#MakeSomething

This is what I tell my kids. Usually after I’ve turned off the wi-fi or taken away the TV or Xbox…

“Dad, what can I do?”
“Make something!”

For seven years now I’ve actively been finding ways to get people creative with the technology that would have had me giddy with excitement when I was 12/13 years old. Specifically the little mobile devices in our pockets that pass for phones (or tablets)…

There’s no question that the internet is a huuuuuge distraction and so it’s really important to make an more of a huuuuuuuge effort to block it out and get creative!

With a few clicks you have apps to capture and edit films, including special effects. You could also paint and draw, make music… maybe even get started on writing that novel… or, here’s a thing… be ironically creative (creatively ironic?) and make a game to zombify someone else!

Animation is a great one. The ‘magic’ of having an intimate object come to life is still an enormous fascination for people – a Frankenstein complex maybe?

Next month I’ll helping visitors, young and less-young, at Dundee’s Verdant Works to bring Lego to life! Bring your own device (be sure and download iMotion (Apple) or Lapse IT (Android)) or use one of ours. There’s even a dedicated child free session in the afternoon for you Lord Business* disciples.

This’ll be a fun and active learning experience that you can take away and recreate at home.

So make a date to make something with Playful Communications and Verdant Works:

Kids and Families: 10:30 – 1pm
https://www.verdantworks.com/event/saturday-studio-animate/

18+: 2 – 4:30pm
https://www.verdantworks.com/event/intro-stop-frame-animation/

*The character who glued his models together in the Lego Movie

#MadeOnAMobile in Newcastle

Following a series of extremely well received workshops across Scotland I’m heading south to Newcastle with my mobile digital film making workshop… in November 2018.

And I can’t wait. I was there earlier in the year to help out on another workshop and fell in love with the place. It’s so photogenic and full of bridges… which is a win/win for a bridge geek like myself.

You’ll learn the basics of preparing your film, getting the most out of your mobile device and a number of techniques such as time-lapse, stop-frame animation, adding titles and music and sharing on social networks or through your website/YouTube.

So, stay posted or get in touch if you’d like notified of dates and booking information:

#MadeOnAMobile – what’s it all about?

Featured

2018 has been a whirlwind of increased demand for workshops precisely at a time when I decided to demonstrate the power of mobile film making with an hour long documentary – captured, edited and shared from a single iPad.

So I took a few hours recently to put a short film together to encapsulate what I’m up to, explain what #MadeOnAMobile is all about and demonstrate what it can do…

So if you can give me (literally) two minutes, I’ll bring you up to date…

Open Close Movie with @Documentally Live in Newcastle

I’ve been following Documentally (aka Christian Payne) ever since a mobile network provider gave him the challenge of hitching from Lands End to John O’Groats with nothing but a handful of prepaid sim cards.

This would have been 2009-ish and the very early days of social media. However, using Twitter and whatever other social platforms were emerging at the time Christian negotiated the country, taking lifts and accepting offers of couches to sleep on and completed his task.

So, eight or nine years later he very kindly invites me to join him on a digital storytelling workshop to talk about my film, Open Close Movie, made entirely on an iPad.

We did some various bit and bobs but the video below is the live broadcast we did on Periscope.

It was a great afternoon and I met some great people who were attending the Thinking Digital conference at the Sage in Gateshead – I couldn’t stay because I was running a workshop in Glasgow.

So I hope to be back in Newcastle in November with #MadeOnAMobile – it was my first time in Newcastle and I loved it – particularly being a fan of bridges, the place is chock full of them!

Anyway, hope you enjoy the interview…

Open Close Movie is #MadeOnAMobile

Mobile film making is fine for making social media shorts – but what about a full length feature? Sean Baker, Michel Gondry, Steven Soderbergh – all of them Hollywood directors who have made films using an iPhone camera for a cinematic release. None of them, however, edited their films using the same device.

“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” – Orson Welles

The schools, museums, public sector organisations I work with don’t always have lots of kit, if any kit at all. Tablets in particular are easier to come by and most have film editing apps. So, the limitation I gave myself was inspired by the people I’ve been training and working with. Capture and edit on a mobile device.

And if it’s okay to edit a minute or two of video on a mobile device then why not 10 minutes, 25 minutes, 45 minutes?

By most standards (British Film Institute, the Academy Awards) is “feature” length and so that was the target.

The subject of the film, Open/Close, is:

“BRINGING STREET ART TO DUNDEE, OPEN/CLOSE IS INJECTING LIFE TO THE ALLEYWAYS AND FORGOTTEN CORNERS OF THE CITY CENTRE. WORKING WITH LOCAL ARTISTS.”

Learn more about the project on the website

Open Close Movie was projected at the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre cinema on 19 May 2018. 130 people turned out and generously signed my lobby poster with lots of nice comments.

The plan now is to release the film online later in the year with additional footage of a spin-off Open/Close project (in partnership with Dundee City Council) called Waste of Space; where industrial waste bins are being painted up by local artists.

So watch this space – Open Close Movie is coming to this screen soon!

 

 

 

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!

GENERATION evaluation

Design processes are often seen as being immeasurable. Maybe because ‘designers’ believe the impact is obvious – “Look how happy they all are?!” (etc!)

When it comes to using the design process in the context of ‘business’ then the bottom may well speak for itself. However, if design is going to be taken seriously in areas where the bottom line is neither financial nor a product on a shelf then it is up to the designer to find ways of demonstrating the value in the things we find most meaningful.

So how DO you measure the impact in a story?

GENERATION:
25 YEARS OF CONTEMPORARY ART – Co-production Projects

I ran a workshop in Glasgow last week to demonstrate an evaluation process I had developed. GENERATION have run a series of co-production arts projects across Scotland for young people. We wanted to carry the co-production ethic through into the evaluation and capture meaningful reflections on the process – and capture them in a way that would demonstrate the impact the projects had had.

The process I designed is based on storyboarding methods usually used in idea generation. Instead I used the storyboards as a means of reflection – documenting an individual’s story or journey through the project. I’ll get into the process in a moment but firstly, here’s a film of how it went down…

When evaluating projects the challenge is gathering QUALITATIVE feedback that can be QUANTITATIVELY measured. To achieve this I devised a method of rating stories against their relevance to the impacts defined by GENERATION. The impacts are areas of development and learning that GENERATION set out to achieve through the various projects. The impacts are: Skills, Confidence, Relationships, and Positive Progression).

In addition to these impacts we also agreed to look out for other common themes that were identified as being important to the young people through their feedback.

GENERATION - Big questions

Above: One of the BIG questions – five questions around the room that helped warm everyone up for the tasks ahead.

Below: Time lapse film of the Big Question session.

My evaluation process was to be delivered to the participants (young people) from each of the projects by the artists and educators (practitioners) who had worked with them throughout the project. But first the practitioners needed to be experience it for themselves – this was the purpose of my workshop. I would help GENERATION evaluate the practitioners experience by using my process and at the same time they would experience it in preparation for delivering it themselves back at their own projects.

The Process
It was important to me that the rating didn’t devalue experiences that didn’t appear to meet the impacts – it was important that the young people shared their story in their words, in their language. It was up to us to find what we were looking for.

For example: If a young person told us that they had made friends as a result of attending one of the programmes and that they enjoyed making things for this exhibition that they had never done before, then we tagged that story with relationships and skills.

During one of the project evaluations several young people told us that having somewhere [the studio where we met] away from school to be creative was important and this was identified as an additional impact.

So the young people were not made aware of the impacts before we gathered their stories because it was important that the stories were authentic and not influenced by the targets of the project.

We wanted their story, from their perspective and in their words.

GENERATION partners

ABOVE: TO IDENTIFY WHO-SAID-WHAT WHILE STILL HAVING THE FREEDOM TO HAVE FEEDBACK GATHERED TOGETHER WE GAVE EACH PARTNER PROJECT THEIR OWN COLOUR OF PEN. PARTNERS INCLUDED ‘THE NATIONAL GALLERY’, ‘MCMANUS’ AND THE ‘DUNDEE CONTEMPORARY ARTS’.

I devised a simple matrix to gather impact summaries of the stories. This was simply a grid with the person’s name and a box for each of the GENERATION impacts and another box where we recorded additional impacts and notes. We graded the tags using three sizes of dot. If, for example, a reference was made to relationships (either explicitly or in the participant’s own words) then we marked a dot. If the story made more than one mention of relationships we made a larger dot. If the whole story was about relationships then we filled the box with a dot. In this was, we could see at a glance, which tags were most significant.

As in any evaluation of this kind there was a level of subjectivity. For this reason it is recommended that the people who cary out the project evaluations are the people who have been companions on the learning journey with the young people – the youth workers and practitioners. They are best placed to interpret the stories (of a year or more) most accurately through their knowledge of both the project and the young person.

GENERATION at Glasgow CCA

Above: Inside the CCA, Glasgow

At the end of the day the practitioners left the CCA with a tool kit under their arm and experience under their belt – along with the confidence (fingers crossed) to evaluate their own projects with their own young people.

I personally had the opportunity to use the method in Nov/Dec last year to evaluate the projects at The McManus and the Dundee Contemporary Arts and it went very well.

Through design, testing and training, the whole evaluation has been an extremely rewarding and valuable process for me and I’m looking forward to seeing results from the other five centres over the coming months.

Design processes are often seen as being immeasurable which results in qualitative feedback and stories being viewed as less valuable than other more obvious forms of measurement. It is therefore the responsibility of the designer to find ways of demonstrating the value in what we believe to be meaningful. In this way we will only add value to the process and more meaning to the impact.

I would love to hear from you if you have come across qualitative measurement that has impressed you.

Location: Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Arts
Film and editing: Jon Gill © 2015