The Evil Imp


One of TheLab’s™ digital stills cameras, when equipped with a 4 Gigabyte memory card, will shoot, almost continuously, 860 high resolution photographs. A project that we are currently covering has already amassed almost 2,000 usable images (meaning they are well exposed and the subject is sharp and in focus).

In our current video archive we have 320 digital video tapes containing more than 500 hours of dance material. Over the years we have shot more than 1,500 hours of video material and tens of thousands of photographs.

During that time we have become fairly adept at archiving, storing, sorting and retrieving this information as required. Mistakes do happen though and equipment fails and sometimes things are lost, for ever! For the most part though we do keep things safe.

The dance profession, and we’re generalising here, can only be in a state of complete confusion then when it comes to trying to handle the sheer volume of audio/visual media coming their way from people like us.

Back in the day, when print images ruled and there was no video to speak of, things were slow. Asking a dance company for some images involved waiting a very long time, using an archaic piece of technology called a scanner and wrestling with the nightmare that is “a photocopier”.

It would appear that, in some quarters, little has changed (too many dance agencies still have photocopiers for example) and dance organisations and companies are either unwilling or unable to cope with modern day media deadlines or promotional techniques.

Despite a slew of online and offline tools, many of which are free, for storing and sharing a wide range of media there is little evidence that any of them are being used. Some organisations/companies are trying but they’re not trying hard enough!

There is a fundamental lack of knowledge and understanding of digital images and video, how they work, how they can be distributed and the suitable formats for any given platform. For example, images for print need to be higher resolution than images for the web and video shot on a cell phone is no good for broadcast use. You would be amazed at just how people don’t know those kind of fundamentals.

Printed brochures have limited amounts of space and larger brochures cost more money, thereby limiting the photographic potential. But websites have no such constraints so full-on photo stories and video segments have become the norm for media outlets large and small.

It’s simple if you know how of course and knowledge comes from training but how much longer is it going to take for that training to happen and how further behind will the profession fall in the meantime?

Investment in equipment and storage is also needed. Massive storage capacity has never been cheaper, it would appear that hard drives are immune from global economic problems. A 1 Terabyte drive, enough storage space for dozens of hours of broadcast quality video and tens of thousands of images, can be had for less than £200.

High powered desktop computers capable of handling this media are less than £800 and come with everything you need.

Yet, the BBC reports today that IT managers, in some cases, are restricting their employees E-mail accounts to a paltry 100Mb. We’ve seen this type of madness in action at a dance organisation at it drives the employees crazy, they simply don’t have the storage space to work with to get their jobs done.

We recently purchased a USB “thumb drive” for £15 with 8 Gigabytes of storage capacity (that’s eighty times larger than 100Mb). There is simply is no technological or financial need for such restrictive practices.

What we would suggest, here in TheLab™, is an all out blitz on technology training and equipment investment throughout the dance profession. We don’t care if you prefer Mac or PC, Canon or Nikon, online or offline, just get the best tools for the job, learn how to use them and let’s get on with it!

We will be very displeased with the next person that asks us to “e-mail” them a DVD!