CI pioneers novel media training for researchers

From 15th-19th January 2018, Fellows from the Cockcroft Institute-led AVA network attended a Media Training at one of the UK’s premium creative hubs, MediaCityUK. AVA is a new European Union-funded network between universities, research centres such as CERN, and industry. It enables ground-breaking research with low energy antimatter. Professor Carsten Welsch, coordinator of AVA said, “Throughout their career, successful researchers often need to promote and advertise their research using professional media techniques. They often have to do this without ever having received a dedicated training – we aim to fill this gap. As a tangible outcome of the week, the AVA Fellows were asked to produce their very own project video: AVA – Nature (anti)matters.

The week began with an overview of the creative process by hosts Carbon Digital. This award-winning company is one of the AVA project partners and has previously worked with the BBC, Unilever and Sony. The Fellows started work on preproduction; storyboards and scripts were created and the overall ‘look and feel’ of the film was decided. Once completed, they moved onto camera techniques and green screen filming and everyone had the opportunity to film and be filmed for the final video. The script was recorded by professional voice-over artists and in addition, the Fellows recorded sections of the script relating totheir own work packages and decided amongst themselves who should star in the final version.

In postproduction, the group identified their strengths and split into groups to work on different aspects of the film. This included proofing, editing, soundscaping and rendering scenes for the final film. Postproduction can be as intense and creative as preproduction and production combined. It offers dynamic opportunities to change the storyboard, add new audio effects to the soundscape and change visual elements. The Fellows actively engaged in all steps, offering suggestions and comments to refresh & refine the film’s message.

Paul and Sue McHugh, who founded Carbon Digital in 1998, said: “We have been delighted to be working with such a fantastic project. MediaCityUK turned out to be the ideal location to host a week-long event like this. With Fellows recruited from across the world, it has been inspiring to see everyone converge in the North West of England. Having such a broad range of flexible facilities here in The Landing has enabled us to provide every part of the training event in one place”.

Professor Welsch, who developed the training concept with Carbon Digital, commented: “I am absolutely thrilled by the quality of the final film and how engaged all participants were throughout the week. The training introduced our Fellows to the challenging creative and technical processes behind modern media production. It adds to the unique catalogue of innovative trainings we offer to early stage researchers in accelerator science. We are now analysing how this approach can best benefit future researchers.

The AVA film can be watched on YouTube.

AVA has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 721559.