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. The 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 a crude film cutting and pasting. Unfortunately this meant the final result had a huge 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 videoing most of the film 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 at the time, 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 caught up in using this technology.
Video Mag 2 was put together with news items, jokes, interviews and video clips. This edition lasted more than 50 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-four 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. The original editing was not as good in Mag 2, as in an effort to reduce the crudeness of change over, some words were clipped at the start of some pieces. However everything still works and gives a flavour of the good work that was going on in Oxbridge Lane Primary in the mid 1980s.
Due to the time involved in creating the Video Mag, no more were made. It also depended up on the pupils you had and where the class focus went next. The School Newspaper did continue for six years.
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