Sunday, 20 October 2013

upcoming events...

In the last post for this half-term, I'm going to take the opportunity to remind you of some opportunities!

First of all, the Media Magazine  A Level Student Conference, December 13th

There are still tickets left, but teachers need to book groups as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Booking details here.

The full line up of speakers has been confirmed and it should be a really great day!

First up is Professor David Buckingham, who has opened the event on two previous occasions with excellent presentations about attitudes towards Media Studies and the 2011 Riots. This year, he is going to be talking about the media, marketing and young people, something he has researched extensively as part of a report commissioned by the last government on the impact of the commercial world on children's well-being. David is the author of many books over the past 25 years and is one of the leading experts in the world on media education.

Also from the world of academic research, we will be hearing from Laura Harvey of Brunel University, who is one of the co-researchers on a really interesting project called CelebYouthUk, which looks at how young people make sense of celebrities in relation to aspiration. The project raises lots of issues about our society and attitudes today, particularly in relation to gender and social class. Its excellent website is here. Laura will not only talk about the project itself, but also about ways of going about audience research which move away from the questionnaire to more qualitative methods.

From media industries, we have three speakers this year, each with a different perspective.

From television, we have David Brindley, a documentary maker and currently Channel 4 commissioner, who will talk about his work, particularly on Educating Yorkshire and One Born Every Minute.

From film, we have Michelle Eastwood, who produced the films In Our Name and Sex and Drugs and Rock n'Roll, talking through a case study of In Our Name to show how a film gets made and the role of a producer.
We also welcome Robert McKillop, an up and coming film-maker who will talk about directing and editing short films.

In the final session of the day, we welcome some former A level film and media students to talk about what they have been doing since they left school or college, giving you an insight into their university courses or careers in media occupations.

BFI Film Academy

I've been tweeting about this and hopefully, if you are interested, you already know about it, but here are some reminders anyway.

The BFI Film Academy is open to young people aged 16-19. It gives amazing opportunities to understand film and to participate in making films. There are three separate layers to the academy:

1. Network Academies: 32 local groups which you can apply for. Some are up and running already, some are still open for applications. These groups run over an extended period, usually of 2-3 months, with weekly sessions and sometimes more intensive half term slots. links to all 32 can be found here:

2. Specialist residential weeks in animation, VFX, Screenwriting and Documenatry. These all take place in February half term and applications are open now. See here

3. The NFTS residential for craft skills, where 66 young people will spend 12 days at Easter making short films, tutored by industry professionals and using top quality equipment. Applications are open and full details and application forms are available here:
Of the 66 places, around 50 are allocated to people who have already attended a network academy, so your chances are greater if you come through that route.

IMPORTANT: If you want to apply for Screenwriting at the NFTS, the deadline is 4 November, so you need to get in quick! Please note that you CAN apply for screenwriting and do another application for one of the other 60 places if you are unsuccessful. Likewise you can apply for the week long residentials and the NFTS one, to maximise your chances. Good luck!

follow me on twitter: @petesmediablog

Monday, 14 October 2013

How not to do a presentation; how to make the most of your actors

How not to do a presentation; how to make the most of your actors

A few tips on two sides of 'performance'

Watch this...

Life After Death By Powerpoint

This isn't quite as funny as the audience makes out, but it does make a good point about some obvious things to avoid if you are doing a powerpoint. Some people think that just using a different presentation tool, like Prezi, automatically gets you over these problems, but it doesn't. Every year, lots of students submit presentations that don't really make good use of the medium in getting their message across, but which are really little more than disguised essays. Often Prezis can induce a feeling of seasickness so just like Powerpoint, use them carefully.

If you are asked to do a presentation live in front of an audience, aim to have the minimum amount of text on screen and go for images instead that you can explain aloud. Less writing on screen means you are less tempted to just read it out; talking from pictures gives you the chance to really explain what you know and understand. If you are asked to produce something in a format for a distant audience- like putting it online- think about how much you need to write and how much you could explain by other means there too.

Sometimes tools like Voki or GoAnimate, with speaking avatars, can be quite tempting, but again can end up simply disguising the fact that you don't have much to say. Some of the best online evaluation and explanation of work that I have seen has been in video format, with some good use of voiceover, intertitles and inserted video material.

Making the most of your actors

One of the hardest things with any kind of student production work is getting people to perform effectively. Whether you want people to be in your pictures or to act in your film or to be the band in your video, they have got to look convincing for the part. It is a really common way in which projects fall down- the acting just looks unconvincing. So here are five top tips to make it better:

1. Prepare. Make sure the people appearing know well in advance what they have to do. If they have lines, give them the script to learn. if they have to sing, give them the song words and a copy of the track to practice on their own.

2. Disguise. On the day, have a costume and makeup for them. make them look like someone else and have a mirror so they can see they look like someone else. It is amazing how you become less self conscious once you look different and start 'playing the part'

3. Rehearse. Before you run the camera, run them through precisely what to do- where to stand, how and where to move. Don't just make them make it up. You are the director, so you need to tell them what to do. If they are uncomfortable with it, you may have to adapt, but you have to be in charge!

4. Direct. Be sure that the camera, the actors and the location are in tune with one another. Think about all the setups you need and different angles you might use and make sure you get enough coverage of them all.

5. Edit. If you have done your best and they have too and you have shot lots of stuff, it should be ok, but in the edit you may still find bits you don't like much. This is where you have to make some choices about what stays in and what goes out. If it looks poor, it is poor. Cut it.

Don't forget the MediaMag conference on December 13 book here
And remember all the fantastic resources available to subscribers of MM here
follow me on twitter @petesmediablog

Sunday, 6 October 2013

interesting stuff about the web...

This week, some links to interesting stuff about the Web.

What did people imagine in 1969?

This extraordinary video, despite some rampant sexism, does predict today's web (or some elements of it) quite accurately! Note online shopping and banking, plus the ability to spy on people (a combination of webcam and CCTV). It doesn't mention videos about cats though, strangely enough...

The size of the Web...

Imagine if you there was a map of the internet which showed the relative size of each website, like a map of the universe showing how big the planets are? Well you can see it now!

An interactive map here will show you how big Facebook, the BBC and all kinds of other sites are; it helps put things in a bit of perspective. Try entering the names of sites that you use to see their relative size.

The scale of Twitter

How much tweeting is going on at any given moment and where is it happening? Again there is an interactive map so you can see it in action!

Here it is, showing where the last one million tweets were sent. Zoom in and you might find the one you just posted!

Want to set up your own Web TV station? Check out this site! 

How do you find out about internet use? A good place to start with some data is the American website Pew Research. They carry out research on all kinds of social trends and attitudes, including web use. So, for example, they have information on ownership and use of media technology: and social network use: . Have a look and see what else you can find of use.

And...thanks to @digitaldaisies for pointing me to this article in The Guardian questioning simplistic oppositions between technology use and real life interactions.

Identity and the Web: Chris Poole, founder of 4Chan, has interesting things to say about Identity online in this video and article from Wired Magazine.

Don't forget...loads of great resources for subscribers to Media Magazine website here

MediaMag A level conference December 13 book here

follow me on twitter @petesmediablog