Festival of Museums 2015

McManus shackleton event

This Saturday sees the return of the Festival of Museums (#FoM2015) across Scotland. Last year was brilliant – recreating Victoriana in the McManus, Dundee’s Museum and Art Gallery. It’s everything that is great about being in a museum late at night with actors bringing historic characters back to life and activities and workshops designed for our guests to learn while having lots of fun.

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My job last year (above) was to recreate the Victorian Photo Booth with a 21st Century digital spin (read about it here). Playing the role of local photographer and lens maker Peter Feathers I captured and shared (very hi-tech) moving pictures by way of Instagram.

audioboom

This year we we have been inspired by Edwardian Britain being the era of the postcard. Again, we wanted to add a ’21st Century’ spin to the proceedings and so we are using AudioBoom – the digital platform that allows you to capture and share audio on the move.

Postcards were quite limiting back in Edwardian times – probably closer to the modern day txt msg, or Tweet. But AudioBoom is so much fun and the prospect of listening back to the recordings over time adds a ‘time capsule’ element to the event.

So, who would you like to send a message to? And what would you tell them? Or imagine sending a message to your older self, 20, 40, 60 years from now – what would you say?

Edwardian Dundee

So join us on Saturday at The McManus, from 7 – 9pm. Send a digital postcard, take in some live old-time music hall, visit the Suffragette print workshop or have a chat with some Edwardian characters…  the evening is FREE but booking through Eventbrite is required – go here for more details and how to book.

And if you’re too far away you can follow the activities from McManus and across Scotland using the hashtag #FoM2015 and follow the progress of our AudioBoom channel (mcmanusdundee) playlist here (login required).

Finally – don’t foget to check out what we got up to last year!

Solar Eclipse 2015 – Dawn Chorus

eclipse 2015 sml

Happy ‘Throwback Thursday’!

A few weeks ago the UK experienced a (near) total solar eclipse. I remembered that in 1999 (the previous one) the birds got a little confused… so this time I recorded them!

So this is my garden, during the eclipse and the birds with there ‘dawn chorus-esque’ performance. Not sure if this is an known understood phenomenon – if you do, please let me know more – but here it is…

solar eclipse 2015

 

AudioBoo. AudioBoooom.

 

Before and after with AudioBoom. My frustrations with a great platform.audioboo-audioboom

Less than two months ago you could have been listening to this Boo on AudioBoom via a Twitter share or an email link. Uninterupted. Today you would need to log into your account or create one if you don’t already have one.

“Would you like an AudioBoo account?”
“Well, I don’t know – maybe I’ll have a listen first.”
“I’m afraid not sir – you’ll need an account…”

Etcetera, etcetera, ecetera…

This may seem of no consequence but what does it mean to the communities of online broadcasters who have invested in this once great platform?

AudioBoo. AudioBooooom.
Is the change of name to AudioBoom simply masking the company’s self destruction?

Have a listen and tell me what you think…

(All is not entirely lost because, as you can see, embedded Boos dodge this problem…)

Andy Lowndes – Playlist For Life

I’m all about the creative use of technology and I get particularly excited when creativity and technology together translate to real and meaningful value in someone’s life and Playlist for Life fits into that category.

Playlist For Life is based on the very simple truth that people respond to sound – even when almost every other memory or sense has left them – and Playlist for Life has built on this idea to promote personal playlists as a therapy for connecting with people living with dementia. The effect is extremely moving – people who were previously unresponsive to loved ones seem to awaken, stimulated by music and songs that revive lost memories.

I had the opportunity to hear about Playlist For Life in May at an NHS event at the SECC where Andy Lowndes and founder Sally Magnusson had 500+ people near to tears as they witnessed, through video, the impact of the work; and then, in tears of laughter as the same audience shared stories of songs personal to them.

To learn more visit playlistforlife.org.uk

The videos on the website speak for themselves – in particular look out for Harry and Margaret.

Andy visited the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) in Dundee this week – I recorded the audio below for their SSSCfm channel.

Listen to what Andy has to say, think about what would be on your personal playlist and consider donating any old iPods or mp3 players you might have doing nothing.

One Day Digital with Nesta

nesta one day digital

It was One Day Digital at Glasgow University on Saturday. Organised by Nesta UK I was invited to provide a workshop to enable Primary Teachers some basic understanding on how they might use iPads for creative projects in their classrooms. I set the scene here.

nesta one day digital

My approach was a combination of showcasing projects I have run and the work that has come out of them; demonstrations of practical and inexpensive apps to use; and some ‘in-at-the-deep-end’/‘off-you-go-and-do-it’ group tasks. Each session broke up into two or three groups periodically throughout the workshop. Each group produced a short film and an animation.

The irony of reinforcing the point that all film-making requires a great amount of preparation, and then sending 13 teachers off to complete a task they are totally unprepared for wasn’t lost on me – however, they all stepped up and threw themselves into the task and what you see below are some of the ‘fruits’ of the day.

nesta one day digital(If you were there and you have content on your own iPad you would like to share please contact me through the form here. (contact page))

Frankenstein’s Photos were pretty popular – basically using a framing app to composite sections of each team member to make one new face with frightening results.

We also managed to stage what must be the shortest film festival in history in that each of the animations were less than four seconds each.

 

One Day DigitalSo despite the very early start (Taxi at 6:20am) to get to Glasgow Uni for 9:30 and inevitable Groundhog Day effect of delivering the same workshop twice, it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed working with everyone.

Finally, here’s a Storify prepared by Nesta who programmed and managed the event – thanks to them too.

If you were there, what was your KEY take-away from the day? Please leave comments and feedback below. Much appreciated.

Volvo not included – getting creative with iPad

learning-ipad-1

This Saturday at Glasgow University I’m hosting a Digital Media class using iPads at Nesta’s One Day Digital event for primary school teachers. The focus will, quite honestly, be my eleven year old self’s wish list of school holiday activities… film-making and editing, animation, audio recording, image manipulation and sharing them.

volvoTo do all of this 20-odd years ago – as I did – and to make it mobile would have required a Volvo estate… bulky cameras, VHS machines and clunky TVs, meters of power and connector cables.

Of course things have moved on, but do you realise how much? In 1982, nearly 10 years before I bought my first video camera, ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) the emerging digital division of George Lucas’ (creator of Star Wars) movie company Lucas Film, created cinema’s first entirely computer-generated (CG) sequence. It was in Star Trek II: The Warth of Kahn, it lasted 60 seconds and cost a reported $250,000 (total budget of which was only $11M) and required a computer that would have filled several large rooms.

Today, any reasonably high-end laptop has the processing power to generate effects vastly superior in quality at a fraction of the cost.

But we’re not going high-end. Let’s take a step back because while laptops got more powerful other options emerged too.

Joby gorillapod video and grip tight

I have several cameras in the house, but the one I use the most isn’t the best quality, it’s the one that fits easily in my pocket. Equally I love vinyl records too but I mostly listen to music on a device that, yep, fits in my pocket. Coincidentally the same device that I mostly take photos with.

So for me it comes down to convenience. Gary Penn of Dundee video game company Denki has a set of design rules for computer games – but I believe they could be applied to many creative activities. The key one here is ‘convenience‘.

If I can easily take the device with me everywhere I go then there are more opportunities for me to be creative. I don’t have to plan opportunities in the way that I would have with a car full of kit.

Now, we may not be making an Oscar winning movie on our iPhone or iPad just yet (except for this one perhaps) but the experience will be much more immediate, fun and equally as rewarding; not forgetting extremely convenient.

treehouse qr scan

Of course, in this instance the key audience are those who are unlikely to have Final Cut Pro running on a Pro Mac. What’s more likely is that at school or in the home they have access to a phone or tablet that is capable of colour correction and manipulation of images and moving images; film-making, animation, time-lapse and slo-mo video.

And despite the convenience of mobile devices they can’t yet take away the reality that movie making is often very hard work, with extremes of both intense attention to detail and periods of not very much happening. But we wouldn’t want them to. These mini-projects can help young people understand and appreciate the challenges of the processes as well as the satisfaction of the professional film-maker, documentarian or journalist; but in a space that they can relate to.

Hopefully we’ll capture some examples from Saturday’s workshop and get permission to post them here. I look forward to meeting those of you who are coming along – it should be a great day! UPDATE: Read about it here!

For reference here are the list of apps we’ll be using and what for:

Part One
Movie making – the trailer (App: iMovie)
Movie making – for fun (Apps: Action Movie + iMovie)
Movie making – the documentary (iMovie)

Part Two
Audio/AudioBoo (Apps: Instant Rec and AudioBoo)

Part Three
Frankenstien’s Photo – image manipulation (Apps: Snapseed + Nostalgio)

Part Four
Stop Motion Animation – (App: iMotionHD)
Time lapse – (App: iMotionHD)

Whether you are coming on Saturday or not please feel free to post any queries or comments below.