Workshop 7:

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Mark Jobe, director of Quay Animation Studios visited us today, sharing insights into the interesting and varied path his career has taken – from feature film work on an animated version of A Christmas Carol to astoundingly beautiful renditions of 3D landscapes in art installation Mariner 9, originally commissioned by Tyneside Cinema.  His approach to work is always to go the extra mile to create something that really impresses the client, not only to make a great job, but to further his own development of skills and to gain a broader knowledge of software. He described the vast amount of online tutorials there are now to help tackle learning new skills. He was very positive about working in the region, describing how he kept his overheads low in order to accommodate the usual troughs and peaks of workflow when running your own business. He also frequently works with young people, enjoying sharing his expertise and enabling them to create pieces that look very professional. One example was using photography of the inside of a photocopier – using VFX to transform it into a space craft scene – we were blown away with how it looked when it was finished – it was totally transformed.

It really inspired us to think about looking at the things around us in a different light, you can use all kinds of everyday objects to use as a base for constructing environments virtually, it just requires a bit of imagination. He described his current DragonBall-Z themed project for Buff Dudes (a YouTube channel for healthy food recipes and gym workout routines) – We are looking forward to seeing the finished result online in a couple of weeks!
Later Chloe showed us how to effectively key out the green background from our footage that we shot at Superkrush last week, in After Effects, first using various effects to over-saturate the footage, and then the plugin Keylight. We then looked at how to use this as a matte so that we could edit the footage colouring to appear more natural.

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Workshop 8:

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The students had a fun-filled day on Wednesday when they headed to the BBC (Newcastle) for a studio tour. After being given a tour pass, that made everyone feel very official, we were introduced to our enthusiastic tour guides, Deborah and Simon, and our insight into the BBC began.

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First off we were shown to a room where Simon explained the timeline displayed on the wall, informing everyone of how the BBC first began broadcasting in the North East back in the 1920s, detailing the move to the current location from a hospital and how things have developed for the region. Simon also mentioned some BBC TV shows that are filmed in the area, from the classic teen drama Byker Grove, which launched the careers of two of the regions favourite celebrities Ant and Dec, to current shows Wolfblood and The Dumping Ground, both of which are filmed in or around Newcastle and are two of the most popular children’s shows on the iPlayer.

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Next, we headed to the library where Deborah explained how it runs. Requiring three librarians, the archive holds all recordings from 1982 to the present day. We were shown an old fashioned tape that the BBC formerly used and also ones that have been used over the years since then to see how different they are in size – the current tapes they use are a fraction of the size and hold twice as much footage! The room also contains a machine with footage from the past 90 days, just in case anyone was to complain or query something that was aired.

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Studio C, the home of the early morning traffic watch and occasional interviews, was the next place we headed to. Set up with a screen and a camera, we were shown how the green lights around the camera could act as a green screen and also how they could be changed to blue in case a guest wore the wrong colour! We were also shown a clip recorded by weatherman Paul Mooney, giving some interesting tips, which were useful considering last week’s session involved the students recording weather forecasts. Our tour guides even showed us some camera trickery involving an invisibility blanket!

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The students also got an insight into how the sound was controlled before we were taken into the main studio. It was amazing to see where the channel’s Look North news programmes were filmed and our tour guides gave us an understanding of how the studio worked. From the pedal pushing autocue to the 80 overhead lights and sound reducing boards on the wall, it was incredible to learn how the studio runs. There was also a photo opportunity in the form of sitting behind the news desk where the likes of Carol Malia and Colin Briggs present. The students learnt how the studio could be switched around to fit the different needs of the shows filming in there. Simon showed how the BBC use simple adjustments such as covering lights in a film to change the atmosphere and use the same sets for anything from the news to politics shows!

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The last stop of the tour was to the Interactive Studio where the group were able to test out some of the things they had learnt on the visit. The room is a replica of one from the TV show The Dumping Ground. The first task was to simulate a radio drama show, which required script reading and voice acting. The students also got to see how sound effects are used and how one item can be utilised to create numerous sounds. Then, three people were selected to present the news, sport and the weather forecast, which was made to look like a professional broadcast with VT’s and music.

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After the tour had concluded, we headed over to The Toffee Factory in Ouseburn –an innovative working space for those in the creative and digital industries. There, we visited Tim Lozinski who the students were first introduced to in Week Two of the programme.

Tim showed us his website and talked us through some of the work, ranging from interactive animations to website designs, featured on it. He informed the students of how he landed jobs, how to know which ones will be beneficial to you, and also how he made the animations. Tim showcased some work he had collaborated with Chloe Rodham, mentor of the Film and TV course on, and some other animators on, such as an Animated Advent in 2013. He also gave provided some information on the differences between being self employed and belonging to a limited company which was very useful for the students thinking about their futures in the creative industry.

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After showing his work, Tim used the remainder of the session to give the students a brief tutorial on how to use Audition to mix sounds, taking them from 5.1 surround sound to stereo mix. The students were able to follow Tim’s demonstration on sound in the left and right channels and how they look on screen. Tim was also happy to offer advice to the students, answering questions they had such as sound being sorted before the editing stage and sharing the programmes he finds most beneficial in the sound editing process.

Overall, the students had a lot to learn, particularly in Workshop Eight’s session. The tour proved to be extremely productive getting to learn about the history of the BBC in Newcastle, how the different aspects of the news and radio work and also getting to see a real working studio and how it operates while Tim provided the students with more understanding on how to use the Audition software and giving some tips on working in animation and the business side of things.

by Olivia Carr (TICE Blogger).