Incompetent filmmaking is incompetent ethnography

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“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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UK’s Olympic win could leave London tourism a major loser

The official agency behind promoting tourism for London has admitted that the 2012 Olympic Games could lead to a lull in visitors to the capital next year, which may have a damaging impact on the UK’s stuttering economic recovery.

London & Partners has acknowledged there “could be a problem” with people not wanting to come to London over fears, such as over-crowded transport, a lack of, or high prices for, hotel rooms, and the capital resembling a building site, from 1 January until the Olympics end on 27 August.

More on the Independent

London Olympics on Spectacle’s website

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Olympics could have negative effects on sports participation

After London was announced as the host of the 2012 Olympic Games, Labour made a number of promises about using the Olympics as a way of inspiring people to be more healthy and get involved with sport and exercise. They planned to get a million more people playing sport three or more times a week and to get a million more people doing more general physical activity. Whether it is actually possible for mega events such as the Olympics to have this kind of impact is something which has been contested by a number of studies.

The BMJ set out to find any study that had ever been conducted looking at the real-world health and socioeconomic impacts on places which have hosted major sporting events. From the 54 studies they found,  there seemed to be no evidence to support the idea that events like Olympics have a positive effect on health or socioeconomic outcomes.

One of the studies looked at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games and found that sports participation fell after the games, and there became in an increased gap in participation between the rich and the poor areas of Manchester.

Another study in Manchester suggested problems arose because voluntary groups were being excluded from using Commonwealth branding and the new facilities built for the event tended to only benefit professional athletes rather than the general population.

The government now seems to be dropping any focus it had on its original plan to use the Olympics to get people involved with healthy activity and sport, probably having come to the realisation that they will never meet the large targets that they originally proposed. This goes to show that the government can make big claims when they are bidding to get these events but when it comes down to it, they don’t actually have to follow these claims through.

For more information click Bad Science

Click London Olympics for more blogs
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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