Filming Seven Stories’ Life-Changing Stories campaign

Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books are currently raising £7,000 to put children with additional needs at the heart of their story. In this post, hear how film production intern and Newcastle University PhD candidate Evripidis Karydis has supported Seven Stories’ very first crowdfunding campaign…

Seven Stories believe that stories help children to understand the world around them, and that every child regardless of age, gender, background and ability should have the opportunity to enjoy this experience.

With this in mind and with the promise of 50% match funding from the Community Foundation Tyne and Wear, they decided to try crowdfunding for the first time to secure additional funding from their supporters and the public. Seven Stories will be using the money raised to fund a range of accessible events and experiences designed specifically for children with sensory and additional needs.

Launching the Life-changing Stories campaign, Kate Edwards, Seven Stories’ Chief Executive, said: “Our ambition is for Seven Stories to be a hub for parents and carers of children with disabilities to socialise, play and learn more about how to enrich their children’s lives through the wonderful world of children’s books.”

This campaign video was filmed and edited by PhD student Evripidis Karydis (or Evris, for short!), who produced two 4 minute trailer videos to support the communications.  Evris is undertaking an NCL Internship through Newcastle University’s Careers Service. NCL Internships are open to all current Newcastle University students, and offer a placement of up to 100 hours during University terms and a student bursary of £750, made up of contributions from the business and the University.

Marketing and Communications Manager Victoria Sanderson, said of Evris’ work on the crowdfunding campaign: “Evris’ performance throughout the project was exceptional; he offered expert guidance when it was required, identified any risks prior to filming which increased efficiency, met deadlines, used his initiative when editing the videos and was accommodating with amends, even when they arrived after signing-off.  Overall, Evris was professional and a delight to work with.”

This built on Evris’ previous internship with Seven Stories in the 2016/17 academic year, where he filmed Seven Stories’ Living Books project in early years settings, working with the Creative Learning and Engagement Team.

For Evris, “having already completed a NCL internship with Seven Stories during the 2016/17 academic year it was not difficult for me to decide to work with the foundation once again. The people at Seven Stories are true professionals and really helped me to produce high quality videos for their causes. Furthermore, the reason behind the crowdfunding campaign was another motivation for me to say yes and work once more with Seven Stories and I am pleased that my videos contributed in order to achieve the goal of raising £7000.

Being an aspiring filmmaker myself working through my internship I have managed again to practice my filmmaking craft and helped me develop my communication skills.

The highlight for me during my placement was when I got the chance to film a family for the crowdfunding campaign video as it gave me a good insight of the people who were going to be benefited by the campaign.

I truly believe that the work being done at Seven Stories is really important as it is making a massive difference in children’s lives and their families and I would really like to work with them again in the future.”

Take a look at Evris’ second video from the Life-changing Stories campaign:

And the results? Well, Seven Stories hit over 75% of their funding target in the first day of the crowdfunding campaign, which is amazing news! Thank you to Evris for helping to make this campaign such a success. But they still need a few more donations to hit their £7000 target before 2nd April 2018 – can you help Seven Stories to ensure that every child is part of their story?

Find out more about the campaign and donate now at: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/life-changing-stories 

The Catherine Storr Experience: From Collection to Cardboard

This digital age of ours poses a challenge to both museums and higher education. How can museums present physical collections digitally? And how can academic research into these collections engage the Google Cardboard generation?

The Catherine Storr Experience, a new augmented reality exhibition based on the work of author Catherine Storr, launched by Newcastle University and Seven Stories: the National Centre for Children’s Books, attempts to meet that challenge.

The content for the experience was provided by Kim Reynolds, Professor of Children’s Literature in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics. Kim wanted to produce a digital exhibition based on her research into Seven Stories’ Catherine Storr archive. Discussing this with the Seven Stories Collections Team, it quickly became apparent that Kim’s ambitions for the project were to do something really new.

So I put Kim in touch with Dr Tom Schofield in Digital Cultures in Culture Lab at Newcastle University to see if they could help. Tom worked with developer Dan Foster Smith, Seven Stories’ Archivist Kris McKie, and Kim to put The Catherine Storr Experience together.

The Mirror Image Ghost. Image: Newcastle University
The Mirror Image Ghost. Image: Newcastle University

The result? The Catherine Storr Experience explores the unsettling novel of Storr’s Marianne Dreams (1958), and the house that Marianne draws. Using the context of Marianne’s room, the augmented reality experience introduces a number of Storr’s books and illustrators, as well as some aspects of her life. The experience allows you to explore different objects, characters and settings by moving your smartphone or cursor.

It uses the very latest in WebVR technology. I haven’t seen anything like this yet in digital collections, so I asked Dan about the technological innovation:

“This is new and experimental technology, which is on the edge of a breakthrough into the mainstream. It has the ability to take information that has traditionally been displayed in a flat, 2D way and literally add another dimension to it!

Websites have the great advantage of allowing the viewer to navigate the information at their own pace. Video and TV captivate and engage the viewer. This sort of experience combines the best of both; I like to think of it as a guided tour with the ability for you to ‘ask’ questions along the way.”

Inside the house of Marianne Dreams. Image: Newcastle University
Inside the house of Marianne Dreams. Image: Newcastle University

Throughout The Catherine Storr Experience you can spot illustrations, photographs and other items from the Seven Stories Collection. Some of the materials included in the experience also relate to Storr’s personal life and were kindly loaned by her family, extending the Seven Stories material. The project has also enabled Seven Stories to digitise all of their Storr holdings so this is available to readers and researchers around the world.

From Seven Stories’ perspective, Kris commented that this partnership had brought a new dimension to their digital collections:

“It was interesting to see how a group of talented people from outside the museums and heritage sector were able to respond to the challenge of representing an archive in a new way; Kim was able to bring her expertise to write the content, and Dan and Tom were able to envision a unique platform to present it. It will be intriguing to see what people make of The Catherine Storr Experience and the additional content on our website.”

'Marianne draws a house, and the house is Marianne.' Image: Newcastle University
‘Marianne draws a house, and the house is Marianne.’ Image: Newcastle University

And I’ll leave it to Kim to have the final word:

“Working with colleagues in Culture Lab and Seven Stories made it possible to experiment with new ways of presenting archival mterial and reaching out to audiences all over the world. It required new ways of writing, and Dan and Tom approached the task in adventurous ways that re-engaged me with the material. It was an exciting and challenging – in the best possible ways – collaboration.”

http://digitalcultures.ncl.ac.uk/Catherine-Storr/

Building a new city with Newcastle City Futures

What will Newcastle and Seven Stories look like in 2065?

This October, Newcastle City Futures took over Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books for a weekend of Big Draw Festival activities which encouraged children and families to design and build their future city…

Over 500 people visited Seven Stories over the course of our Big Draw weekend. 2016’s STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival aims to inspire illustrators everywhere to explore creative innovation, enterprise, digital technologies and the arts through drawing.

This seemed like a perfect theme for Seven Stories to connect with the Newcastle City Futures Urban Living Partnership, a project led by Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones at Newcastle University. Newcastle City Futures aims to get people and organisations in Newcastle Gateshead talking and thinking about the future needs of the city, and working together to foster innovation.

Now, I think the views of the children and families visiting Seven Stories are pretty important here. After all, they’re the ones who’ll be living and working in Newcastle in fifty years’ time!

So what will Newcastle and Seven Stories look like in 2065? Here’s what Seven Stories’ visitors think…


Building Newcastle Gateshead
Newcastle Gateshead in 2065. Image: Newcastle University
Newcastle Gateshead in 2065. Image: Newcastle University

Over the course of the weekend, children and families added to our large map of Newcastle and Gateshead to create their vision of Newcastle in 2065.

And their creativity was amazing! Visitors built homes, cultural, sports and science venues, businesses, hotels, transport systems, power stations and several bridges. In fact, the children organically created pretty much everything you’d need in a future city.

I was pleased to see they thought the Angel of the North would still be there, and Seven Stories too!


The house of the future…?
The house of the future. Image: Newcastle University
The house of the future. Image: Newcastle University

Children drew on (and played in!) our large 3D house of the future. What does this tell us? Perhaps that houses in the future will be more colourful and allow for personalisation. We’ll continue to build in green technologies, and graffiti won’t be going away any time soon…!


The streets of 2065
Designing a new Northumberland Street. Image: Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books
Designing a new Northumberland Street. Image: Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books

Dr Emine Thompson and students from Northumbria University came in to run a ‘Your City, You Design It!’ workshop. We looked at the streets of Newcastle in 3D and then participants designed a new Northumberland Street using SketchUp. It’s going to look pretty different in 2065…


A big jigsaw for the Big Draw
Drawing on RFID jigsaw pieces
We drew on RFID enabled wooden jigsaw pieces and recorded messages about the future of the city. Image: Newcastle University.

Zander Wilson of Open Lab at Newcastle University provided a fun jigsaw activity. The children coloured in wooden RFID enabled jigsaw pieces, before recording a message about their hopes for the future of the city. Zander will be combining these to make a digital jigsaw – I’m excited to see the finished result!


The future of Seven Stories
A new plan for Seven Stories. Image: Newcastle University
A new plan for Seven Stories. Image: Newcastle University

Our last two activities of the weekend were all about planning the future of Seven Stories. Throughout the weekend, children could draw a new blueprint for our galleries, and Teresa Strachan and the YES Planning students at Newcastle University came to deliver a drop-in workshop all about urban planning. Here’s a plan one of the children came up with!


The children came up with so many interesting ideas about what Newcastle Gateshead will be like in 2065 – I’m looking forward to seeing what changes the future holds!