In 1985/6 my first class started a newspaper, first in A4 format and later in A3 sized newspapers. Pupil reporters had specific roles in gathering news, from real news items to regular features. Later we extended this idea into a Video Mag News project, where, as well as writing about the news we would gather/create video of the news we were reporting.
The 1980s was a very early time in the use of video in schools, and wasn’t used much in school as a learning tool as few, if any, had the expertise. Cleveland (now Teesside) Education department had video cameras that teachers could book for periods of time, and they had a video editing suite that could also be used to edit your footage. This suite was difficult to get hold of partly because it wasn’t near Stockton and was usually being used by technicians. Our edits were mostly done through transferring a piece of film from the field recording on one player, across to the final piece on another recorder, a bit like crude film cutting and pasting. Unfortunately this meant the final result had a loss in film and sound quality.
The cameras themselves were huge, the type that sat on your shoulder, and used a full size VHS video cassette. The battery I think, lasted about 30 minutes before needing recharged, and was like a 30cm long thin brick. All very different to the easiness of making a video today.
Pupils were in charge of filming most of the video needed in our work, and some of the footage was well done, while other pieces were a bit fast and erratic. The cameras also didn’t have today’s advanced stabilisation to avoid shake, or low light shooting, so some of our shots are a bit shaky and dark at times. But given the times and the lack of technology, we did a fantastic job with what we had, and were leading the way with its use in our work. It’s only in recent times that schools have emulated us in using this technology.
Video Mag 1 was put together with news items, jokes, interviews and video clips. It is introduced by William Griffin and a variety of pupils from our class introduce news items they were responsible for developing. There is a nice piece in the middle where William interviews younger pupils about their work, which was was hard as they didn’t have answers, but he keeps it going well. This gave everyone, even less confident pupils, an opportunity to develop confidence.
Video Mag 1 originally lasted about 40 minutes, which was way too long, especially as most of the time was taken up with news clips that were too long. The intro lasted more than three minutes alone. This version has been trimmed back to twenty-two minutes and has had the crude transitions replaced with modern ones. Video quality is from original VHS tape, but has been enhanced a little. Any former pupils seeing it again will remember the fun we had making it.
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