Mobile Video Workshop II at Radio 1Xtra Academy Exeter

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You may remember our first visit to Radio 1XTRA Academy last year, up in Bradford.

Well, Radio 1 probably liked it as much as much as we did, since they invited us back to run another one of these smartphone storytelling workshops.

This time, it took place in Exeter. We joined the action on Friday evening and ran a day-long workshop for roughly 20 students of the Exeter area.

The format and the aims were similar to the Bradford event:

  • Learning the basics of shooting and editing with a smartphone,
  • Getting to grips with storytelling,
  • Publishing a short video piece for a screening and critique.

We did however make some alterations.

A longer workshop

In Bradford, it felt like we didn’t have enough time. Our briefing had to be efficient so the participants would have a bit of time to shoot and edit their video.

So for Exeter, we chose to give more time to participants. After a quick briefing, we immediately pushed them to go out there with their smartphone and start shooting and interviewing.

The workshop ran for four or five hours, in comparison with 45 minutes in Bradford.

More freedom - and more help

We tried to strike a good balance between freedom and guidance.

The last thing we wanted was to constrain them too much, and to limit their creativity. This isn’t a training for News at Ten, but rather a fun exercise of creativity.

That being said, we fully appreciate that our brief can be intimidating to this kind of young audience. We thus needed to provide a frame in which to be creative.

Now that seems contradictory - but it is quite essential in innovation to be given some constraints.

In this case, we wanted videos short enough so they would fit into Instagram’s 60-second limit. And we wanted them to be shot using the handiest tool ever: a smartphone.

This is all good if you have the initiative and the drive to go out there. But we also catered for those who were less sure where to begin with. Our brief included a list of tips on what and how to shoot videos, as well as a step-by-step of shots that make a classic TV package: set the scene, cutaways, voiceovers, close-ups…

One of the groups did manage, with our help, to get themselves live on Radio 1 to interview hosts Alice and Matt!

Was this too much?

Our screening was scheduled at the same time as the big Radio 1 retrospective, taking place a couple of doors down the hall. Everybody went there, sure, but some groups did not turn up for our screening - or did not upload their video at all.

We want to understand what went slightly wrong this time, so the next iteration of our workshop can be even better. Here are our thoughts:

  • We might have given them too much time. Not enough constraints might actually have backfired here: some groups were not intending to spend the full day at the event.
  • We might not have been hands-on enough. At the briefing, we told them where to find us during the day, but only some groups came to us to ask questions. When we were strolling around in the venue, we found some people a bit lost, and we had to go to them to provide guidance.
  • Scheduling the final bit of our workshop at the same time as the big retrospective was a mistake. Given a choice between our screening and the climax of the weekend, of course they chose the latter.

Exeter was another iteration of our mobile storytelling workshop, and we’re looking forward to planning the next one. Working in News Labs is all about learning lessons from our projects, and applying them to make the next ones better.

We can’t wait to tell you about how we plan our next workshop!