Back to School: BIMA Digital Day

Steve Todd

18th November 2016


I recently went back to school for BIMA’s Digital Day, to work with a group of pupils on a very exciting project.

Digital Day is all about giving young people an insight into the amazing opportunities that a career in digital can offer. The schools take part in a nationwide competition to complete one of three challenges, with the chance to win some cash and prizes.

As part of the day, we teamed up with Mocha and IronBird to inspire the pupils and give them a snapshot of the kind of thing they could be working on daily as part of a career in digital.

Talking VR

I had heard that the Studio School pupils were extremely enthusiastic about digital – and luckily this was right! For the morning’s session, we worked with a group of year 10’s who were ready to get stuck in and raring to go.

After recently collaborating on a VR (Virtual Reality) project with Mocha and IronBird, we decided it’d be the perfect area to tackle with the group. Being at the forefront of technology, VR was ideal for showing the pupils how exciting a digital career can be.

To start with, we spoke to the groups about the in’s and out’s of putting a 360 video together – discussing how we film the footage, put this footage together and tidy it up in post-production.

 Talking to the students at the start of Digital Day

We also spoke to them about a very exciting education-focused VR project that we’re working on here at Mashbo (keep an eye out for some news about this), and spoke to them about the logistics of delivering a 360 experience to large groups of students at the same time.

Once we’d introduced ourselves and talked about the theory side, it was time to move on to putting some of the things we’d discussed into practice.

Session One: 360 Mannequins

During the first session, we took part in a mini 360 project with the group.

We needed to be able to capture footage that would allow us to create an engaging 360 video – however we were limited to the dance studio space that we were in, so we also had to think practically.

In the end, we decided that the best idea was to adapt a concept that was already engaging a huge number of people – The Mannequin Challenge. Except ours came with a twist – it was all going to be filmed in 360.

Room set up for Digital Day Mannequin Challenge

We set up the room for our mannequins – there was painting, a green screen, Shakespearean acting, and even a robot! In the middle of the room we set up a 360 camera rig to capture everyone doing their best mannequin. As a result, the viewer of the video could follow a student, who was exploring the mannequins, around the room.

 Mannequin Challenge robot

After a packed session we were ready for a break before we started looking at turning the footage into a 360 experience.

Session Two: Testing it Out

After the break, some of the school’s Sixth Form students came in to join us as we started looking at putting the footage together.

We split up into two groups – one group looked at pre-filmed footage and exploring the do’s and don’ts of working in a 360 environment, while the other looked at the process of stitching the footage together.

Learning 360 video techniques

It was this session that really brought the value of Digital Day home for me – we were teaching young people valuable skills, not only that they can use in future but that are at the cutting edge of digital industry. There’s a massive skills gap in the digital sector, and it was great to be a part of an initiative that combats this.

We also gave them chance to try out VR headsets and take a look at some of the stuff we’ve been working on, getting feedback on their experiences. Some felt more focused, some felt more distracted, and some felt a little queasy afterwards – but it was all vital feedback.

Testing out the VR headsets

This provided a great deal of value for us as it brought to light some of the things we have to take into consideration with our own work – even the most basic stuff like the hygiene issues of having multiple people use the same headset.

After another busy session, we were ready for lunch.

Session Three: Unveiling the Masterpiece

After lunch came the third and final session of the day. We headed to the school cinema (!!!) to watch our mannequin challenge masterpiece.

Watching the video in the school cinema

To see the video on the big screen was extra impressive, and the 40 pupils that turned up to see it were really happy with it.

Once we’d seen the finished result, we gave them their Digital Day challenge, which they would be working on after we’d left. After such a productive and creative morning, we knew they’d have no problem coming up with some ideas.

Watching the video in the school cinema

Packing up and heading back to the office, I left safe in the knowledge that the next generation of digital talent have got it covered.

What do you think?

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