Making a film takes a good idea, organisation, collaboration, technical expertise and patience. It can be great fun and is a creative and educationally sound activity - and one that has been streamlined by digital video cameras and new software, making it a more viable classroom activity.
Revelation Sight and Sound (pound;55) is designed for KS2 and 3 pupils and enables the creation of radio programs, slideshows, rostrum camera documentaries and short films. The user-friendly manual takes the pupils (and teachers!) through each stage of working with time-based media, demystifying the process along the way. Even if you only have a still digital camera, this accessible program offers scope for dynamic time-based work.
A much more sophisticated program, appropriate for KS3 and above, is Adobe Premier Elements 2 (pound;35). Although capable of professional looking results, it has an intuitive interface, which makes organising film clips, editing, adding titles and effects simple.
KS1 pupils need not miss out on time-based work. 2Animate (pound;29) offers a superbly accessible introduction into the magical world of animation. It can be used on two levels, and gives direct access to simple animation techniques. Although limited, it is great fun - enabling lively and spontaneous visual stories to be rapidly created.
Every year seems to see the launch of a new version of Photoshop. CS2 (Pounds 175) is the latest incarnation. Inevitably it is improved by a number of tweaks, but the most significant addition is Adobe Bridge. This is a development of the file browser seen on previous editions, but is much improved and can be run as a standalone program. It makes the process of finding, sorting and cataloguing work simple.
Adobe has also improved Photoshop Elements 4 (pound;35). Aimed at consumers, and more prescriptive than the full-blown Photoshop, it offers cheap access to many of the most useful features of its big brother (although it does not include Adobe Bridge).
Another program that has been tweaked is the vector drawing package Xara Xtreme ($79 plus shipping - approximately pound;48). It is my favorite vector program because it is so easy to use and the results are superb. The latest version has an improved, integrated picture editor with various effects available alongside the usual image controls (including brightness, contrast, cropping and red-eye removal). It is a versatile program for teaching graphics, design and layout. It is also great for making art worksheets and presentations as it easily combines words, shapes and images.
There are some good visual resources for worksheet production and pupil research on the Scran website (www.scran.ac.uk). Low-resolution artwork and photographs are free, but to use high-resolution images schools must subscribe to the site: a one-year, whole school subscription is pound;150 for primary schools, pound;290 for secondaries. Primarily designed to support the Scottish curriculum, this is a valuable resource for all UK teachers. It contains 325,000 images, movies and sounds from museums, galleries and archives, in art, architecture, design and photography. Other resources include templates for worksheets, and the ability to store and retrieve sets of images.
Another good place for art resources is www.virtualartroom.com. Developed to help art and design teachers embed ICT and digital media in teaching and learning at KS3 and 4, this site offers interesting case studies, useful materials and great links. The art teachers' organisation NSEAD (www.nsead.org) is also developing art and ICT resources, which will be on its website in early 2006.
Another interesting resource, at the early stages of development, is the podcast. This is a way of downloading spoken material to a computer or MP3 player. I mention it here because a few galleries are offering free podcasts of experts talking about art works. The first in this country is the VA (www.vam.ac.uk). Others can be found at www.ipodcast.org.uk. It is likely this trend will spread to other galleries and could provide a valuable additional art resource - played alongside digitally projected images, you have a virtual visiting lecturer.
One spin-off is that that pupils could be encouraged to create podcasts about their own creations, an artist or art work they are studying.
Alternatively, of course, they could always make a documentary film.
2Animate 2Simple Software Stand C54
2Simple specialises in primary school software. It is not only showing the great 2Animate program, which simplifies sequencing and animation and is ideal for primary use, it also produces 2Create, an easy-to-use multimedia program for KS12, and the simple vector drawing programme 2Draw, which is useful for making diagrams, designing graphics, and creating simple illustrations and graphs
Tel: 020 8202 6370
Revelation Sight and Sound Logotron Ltd Stand B30
Logotron is demonstrating Revelation Sight and Sound, its intuitive new digital film-making program, for primary and early secondary use. It is also well worth looking at Revelation Natural Art. This useful and user-friendly 'natural media' drawing package has proved highly popular in primary schools - for good reason.
Tel: 01223 425558 www.logo.com
Photoshop CS2, Photoshop Elements 4, Premier Elements 2
Adobe Systems UK Stand W70
Adobe is worth visiting to see the excellent Photoshop CS2, which comes with the indispensable Adobe Bridge software. Don't miss the latest version of Photoshop Elements 4 and Premier Elements 2, a superb digital-video editing program. These two easy-to-use programs can be purchased separately or bundled together at the bargain price of pound;65. They are also both available in Adobe School Collection 3.0 (minimum pack of 10 for pound;299.99), which includes useful educational resources and training materials.
Tel: 020 8606 4000
Scran Ltd Tel: 0131 6621211 www.scran.ac.uk
Xara Group Tel: 01442 350000 www.xara.com