Inspiring students with iPad at Weston College

Inspiring students with iPad at Weston College

The music department at Weston College decided to help students improve their performance skills by creating a custom app that would allow them to take part in guitar, drum and bass lessons over the web or on an iPad. After we set them up with Sony Z5 cameras and several iPad 2 devices, they were able to put together a professional-looking app, and roll it out not only at the college, but to several secondary schools in the area.

Creating condensed lessons

After being hit by a combination of growing student numbers and budget cuts, Weston College’s music faculty were beginning to feel the strain. “As a manager of a very busy and a very successful music course, I was confronted with, how would I teach one hundred plus students the guitar, for example, with a limited budget and limited hours?” explained Curriculum Manager Paul Raymond.

Aware that they were dealing with a generation of “digital natives” who were as likely to have learned an instrument by watching YouTube tutorials as by having traditional lessons, Paul and the rest of the music faculty decided to put together a series of condensed video lessons that students could view online. “Every one of our students uses the internet, uses YouTube as a resource to learn, whether they’re recording, practising or learning new tunes. That’s opened up a massive opportunity to us,” said music lecturer and bass tutor Richie Blake.

The college quickly realised that the video lessons would be useful outside the classroom too, and decided that rather than simply making them available on the school network, they’d place them on YouTube and, for maximum portability, create an app called iTutorus which would be available to students via iPad and iPhone. “I think using the iPad is particularly appropriate because it’s what students want to use. They naturally interact with technology; they’re digital natives and that’s how their minds work,” Paul explained.

Developing the app

The app was initially developed by Richard King, one of Weston’s Audio Technicians, who’d previously done some development work for the iPhone. “Developing for the iPad is a challenge,” he told us. “Apple put a lot of restrictions on their developers, but that’s just to make the user experience better, so even though you have the challenge of developing around them, at the end you get something with an intuitive user interface and experience.”

Making the app as intuitive as possible was a key goal for Richard, along with making it “really fun to use” and ensuring that “students were able to access the content without the actual app getting in the way.”

Reactions from staff and students so far have been overwhelmingly positive. “My favourite thing is the way you can split the screen between the actual camera shot and the PDF, which you
can scroll down at your own pace,” said guitar tutor Cliff Moore. “You can think, ‘I’ll pause that and learn that piece of music there,’ and then carry on with the lesson, and it’s just a beautiful, progressive move all the time.”

Sourcing content from students

To create content for the app, Weston turned to students from its Media Studies and Art & Design courses. Three musically inclined graphic design students were recruited to put together PDFs to
run alongside the lessons, and a series of posters to promote iTutorus. As well as brushing up on their music theory, working on the iTutorus project has given students the opportunity to work with clients and to a brief – a key part of their FdA course. “It’s just good to get to work with clients, especially when you’re working in an area you love,” explained Nick Reardon, one of the trio of designers. “It’s been really good to get experience at industry level.”

Corry Raymond, a media student who was commissioned to create intros for the guitar, bass and drum videos, was a big fan of the college’s Sony Z5 cameras. The camera’s manual ring controls made filming “a lot more organic. I could move at my own pace, setting how many seconds I wanted [the focus to take] to go from here. I love depth of field, I love focus pulls, I love all of that stuff. So to be able to do all that with my hand is amazing.”

Next came the task of actually putting the videos together. Media lecturer Richard Edkins was already working on another cross-discipline project, in which media students filmed live music lessons so that the musicians could review their own performances. Armed with the college’s Z5s, he and the students set about making 30 short videos on drum, bass and guitar techniques, then edited them together in Final Cut Pro. “It’s been an excellent opportunity for both departments to work together,” he said. “Working on live projects like this really sharpens students’ camera technique. They’ve got

to work to a deadline and under pressure, as [the footage] needs to be broadcast quality, so I think it really ups their game.”

Rolling the project out to feeder schools

After seeing how much students at Weston responded to iTutorus, Paul and his team decided to roll out the app to five local feeder schools. “Everyone was very positive,” said Paul. “I showed [the Heads of Music] what we’d pre-prepared and they all loved it and thought it was a fantastic opportunity.”

Weston secured funding to provide each feeder school with iPad devices of their own, then got back in touch with Jigsaw24. “We’ve been working directly with Brett at Jigsaw24, and he’s been constantly solid, dependable and positive,” said Paul. “Whenever we’ve had any equipment needs, he’s always been there to advise us, he always gets us the best price and whenever there have been any problems he’s been very quick to respond.”

“The post sales support is definitely the best of any of our suppliers,” agreed Richard King. “Jigsaw24 always deal with any problems we have on the same day.”

Independent learning at Priory School

Clive Day, the Head of Creative Arts at Priory School, has been an avid supporter of the iTutorus project. “I use it right across the board, from year 7s to year 11s,” he explained. “The response has been very positive, especially from the younger students, who see it as a really big privilege to be able to work on their own and take their time with it. It’s a big thing for me, the fact that they can go back again and watch lessons several times.”

Students who wouldn’t have picked up an instrument before are finding iTutorus really accessible. “This is providing students with lessons they just would not have come across without this technology,” said Cliff. “It’s evolved to the point where students are coming back after school and at break times and asking to borrow the iPads, so they can carry on learning independently.”

Looking forward…

“Once this is established, we’d like to see it in other subject areas, not just the creative industries,” said Sarah Clark, the Head of the Creative Arts Faculty at Weston. “We’ve thought about maths and languages, but we can’t think of an area of the curriculum that wouldn’t benefit from this technology.”

Richie Blake is keen to involve more feeder schools in the project. “If we can start running this in feeder schools and further afield, it all comes back to raising standards. Further down the line, any tutor will get a student with a solid foundation in good technique, good theory, and we can start them at college running rather than walking, so they can realise their potential in as short a time as possible.” Part of this plan involves creating The Green Room, an online community where students can upload performances they’ve recorded on the iPad, and receive peer feedback before assessments.

For more information about Apple iPad in education, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email


The XDCAM compatibility Guide

The XDCAM compatibility Guide

Having trouble working out whether your XDCAM or XDCAM EX is going to work with your software? Worry no longer. Sony have released this handy-dandy chart that shows you exactly which features of which NLEs are supported by which cameras. Lovely.

For anyone who’s eyes aren’t up to the tiny print (or who’d like a copy to take away), you can download the PDF here: XDCAM Interoperability.


Want to know more about what your XDCAM can do? Give us a call on 03332 409 306, email or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you shortly. In the meantime, head over to to see our full broadcast range.

MassMotion: Advanced 3D pedestrian simulations for evacuation plans

MassMotion: Advanced 3D pedestrian simulations for evacuation plans

After several years of internal use, Arup have released their 3D pedestrian simulation tool to the wider world, and Jigsaw are pleased to be able to offer it following the 8th June launch.

MassMotion allows architects to accurately assess commuter traffic and evacuation plans for a wide range of building models and events. Having been around for several years, it’s had plenty of chance to be thoroughly tested and for any creases to be ironed out.

MassMotion is the only 3D pedestrian simulator available. Benefits include:

•    Ability to import models from CAD programs or build from scratch.
•    Scheduling origin and destination points for 3D agents (i.e. people).
•    Commands like walk, shop or loiter and the ability to set average speed.
•    Agents that automatically adapt to new routes when you change the geometry.
•    Access to extensive analysis tools including recordings of your 3D simulations.

Where do your models fit in?

Models can be developed from CAD drawings or built from scratch and you can import 3D geometry from AutoCAD, MicroStation, Rhino, 3ds Max, SketchUp and Revit. Geometry is then classified as floors, stairs, barriers and portals which agents will respond to accordingly. MassMotion also includes pre-flight model validation to identify any setup problems before a simulation is run.

How does it work?

Your 3D environment is analysed to develop a physical relationship between geometric objects so a full 3D simulation can be run. Routes are mapped between origins and destinations, taking into account any decision variables for individual or grouped agents who then navigate their way through the environment. The agents aren’t simply mindless stickmen either, Arup have spent a long time finetuning a formula that makes their behaviour frighteningly realistic.

The analytic stage is where MassMotion really comes into its own. It makes a big difference to clients when you can show them a recording of the 3D simulation and make objective statements about the design performance of a model and back it up with clear analysis. All of the simulation data is collected and exported for analysis, so you can assess journey times for individuals or groups; flow rates at doors, stairs or chosen areas; and queue lengths or volume-defined accumulations.

How MassMotion helps

If a simulation analysis reveals problems, you can make geometric changes in MassMotion using control tools based on the easy-to-use Autodesk Softimage interface. Agents will then alter their routes accordingly, finding the most efficient path and seeking alternative routes if these become congested.

Applications of MassMotion

MassMotion is hugely scalable: Arup have run simulations with 350,000 agents and believe this could be exceeded to assess the design performance of large buildings, transit stations, stadiums and events. Arup have applied this to venue planning for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, terminal design for Union Station in Los Angeles, and a fire and evacuation plan at Canary Wharf. MassMotion was also used in the design process of the Jetblue Shopping concourse at JFK airport where passenger movement was tied to flight schedules, food and retail concessions. In short, there are myriad applications for MassMotion.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering MassMotion or have any further questions, give our CAD consultants a call on 03332 409 306 or email

Panasonic AF101 scores its first broadcast production

Panasonic AF101 scores its first broadcast production

Panasonic’s flagship Micro 4/3 camera, the AF101 has racked up its first professional broadcast production: an Al Jazeera-commissioned documentary shot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The documentary, which tells the story of a group of women attempting to rebuild their lives after years of conflict in the DRC, was produced by Fiona Lloyd-Davies of Studio 9 films.

The Congo’s challenging landscape meant that the crew needed a rugged, hardwearing camera. “With no tape mechanism and no moving parts, the AF101 worked faultlessly in all conditions, delivering excellent results,” Lloyd-Davies explained. “This is a beautiful part of the world and I wanted a camera that could do it justice. Not only did the 101 bring out the vivid colours of the people and their environment, but its four thirds chip allowed me to adjust the depth of field to great effect.”

Al Jazeera’s production team had followed the development of the AF101 and were big fans of the camera’s features – with the exception of its native AVCHD recording format, which didn’t meet with their technical requirements. Not to be deterred, Lloyd-Davies mounted a nanoFlash recorder on to the camera. This allowed her to record MXF files to CompactFlash cards (for broadcast) and AVCHD to SD cards (so she had a high-res backup copy of her footage).

Lloyd-Davies and her AF101 will be heading back to the Congo in May to shoot more footage..

Want to know more? Give us a call on  03332 409 306, email or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you shortly. In the meantime, take a look at @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Shared storage for a video editing suite at Bath Spa Uni

Shared storage for a video editing suite at Bath Spa Uni

Bath Spa University were looking for an 11-seat, multi-user video editing suite. They gave Jigsaw24 a call and we helped them find the solution to meet their performance and budgetary requirements, and ensure that they were able to undertake real-world professional projects. As well as including the capacity for future upgrades, our experts implemented a render farm to operate out of hours.

Bath Spa offers a range of courses, from pre-degree study to postgraduate degrees. The university, home to around 5,500 students, has achieved exceptionally high rankings in the national league table. It has also been designated as a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the creative industries, with strong links with key employers and industry partners.

Bath Spa University have made a significant investment in resources and facilities available to their students, both at the Bath School of Art and Design and the Schools of Music and Performing Arts.

Marrying professional and educational requirements

The university wanted an 11-seat video editing suite with a commercial focus that would be capable of fulfilling real briefs to a professional standard. The technical requirements included managed logins for full- and part-time students, fully shared data storage and roaming home folders and real performance suited to video editing by multiple users. It was also important for the university that the proposed solution consisted of professional industry tools, as completed projects could be used to generate revenue.

Designing a storage solution

Sammy Aindow, one of Jigsaw24’s leading systems and storage consultants, helped Bath Spa University investigate a number of possible solutions. Sammy specialises in backend broadcast and post-production systems, so he was able to assess exactly what was needed.

He decided against a ten Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) storage solution, as it was not the best value for money in this instance and instead suggested a Fibre Channel-based SAN, with redundant metadata controllers for high availability. The Fibre Channel fabric offered redundancy and 8Gb per second capability, which would give the university the opportunity to double their storage bandwidth in the future. In addition to this, tight directory integration would provide the centralised management and security required.

Careful coordination and project management

As the new video editing suite was located in a newly acquired university building where construction was still underway, careful coordination and project management was required. Components for the suite were delivered independently from a number of sources, while a subcontractor installed the Fibre cabling onsite. We organised and carried out the task efficiently, without encountering any problems.

The project was completed, including the final stage of configuration, in approximately three days. Technicians at the university undertook some preliminary work and set up their client machines, while our onsite engineers configured and installed the servers and storage.

Seeing the benefits…

The university now has enhanced professional facilities to offer both its staff and students. The addition of a compressor cluster was not in their original specification but has essentially resulted in the university getting two solutions for the price of one. Several options for redundancy and failover were incorporated to improve reliability and optimise the availability of the systems.

We made sure that Bath Spa got the best possible prices, enabling them to implement the latest 8Gb-ready Fibre Channel switching at no extra cost, with the capacity to double the bandwidth of their storage network in the future.

Want to know more about shared storage for your video setup? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Finding referring views in Revit

Finding referring views in Revit

Anyone who’s just kicking off their BIM workflow would do well to take a look at Autodesk’s Revit Clinic. The site’s packed with tips and troubleshooting tricks, such as this quick workaround for those of you who keep receiving ‘could not find referring object’ errors.

Problem 1: Viewport selected

If you receive this message when you hover over the viewport and right click ‘find referring views’, try right clicking on ‘activate view’ first. Once the view is activated, right click on ‘find referring view’ and you should get the ‘go to view’ dialogue.

Problem 2: Hidden tag instances

You’ll also get this message if every instance of a particular tag is hidden in every view. TO see whether this is the problem, open a view the tag should appear in, then toggle ‘reveal hidden elements’ to see if you can find the tag.

If  that reveals the tag, you should be sorted – right clicking ‘find referring views’ in the activated sheet elevation view, it should return all the views in which you’ve unhidden the tag.

See the original post.

For more information on Autodesk Revit, give our CAD team a call on 03332 409 306 or email

Which DVI Cable Should I Choose?

Which DVI Cable Should I Choose?

Which DVI cable you choose depends on whether you want to connect digital signals, analogue signals, or both.

There are three types of DVI connection; DVI-Digital (DVI-D), DVI-Analogue (DVI-A), and DVI-Integrated (DVI-I).

The signals in a video card on both PCs and Macs are initially generated in the digital format. Therefore the best connection to a flat panel display is via a DVI-D lead, connected to the purely digital input of the DVI-D input of the display (or HDMI input via an adaptor).

DVI-D Cables

These provide a faster, high quality image than analogue, due to the nature of the digital signal.

DVI-A Cables

These are used to carry the analogue signal to the DVI-A input of the display (or VGA connector input via an adaptor, as the analogue signals are the same for DVI-A & VGA).

There is some quality loss due to the digital to analogue conversion.

These cables are not extremely common as VGA to VGA cables are often used with VGA to DVI adaptors.

DVI-I Cables

These are integrated cables which are capable of carrying a digital to digital or analogue to analogue signal, making them more versatile than the other options.

Format Interchange

DVI digital and DVI analogue formats are non-interchangeable.

A DVI-D cable will not work on an analogue system, nor will a DVI-A cable work on a digital system. To connect an analogue source to a digital display, a VGA to DVI-D electronic converter is required. Similarly, to connect a digital output to an analogue display, a DVI-D to VGA electronic converter is required.

Single Link and Dual Link

The digital formats are available in Single and Dual Link.

This means there are 4 types of cable that carry digital signals available – namely DVI-D Single Link, DVI-D Dual Link, DVI-I Single Link and DVI-I Dual Link.

Single Link cables carry 165MHz bandwidth, Dual Link doubles this to 330MHz.

DVI Single Link can display a resolution of 1920 x 1200 whereas DVI Dual Link can display an impressive resolution of 2560 x 1600.

Maximum Cable Lengths

The maximum cables length usually for digital signals is 10 metres for Single Link and 5 metres for Dual Link. Longer lengths are possible but require the use of DVI boosters.

Jigsaw also offer a range of custom DVI cables for extending the new DVI Apple displays with Firewire and USB.

Find out more by getting in touch with us on 03332 400 222, email or take a look at our full broadcast range.