Bespoke Group Video Training for Anthropologists at Edinburgh University

Sorry for the long silence: Spectacle’s video training team has been extremely busy over the past few months!
Alongside our usual sessions in London, we recently ran an extremely successful video production course for anthropologists and social researchers at the University of Edinburgh – and then another session shortly afterwards for media students at Birkbeck, University of London.

The good news is, we are now taking bookings again for the new academic year!

We can run bespoke short courses for academics (students and staff) on location at universities and institutes anywhere in the country, where a group of between 4 and 20 people want to learn how to use video for fieldwork.

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Over the years, we have trained hundreds of students and we continue to receive excellent feedback after every session.

Our hands on approach equips students with the ability and confidence to go out and shoot on their own after our training.

Our courses are flexible and can be easily tailored to your needs. We can arrange anything from a one day introduction to video production or editing techniques, to a full three or four days of training covering the entire filmmaking process from start to finish.

We can schedule the course across consecutive days or leave intervals between sessions.
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We can also offer training in participatory video techniques.

More information on our bespoke courses can be found here: www.spectacle.co.uk/training/bespoke-group

We also run weekend courses for individuals at our premises in London, with the next one scheduled for 23-24 September.

Many academics have taken and enjoyed our courses, and you can see feedback here: http://www.spectacle.co.uk/training/testimonials/

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Interview: Spectacle training ‘demystified’ the filmmaking process

Spectacle has been offering flexible, efficient and affordable training based at our Lavender Hill office in South London for several years. In that time, we’ve had all kinds of people come through our doors, and the feedback we’ve received at the end of the courses has been overwhelmingly positive. Recently, however, we wondered exactly what our trainees have taken away from our particular approach to teaching in the long run. We sought out Michaela Benson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, a few months after she finished our Digital Video Production for Anthropologists & Social Researchers training weekend to discuss this.

Why did you choose digital video production skills? 

I do a lot of research in people’s houses looking at their relations with the wider residential environment… video can offer a way of introducing participatory elements into an academic research project, and can capture the visual experience of a research setting. I also think that it introduces a different way of communicating findings to our audiences. I wanted to develop these skills so I could apply them myself and start experimenting.

What did you like most about our course?

The way it demystified the process of video-recording and taught me some fail safe basics that are transferable not only into future video work, but also into my everyday use of cameras. I feel that my understanding of video production and the skills involved in this have undoubtedly benefited.

What has stayed with you the most?

The simple understanding of how to frame a shot has been invaluable, and I feel as though it is becoming second-nature.

Now you’ve learned these skills, what’s next?

I’m looking forward to applying my new skills to my current project on self-build in the coming months.

Why do you think researchers should be engaging more with digital video?

I think that video offers additional ways of capturing research data, to be analysed later, and also opens up possibilities for different modes of engagement and communication.

Would you recommend the course to someone else?

I would definitely recommend the course. It broke the process of production into small steps that were easy to remember. Also, having a chance to put these into practice made me realise the benefits of this approach. This is a course that is perfect for anyone who wants to make a start at looking at including video production in their work.

You can find out more about our Digital Video Production for Anthropologists & Social Researchers training weekend here, including upcoming dates and fees.
If you’re interested in documentary film making but you’re not a researcher, we have a range of other courses that may interest you. All our training courses apply the same ‘fail safe’, ‘small steps’ approach to give you the confidence to pick up a video camera and start shooting.

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Incompetent filmmaking is incompetent ethnography

"This is the type of course that every anthropologist should take" 
"Excellent course to get you feeling comfortable with a camera"
"This course delivers on what it offers"
"Mark is extremely experienced, versatile & an excellent teacher"
"Interview technique tips were great"

“Films that are cinematographically incompetent are also ethnographically incompetent (even when made by an ethnographer)” (Heider, 2007: 4).

Producing an Ethnographic Film is not the only reason to incorporate a camera in to your fieldwork.There is no substitute for what the camera can capture. It is an irreplaceable tool, one that can assist you, expand your academic knowledge, broaden your ethnography, enrich your experience and uniquely contribute to the field of Anthropology.

Learning fundamental, basic principles of film-making will make the difference between unusable, poor quality footage and priceless material.

Above all, understand the limitations and the potential of your equipment:

Visit Spectacle and acquire the knowledge you need by attending one of our affordable, intense, hands-on courses in film-making.

References

Heider, Karl G. (2007) Ethnographic Film, revised edition, Austin: University of Texas Press

For more information contact Spectacle at training@spectacle.co.uk

Visit our website and have a look at our upcoming dates for the Digital Video Production Weekend Course for Anthropologists and Social Researchers or find out about our other workshops.

If you wish to book you can find all the details you need on our how to book page.

If you would like more information on future courses and training opportunities sign up for the Training Newsletter – tick the box if you would also like Spectacle’s general newsletter.





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“Anthropologist and the Camera”

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During our last course on Digital Video Production for Anthropologists and Social Researchers the single most important hindrance, while using a camera during fieldwork, came up; lack of fundamental technical knowledge. Chances are, more often than not, that poor sound, bad lighting, amateur framing and many more careless adjustments will stand in the way of what otherwise could be priceless, irreplaceable footage either for teaching/archive purposes or for professional documentary production.

Alas, the transition from the general theoretical knowledge of cinema, to which anyone of us can get access to (at least to some extent), to the actual implementation of it is highly challenging. Several prestigious universities and institutions, such as Manchester’s Granada Center of Visual Anthropology, have been promoting film-making as part of an anthropologist’s curriculum with great success. Yet, for most universities and especially smaller anthropology departments across Europe, Ethnographic Film is far from available.

My personal outlook on this matter is that if circumstances allow it (which only means if the communities which the anthropologists study allow it), a camera is as mandatory as a notebook. By extension, the quality of the filmed material should indicate an effort analogous to the one generated by the anthropologist for the actual ethnography. Thus, the technical knowledge of filming, sound and editing becomes critical. Nonetheless, as our particular academic interests gradually develop, a MA in Visual Anthropology may become a luxury that not everyone can afford, financially or otherwise. Does this mean that we shall be excluded from this community of anthropologists who have committed to become equally good film-makers as well as ethnographers?

Long story short, the fact that not every anthropologist aspires to a career in documentary and Ethnographic Film, does not justify a potential indifference to the efficacy of high quality filmed material for other purposes. As Mead (2003: 5) points out, we can only “cherish those rare combinations of artistic ability and scientific fidelity”, yet as whole cultures go unrecorded it is “inappropriate to demand that filmed behavior have the earmarks of a work of art”.

Spectacle’s weekend courses are a unique opportunity to acquire detailed and concise digital video filming skills at affordable prices. It is also important to stress that even the most experienced anthropologist does not necessary know the best way to introduce a camera in to fieldwork. With expertise in participatory media, engaging the ‘hard to reach’, as well as 20 years of professional film-making inside and with communities and minority groups Spectacle is more than equipped to provide this difficult to obtain knowledge.

References

Mead, M. (2003). Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words. In: Hockings, P. Principles of Visual Anthropology. 3rd ed. New York: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 3-10

For more information contact Spectacle at training@spectacle.co.uk

Visit our website and have a look at our upcoming dates for the Digital Video Production Weekend Course for Anthropologists and Social Researchers or find out about our other workshops.

If you wish to book you can find all the details you need on our how to book page.

If you would like more information on future courses and training opportunities sign up for the Training Newsletter – tick the box if you would also like Spectacle’s general newsletter.





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