The fifth week of the Ladders programme began with another insight into the world of Film and TV. Guest speaker James Craggs from Roundhouse Pictures came in to talk to the group about the work they do. Part of The Roundhouse Company, which was established in 1995 and is a creative agency focusing on branding, digital and pictures, the subsidiary was formed in 2014 and creates corporate films. With a list of clients ranging from Newcastle University, Hard Rock International and intu Metrocentre, the business has worked with companies from sectors including Accounting, Fashion and Business Development.


Introducing himself, James explained how after completing his Master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism, he went on to work in TV, Digital Media and Online Journalism before arriving at his current career in corporate film. Delving into what that last term actually means, James agreed with the students’ response that it was all about creating a product to be used by the company. The student’s got to learn why corporate film is so important, how it typically works and the skills required for the job.

James also outlined how it can provide weird and wonderful opportunities, which for James included working in Trinidad and filming events attended by the likes of Cliff Richard!


The biggest piece of advice from James was to be nice to people, as it is essential to build good relationships in this business in order to build a good reputation and keep clients. James also highlighted the importance of knowing there are people better than you in the industry you can learn from, stating how he has gained “incredible insight” by watching and learning from others.


Answering some of the student’s questions, one was about how he got his start in TV, which he said was through being a runner, making hot drinks and working many long days before he was offered a role closer to what he was interested in, showing that hard work and perseverance pays off. To wrap up his chat, James briefly discussed the equipment he would be using for a time-lapse project he was starting that night for intu Metrocentre. Showing the three main cameras he would be using, how he was planning on positioning them and the effect he hoped they’d create, he also showed the students his new 360° camera which he plans to use after the completion of the four day endeavour.


After learning about the world of corporate film, Chloe lead the rest of the session, teaching the students new things in the After Effect software. The aim of today was to create a rain cloud animation, which could be applied to the student’s weather forecasts from Week Three of the programme.

Chloe led the group on the projector screen while they followed along. Showing how to create a rain cloud from multiple ellipses, change the colour and gradient, blur the shape, create a raindrop, add shine to it, change composition, how to animate it and getting it to fade out.


While the software looks complicated at first glance, a student assured that it was quite simple once you get the hang of it. Chloe then showed the students how to loop the animation to have the raindrops falling from the cloud, altering the speed of the individual raindrops to make the simulation more natural and realistic. After the students had all completed their animations, Chloe demonstrated how to add them to the recordings of the weather forecasts.

Day Nine proved to be extremely helpful to the students, learning about the corporate world, getting tips from someone in that industry and having a master class from Chloe in creating animations, the student’s certainly had a lot to take on board ahead of Wednesday’s project brief release.


Day 10:
All three groups united on Day 10 as they were delivered information about the projects they were about to undertake. Jennifer Barrett, the founder of TICE, gave a brief presentation outlining what the students needed to do in order to complete their project for the showcase in November. The students were given a project template encouraging them to think about their idea, how they were going to achieve it and whether they were going to collaborate with anyone.

Taking a break from the presentation, music mentor Sam Burt initiated an interactive icebreaker task designed to get the students to talk to others about their projects and the skills they had as well as being a bit of fun!

The rest of the slideshow focused on the importance of project management techniques. The students were inspired to think about a realistic timeline for their goals and maintaining a passion for project research as if it’s something you’re truly interested in, it won’t feel like you’re even doing any work.


With this is mind, the students were asked to write down their initial idea, the things they will need in order to complete their projects and what they plan to achieve over the coming weeks, keeping in mind that it needs to be realistic. It was also encouraged that the students think about why they want to do the project as it is the perfect opportunity to prepare an industry lead piece that can be discussed in future interviews or be added to their CV’s, portfolios or show reels.


Lee Casey, a TICE mentor, led the remainder of the session, informing the students about the Enterprise sessions they could access. Starting on 8th November, the sessions are designed to give the students support and guidance as they enter the business world and are ideal for anyone thinking about turning their projects or passion into a business, being a freelancer or creating a business. The sessions will have a different focus each time and range from branding a business to marketing one and even how to take care of the financial side of things with helpful sessions from HMRC on taxes, something which is vital for any freelancer to know. There will also be a range of special guests from the various industries, giving the students access to even more contacts in their chosen field, which can only provide a helping hand in getting them started with their futures!

With the focus now on the students’ projects, I am so excited to see how they get on over the upcoming weeks and already can’t wait to see the finished projects as I have no doubt they will all be amazing!


Day 11:
To finish off the week, the students got down to everyone planning out their projects, researching, putting together treatments, storyboarding and script writing – a terrifying yet equally exciting task! Maxine started to test out how to make still images look more 3D in after effects whilst Peter and Sisley learnt to how make a storyboard template layout in InDesign. Meanwhile, Andrew tried out how to animate salt using rostrum style stop motion and Heather started some model making for the character in her project. To summarise, each student has a different outlook on their final product which is going to lead to a fantastic display for the mini showcase! It’s interesting to observe so many aspects of the Film/TV sector being put into play – proving that Ladders can truly tailor to the needs and ambitions of young talent.
By Olivia Carr (TICE Blogger)