18. Digital Media Courses: Looking from the Inside Out

Matthew Kimberley is a Project Officer with the Clay Sanskrit Library at the Bodleian Library and has been on a number of multimedia courses at OUCS. Here is what Matthew has to say about his experiences.

Recently, I attended three media skills courses offered by the IT Learning Programme: Introduction to Final Cut Pro 7, Digital Film-making and Presenting and Interviewing for Podcasts and Video. Together they equip you with everything you need to plan, produce and edit professional standard video. My fellow students were university staff and students needing to learn the art of filmmaking, for everything from departmental podcasts to short documentaries.

I cannot praise the quality of these courses enough. In the first, we spent three days studying Final Cut Pro with an Apple-certified professional film editor. No prior knowledge was assumed, and yet in three days I went from a Mac novice to a confident editor. The tutor did more than give us a walk through of the course book; he used his experience of working with international video production companies to teach us the tricks of the trade that make the difference between a formulaic output and that of a savvy editor. It was a fraction of the commercial cost of the Apple course and it was well worth the time and money.

For those who go on to take and pass the exam it also means being an officially accredited film editor in the industry’s leading software.

Silhouette of camera operator

The second course was of just as high a standard. Taught by a professional film-maker on behalf of the Oxford Academy of Digital Film, it also covered basic editing with Final Cut Pro but filled in the most essential skills - how to use a camera correctly and what to think about when directing the film. Although knowledge of Final Cut Pro wasn’t a prerequisite, it helped me to have been on the previous course - it meant that I already knew what an editor would hope to receive when the director hands over the footage. The tutor showed us examples of his own work so that we could see the many technicalconsiderations the director and cameraman face before shooting. The final goal was to produce our own short film of ‘Things in Motion’ around Oxford, set to (and beat-matched with) a music track. I came out of it feeling confident to go back to my department and use my new skills immediately.

A one-day course on how to conduct interviews rounded off the experience. My own short documentary film project for the Bodleian will mostly be interviews so there was no better way to finish than by learning the dos and don’ts of interviewing, such as making your interviewee feel at ease, planning what to ask and knowing how to direct their body language.

All in all, these courses made a fantastic set of learning experiences and complemented each other without undue overlap. Whether you are planning to make podcasts, film lectures, conduct interviews or make your own short films, nothing could prepare you better than the courses on offer at OUCS.

If you would like to know more about the Digital Media coures that are run by the IT Learning Programme, contact courses@oucs.ox.ac.uk

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