On the 15th November the Ladders students began to embark on their own individual projects, after weeks of learning about their respective fields, Film/TV, Music and Software Development. This session was about coming up with, focusing and developing ideas for their own projects, students began the session in a variety of positions regarding their progress and ideas for their projects.

Some had very distinct ideas for the direction they looked to take their projects in, others had loose themes and some were only beginning to embark on the journey of finding their ideas. This took several different forms across the disciplines: the musicians had ideas ranging from specific genres of music they wanted to record, to finding outlets to MC over music, to looking to remix and redefine existing music. The Film/TV students also ranged in where they were beginning with their work, some set out to write and begin to produce short films, some focused on just a screenplay and some looked to begin filming with a more improv, less scripted feel. The software development students both had ideas about what they wanted their software to achieve but weren’t sure about how to go about it or the medium to use. Throughout the session students were guided on different research methods they could use and implement in their work. A key piece of advice was to try and comprehensively grasp the specific area that your project would fit into, for example if a student was attempting to make a horror film it is important that they understand how and why certain things scare people and then try and put that into their own work.

To understand each discipline, require different kinds of research, the Film/TV aspect needs thought into how the process works and the complexities that occur behind the camera. This comes from watching a variety of films and thinking more into the process. The music research portion is about listening to the genre you’re trying to emanate and thinking more than the surface level, thinking how different instruments are put together to create a certain sound. With software, understanding existing programs and how they operate and the systems put in place to allow them to operate.

During the rest of the session the students began to create a research and project plan to allow them to structure how they continue with their project so that they make the best use of their time with the limited 4 weeks they had to do their products. One particular point of emphasis was that the projects don’t have to be finished, instead the focus should be on producing a higher quality rather than a greater quantity – so that when it comes to presentation in 4 weeks time they can deliver a project they are proud of.

2 weeks into the project I visited the music studio in Sunderland to see the progress being made by the Ladders music students. In the studio was Tom whose project involved remixing one of his bands songs into a new genre, from pop-punk indie to a more electronic dance music sound. During this session Tom began to explore music with indie characteristics that would be described as more dance music; so he looked for songs with strong guitar riffs lifted by synths and stronger bass. After finding a direction he wanted to take his song in he began to re-analyse his bands original track, finding flaws and things that could be improved with the use of the studio, Tom wanted to redo his vocals so they were clearer and could be more prominent in his new remix.

The Film/TV students were learning about the tools required to effectively edit their soundtracks. Using the program Adobe Premiere they underwent several exercises to try and isolate background noise from footage they had recorded, to either make things clearer or more indistinct depending on the direction they were going in. One of the exercises was to re-score a scene from the 1987 French film Wings of Desire, removing the original sound and giving the scene a different feel compared with the original, they chose from a folder of pre-recorded sounds and every student managed to give the scene a unique feel as they re-scored it.

Just from seeing snippets of each project being developed, you can see the commitment and talented involved in this programme. I have no doubt that the outcomes are going to be something impressive…