www.summerhall.tv is an internet TV channel operating out of Edinburgh’s new arts centre, of the same name. It reports the arts – including books, performance and film – mainly in Edinburgh and further afield too.
Comprising short news items and longer interviews, the channel has access to archive from various former Scotland-based local TV channels from the past 12 years.
Here, Dave Rushton, director of the Edinburgh-based Institute of Local Television, and a co-founder of summerhall.tv answers the questions.
Who set up the channel?
The Institute of Local Television, with support from Summerhall arts centre.
Explain the thinking behind the channel’s ‘look and feel’? Our home page carries the latest arts news while highlighting a few older features – particularly those relevant to contemporary activities.
We store and recirculate news and older material in the ‘vault’ pages – visual arts, books, performance, music and film.
On our Facebook page, we encourage a dialogue with viewers and readers.
The ‘Cityscape’ page is our first ‘special project’ to look at the role of architecture in society.
As time goes on, we will develop several strands of programming in support of the archives located at Summerhall while spinning off festivals at Summerhall of short films and local TV.
We will encourage cultural debate, concerts and other longer events for recording.
Our objective is to provide a comprehensive array of art and cultural filmmaking for screening and access across a variety of digital platforms and for our content to appear on websites – as well as TV channels – both here and throughout Europe.
Who are key personnel?
How were they recruited? Alicja Pawluczuk is our project and training co-ordinator, sometime filmmaker and our on-site editor.
Alicja is a recent graduate from Edinburgh Napier University and a former volunteer at Video in Pilton, now known as Screen Education Edinburgh.
Vivien Kinnear handles our marketing and filmmaking and graduated from Stirling University last year.
Kim Miller is our production manager and works professionally in this area when not assisting summerhall.tv.
Lee Richardson runs his own filmmaking company and films for us because it adds variety to his mix of work, and he enjoys editing the longer projects we undertake for Summerhall.
David Jack is a recent filmmaking graduate from EdinburghTelford College, who will be starting on the film course at Napier in the autumn.
Clara Valario is a graduate of the Barcelona film school and works for us when not working.
Richard Ferguson and Philip Veneruso are filmmakers and Emily Molloy an interviewer and they help out when available.
I hang about and try to be useful without getting in the way.
Over the summer, we’re working with half a dozen creative writing post-graduate students from Edinburgh University who are researching and later interviewing authors we’ll be covering at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. We recruit mostly from Facebook and word of mouth.
As with earlier TV experiments in Scotland, the Institute of Local Television provides an informal skill-share in which media graduates have an opportunity to work to deadlines, to develop a house style and to build a portfolio of rapid-turnaround programming.
Summerhall are in discussion with Stirling University and other academic centres to follow up a proposal to expand and reinforce the training element in coming months, and to work towards offering a Masters in Local TV, starting next year.
What kit and software do you use?
Our view is that broadcast TV has long protected a closed-shop to defend market share behind an escalating set of technical standards that, while improving the viewer experience, keep the dialogue of television out of the hands of viewers as producers.
I’ve been banging on about this since 1979, when a group of us started Red Star Cinema to cover political and industrial news ‘missed’ by the TV channels.
We have been on the threshold of delivering desktop TV for two decades now and really need to allow graduates and volunteers to step over that threshold (or bring it down) and bring the access we have on the web to all forms of digital media.
So the short answer is Final Cut Pro on Macs while filming on Sony and Canon SD and HD camcorders at the quality appropriate for the job.
What have been the main challenges of launching this new channel?
We have still to convince government that a quality local TV service can be achieved and sustained for a relatively small investment and that local and micro scales of service are what is required – not TV for regions that only exist in the broadcasters’ ‘analogue’ imaginations.
What have you learned and enjoyed from the experience?
That there is a thirst for arts news and that graduates and volunteers can sustain and build a new start-up enterprise that need not be overburdened by large technical entry costs.