Media 4 education is an interactive information resource designed specifically for people who use multimedia within education, whether you actually teach or lecture in media studies or Creative Arts or simply want to use multimedia more effectively within the educational environment. is run by dedicated media Industry Professionals, highly experienced within their own fields, who can provide you with the best professional advice available on how to improve, use and teach multimedia within education.

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Exams - Are they worth it????

I made a poor start with the head of Media Studies at my local school. The school has Technology and Media Arts Special status and it was my first meeting with him and he obviously wanted to impress. I can’t remember the exact figures he gave me, but some of his very first words to me were his proud boast that last year they’d achieved an above average exam score. He was a little taken aback by my lack of response.

Every year seems to set another record of ‘A’s and ‘A*’s in exams, but how much worth does an exam result have when so many other students (degree or A level), have the same seemingly impressive results? What makes your students stand apart from……………………………

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Simple Lighting for Stills and Video

So what’s the big deal about lighting?   Surely if you can see what your shooting, you just point and shoot and the camera takes care of the rest?  And if it’s dark then cameras have their own light source, a built in flash for stills and video cameras can have a little ‘head light’ fitted, so what’s the problem?  The mistake here is to assume that your camera is as good as your eyes, frankly they fall far short.

Then, even if you have sufficient light on your subject to render it visible, it can be the difference between an ordinary picture and creating a great image where the lighting is placed and controlled in such a way as to enhance……………………………

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Camera Mic or Separate Sound?? Part 1

Should you use the ‘on-board’ microphone on your camcorder or should you plug in a sound mixer with headphones and an alternative microphone to give you ‘separate’ sound?

During my years at the BBC, one of my responsibilities was as a Sound Recordist for National Radio Documentaries – the sort of full-blown documentary that used to go out on Radio 4, rather than the news driven programmes that now seem to proliferate today. Then, working with a Producer and probably a presenter, we’d go out on location and record interviews and material to edit and dub a programme together back in the studio on tape or computer. My responsibilities were both technical and artistic – not only was I responsible for the technical……………………………

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Camera Mic or Separate Sound?? Part 2

So when should you use the ‘on-board’ microphone on your camcorder and when should you use a sound recordist with audio sound mixer and ‘separate’ sound?

It all comes down to thinking forward to the final finished item and how you’re going to use not just the sound, but also the footage itself.

The most important sound item you’ll record is speech. Obviously use of the camera mic, unless you can get the camera with a few feet of the person speaking is going to be practically useless. Now the simple way around this is the use of Radio Mics. These have seen a huge increase in use over the last years as Sound Recordists are dropped as unnecessary from the crew and Producers seem……………………………

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Storyboarding And The Creative Process

When I worked as an actor in television, I was always fascinated by the matchstick drawings that I observed on the reverse side of director’s scripts. This was accompanied by camera angles and a strange abbreviated language, enabling the director to see how the shots would cut together.

Now that I am a director myself, passionate about drama, I fully comprehend both the language and importance of storyboarding. But is this production process always necessary, and how should students be best encouraged to master its art?

It really depends on the genre. ENG (electronic news gathering) has to be produced at great speed, as the news is breaking, and therefore provides no time to storyboard. The art of telling the story is……………………………

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Video vs Stills

Video technology has moved on so quickly, today you can even record video on your mobile phone.  It’s revolutionalised journalism, with reports and news video footage from places that  would have normally been impossible even 5 years ago.  Just think about the protests recently after the Iranian elections and how little would have been reported world wide had it not been for mobile phone video and chat rooms!

So is having a video capability on a stills camera just a marketing  gimmick?  Or could you use a stills camera to shoot your video?  Whilst the use of mobile phone footage on the news has very much seen the case of content being much more important than the actual quality, you couldn’t really……………………………

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The Open at Turnberry

The 9th Green at 'The Open' at Turnberry

I’ve just comeback from working on ‘The Open’ at Turnberry, a large media BBC event with other tv channels from America and Japan. So how do you cover such a large event with lots of things going on at once?

My job was ‘Greens and Tees’. We had over 80 microphones covering the 18 holes, set microphones covering Greens and Tees and 18 people with radio packs and gun microphones walking the fairways – all out in strong winds, rain and sun! Everything had to be kept going (even in the rain), brought in each night and put out again before play the next morning.

Also covering just the course were 52 cameras!

This output constituted the ‘International mix’, basically coverage of all the action going……………………………

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Death by Transition

Will somebody please warn students about this nasty disease that seems to be prevalent amongst media students?

In my travels around the country, I see many students’ short films/videos and often cringe at whizzy transitions between shots, which add nothing to the film but often distracts from what otherwise could be a very good piece of work.

SPECIAL TRANSITIONAL EFFECTS should be used appropriately and for a particular purpose, otherwise they may detract from the director's intent.

A film transition is a technique by which shots are joined together to make a scene. Most films will include selective use of transitions, usually to convey a tone or mood, suggest the passage of time, or separate parts of the story.

CUT The simplest transition between shots is……………………………

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Mac or PC??????

It’s the age old question fervently fought over by passionate enthusiasts on either side!!stevejobsbillgatessmall

It pits one man against another - well two in particular!!!

So which man do you believe in then???   Which one has the better machine for a multimedia based education platform?

The only thing to do is weight up each platform, so let’s start by looking at the equipment provided by Mr. Gates:-

  • The PC’s main advantage is that it’s cheap.
  • You can build it from cheap parts if you require a specific type of machine.
  • It’s completely customizable, build the machine to suit its use, install the custom software you require.
  • As well as hardware there’s a myriad of software available for it.
  • Everyone has one, the world uses it, so it’s……………………………


Size does matter!

The retail trade would have us believe that increases in mega pixel numbers (mB) i.e. the number of pixels on the photographic chip, are directly proportional to getting better images from any new camera, whether video or stills.

This is in fact not completely true!!!

Another major attribute that affects picture quality is the actual physical size of that CCD chip (i.e. the actual size of each individual pixel), image quality is not just about the number of pixels.

My first Digital SLR camera was a Fuji Finepix S1 pro which proudly announced itself as having a 3.4 mega pixel. My mobile phone, a Nokia N95, boasts a 5 mega pixel camera. So I wandered into my garden this morning and took a picture with……………………………

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Does Quality matter?


Better quality can give you better exam results! Yes it can, it’s a fact!!

Think of your favourite piece of music. Imagine it being played on a small radio in the kitchen – tinny and echoy.
Then imagine again, the experience of hearing it being played on a very expensive Hi-fi system – It’s as if you were there!

A question – Which experience did you enjoy the most? The obvious answer has to be the Hi-fi system, but that then creates another question - ‘Why?’

Of course the instant answer is ‘because the Hi-fi system is better quality’.

But think about this for a second, ‘Better Quality’ is actually only an observation of the difference; it’s not the answer as to why your emotional response……………………………

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Hearing Ain’t That Simple

earYour ears are one of the most under valued of our senses.  The human race is so visually orientated, we totally  underestimate our hearings ability.  Our ears collect and process a huge amount of subliminal information of which we remain blissfully unaware.

Imagine being at a Party or in a busy restaurant.  Your Partners conversation becomes boring and you find yourself listening to a couple on a table 10 metres away, ever done that???   How do you do it?    Then obviously your Partner mentions your name, your brain kicks into gear and suddenly they have your full attention again!!!!

Your hearing has an amazing ability to process all the complex information involved in volume, phase, time of arrival, tone, character……………………………

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