MID118 Research Trip to London, June 2016

Introduction

Following being awarded an Erasmus grant for course development, we used a portion of the grant to go on a fact finding trip to London´s production environment. Our aims were to strengthen existing connections and to get some insight into a variety of production environments and challenges whilst also culminating in attending The Degree Show at Ravensbourne College.

Wednesday 15th June

We flew to London and met up with Emma Mulqueeny OBE who is the Chief Executive of Elbi and Rewired State. We caught up with Emma to discuss the successful collaboration between MID 112 students and Elbi in experimenting with a growth hacking ad campaign around promoting the Elbi app to audiences last semester. The results of this project will be covered in another report shortly.

Dinner with Emma Mulqueeny and MID Production Team

We discussed further future opportunities in short form content and digital spaces that we hope to collaborate on, Emma will join us for a visit to Volda soon. Emma has just been honoured by Queen Elizabeth II for services to technology and education with an OBE.

Thursday 16th June.

We started the day by visiting Diagonal View who specialise in producing short form content for online channels and brand positioning.

Viewing work in the Diagonal View Offices. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

David Jackson, Head of Audience Development at Diagonal View talked us through the process and business model of how Diagonal View create channels in Facebook and Youtube to build audience and communities around topics that then drive ad revenue.

They have a process for looking at analytics and constantly trialling new approaches with a produce and release frequent approach. CEO Matt Heiman explains their phenomenal story in this Silicon Real Interview:

Their production model is interesting too in the sense they hire people with the right mindset, often new graduates who are keen to produce. They pay them a salary and also give them a % of the ad revenue. Therefore they have built a production hub that is very good at creating short form content for online. Through this contact we will explore future collaboration and liaison to develop our short form content capabilities and invite David to Volda for a workshop.

The Diagonal View Studio. Photo by Dag S. Roland

Next we went to the other end of the spectrum and visited international production and broadcaster NBC/Universal and met with Rebecca Klinck, Director of Broadcast Services.

NBC Universal Platform Services being explained. Photo by Dag S. Roland

Here we walked through the process of how multi channel broadcast platforms operate globally for distribution, a fascinating exploration of how broadcasting is being localised in its content and ad placement and how it is automated. It was a great contrast to Diagonal View who are agile with the web, whereas a major broadcaster has many logistical and hierarchical issues to contend with. They explained the challenges of a “Netflix and Social World” for broadcasters that is disrupting their space and how they will have to change with it.

Our last visit of the day was to ITN Productions and ITN Studios which is one of the UK’s major production companies and news operations. Arren Stromboli, Production Manager gave us a tour of the all the facilities and explained the operation.

Edit Suites at ITN Productions. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

Arren explained to us how they turn around multiple multi episodic factual programming production for TV and content for brands and advertising. They have a quick turnaround and formats for many of their programmes.

ITN Studio Gallery. Photo by Dag S. Roland
Green Screen Studio at ITN Studios. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

They have all in house facilities, but most of the staff are freelance with a few core production staff to keep it running.

ITN Edit Suite. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

He also showed us around the various newsrooms that were very busy as this was the day a Labour MP was murdered in the UK.

Busy ITN News Room. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

Friday 17th June

We started off the day at the Ravensbourne Incubator with start-up Wapisasa and it´s CEO Bryan Mathers who talked us through what it was like to be a start up in a University incubator and its pros and cons, particularly around support for new start ups and the difference for serial entrepreneurs like himself.

Discussing Wapisasa and Incubators with Bryan Mathers. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

There are valuable insights here for any future development of housing start ups in Volda which we have noted for further consideration. He also talked us through how Wapisasa had worked on creating a digital agency with young adults who were excluded from mainstream education and how they utilised an open badge based platform to build and demonstrate digital skills acquired.

In the afternoon we attended the annual Ravensbourne Degree Show which is a showcase of all the students work and Ravensbourne´s facilities. We started with an exhibition of a creator space exhibition, which was a variety of mixed media exhibitions from traditional graphic design to VR and so forth. We enjoyed playing with Joseph Ansell´s VR installation Cyber Fuck:

Joe Ansell explaining his VR producion process. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

He explained how he had self taught aspects of VR and through trial and error was trying stuff out, he found this quite liberating in how to approach projects.

Experiencing Joe Ansell´s Cyber Fuck VR Project. Photo by Carl Nesset.
Experiencing Joe Ansell´s Cyber Fuck VR Project. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

Other student work we viewed in this space was Nayim Rahman´s interactive installation project UK: Under Surveillance which was an interesting approach to challenging and questioning the prevalence of surveillance cameras in UK with an interface that tracked your face and gave data feedback facts about surveillance:

We met Jack Churchill who was about to graduate but had also already started his own production company with fellow students: Rich Tea Films. He showed us some VR experiments they had done with bungee jumping, what struck us was the professional mindset and confidence in which he spoke and really knew his field well. Something we aim to enable in our own students too.

Jack Churchill of Rich Tea Films, showing us VR Bungee Jumping. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

We then met some New Media students who had made a variety of apps and web designs, we were particularly impressed with Harry Foster and his Proper Coffee app, which he had a fully functional prototype of. Again what was very impressive was his full pitch and how he explained himself to us, a very engaging student. We also trialled Matthew Starr´s Deer Story, an experimental interactive story. Other great experiments were Luke George Hardy´s interactive conversation installation WRU.2 which explored ideas of algorithmic conversation filtering from an interesting perspective.

Reke Onamusi shows his animation work. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

We looked at more VR work 3D animation students were doing, Reke Onamusi showed us an environment where the user could float in space.

Steve Smith explaining the challenges he faced with his 360 VR project. Photo by Carl Nesset

We also saw a really interesting piece by Steve Smith, who´s 360 VR street project was very impressive in detail and thought for the VR experience, a great deal of work had gone into this.

Video of Steve Smith´s production process for his 360 Project:

We took some time out to view films by the Digital Film Production course, which had a nice variety of commercials, documentary, short dramas and music videos.

We then caught up with Professor Jeremy Barr, whom we collaborated on MID118 course development with.

Chatting to Professor Barr. Photo by Dag S. Roland.

We finished the visit by attending the Awards Show which was an impressive live TV production (by the students) awarding the graduating students. It made us think about our own MID Awards.

It was a very insightful and rewarding trip to London in which we extended our network, informed our practice and gives us a further foundation to build on.

The Degree Show Live television production by students. Photo by Dag S. Roland.
The Award Show live production by students. Photo by Dag S. Roland.
Goodbye London from the MID Production Team. Photo by Carl Nesset.
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