One year on in the digital video classroom

3rd January 2003 at 00:00
It has been a good year for digital video. The British Educational and Communications Agency (Becta) DV project, carried out with Apple and Canon, has put the technology high on the agenda.

Becta should be heartily congratulated for bringing it all about. All the schools that took part testify to the profound effect the work has had. The impressive part, when you have visited a few of the schools, is how widely across the curriculum this DV technology has been used.

Becta has produced a report on the project with the British Film Institute (see page 40).

If you are thinking of trying out DV there will be much to see at BETT. Film Education and Ultralab will be giving free DV taster courses.

Last year there was "BETT at the Movies". This year there will be a similar area where you can watch students at work. Live Channel 1.4, a spectacular technology that can change a Mac into a broadcasting studio, will be used.

It is only up and running in a few pioneering schools at the moment but when it is out of that phase the program could have a substantial impact in schools.

One person described Live Channel as "a quarter of a million dollar broadcasting system on your desktop or laptop". This technology can help anyone produce programs and broadcast over the internet. You owe it to yourself to go to see it.

BETT is a good time to inspect the hardware. Choosing a machine is always difficult. iMovie video-editing software is installed as standard on all Apple machines and that is the software that has received acclaim from so many teachers. The PC world has more options. Both Viglen and RM have entry-level machines, with DV cards, firewire connections and Pinnacle software installed.

You should be able to open the box, plug in a camera and start working. Both companies will be launching higher-specification machines running Adobe Premiere software.

The least expensive solution, the Digital Movie Creator from TAG, is available once more. For pound;89.95 it will take snapshots, it will record one minute of video at "high quality" and four minutes at "normal quality".

The quality of the images is well below standard cameras but that is not the point. This is not a substitute for the Canon, Sony and Panasonic cameras.

The editing software cannot rival iMovie or Pinnacle but it is inexpensive and flexible; it works on ordinary batteries when it is away from the computer, truly portable. The software is simple to use, enabling students to edit the video sequences together to make a film.

Children can learn some of the basic functions of editing. If you are into process rather than product then this is definitely worth looking at. Children could start with the Digital Movie Creator and later move to a higher level with ease.


RM Studio DV (entry level PC) pound;697 RM BETT stand D50, E50 Tel: 01235 826000

Viglen DV Genie Lite pound;599 Viglen Stand F60 Tel: 020 8758 7000

Apple eMAC pound;649 ex VAT Apple Stand E34, F34 Tel: 020 8218 1000

Live Channel pound;379

Digital Movie Creator pound;89.95 TAG Learning Stand F50 01474 537886

Becta Stand C30, X40 Tel: 024 7684 7137

The BFIBecta evaluation report on the DV project is at

For a free copy of the Teaching and Learning Using Digital Video CD-Rom, send an email with your name and address to

Copies will be available on the Becta stand.

Avid, the producer of high-end AvidXpress DV video-editing software, will be at the BETT show for the first time (stand D154);

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