BeeBCamp 2 = woohoo!

Yesterday, some of us peeps who enjoyed the inaugural BeeBCamp, in October last year, got together again but with more people (about 80 of us in total) and even some brave friends from the outside world to enjoy BeeBCamp 2. There was an open invite across the BBC for anyone to rock up and join in the fun.

It was run along the same lines as the previous unconference style event, with a few simple rules:
* Absolutely no powerpoint (or similar) presentations
* No pre-prepared or repeated presentations from elsewhere
* Keep it simple. No overly complicated ideas.
* No pitching to commissioners. Meet them for a coffee instead.
* Discuss, interrupt, ask questions.
* Everything is on the record and bloggable
* Anything non-bloggable will be flagged up during the sessions
* You must have fun. People who don’t will be defenestrated

Talks covered subjects as diverse as gaming, UGC, open source, Twitter, blogging, pirates, narratives, Backstage, mobile, ceefax, innovation and more. Here’s a few notes from two of the presentations I went to:

Alex Murray – the future of handheld video devices:

This was the first and my favourite discussion of the day as I’m presently working with off the shelf video technology and touched on a lot of issues that are relevant to me right now.

Firstly we declared our gadgets – various image capturing devices appeared out of bags and pockets like a confessional – I happened to be packing 4 video capturing items on my personage – hmm!

We discussed various attitudes to this technology, such as:

* How small cameras are more intimate and less likely to put people off, Hugh Garry told a story about a radio presenter who went behind the scenes of a well known festival and got some great footage because her small camera seemed less intrusive.

* The general public are used to seeing shaky or lower quality footage these days, so its not such a big deal about the quality if it tells a story – the recent footage used globally of the airliner that crashed into the Hudson River in New York was cited as such an example.

* How the military are using helmet and other small cameras to track war zones for their own purposes.

* Robin Moore brought up the subject of what is judged to be ‘good and worthy’. The BBC is certainly known for best practice, quality and expertise, but if you consider being creative outside the period drama, studio, or traditional framework isn’t it okay to forgo some of the more fastidious aspects of quality for the advantages of quick reporting and capturing the moment? I certainly think so, especially for online use. I really feel its about telling the story, rather than worrying about some/all of the aesthetics/getting it perfect rules. This certainly makes sense if you’re a self-shooter or part of a small team working on as small/no budget (Disclaimer: before I get any concerned comments, I’m not – repeat not – suggesting we do away with any of the brilliant craft heritage/talent we already have and use on a daily basis – it’s about different strokes for different folks).

* I liked Hugh Garry’s observation that ‘people have an editorial mind’ – in this context meaning that people who previously don’t have any camera / scripting experience use this technology actively think about what they’re filming and how it’s going to come together as they’re shooting.

* Claire, who worked on Video Nation, told us about how you get people to talk about tangible things – i.e. a season subject – certainly an interesting way to get people thinking/chatting.

* Audiences are using video to construct stories from topics such as the weather and travel news.

* I talked about that I really like how fast it is to turn things around – ie the tiny cams I use record straight to SD as MP4, so no need for hours of digitising from tape and I can top and tail in QuickTime Pro. You can also get a good hour’s recording from the battery and depending on which quality mode you select, you can get an hour’s fairly good ‘HD’ quality for the web on a 4GB SD card. All the stuff I use is available over the counter or off the interwebs.

* Ian Forrester – shot this discussion on a Xacti and so it should be up sometime soon!

All in all I found this a most reassuring and supportive discussion as I discovered from various people from all over the BBC that they had similar thoughts and experiences to me. I’m still learning about how I can use this technology – the good, the bad and the ugly – finding out through experience what works and what doesn’t. I feel less of a misfit and less crap/nervous/unconfident about what I’m doing, especially when confronted by naysayers and those who might doubt my ability – power to the handheld video device and those who use it – I’m really excited for the future! I now want to set up a Handheld Devices Anonymous club for us strays to get together on a regular basis, talk, show and share our work and enthusiasm – anyone want to come out of the closet with me? 😀

Steve Bowbrick – making your ‘THING’ more open!

Steve told us a bit about his experiences of being the BBC’s first blogger in residence: the ups and downs (mentioning no names) of meeting and having great n interesting talks with people from around the BBC – he’s thinking of putting together an album of unpublished content – please do Steve 😀

He’s got about 7 projects in his head around open source and openness at the BBC – here’s 4 of them:

* Rights Lab – Steve put to us ‘why don’t you share more of what you make?’ He gave us some thoughts on rights from the BBC’s perspective vs those of the ‘geekier mindset’. How rights can get in the way of releasing content, but a lot more stuff could be released if you removed some obvious things like music or sports clips – which have some of the most trickiest rights to clear.

* Map of Openness – visualising the BBC’s output by things it makes and buys, and what’s open and what’s not!

* An event – ‘BBC Open Mike’ an event at a non BBC building that combines a mixture of inside BBC and external talking about what they think about open source.

* New Charter Review – get the BBC looked at from the bottom up! Get people talking about the ‘New World’, so not just TV, but Online, Radio, etc too: style guides, Policy, docs, everything! Steve is collating production checklists as he want to have the most comprehensive collection. He would like to add something to these that he thinks is vitally missing and it’s ‘sharing’ or ‘a sharing line’ for example sharing a programme script on a wiki.

I like all of these ideas because I’m dead keen to get more people looking at, thinking about and talking to each other about open source, openness and generally sharing and problem solving some of the issues around rights and licensing. There’s still lots of confusion and fear concerning openness in the world generally, so it would be great to demystify some worries and questions.


BeeBCamp 2 was great day all round and congrats to Phil Trippenbach and David Hayward for all their hard work, here’s a couple of ideas for making the next BeeBCamp even better 😀

* Poke the conference faculty managers till they install wifi in our conference centre 😉 (I felt a bit silly wearing my ‘I’m tweeting this’ t-shirt when I couldn’t till I got home).

* Maybe have sessions in rooms or use screens so Phil doesn’t have to shhh me for talking excitedly to Steve Bowbrick and unwittingly getting on the nerves of a lady at a nearby talk 😉

* Be upfront about attendees being expected to participate as many of the same people lead the discussions and there were a few gaps on the schedule.

* Some vegan food – I know you requested for some, Phil (so don’t feel bad), but I need to go and chat with faculties management upfront so they’re clear what the requirements of vegans are!

* More hot refreshments – I started flagging in the afternoon, always happens 😉

* I’d set up a projector with the interwebs so people could show some online stuff – just for examples – e.g. I’m really curious about Hugh Garry’s film!

* It would be nice to do the ‘3 tags’ introduction at the start of the next BeeBCamp – then I’d be spared a few embarrassing moments asking people what they do!

Looking forward to the next one already!