The first ladders session in Sunderland Uni Media Centre commenced with meeting mentor Chloe Rodham and previous Ladders alumni, now Northumbria University associate-lecturer, Paul Trickett. After hearing an overview of the basics of sound and camera we had a look at how we would go about setting up to shoot on green screen. After the theory, everyone headed down to the green-screen studio to try out in practice what we had just learnt. We rotated our roles between using the camera, the sound recorder and boom pole, directing, performing and of course the most important…the clapperboard!

The first task was to perform an either improvised or prepared delivery of a spoof weather report, some people had come prepared with what they wanted to say and others either improvised or read out the lyrics of a weather-related song to practice how to deliver to a camera. We then tried out a technique called pixelation in front of the green screen – a stop-motion technique which means moving people or objects and capturing their photograph each time they moved – the kind of content that would work well in something like a music video. We tried walking across the screen from one side to another with the people involved swapping every step.

After the green-screen session, we met Jordan Mann from MADE in Tyne and Wear – a locally focused news, sport and weather production company. He explained what they create and showed us their studio space but explained how a lot of their content is now filmed on location in the local area.

We were then introduced to Nathan Ely and Scott McGerty from Spark FM, they told us all about the radio station that operates out of Sunderland University. They talked to us about issues like biased and liability with journalistic broadcasting. This was relevant for those interested in video journalism – thinking about how important it is to create a balanced argument if you are reporting on topics like elections and current affairs. We also had a look at how the timings for radio work with an on-screen countdown of how much time the presenters must fill to keep the links with national broadcasters and a look how their programming is curated.

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Some words and reflections from Georgia…

On the 7th of March, I joined the Film & TV crew of the programme at Sunderland University. It was a long and busy day for the group and fascinating for me to see them develop their talent and learn new talents. In the green screen room, they created weather report scenes, practised with stop motion and delivered monologues. This consisted of acting and work with microphones and cameras. They all also tried out the role of director, controlling the small productions they made throughout the day. I managed to grab a few of the talent programme individuals and asked them a variety of questions I had planned.

One of the students I talked to was Thomas, who had worked on camera, sound and greenscreen when I spoke to him. He told me he “enjoyed working with the sound the most because it requires you to be constantly busy”. The programme had already taught him new things, such as how to use the sound recorder and boom pole. Thomas would be interested in doing more greenscreen work in the future as a result of his day at the university’s media centre and reported though it was early days, the programme was “going well” for him.

I also spoke to a humorous actor, Chris, who turned his weather report into a question of why people didn’t just look outside- a bold creative choice that paid off when the group was amused by these well-performed antics. He told me he had done all the roles on offer to him that day and was clearly getting the most he possibly could out of the programme with an admirable determination. He told me that he had enjoyed the camera work and overseeing the boom operator the most as they were “the most interesting”. Chris really liked controlling the camera shots as well and seemed to be really enjoying all aspects of the course. He learnt that “cameras are complicated things” as they demand the user to get the right light and angle for shots. However, he hadn’t struggled with any of the work that day because any issues were quickly resolved with help and assistance. Chris longs to do more camera work in the near future and believes that the programme is thus far meeting all his expectations. I was glad to hear that he felt Ladders was a “really friendly environment”.