July 29, 2014, by Matt Davies

Shooting to Success: Video and Photography in the DHC by student volunteer alumnus Tom Travis

Tom in action filming one of the Digital Interaction talks in the DHC

Tom in action filming one of the Digital Interaction talks in the DHC

I’ve had a keen interest in film and photography for about ten years, so when I received an email asking for volunteers to help with video production in the Digital Humanities Centre I leapt at the opportunity. I was really impressed to find such an Aladdin’s cave of high performance kit tucked away in the corner of the Humanities Building, jam packed with video cameras, DSLRs, graphics tablets and the complete Adobe suite to name but a few.

During my time at the DHC I was involved with a number of projects including filming and editing the Digital Interactions series and editing a time lapse video of Engineering students and DHC volunteers (including fellow volunteer blogger Hester) scanning a kayak with the 3D scanner. I was also lucky enough to take a module in my third year which included an open ended creative presentation, and so I was able to use one of the DHC’s camcorders to make a video as part of my final assessment.

As well as working on the video projects I was also able to develop my photography skills whilst volunteering in the DHC, and I used the DSLRs to take photos of events, second year Classics students’ ISYP projects and even some staff portraits for the School of Humanities website! I also had a great time helping out at MayFest and spent a day Photoshopping visitors’ faces onto Roman statues and famous historical figures, which was really fun!

A visitor to University of Nottingham's Mayfest event get's 'Tudored' in the Digital Humanities Centre.

A visitor to University of Nottingham’s Mayfest event get’s ‘Tudored’ in the Digital Humanities Centre.

Projects like this demonstrate what an enjoyable place the DHC is to volunteer for, and there’s always lots of interesting projects to get stuck into. I often had to think on my feet during my shifts as people spontaneously popped in to ask for help with a whole host of weird and wonderful problems. I’d sometimes find myself starting the day by teaching a PhD student how to create some maps for his thesis using Photoshop, then photographing archaeological artefacts on the copy stand at lunchtime, and rounding off my shift by helping a member of staff to edit a video that she was working on in the afternoon! It was interesting seeing the diversity of people’s projects, and I enjoyed the challenge of being kept on my toes to find solutions to their problems!

I was also able to use my work in the DHC for the ‘Part-time Jobs, Vacation Jobs and Volunteering’ module of my Nottingham Advantage Award. This made me think about the voluntary work I’d been doing in the DHC in a different light. I found that the day-to-day activities that I’d encountered during my shifts actually demonstrated a really wide range of skills that I could highlight on my CV and during job interviews.

I learnt a lot during the module, and the alterations which I made to my CV as a result really paid off. I included detailed references to my work at the DHC, and these additions played a big part in helping me secure the six month paid internship that I’m currently doing! I’m working with a video production company in my hometown, and so being able to talk about the skills I picked up at the DHC was invaluable, both in the application form and the interview.
My position is based more in marketing and social media, but I’ve also been able to lend a hand with bits and pieces of editing, and have also used Photoshop and Illustrator to produce content for some of their clients. It’s really fun and exciting being in that kind of professional environment and seeing all the high end equipment and techniques they use!
I think volunteering at the DHC really stands out to employers because it’s such a genuinely unique opportunity which relatively few universities have to offer. It really is unlike any other society, club or activity at Nottingham because it gives you access to expertise and equipment which you wouldn’t find anywhere else. I thoroughly enjoyed my time volunteering at the DHC and would highly recommend it to any Humanities student at the University– like so many things about my time at Nottingham, I just wish I could go back and do it all again!

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