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EQUIPMENT BOOST

From its very inception the CAR Video Unit, which runs Rossendale TV, has aimed to provide training on broadcast quality equipment – the kind of equipment that those seeking entry-level positions in the industry will be expected to be familiar with.  

The policy has paid off, resulting in a fair number of former trainees going on to secure places on competitive media production (as opposed to media studies) courses at various UK colleges and universities and/or jobs in the media industry.   

On the editing side, we’re still fairly well placed.  The Avid software we use looks set to become the only game in town once more where professional editing is concerned, thanks to Final Cut Pro effectively taking themselves out of the race recently.  The most popular short professional editing courses on offer at the moment are ‘Avid for FCP Editors’ – which gives a good indication of where the industry is going.  And I know companies at Media City who still use our oldest package – Avid Express Pro HD – to edit professional material for broadcast.
Cameras have seen a sea change over the past few years, however.  The standard definition, square screen footage recorded onto tape, which was the broadcast norm when we started up, has now been superseded by High Definition, widescreen footage recorded onto data cards as the industry standard.  Not only does this require new cameras capable of shooting in HD, but also far more powerful editing stations capable of handling the media and new tapeless workflows to ensure that data isn’t lost and is safely archived.

The problem which organisations like CAR Video Unit tend to run into is that the project funding which allows us to run our free video production courses usually has a 10% cap on the amount which can be spent on equipment.  While such a figure may be fine for low-tech organisations, like gardening clubs for example, it is woefully inadequate where those working in a hi-tech environment, where equipment is both expensive and quickly overtaken, are concerned.  As a result, CAR video unit has found it difficult to keep up with recent technological developments.  Until this year…
The Adult and Community Learning Fund project, which allowed us to set up Rossendale TV, also allowed us to purchase a second-hand (but very ‘low mileage’) Canon XF 300/305.  This the only handheld camera which the BBC has approved for full HD production and is the one featured in most of their own current training courses (see http://www.bbcacademy.com/academy/courses.php ).  Now, thanks to Comic Relief and the Community Foundation for Lancashire, the Video Unit has secured enough equipment funding for a second Canon XF 300 / 305 and a couple of revamped editing stations to load the footage onto.  So, a big thank you to the ACLF, Comic Relief and the Community Foundation for keeping the CAR Video Unit ‘in the game’ and allowing us to continue training people up to broadcast standards in the future.

One of our former trainees, Nathan Lord, has started working as a camera operator at the BBC recently and has just been sent on a 3-day BBC course to learn how to get the best out of these Canon cameras.  Nathan has kindly offered to run a ‘master class’ on the cameras as one of our Sunday afternoon ‘Video Club’ sessions in the near future.  Watch this space.
The sponsors of our new film this time are Access Computer Services Ltd of nearby Rochdale.  Jamie Watson, who runs Access, was born and brought up in Whitworth, so a film about Whitworth Museum seemed an obvious one to sponsor.