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April 12, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

e-Crimes Wales, social media in the workplace

Ecrime Wales have made a video on how to use social media in the workplace, featuring our very own Sophie Paterson. Enjoy!

April 7, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Cardiff gets Hyperlocal

On Saturday the 2nd of April the Atrium was humming with energy as hyper-local bloggers from the length and breadth of the UK gathered for their annual Talk About Local Unconference.

For some, these terms will require definition, which I have attempted below.

Hyper- local = Hyperlocalism has been a massive growth area for the media. Bloggers and professional journalists alike are re-shaping the way in which people interact with their community by becoming ‘citizen journalists’ and publishing online content that engages people with what’s going on outside their front doors. Hyperlocalism is a broad church in terms of Geography (there are sites for single streets or whole cities) and content. From hard-hitting news stories to campaigns against litter and fly tipping, from broad global projects such as the 4am Project to highly niche undertakings by individuals, such as the Cardiff Arcades Project. As a form of media hyperlocalism is still in its infancy, however it’s growing up fast!

Talk About Local= A project to give people in their communities a powerful online voice, check out their website for more. They organise the un-conference.

UnConference = Conference by democracy. After open pre-discussions on a google group the content of the day was decided by attendees, who pitched ideas on what they’d like to learn or what they thought they felt they could share that would be helpful to others. Once the sessions were decided, they were allocated a time and a venue and attendees were free to mix and match their day to get maximum benefit. The sessions themselves were informal, taking an interactive seminar form where everyone was welcome to contribute. The mood was relaxed and everyone was very friendly, but the concentration was high and discussions were focused.

Photo by Hannah Waldram

The Twitter hash tag for the event was #tal11 and as people documented their experiences the feedback and comments are still rolling in. You can also check out accounts of the day from Guardian Cardiff’s beat blogger Hannah Waldram and Leith based Ally Tibbet of STV Local.

As one might expect the conference has been covered extensively by the bloggers who were there, so we’re rounding up the online write ups for each session so you can utilise the information and become a hyperlocal hero!

Getting the story this session focused on how to apply journalistic techniques to blogging, with a heavy emphasis on fact checking and building relationships with local sources, because everyone knows someone who knows everything about their area.

Getting Started this one does what it says on the tin. How to get started!

Activism many hyperlocal sites start to tackle particular issues, this session gave tips on how your site can make a physical difference in your community.

Facebook can be tricky to get to grips with, especially for established bloggers who are used to doing things their own way. This session gave advice on how to get Facebook to work for your site.

Postcode Stories this was a lovely interactive session on using social media to explore an area and create fictional narratives around local landmarks.

4am Project a hyperlocal photography project that has gone global, set your alarms for 3.55am on the 24th of April!

Future of Hyper-localism Will Perrin started this session by telling us, no one knows the future of hyperlocalism, however it’s certainly not going away. Despite the obvious local links with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s desire to invest in Local TV, it seemed most hyperlocal bloggers have little time for this plan, preferring to continue forging their own online path.

This is just a flavour of the day, so if you want more coverage and information on Hyperlocalism please keep checking the Talk About Local Blog where they will be creating an archive from the day.

March 23, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Dazu exhibition at National Museum Cardiff

April the 3rd will see the last opportunity for people to see visit the wonderful Dazu exhibition at National Museum Cardiff.  The exhibition opened in January, with a prestigious VIP ceremony, words from the First Minister and Chinese Diplomats. Having never left China before the arrival of the famous stone carvings from Dazu marked a major achievement for both the museum and Wales itself.

The exhibition is a real treasure-house of Chinese art history. The carvings consist of some 50,000 figures in total, dating from the 9th to the 13th century. They are remarkable for their aesthetic quality, rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period.

With only two weeks left this special exhibition is a must see for all before the carvings are packed up and sent back to China for good. Entry is free.

See more images on Flickr

Watch videos on YouTube

Explore Dazu in Detail on Rhagor

Read the exhibition blog

Follow it on Twitter @museum_cardiff  #dazuwales

March 21, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Pixar & Innovation Imperative for medialab

On Monday the 28th of March Medialab held a seminar in the Atrium Theatre where representatives from Creative Industries, Academics and Animation students gathered to learn about cutting edge developments in Architecture and Animation. The seminar, which was the fourth of four successful Industry facing Animation seminars, was part of Medialab’s ongoing Academia for Business (A4B) programme of events which also include demonstrations of the Atrium’s new HDTV studio, and the GamesLab – Computer Games Development initiative.
The first speaker, David Ajasa-Adekunle runs his own Architecture practise, Innovation Imperative. David gave an overview of the potential role of animation as a communication tool for Architects. He explained the way in which Architects already use animation to communicate with clients, for marketing presentations and fly-throughs of their designs, and gave examples of how this is being built up by forward thinking companies, who use animation to communicate the concept, context and purpose of a building. Sqint/Opera is one such company and David showed the audience their presentation for the Velux model home 2020. As the video demonstrates CGI can be used to show the way a building will look in different lighting conditions, and the way it will respond to the seasons and to weathering. In the second half of his presentation David explained the way in which Animation and Architecture can create branding for buildings and projects. Animations help architects to tell the story of a building, be that its history, its purpose, or the ethos of the company building it. For marketing minded people the concepts of narrative and a brand that people can buy into, and feel ownership of, are very familiar. However, according to David this is new territory for many Architects. David gave another example of what he meant by showing the first 90 seconds of a video from developers Urban Splash

Our second speaker was Kate Bergel from Pixar Animation Studio’s Research Group. Kate shared some of the research group’s recent research and development into animation, image processing and visual interface control. Rat-o-Vision (named after Ratatouille’s Remy) is a new technique for simplifying animation through the use of data analysis and abstraction.

Kate demonstrated ‘Wiggly Splines’ which is how Pixar developed a quick way of animating ‘wobbly’ characters, such as the rotund inhabitants of the Starliner Axiom in Wall-E. She also showed us smoothed local histogram filters, which provide several useful tools for image enhancement.

Of the technical achievements Kate showed us, it was the Eden multi-touch interface, which caused the biggest stir amongst the animators in the room. Eden is Pixar’s new interface for set dressing organic environments, such as the jungle in Up

In response to an audience question Kate estimated that Eden sped up the time taken on set dressing by 20% compared to using Maya and it is hoped it will cause a marked reduction in the instances of Repetitive Strain Injury in set dressers. You can find more information on Eden and other Pixar developments at the Pixar Research Group website.

Both speakers highlighted areas of their industries that are invisible in the final product but are essential in their development, whilst providing the audience with an informative insight they could not have found elsewhere.

March 14, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

New HDTV studios in the Centre of Cardiff

Sceptics have long been convinced that HD stood for ‘Hardly Different’ TV, dismissing advances in camera technology as a ploy by manufacturers to force us to bring bigger and more expensive televisions and digital subscriptions into our homes. But if you want to see the real difference between 480 and 1080 pixels you can take a tour of Media lab (at the Atrium)’s new HDTV studios.  After signing up to a free tour, I was among a mixture of TV professionals, freelancers and those who were just curious who explored the state of the art facility.

While technical info such as the Sony HDC 1500 cameras (as used by BBC News apparently), fibre optic feeds and progressive scan capabilities went over my head, other members of the tour took the opportunity put the demonstrators’ knowledge to the test and some of the detailed information about green screens and vision mixers has hopefully sunk in. The highlight of the tour for me was getting some hands on time with the equipment, it’s not every day you get to play with kit that would make BBC producers jealous! Experiencing the difference between HD and standard quality images first hand-made me realise what all the fuss has been about and the way HDTV production forces everyone from camera operators to make-up artists and set designers to up their game.

Atrium students use the studios to create broadcast standard programmes, including high pressure live news segments! Working on rotation between the different studio roles the students become well versed in all aspects of production. However, it’s not just students who have access to these studios and equipment, they are available to hire through medialab, providing an excellent facility for companies who are ready to make the leap into HD.

The Atrium are offering regular interactive tours of the new studio until May.

By Sophie Paterson

March 7, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

The Impossible Costs Extra: Bruce Steel Seminar for Medialab

On the 24th of February 2011 Bruce Steel ran a seminar for Media lab on VFX Animation and how a combination of Maths and Physics sprinkled liberally over Research and Development can bring about inventive and amazing solutions to even the most difficult of client requests. Bruce is a fantastic speaker and luckily the Wales Animation Movement were on hand to film the talk  and the Q&A afterwards.

Bruce was one of the founding members of Glassworks where he worked on Animation for everyone from Pepsi to Peter Gabriel! Bruce  is now based in Cardiff and runs his own company, Hyperspace. Follow the @creatrium feed on Twitter to keep up to date with all of media lab’s seminars and events.

January 31, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Linkedin and CCI

As Linkedin prepares to float on the New York stock exchange becoming the first social networking company to go public, we investigate. What is Linkedin, and how useful is it for professionals in Creative and Cultural Industries?

As a fairly recent graduate I only became aware of Linkedin last year when I was already in my first job. People wanted to ‘connect’ with me, and being a ‘jump on the bandwagon’ kind of person I signed up. When my company contact list ended with my job Linkedin was a great way to keep in touch with colleagues who I did not want to add to my Facebook account. Using the search function I found friends and ex-colleagues who also use the site. Building my network I discovered that my direct ‘friends’ are denoted by a ‘1st’ symbol, I can see the people in their networks and their degree of separation from me. So a friend of a friend is denoted by a ‘2nd’ symbol, the friend of a friend of a friend by a ‘3rd’ and so forth. This feature helped me find more contacts and allows one to browse profiles of people you don’t know directly (useful for head-hunters). You can also request to be introduced to somebody by a shared connection.

Linkedin has latched on to the important distinction between users’ public and professional profiles and private lives. Facebooks’ ‘New Profile’ makes professional information more prominent on your profile page and security settings mean you can limit an individual’s access to your information I’d rather maintain the split between my work and personal life. These two websites perform two separate functions and cater for different kinds of privacy, for example, I wouldn’t publicly share my mobile number on Facebook, and I wouldn’t share my photos from a night out on Linkedin.

6 months and 91 ‘trusted connections’ later and I continue to collect my friends, classmates and ex- colleagues on Linkedin, I’ve even been ‘recommended’ by two of them, and have obligingly recommended them back. Yet as the invitations continue trickle in I started to wonder- what’s the point? My CV is on there by no one’s offered me my dream job yet… So am I doing it right? Business Zone has a guide called 10 ways to showcase your credibility on Linkedin which suggests not.

As with any networking you get value through engagement, it’s not enough to just be ‘on it’, you have to join the conversation. Speaking to ex- classmates who have graduated into recruitment and the financial sector I’m told that Linkedin is an essential tool for their work and careers. I also spoke to Huw Neale who is Managing Director of Action Sports Europe, a b2b integrated media platform for the Action Sports Industry. Neale recently gave a lecture to students at the Atrium entitled ‘How Journalists can make money from social media’; Linkedin was one of the key platforms mentioned. I asked Huw for his top tip for using Linkedin; “Never directly ‘sell’ through Linkedin. It’s a tool to build connections by being “social” and participating in discussion and adding your value to your target audience. Be a thought leader – start discussions, ask and answer questions. Linkedin, like many social networks, is a long-term, ongoing process. People who send “sales” emails or post promotions about their products or services will not harness the tool to its full capabilities.”

CCI Professionals might find themselves lonely on Linkedin

While writing this post I have struggled to find anyone working in the Creative and Cultural Industries who uses Linkedin regularly as part of their work. Adam Parker is Broadcast Operator for Sky News and BSkyB and though his Linkedin account boasts 130 connections, he doesn’t actually use the site. I asked him why… “I don’t feel that there are enough people who work in the creative media industry who use it. There are better alternatives that are more tailored to media production like ‘Production Base’. Also, the fact that it seems there are lots of financial/recruitment types puts me off using it.” It seems Adam isn’t the only one who’s been put off, after sending a deluge of emails and inmails (Linkedin’s internal mail service) to CCI people who I know have accounts on the site  I am still yet to find someone who’ll champion Linkedin! Eventually I asked Charlie, a recruitment industry friend who has 477 connections, but apparently none of them were in the creative sectors, “No can do, but if you want bankers and recruitment consultants let me rock away!” Adam seems to have reached the crux of my problem- you could be the most engaged and interesting person on the whole internet, but if there’s no one else from your industry on there then there’s no point sitting on Linkedin talking to yourself.

As a Linkedin novice it is not easy to see how this useful tool for personal branding becomes an essential way of connecting with people, job hunting, recruiting and information sharing. And yet other sectors, notably recruitment and finance, swear by it. Networking is an essential skill in the Creative and Cultural Industries and yet it seems this particular networking tool doesn’t have what CCI professionals are looking for. Are you a creative who uses Linkedin? Tell us how you make it work for you, or what you use instead.

Post by Sophie Paterson