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Ben Goldacre talks Bad Medicine

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When the hugely popular podcast Freakonomics Radio ran a three-part series around the science of medicine, we interviewed Ben Goldacre, University of Oxford research fellow and author of best sellers Bad Science and Bad Pharma.  In the second episode he talks about how ineffective and even dangerous drugs make it to market.  He suggests one reason is that clinical trials are often run on “dream patients” who aren’t representative of a larger population. In the last episode he gives some insight into why medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.  Listen to the whole series here.

Superfast broadband gives us the edge

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ODM Editor Matt Greetham in our client edit suite

Handling data in digital media production today is a complex operation because of the huge volumes involved in digital video, audio, animation and graphics. So when we moved to new premises recently we took advantage of the fast broadband service on offer from regional provider Gigaclear.  The service really has given us the edge when it comes to sharing and storing data.   

Our business relies heavily on the ability to effectively share and store media files.  Huge amounts of data go back and forth between clients and stakeholders while projects are under way.  All of these files are kept on our servers in a RAID storage system which currently handles around 56 Terabytes (a Terabyte is 1,000 Gigabytes).  When finished and delivered, we archive our clients’ projects on tape in a secure, industry-standard format (see our recent post on Archiving).

The Gigaclear service gives us the bandwidth and speed to expand and strengthen our data handling and archiving. For example, we now use an Amazon service to back up all our RAID storage online and this provides incredible reOsilience for storing our clients’ projects in a secure, offsite backup. We simply couldn’t have done this without the Gigaclear bandwidth.

Looking ahead, Gigaclear broadband will also enable us to easily live-stream video direct from our studio.  This will be a valued service for enterprises who wish to run live events in a news studio-style setting.

So watch this space as we continue to develop our service offerings.  For now, the fast broadband service ensures files are shared with clients quickly, securely and without fuss.

Extreme location specialist joins our team

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Location filming specialist Jose Silver joins our growing in-house videography team. He has worked in extreme environments around the world on productions for global brands including Leica, Isuzu, Subaru and Hunter.
“I’m proud to join a great production facility with such an impressive client base,” he says. “While I love filming in the great outdoors, built-up environments present a new and different set technical challenges.  Oxford Digital Media is a team to watch. They work  in a variety of location and studio situations, and have great expertise in live-streaming and online delivery of media content.”

Jose has a First Class Honours degree from digital media college Ravensbourne. He has worked with Teamwild Media, where he filmed field sports, off-road rally championships and corporate videos in countries such as Argentina, Israel, South Africa, Germany and around the UK.
In his spare time, Jose is an experienced horseman, having trained with leading experts in Oxfordshire and completed an apprenticeship in natural horsemanship in the Judean Wilderness in Israel. He also enjoys rock climbing.

 

Converting an aircraft into an air ambulance

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Speed of response for emergency services is critical in preserving life, especially in remote areas.  We produced a video for GVH Aerospace to demonstrate how its AeroStretcher® Mk IV Modular Aviation Emergency Medical System (EMS) enables an aircraft or helicopter to be rapidly converted from utility or transport use into an air ambulance. GVH Aerospace aeromedical equipment is used all over the world, and we produced the film in English and Chinese.  Watch the film here.

Capture your event on video

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st-annes-apr-16

We are out filming for events every week. We also make promos and do live-streaming for events which reach out to a variety of audiences. In our experience, the best way to make video work hard for you is to get organised.  So, if you’re planning a conference, panel discussion or talk, we thought we’d share a few pointers to help you get started.

Make a promo The most effective way to guarantee attendance is to inspire people about what’s happening.  More people booking means more will be sharing the event on social media.  Event management platforms such as Eventbrite or Meetup are your friend.  The more content you can post onto your page, the more you will give people to share.

So plan in a 20-second, promo video to excite interest.  Add highlights from last year and a ‘sneak peak’ into what to expect.  Ask previous speakers or attendees to speak out about their experience and tell your audiences what to expect.

As a general rule, aim to have this ready around 4 weeks ahead of your event to build up interest in a short space of time.  Then share, share, share with your online communities.

Event day How best to capture your event on video depends on the size of your audience, how many speakers you have and the style of your stage set.  

How many cameras To capture a session such as a discussion panel,  have at least two cameras. One to be ‘locked’ onto the stage, and another to focus in on the speaker.  A third can face the audience for close up shots of people responding to the discussion and asking questions. Add a ‘roving’ camera to capture highlights of the day and ‘vox pops’ with speakers and delegates. Remember, you can use everything you capture in a highlights video, next year’s promo and for video projects in between.

Lighting  Find out how well you can control the lighting to ensure it is consistent throughout the filming.  The sun shining through large windows can suddenly flood a room with light. Dusk can take lighting down gradually, which will viewers will notice.  So check that it’s possible to cover windows if your event is in daylight.

Ensure your speakers are well lit and that the house lights are high enough to capture the audience.  If necessary, ensure the speakers and cameraperson speak to each other before the session. They need to reach a happy balance on what level the house lights should be at, so it works for everyone.

Sound If you are relying on sound equipment from the venue, find out what audio equipment is available.  Radio mics work best for speakers seated or moving around, and you will need hand-held mics for questions.  Use a podium with a fixed mic for a speaker giving a presentation. But ensure they get some practice speaking into the microphone. For panel discussions, consider table mics so that everyone can be heard.

To ensure the best possible quality sound feed to the camera, ask for an audio desk which connects the mics and gives control of the different feeds.  When there is more than one speaker, the best way to get good sound from everyone speaking is by taking a single feed from the audio desk.

What to wear  Consider the environment the speaker will be in. If for instance the backdrop is dark black or blue, speakers should wear lighter colours to prevent them from blending in. Avoid heavy or loose jewellery, especially if using radio mics.

Branding It’s amazing how often branding is an afterthought.  With planning you can make your brand clear without bombarding your audience with logos. For example, add a simple title screen and the beginning and a call to action at the end to prompt your audience.  And think about how to incorporate your brand into your staging.

Reaching out Live-streaming offers many more people the opportunity to view and share your event.  People can also interact by posting questions and comments to the live feed.  

It’s tempting to post the whole recording to your website.  But think about a highlights video that features key soundbites and inspiring questions.  Plan this by interviewing attendees during the breaks.  Then add in ‘cutaways’ from around the event to capture the atmosphere.

Sounds like a plan? If this inspires you to use video for your next event, we can help you to put it into practice.  Email our head producer Sam Cooper – sam@oxforddigitalmedia.co.uk –  to talk through your ideas.

Meet Jack, our new video editor

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jack-attewell-odm

Video editor Jack Attewell

Video editor Jack Attewell has returned to Oxford to join our growing team. 

Previously a videographer in London’s high end residential market,  he carried out corporate production work for major firms including Barratt London.  Before then Jack studied Multimedia Production at Oxford Brookes, which included a year’s placement with the creative team at Culham Studio handling video production, editing and filming.

 

“I’m really pleased to be returning to Oxford, which is a really vibrant place to live and work,” says Jack. “Oxford Digital Media is an impressive company, and I admire their work in drama and documentary. This additional strand makes them think wider than most corporate video companies and therefore an inspiring, creative team to be part of.”

MD James Tomalin says:  “Jack is an incredibly capable addition to our team. As a successful freelance he has proven his technical abilities in commercial video production as well as an understanding of the business world. He has a real ‘can do,’ creative approach to his work.”

 

 

Infinity series for Radio 4

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history-of-the-infiniteOur contemplation of infinity is explored in this fascinating radio series by Adrian Moore. In ten episodes he journeys through philosophical thought on infinity over the last two and a half thousand years, from why the idea made the Greeks so uncomfortable and introducing us to some of the first great thinkers on infinity, to how the church entered the debate, the arguments that have raged through mathematics and how infinity affects our notion of the universe.  He ends with asking what the concept of infinity tells us about ourselves.

This 10 part series was recorded and edited by Oxford Digital Media for BBC Radio 4. Tune in at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07wr1lz/episodes/player

We’re on the move

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farmoor-office

Over the years, you’ll have witnessed the evolution of our studio at the Jam Factory.  Since starting out in 2005, we configured our facility several times over to fulfil growing demand and deliver outstanding quality and service in digital video production.

We first occupied one room on the first floor, and ended up with the studio, offices and production suites taking up most of the top floor. Inevitably, we couldn’t expand any further without defying the laws of physics, so it was time to move on.

And this is where it gets exciting.  We’ve created a purpose-built studio, office and production facility at smart, modern premises in Farmoor, Oxford.  As well as ground floor access, light, spacious interiors and ample parking, we have:

A bigger studio: 42-square metres with green-screen, audio recording facility, 4K studio cameras for single or multiple set-up. Full soundproofing, cool LED video lighting and artists’ facilities with catering and green room.

More post production facilities: Four edit stations plus a private suite for client edits, all with latest edition Adobe Premiere.  Dedicated animation suite with AfterEffects and Cinema 4D.

A bigger office: Our team of 10 (we’re currently recruiting a cameraman and editor) has a modern workspace, well equipped, with plenty of room for growth.

A ‘chill zone:’ Think sofas, fruit bowls, chilled drinks and great coffee.

Do pay us a visit – we think you’ll be impressed!

Our new address

You can now find us at Oxford Digital Media, 4 Farmoor Court, Oxford OX2 9LU.  Our phone number remains the same – 01865 241007 – there might be some initial connection problems as it is transferred over this week. Our office mobile is 07790 516459 and you can of course find us online at oxforddigitalmedia.co.uk.

Complex shoot for Jacobean performance

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new-college-chapel

Complex shoot at New College Chapel

Fashion, politics, witches and queens all featured in an amazing Jacobean court masque recently performed at New College, Oxford. The Masque of Queens, created in 1609 by Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones, was one of the most glamorous of its kind.  Drama, music and dance were all combined to present evil (in the form of disruptive witches) being dispelled by regal authority (a group of majestic queens).

Capturing the performance was an opportunity to test our camera skills on shooting moving actors within a relatively confined space.  All of the filming took place down the chapel’s central aisle, requiring us to shoot the action with severe space restrictions and without disrupting the audience experience.   We overcame this complex shoot by using a GoPro as our second camera and recorded a separate 8 track audio mix to go onto the edit later. As there were lots of costume changes radio mics weren’t possible, so we rigged up the aisle with wireless mics on stands.

The story was brought to life in an edited production directed by Dr Emma Whipday, teaching fellow at King’s College London English and Literature department.  The complexity of these productions means that they are rarely performed today, and its setting in the dramatic chapel at New College, Oxford made it a truly unique experience.

The performance was funded by the Ludwig Fund for the Humanities at New College, Oxford, the OUP John Fell Fund at the University of Oxford, and the Malone Society.  It was filmed for Dr Daniel Starza Smith, British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow in English Literature and Oakeshott Junior Research Fellow, Lincoln College, Oxford.

Dr Smith commented:  “We are delighted with this amazing recording, both visually and aurally, and we think it will become an important teaching tool as well as a source of entertainment and theatrical interest in its own right.”

 

Summer was all about video quality

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Every great viewing experience starts with great quality footage

Global sporting events always remind us why the video shot in the stadium should be as high quality as possible.  For the broadcasters covering Rio, delivering quality images to our screens was a complex, challenging operation. Fast moving action and unpredictable events were shot by many different cameras and shooting positions.  Then they were converted to various broadcast standards and distributed across the world.

Every stage between the camera and the screen offers potential to lose video quality. And this will downgrade the viewing experience considerably.

Whether you are filming a global sports event or a corporate promo, all video and film footage is processed before it reaches the viewer. Footage for even the most simple production will go through editing and graphics. Then possibly signal processing, distribution and archiving.  

So whatever you are filming, a basic principle applies.  The better the image you start with, the better the video quality will be on the viewer’s screen, whether it’s a TV, laptop or mobile.  

This is why we invest in the best possible camera technology.  We have recently upgraded all of our cameras and are now completely 4K-capable in the studio, on location and for events capture.

So if you’re planning a video project, talk to us about how to give your audience the best possible viewing experience.