Staged at the Margaretting Village Hall, Ingatestone, in the heart of the Essex countryside, Saturday, March 18th, 2017 saw the ever-genial, Dick Williams ARPS DPAGB-AV hosting a very Special Day in the A/V Calender. It was the 25th Anniversary of the East Anglian Audio Visual Competition.
Starting the day’s Celebration was an on-screen introduction to Ian Bateman FRPS MPAGB APAGB AV-AFIAP and Malcolm Imhoff FRPS FACI(M) – both well-known, highly experienced and respected Judges. Their considerable experience and expertise was much appreciated since 50 entries were submitted to make up a varied programme and a very full day’s enjoyment for the capacity audience!
In addition to the introductions, the audience was also treated to a piece of timely ‘Performance Art’. Accompanying the visual of a champagne bottle being uncorked on-screen, a shower of bubbles was released into the path of the beam being projected onto the screen. This bit of fun was organised by Dave Wilcox DPAGB-AV, part of the highly competent Projection team under the leadership of another stalwart of the Essex A/V Group, Keith Leedham FRPS, EFIAP, FIPF.
A very welcome feature of the Event was that half of the entries were eligible for the Vic Hainsworth Award for the best entry from relative newcomers to A/V. This Award is for workers who don’t have RPS or PAGB Distinctions or who haven’t won any major A/V Awards thus far. It was good to see that the Organisers were encouraging newcomers in this way at a time when numbers overall have been declining in the A/V World. This year the winner of this award was ‘Sisters’ by Roger Gage – a humorous story about sibling rivalry.
In the past twenty five years since the beginning of the East Anglian Competition, digital A/Vs have become a very sophisticated medium and mastering its techniques is no small matter. It could be that since digital technology and software have advanced so much, some people perhaps have been put off trying out the delights of the medium. However, on the positive side, the technology has opened up new horizons and programme possibilities especially in documentaries. Indeed, Broadcast TV is using many of the techniques now well established in A/V such as the elegant ‘compression’ of information by the use of beautifully photographed still images with relevant movie footage combined with a highly creative soundtrack.
A/V producers have also discovered that modern DSLRs have not only opened up the world of movie footage but now rather than being confined to ‘Voice Overs’ and ‘Vox Pops’ in their productions, they can create impact by even including ‘Lip Sync’ and ‘Talking Heads’ (the byword here, of course, is relevance!)
Some Traditionalists argue that if A/V producers want to use movie footage then they should join a Video Club. Arguably they are not only doing a technological ‘King Canute’ - but they are denying themselves the opportunity of enhancing their productions by using a number of exciting new tools. Among some of the Award winners we saw the modest use of movie footage – once again, the keywords being relevance and moderation rather than using movie footage merely as a gimmick, just because it’s available.
Among the main medal winners, the Bronze went to Di Burns: ‘Miss Helen’ was an ‘edgy’ production dealing with the subject of Parental abuse within a family and the long-term consequences. The Silver went to Melanie Chalk’s ‘Abney’ a revealing and unusual study of a Victorian Cemetery. The Gold went to ‘Eric’ by Jenny and Malcolm Gee – a beautifully produced piece of Social History. It was the story of Eric the last Reed Gatherer (for thatching) who lived and worked for some forty five years in the Norfolk Wetlands.
Along with many other submissions, all of them had attributes and a display of skills in common notably the ability to ‘tell a story’, beautiful photography, well-recorded sound tracks, meticulous attention to detail and high levels of skill in the often neglected, but vital area of editing. All of them in their very different ways, held the attention of the audience while at the same time providing first class entertainment.
I would also like to pay tribute to the two Judges, Ian Bateman and Malcolm Imhoff. Not only did they carry out their duties with great skill, honesty and integrity, but perhaps above all, objectivity. It was good to see that their choice of the Gold Medal winners was endorsed by the Popular Vote of the Audience.
Finally, many thanks are due to Dick Williams and his team of willing and efficient helpers who always make these days run so smoothly. Thanks also for the Commemorative pens for all the winners! All in all it was a memorable 25th Anniversary and we can now look forward to the next twenty five years! The next Competition will be on Saturday, 17th, March 2018, an exciting annual event in the heart of Essex..