Well it’s been nearly three months since the project began form my point of view and I’ve been playing catch up. I’ve been familiarising myself with the finer points of the project, trying to get my head round the huge number acronyms used in education and generally trying to find my way to the college canteen (turn left out of the tower!).


The project blog/website is another area where I need to catch up so apologies for not getting to this sooner but we this will effectively be a repository for all project elements, including team member profiles, project documentation (where appropriate), pertinent videos (visits, student and teacher reaction/views, events) comments, progress and general musings from the team.


So, what have we been up to, what is our progress, where are we at?


Equipment: One of the first jobs was to indentify and quantify the level of stock equipment currently held within the department, ascertain what was in good order and decide what was worth sending out for servicing and what needed replacing.


The first items we decided to put out of commission were the original studio cams, these were good beasts in their time but we felt their time had past – they shoot in 4:3 and we aspire along with the industry to capture in 16:9. Plus after enquires we established that they would be quite expensive to service and we though that money would be better spent elsewhere. The other camera stock was checked and found to be in pretty good order so these will stay in rotation whilst while begin looking for cameras for the project itself.


We then set about testing out the general setup of the current studio which had not been used for a while so Gary rolled up his sleeves and began the task of checking all the wiring and the suitability of the power supply to the lighting rigs and the control area. Turned out there was plenty of life in the old studio and coupled with the procurement of some choice new elements we thought we could be up and running in no time. (see Gary’s update for more info)


A working studio for a our TV portal is essential, this is where our fast turnover content will be created, this is where we can guarantee good shooting conditions and bring together different faculties in the college into a suitable environment to create content... our bread and butter.


Cameras – the college had recently purchased three Panasonic AVCHD, these are solid state (they record to memory rather than tape) shooting HD at a 16:9 ratio. Dedicated studio cameras are very expensive so we decided to try these out as our permanent studio cameras – they worked pretty well with our set up and they communicated with the Tricaster (see separate update for info on this beauty). 


So what about general project cameras well this is where it get sticky, what is the industry doing


We had two visits to expos and from that and general industry knowledge possessed within the team it’s easy to see, we’re going solid state ie, recording to a hardrive, a memory holding device such as Panasonic’s P2 or Sony’s SxS or just general freely available SD or compact flash. Solid state improves the production workflow - instead of having to digitise media in real time from a tape format you can literally drag and drop video content into your editing system and straight onto the timeline for cutting. This has massive implications for content turnaround; you can get news pieces out fast and efficiently. Sounds perfect but the flip to this is that the format is still in an early stage and the type of camera range to budget we would be looking at the products are relatively new to market and do we really want to be guinea pigs, can we afford to take the risk? Also the media itself is expensive; P2 cards are £900 for a 16 gig card which will shoot about an hour at HD resolution. Alternatively DV tapes are just £1.50 a pop in the college shop and therefore very accessible for the average student. Decisions, decisions...


Other updates to follow will be the curriculum integration update, tricaster and studio update, programme plans and work experience and placement plans.