Creating a new workflow and a new way of working is difficult at the best of times, and doing it during a global pandemic is even more challenging! Before COVID-19, there was a pretty simple method to the madness of working in LSU Media: you came into the studios; you filmed your project; you edited it there and then; and you released it for the whole student body to see.
This simple way of working had to change, for obvious reasons. Of course, this is a process that all creatives, professionals, and more are having to go through – but figuring out a new way of working, and adapting my creative process has been both challenging and enjoyable!
In LSU Media, much of the content we produce is collaborative – so working remotely, away from our central studios, was something we needed to get right. Through working with the brilliant IT staff at the Students’ Union, we were able to get access to our servers remotely through a (sadly rather slow) VPN – and once we had access, it was all about ensuring that our ideas were both achievable and COVID-safe.
LSU Media Awards
The most pressing project to complete was our annual Media Awards – celebrating the work of our fantastic creatives. Having ensured we had the kit we needed for a basic production before lockdown, we were ready to go – we recorded all the segments we could in a COVID-safe manner (fortunately myself and the presenter are in the same ‘bubble’) and then went out to our fantastic Alumni community for segments introducing each of our individual awards. I can’t thank Sam Lean, Ben Croucher, Helen Crossley and Katie Shanahan enough for sending in speeches for us – showing the real power of a strong alumni community!
Creating montages and graphics was the next task, and fortunately the remote access to our servers enabled me to do this with ease – I was retrospectively thanking myself for re-organising our footage archive system earlier in the year!
Overall, the Media Awards were a great success, and although not a true substitute for the real thing, I am glad we were still able to recognise some of our fantastic volunteers.
The second item on my COVID checklist was to start a new series during lockdown, to help keep our audience engaged. Due to the popularity of cooking and baking during the rather dull lockdown period, we decided that a baking show, filled with simple recipes aimed at students, would be suitable for the channel.
This turned into a full 7-episode series, filmed in my kitchen, during the height of lockdown! The series also grew a considerable following, including regular engagement from the University’s cooking societies, which myself and my housemate-come-presenter were not expecting – it was very much a passion project for us, but became so much more!
New Releases and Archive Content
Finally, I was fortunate enough to have (sitting in post-production) a series that was at the time still unreleased – but recorded in full. Designed to be the first 4 episodes of a two-part series (the second part was due to be filmed in April/May, before the lockdown happened), the release of this initial set of Vibe Box episodes allowed us to be posting multiple times a week at the height of the pandemic, with two different genres of content. The entire thing was edited by myself during lockdown – we only had the raw video before that point – and it’s a series that we’re absolutely going to continue (in a higher-production format) in the new academic year.
In addition to this, due to the popularity of ‘throwback’ content, I decided to join the bandwagon for a series of weekly sport broadcasts over the Summer holidays. Dubbed the ‘Summer of Sport’, LSUTV are now releasing a weekly dose of high-quality Loughborough sport match from the archives – which has proven to be popular with the clubs and students alike. Despite this involving a mass process of downloading large archive files from our servers in often uncooperative file formats, it was a worthwhile endeavour, meaning we now have consistent content right up until September. I also developed a trailer for the series to help promote it to students and staff across multiple platforms.
If nothing else, what the COVID-19 crisis has taught me is that being flexible and coming up with creative solutions is more important than ever. Going into the lockdown without the preemptive changes we made, there would not have been the possibility of having such great content released so regularly – but thanks to the hard work of my friends and colleagues both at LSUTV and at the other LSU Media sections, we’re managing to reach more students than before, at a vital time.
The next big task is getting back into our home once the lockdown is relaxed further. Not only do we have a lot of physical work to get on with (including the final part of our Media Centre renovations), but there’s so much preparation for Freshers that is almost impossible without the physical space. But for now, our new remote workflow is working just fine!