they are a-changing! In the end they achieved a remarkable amount in a short time, and out of 24 or so students only one had used a Mac before, two others had seen one and the others weren’t fussed. The type of kit they used wasn’t as important to them as whether they could tell their story. Powerful stuff, eh?! I guess if we had used unreliable machines the whole event would have been different, so once again a big grin from me for the old faithful hardware!

Check it out in more detail over at