Digital Video Production for Anthropologists and Social Researchers Training Course

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Spectacle offers a unique short course in digital video production techniques designed specifically for Anthropologists, Anthropology students and Social Researchers who want to learn to use video in their field research.

Spectacle is an award winning independent television production company specialising in documentary, community-led, investigative journalism and participatory media. We are a small, socially-minded company whose profits go back in to funding our community based work. Our training is affordable and efficient; we teach the basic techniques in just one weekend and we offer large discounts to students and unemployed people.

We schedule weekend courses for individuals regularly throughout the year at our premises in London. However, If you would prefer us to come to you, we are also able to bring our training to your university or institution and teach a group in digital video production techniques. In the past we have trained groups at the University of Cambridge, University of Lancaster, and the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research. We received excellent feedback on these courses:

Mark really knows his subject, and I found the course motivating, practical and enjoyable. I came out with loads of ideas.” Student at the University of Cambridge, Conservation Research Institute.

“In two days you really get a feel for what you can do with a camera, theoretically as well as practically.” Participant at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research.

About the course

This is an intensive, hands-on, weekend training course with emphasis on developing your practical filming skills, participatory techniques, and do-it-yourself confidence that will enhance the quality and validity of filmed fieldwork material. The short, condensed and effective course will give all participants a solid foundation of practical knowledge and a working understanding of digital cameras, sound recording, and filming on location.

Feedback from former participants:

This is the type of course every anthropologist and social researcher should take” – Dr. Mattia Fumanti, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St. Andrews

Simple, uncomplicated approach to something people are interested in but perhaps scared of trying out.” – Julie Botticello, Research Associate, UCL

For a full interview with former participant Michaela Benson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, see here: http://www.spectacle.co.uk/spectacleblog/spectacle-training-courses/interview-spectacle-training-demystified-the-film-making-process/

Details and How to Book

Our weekend course costs £240 or £120 concessions (students and unemployed people, with evidence). We are next running a course on 6-7 December 2013, and then the 10-11 January.

To book, please go here: http://www.spectacle.co.uk/projects_page.php?id=165

For more information on this course or others, see the training pages on our website: http://www.spectacle.co.uk/projects_page.php?id=496

If you want to know more about Spectacle’s work, or have any queries, please email training@spectacle.co.uk

If you are interested in booking the course visit the How to Book page.

For information on other Spectacle training courses

Or contact training@spectacle.co.uk

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




 


 

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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”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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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The Relationship Between Visual Anthropology and Documentary Film

Anthropology (the study of cross-cultural human sociality) has only been made possible with the expansion of transport and communication links that allowed the first Anthropologists to research and study other cultures. As a result of this, Anthropology is a relatively young subject, being first taught in the late eighteenth century. The subject developed during a time of industrial and technological expansion that some Anthropologists embraced. Some of the early ethnographers such as Evans-Pritchard used photography to illustrate and enrich their work. Since the cost and access to film has become more available an increasing number of Anthropologists have begun to utilise film in their research which has created an off shoot of Visual Anthropology.

The use of film in social research raises ethical and theoretical issues such as the power relations between the filmmaker and the participants, more specifically if the camera is an instrument of surveillance. Does the filmmaker have the right to videotape indigenous communities? Issues of misrepresentation of certain communities could unintentionally cause harm. There are problems of translating anthropological abstract concepts, such as kinship onto film. Many Anthropologists dismiss the use of film in their work as it raises too many epistemological problems for them. However, these concerns can be reduced if ethnographers follow certain guidelines when producing films. Anthropologists can use a framework that some documentary filmmakers follow.

Documentary filmmakers such as Spectacle Productions ascribe to ethical guidelines that aim to respect the subjects in the film. This means to be responsive and respectful of what people want and do not want filmed as well as working collaboratively from a grassroots stance point to give the participants a voice as well as representing the film’s subject’s in a way they want to be presented.

The issue of power relations with filmmaker and participants can be solved through participatory and collaborative film making. Filmmaker and participants make decisions together on what they shoot, the access allowed and the content filmed. Another approach is to give the participants being filmed the cameras which is a form of community video. Many indigenous communities, especially those in the Amazon have utilised film for land rights activism or to promote their cultures to a wider audience.

Misrepresentation as a potential problem can be solved again with participation from the communities by having a pre-screening of the film with a representative with the community being filmed. If this is not possible due to distances or other obstacles another way is to speak with the participants during the filming explaining and demonstrating transparently what your aim of the film is.

 On a theoretical note, while to film the abstract notion of ‘culture’ is beyond difficult one can film the material and visual world that can convey aspects of ‘culture’. Filming events such as religious rites, celebrations and every day life help to build a picture that conveys lived-in cultural experience.

The idea of creating a totally unbiased and objective ethnographic film is problematic as it will always be framed by the filmmakers prejudices, as with any ethnographic write-up. One cannot escape this fact, therefore the best way forward is to realise these limitations and to go forward to create the film.

The benefits of including ethnographic films can significantly add depth to social research. Anthropology can use film to showcase elements of culture hat are sometimes overlooked, for example nuances in speech and movements that are not always written about in ethnographic monographs. Film can be utilised in a variety of ways: as reference material for write-ups, examples or illustrations of particular concepts, as well as bringing ethnographic data together in a tangible and understandable format that can be understood by a wider audience.

Anthropologists and social researchers wishing to make ethnographic films can look to Documentary Film as a model to answer some ethical and aesthetic problems that the film format raises.

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For more information on Spectacle’s training courses for Documentary Film Making

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