Helping students with complex learning difficulties communicate at Great Oaks School

Helping students with complex learning difficulties communicate at Great Oaks School

After working with Creative Partnerships and the Department of Electronic Computer Science at Southampton University on a range of new technology trials, Great Oaks School joined Jigsaw24’s e7 Project to see if iPad mini would be able to help students with a range of learning and communication difficulties access the curriculum. The results? Increased engagement and communication, plus one or two surprises…

Download this case study as a PDF

Great Oaks School initially started using iPad as a communication device for SLD (Severe Learning Difficulties) students. Working with Erica Smith from Creative Partnerships and E.A Draffan from the University of Southampton, they attempted to find a digital alternative to their existing PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and to set up their own social networking system, which eventually became the Go!Platform.

“To make a new symbol for the PECS really is an onerous task,” explained Creative co-ordinator Roger Hardy, “because you have to go to the internet, you need to purchase a license to be able to use the symbols, get the symbol up, print it out, chop that out and velcro it both sides to create a set of new resources. That’s a lot of work for our support staff, so we were originally looking to see if there were ready-made apps on iPad that we could use to replace that.”

Despite some initial frustrations with the apps on offer – many used a different PECS symbol set to Great Oaks’, were “too American”, “gimmicky” or “made the massive assumption that SLD students would be able to navigate away from a page and come back” – Great Oaks’ team were impressed with the potential of iPad, and the volume of resources available through the App Store. They began looking into other potential uses for the device.

Joining the e7 Project

“I was looking on the Internet for organisations that were doing development work with schools and iPad, and Jigsaw24 came up,” said Roger. “Originally, we were told that because of the size of the school we didn’t really qualify. Then I got a call back saying that they were thinking about working with special schools and schools of different sizes and they were happy with what I’d put in writing already and thought it might be worth developing.”

After consulting with their e7 representative, Andy Cain, the Great Oaks team decided to opt for iPad mini during their trial, as these devices were not only easier for children to hold, but included a built-in camera that could be used as part of the school’s many cross-curricular creative projects, and would allow staff to take pictures of real items around school to use as PECS symbols.

Getting staff trained on iPad (and winning over parents)

A few of the teachers at Great Oaks already used iPad as their main device, so were receptive to twilight training sessions run by Erica Smith and creative trainer Ricky Tart. Other staff members were then encouraged to pass on what they’d learned to other users. But “the best way that we’ve found to get people’s skills up is to do projects,” Roger explained. “Working with creative people like Ricky Tart on film-making, animation and poetry projects has really helped to cement the learning that has taken place.

“A lot of our training has happened by one of us seeing what everyone else is doing and saying, ‘ooh, I’d like to do that,’ so we’ve trained each other up. It’s becoming more integrated in the school that we just use iPad. We’re making short films as part of our Arts Week, and we’re going to do that almost completely on the iPad. These films will be entered into several national competitions and really develop the skills of both pupils and staff. We might even use the minute-long preview template in iMovie for making the films. But obviously that is a great way to do training, and it lends itself not only to all the technical elements of making a documentary, but also uploading and editing it.”

Using iPad for project work has also helped the school win over parents who were unsure about the scheme. Using a combination of their e7 iPad mini deployment and the school’s social media site, Go!Platform, students were able to create and upload content for their parents to view before the day was over, so they could catch up with what their children were doing during the day.

“When we had the e7 iPad deployment we were encouraging the kids to film all the time,” said Roger. “I’ve got a three part film of a boy in my class making a clay rhino, and he’s not got great speech and language but you could see him developing as he went along, because he’d seen YouTube videos and he understood the format. It’s the unexpected stuff that’s been really amazing.”

Introducing students to iPad and launching the e7 Project

“When we did the first pilot project, using iPad as a communication tool, I was terrified,” admitted Roger. “One of the very first students looked at it – she’s not a verbal communicator and we thought she’d really like it, but she picked it up and just flung it across the room. But it survived and it’s fine. We’re still using that iPad!”

With the iPad crash-tested, Roger and the rest of the staff set about using sensory apps to acclimatise students with very high support needs to the new devices, and “by time we started the e7 Project with the iPad mini it was completely different. The kids could literally not wait because they’ve already seen iPad devices around the school. Andy from Jigsaw24 came down and we had all the tablets stacked up in a pile with a spotlight on them in the hall, and all the parents came in and [the pupils] couldn’t believe that they were actually taking these things away with them.”

It wasn’t all plain sailing, but Roger and the team found that the sense of ownership generated by a 1:1 scheme like the e7 Project meant that pupils took far better care of their devices than expected. “Of the 40 we had, none were broken. An iPad trolley that moves around and you log in and log out, that’s not really anything to do with you [as a pupil]. But having an iPad that’s yours and that you take home and do all your work on, compose your own music on, that was a huge development. We had one case where [one of our pupils with behavioural difficulties] was losing her temper, she knew she was about to trash the room and she asked someone to hold her iPad mini for her.

Improving speech and communication with iPad and game-based learning

While Great Oaks are still searching for their ideal PECS app (current favourite Widgit Go is still being developed for iOS) they’ve had some major success with MLD students, which Roger puts down to the more interactive, role-based nature of learning through apps and games. “There’s one particular child in my class who’s really weak on speech and language, ” he explained. “He loved [playing Minecraft on the iPad], joined in with everyone else, and as a matter of course if you see a group of children playing Minecraft together, they don’t stop talking and listening. Our speech therapist could not believe how much his speech and language had improved over that one term. And I had to say, to be honest this is solely down to Minecraft, because he wants to be a peer. We are developing a Minecraft after school club in the autumn of 2013.

“If you have a lot of learning difficulties and you’re used to not being able to keep up with everyone, and then suddenly when you immerse yourself in a game, you can become somebody who looks like everybody else, behaves like everybody else in the game. That alter ego is a brand new person. And I think that enabled him or encouraged him to work in that role, because there he was on an equal footing with the others and he had the cognitive capacity to do all the tasks in the game, so the only thing that was holding him back was his own lack of confidence. And now he doesn’t stop talking – he’s alive with it! He talks all the time about getting the iPad mini back.”

The future of Great Oaks’ iPad deployment

After three years of testing out various devices, Great Oaks have now purchased enough iPad devices for all Key Stage 4 pupils. All teaching staff have now been issued with an iPad mini as well. They’re also looking to revamp their Wi-Fi network in order to better support the 70 devices they do have, and are hoping that they’ll be able to access a broader range of apps and features when they leave their local authority and take control of their own IT setup later in the year. And would they recommend the e7 scheme? “I have! I’ve been recommending it to people I know at other schools and have been saying please get in touch with Jigsaw24, because I think maybe they might not be aware the e7 Project exists or think that they won’t qualify, but everyone should ask!”

Download this case study as a PDF

If you want to know more about the e7 Project or iPad in SEN, give the team a call on 03332 409 333 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter.

Get £500 cash back on Canon’s C500 (and the Ki Pro Quad!)

Get £500 cash back on Canon’s C500 (and the Ki Pro Quad!)

You can’t move for killer Canon deals at the moment. Not only are they giving everyone the chance to win an amazing racing day at Brands Hatch and now you can get £500 cash back when you buy one of our limited stock of exclusively-priced Canon C500 video cameras.  

We’ve got EF mount Canon C500s in stock for just £13,699 ex VAT – probably the best price you’ll find on the web – but you’ll need to act fast to get your hands on one, as we have very limited stock, and after that they go back up to a (still not unreasonable) £16,399 ex VAT. For a limited time, we’re also offering £500 cash back with this model. Who says no to £500 of free money?

Why choose the Canon C500?

The Canon C500 caught our eye because its four 1080p outputs can be combined to create a single 12-bit 4:4:4 or 10-bit 4:2:2 4K image, meaning that if you pair it with a 4K-capable 4K recorder it becomes a relatively affordable way to kick off your 4K workflow. But even if you’re not looking to do 4K work, it still stands up as a great camera for its price – for a start, you’re getting 12-bit 4:4:4:4 1080p, which is never to be sniffed at, especially if you do a lot of chroma keying or other detail-dependant image processes.

Another favourite feature of ours is the support for frame rates of up to 120p, even at higher resolutions, so we can continue to make the extremely dramatic slow motion videos you occasionally see scattered around the blog.

The combination of EF Cinema Lenses and Canon’s Log Gamma feature delivers the high quality video and wide exposure latitude required by digital cinematographers, while the range of source image formats supported means the C500 is equally at home shooting for cinema (using the DCI/SMPTE 2048-1:2011 standard) or television (using the Quad-HD/SMPTE 2036-1:2009 and ITU-R BT.1769 standards).

And what do you do with your £500? Well, there’s always the Ki Pro Quad…

As you can see from AJA’s demo clip and our previous over-enthusiastic posts, these two are perfect shooting partners, combining to give you the crisp 4K you want from a camera (and a recorder) you can afford. You can buy them as a pair at our website, and we’ll give you the £500 cash back on that bundle, too. Don’t say we never do anything nice.

Want to know more about the Canon range? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Motivating students and liberating staff at Hertfordshire & Essex High School

Motivating students and liberating staff at Hertfordshire & Essex High School

In 2012, The Hertfordshire & Essex High School decided to roll out a 1:1 iPad scheme, starting with their 200 sixth form students. However, they were unsure whether to also offer the devices to staff, as teachers were already provided with a school-managed laptop. They worked with our e7 team to set up a term-long trial in which 40 key staff members were given an iPad.

Pupils in Hertfordshire & Essex High School now have their own iPad to use in lessons and at home

Pupils in Hertfordshire & Essex High School now have their own iPad to use in lessons and at home

“There’s obviously been a huge shift in focus away from desktop PCs towards mobile devices,” explained the school’s Strategic Leader of ICT, Ross Woodall, when asked about the decision to roll out iPad. “We wanted to have a device that was friendly and intuitive for the students to use, and we didn’t want to deploy a Windows-based device and make it part of our domain, because a lot of our services are delivered via web interfaces. We thought that iPad was well made and well supported, and it really engaged and enthused the students. We trialled it with a few students and they were particularly keen on iPad over any other device.”

Trialling iPad with staff

The school rolled out iPad to their sixth form first, partly due to the increasing popularity of the sixth form but also because “we really wanted to provide a device that they could embed in their lessons [from the start of the academic year].” However, after the initial rollout, it was clear that a few of the staff were a bit uncomfortable because some of them were less familiar with Apple products. “We decided to do the e7 trial so that the staff could get some hands-on experience with the iPad and see if it was beneficial as a teaching resource.”

Although our e7 deployments are usually split between staff and students, we were impressed by what the school had planned, and worked with them to identify 40 key staff members who would receive an iPad for a term. The school already provided staff with laptop computers, and one of the main aims of the trial was to assess whether providing an iPad as well would be an effective use of the school’s ICT budget.

“I think the e7 Project was very helpful in reassuring us that iPad for staff was a worthwhile expenditure,” Ross said. “Trialling the device enabled us to see the benefit it brought, while actually supporting the staff. This meant that they could make better use of the hardware with the students, as well as using it themselves. It meant that their teaching became much more mobile. They were able to teach out in the field or the playground if they needed to, and could do audio and video recordings in lessons with no planning needed in advance. Things like that were much, much less viable with a traditional laptop.”

Assessing Mobile Device Management (MDM) options

When the school joined the e7 Project, our team met with them to discuss how they planned to manage their iPad deployment. While many schools are locking down their ICT equipment and filtering the type of apps that their students can download, the Hertfordshire & Essex team decided that when it came to getting older students to buy into the scheme and use their devices as much as possible, freedom was key.

“We felt that in order for the students to really embrace the iPad and make sure it was something that they used constructively, it was more helpful to have the students register them to their own iTunes accounts as opposed to a centralised one that was managed by the school,” explained Ross. “We already have a system where students can borrow laptops, and we found that this was underused because there wasn’t the flexibility [to allow students to put] their software on the laptop they were using, whereas with the iPad, freedom has allowed them to become a much more valuable resource rather than just being another item to carry round. We have very responsible students, so I’m sure we have the odd game installed on the devices, but we see them being used a lot for taking notes and recording lessons (to video or audio). I think that’s really valuable for them, the ability to access the teaching outside of the lesson.”

“We felt that in order for the students to really embrace the iPad and make sure it was something that they used constructively, it was more helpful to have the students register them to their own iTunes accounts as opposed to a centralised one that was managed by the school,”

“We felt that in order for the students to really embrace the iPad and make sure it was something that they used constructively, it was more helpful to have the students register them to their own iTunes accounts as opposed to a centralised one that was managed by the school,”

Increasing usage while maintaining network security

The school’s tactic of keeping the iPad deployment relatively open seems to be paying off: they rolled out a new WiFi network to support the deployment, and of the 170 devices they handed out, Ross has seen “a hundred and twenty Apple devices connected all day, every day. We’ll have between 170 and 180 devices on the wireless network daily and seventy five per cent of them will be Apple devices.”

And how does the school cope with having so many unmanaged devices on their network? “We deliver a lot of our services through web interfaces: our VLE, our email and remote desktop access – all of that is accesible through a web browser. All devices on the wireless network authenticate against our Windows domain and all traffic is transmitted securely.”

Encouraging more mobile teaching and learning

When it comes to working with the iPad, the school is happy for students to take the lead, encouraging them to use the devices for general note-taking, research and organisation rather than structuring lessons round specific apps. “We have many teachers who have really embraced the iPad in their teaching,” Ross noted, “particularly the arts and the technology faculties. PE and music are using them a tremendous amount and designing lessons around them – I think a lot of that is to do with the touch interface and the flexibility and portability that you get with the device, which really feeds into those faculties.

“PE and sports sciences are now able to film people moving [using the iPad] and play that back so they can analyse it frame by frame. I think that sort of thing is much easier for the teacher compared with borrowing one of the school’s cameras and having to take it back to the classroom to analyse the video. [With iPad they are] able to record and play it back and have instant feedback. It’s also very nice that students can project via an Apple TV in the classroom to show what they’re working on at their desk. You get collaborative use of a projector, with everybody in a class connecting to show what they’re working on and share their ideas, and that’s really quite valuable.”

The school’s next initiative is to deploy Apple TVs throughout the school and use them to allow students to share their work with the rest of the class. “We held off on rolling them out originally because the firmware didn’t quite offer the level of security we wanted,” Ross explained. “We were worried that a student would be able to share content via an Apple TV from anywhere in the school unless there was some way of locking them down. But one of the updates has enabled us to have a PIN-based access to the Apple TVs [that prevents people without the right password from sharing content].”

Once there are Apple TVs throughout the school, Ross and his team plan to look at ways to allow multiple teachers to FaceTime with a class during lessons in order to explain key points. “For example, if we have a teacher who’s teaching some tiny aspect of computing in a design technology or graphics lesson, they’ll actually be able to FaceTime with one of the IT teachers over the projector to explain that specific point, so you can pull that expertise directly into the lesson.”

You can find out more about the e7 Project on Alternatively, get in touch on 03332 409 306 or at For all the latest news, reviews and app recommendations, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter

First impressions: Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera

First impressions: Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera

After the technical wasteland that was our unboxing video, our head of media and entertainment promptly took the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera off the marketing team and took it off to shoot some actual test footage. Along with his native and graded stills, here are a few of his field notes…

Blackmagic Design's Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Design’s Pocket Cinema Camera

The battery life

One of the most common complaints among our team and everyone else we’ve seen get their hands on a camera so far is that the battery life is incredibly short – you can burn through it in about 45 minutes, even if you’re not shooting continuously. Part of this is because the camera runs hot – it’s literally warm to the touch, and the supplied AC adaptor charges the battery on-camera, so it gets pretty hot when plugged in – and you’re definitely going to need two spare batteries and an external charger to get the most out of this camera. The supplied battery is 800Mah, so aim for one that’s 1200Mah to up your shooting time.

Another power-related quirk: there’s no charging light on the camera or the charger, so the only way to tell that you’re powering up is to turn the camera on and check there’s a charging message on the screen. Be aware that if you’re plugged in and the battery accidentally comes loose, it’ll display as being 100% charged, so do make sure you double check everything is secure.

Qualified cards

As Philip Bloom reported, the Pocket Cinema Camera doesn’t format your cards in-camera or delete any clips. However, we didn’t have any of the compatibility issues he mentioned, despite using PNY 90Mbps SDHC cards rather than the recommended SanDisk Extreme ones recommended in the manual. (Obviously we always recommend using the qualified cards where possible, though.) You’ll need to format your card as HFS+ or exFAT to use it with the camera, and you’ll want to keep a few on hand as the files are pretty big – the test footage was shot in ProRes 422 HQ and 1080p with two channels of audio, and that worked out at roughly 1.25GB per minute.

Supported formats and frame rates

The demo unit only ships with ProRes support – no DNxHD or RAW. The frame rates available are 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 and 30fps, with timelapse supported in one to 50 second intervals, one to ten minutes or one to ten frames.

During the shoot

The test footage was shot outside on a very bright day, which meant that the screen was difficult to see (invest in a loupe or EVF while you’re waiting for your camera to ship) and the camera was incredibly sensitive, even when shooting with the lens closed right down and the shutter at 45 degrees (the auto iris is great, though). As with the original Cinema Camera, stabilisation is a must. The crop factor means that any movements you make are magnified 3 times, and unlike the original model, the Pocket doesn’t have a 2.5K frame that you can crop to HD to cut out some of that movement.

Panasonic lenses are a good bet with the Pocket Cinema Camera, purely because they have stabilisation functionality built in while other prime lenses don’t. We’d recommend investing in a 14mm or 20mm pancake lens, as not only will they have less effect on the camera’s balance, they’ve got the perfect focal length for the crop size and help keep the camera pocket-sized. (As our incredibly non-technical unboxing shows, without lenses it lives up to its name.)

Having zebras on the viewfinder was great and made it easier to make adjustments to the aperture and shutter angle to compensate for conditions – even with a Voigtlander lens shut down to F16 and with the shutter at 45 degrees, it was sometimes difficult to get a decent image. Happily, it was easy to recover the footage without much loss of detail, even though it was ProRes, and we’re excited to see what’ll happen when we get models that can shoot RAW.

One major weakness was the autofocus, which is not smooth and clearly very immature – future software updates will hopefully help with this. When shooting with an Olympus lens it was jerky and tended to hyper-extend the lens, though Panasonic glass fared better, even if performance was slow. If you hold down the focus button a focus view box will appear in the centre of your camera’s screen, and if you hold this down forever it will eventually focus. Double tapping the button turns on focus peaking, which was useful for manual focusing, and took some of the load off the very slow autofocus. The infinity focus also needs work, as it’s currently very soft.

And that screen? Perhaps controversially, we’d actually prefer it to be a touchscreen. There are no manual buttons to assign, so you can spend a lot of time cycling through menus to changes things like shutter angle, ISO and colour temperature. For future models a DSLR- type dial for ISO and shutter angle adjustment would be a great addition.

The results

Shown below are stills from the original test shoot, and the same stills after a very quick primary grade. For such a small camera in such an improvised shoot, the level of detail is fantastic, and any problems were easily fixed in post.

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera with Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0.95 shot at F2.8

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera with Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0.95 shot at F2.8


Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera with Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0.95 at F4

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera with Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0.95 at F4


Flipflop, shot with Blackmagic Cinema Camera using Olympus Zuiko OM 50mm F1.8 on a OM to MFT adaptor

Flipflop, shot with Blackmagic Cinema Camera using Olympus Zuiko OM 50mm F1.8 on an OM to MFT adaptor


The obligatory cat shot, using Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera with Olympus Zuiko OM 28mm wide F2.8 on OM to MFT adaptor

The obligatory cat shot, using Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera with Olympus Zuiko OM 28mm wide F2.8 on OM to MFT adaptor


Want to know more about the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email Alternatively, take a look at our lovely new Blackmagic Design store. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter and ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Video: Unboxing Blackmagic Design’s Pocket Cinema Camera

Video: Unboxing Blackmagic Design’s Pocket Cinema Camera

When we received one of the first seven Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Cameras to hit the UK’s shores, we did what any right-thinking technical company would do – handed it over to our marketing department and let them thoroughly embarrass themselves while unboxing it.

Does it tell you much about what the camera can do? No. Are there numerous helpful tips on getting optimal performance from your Pocket Cinema Camera? No. But you do get to find out what a new Pocket Cinema Camera smells like, and there’s a funny bit with an SD card (our head of media and entertainment promptly took the Pocket Cinema Camera away to shoot some actual test footage, which we’ll have up soon, along with his notes).

You can pre-order the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera from our site now – and we’ll even give you £100 off if you buy a 14-140mm Panasonic lens at the same time.

Want to know more about the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Tech we love: Sony’s FS700 with Metabones lens adaptor

Tech we love: Sony’s FS700 with Metabones lens adaptor

Sony’s 4K-ready FS700 is the first 4K-ready Super 35mm camera in its class, giving you the opportunity to get onto a 4K workflow at a relatively low price point (once the 4K HXR-IFR5 recorder ships, at any rate).  Recently, we’ve taken to pairing this camera with a Metabones lens adaptor, and we like the combination so much we’re now giving one away free when you buy the FS700.

Sony FS700 and free metabones lens adaptor available from Jigsaw24

Sony FS700 and free metabones lens adaptor available from Jigsaw24

Why get yourself a Metabones lens adaptor?

Well, it means that you can use your Canon EF lenses with your Sony FS700, but still retain all the automatic functions. Typically, if you’re using an electronic Canon lens on a camera like the FS700, differences between the two sets of firmware would mean you’d lose any automatic features. This is particularly annoying when you come to change the iris settings, as there are no manual controls for that on most electronic lenses, so you’d be stuck moving the lens back to a Canon camera, changing your settings, and then moving the lens back to your shooting camera – a workaround that wastes bags of time and generates more quiet rage than can possibly be healthy.

Metabones’s adaptors sidestep all that by allowing the lens and camera to talk directly to one another, so you retain true electronic aperture control of your EF mount lenses, and are able to use auto aperture mode in run and gun situations. Autofocus will work with some lenses but alas not all, so you’ll want to check the list over at Metabones’s site to make sure yours are supported.

And why would you want a Sony FS700?

This 4K-ready camera comes with a Super 35mm CMOS sensor, super slow-motion capability and an interchangeable E-mount lens system, and the latest iteration comes loaded with features that Sony have added based on user feedback, so it should deliver exactly what your workflow needs. Features that have been added in include: 50/60Hz switchability, built in ND filters, a 3G-SDI interface and an enhanced exterior design.

If you’re shooting a lot of slow motion, we’ve tried this camera and heartily recommend it – take a look at our overly dramatic test footage.  You can get up to 10x slow motion at full HD resolution, or up to 40x slow motion at a reduced resolution, giving you creative options that were once only available with specialist high-end equipment.

Want to know more about our range of cameras? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Make the most of After Effects and CINEMA 4D with Quadro cards and iOFX

Make the most of After Effects and CINEMA 4D with Quadro cards and iOFX

You’re probably aware of our over-enthusuastic feelings about the link between CINEMA 4D and Adobe After Effects CC, given that we outed it as one of our best reasons to move to Creative Cloud and blogged what was essentially a gleeful squeal when the upgrade deal from CINEMA 4D Lite to Broadcast was announced, but just in case you missed it: we’re huge fans. This time round, we’re getting slightly more practical, taking a look at how to speed up your After Effects – CINEMA 4D workflow with NVIDIA’s ultra buff Quadro cards and almighty not-quite-an-SSD iOFX from Fusion-iO.

We love After Effects but…

…let’s face it, it was never a full 3D solution. Adobe were always open about the fact that it was not designed to be a 3D modelling program, and only ever gave you access to 2.5D – essentially just positioning 2D objects in 3D space, without ever giving them any depth – or a string of uni-directional workflows to full modelling applications, all which had their fair share of glitches and caveats.

After Effects Creative Cloud's CINEWARE plug-in options

After Effects Creative Cloud’s CINEWARE plug-in options

With the arrival of After Effects Creative Cloud and its CINEWARE plug-in, you can now create CINEMA 4D scenes directly in After Effects. If you already have your own CINEMA 4D setup then great, After Effects will happily work with that; if not, it ships with the stripped down CINEMA 4D Lite, which means you can do basic modelling out of the box before deciding which of the full versions suits the projects you’re taking on.

You can compare the Lite and full versions of CINEMA 4D here.

While you’re working, you can view and render a CINEMA 4D scene directly inside After Effects,  then jump to CINEMA 4D if you need to make more complex edits – any changes you make there will be directly reflected in the After Effects environment, and you can access your CINEMA 4D render settings without leaving After Effects.

So what hardware do you need for this workflow?

If you’ve recently updated your After Effects or CINEMA 4D workstations, you’re probably still safe to carry on using them. However, we’ve designed this bundle of add-ons to give you optimal performance, delivering faster graphics performance, smoother playback and better render times.

There are two key things here: Fusion-iO’s iOFX and NVIDIA’s Quadro 4000. The iOFX is a much publicised, super-fast flash memory storage tier, which in this case acts as a cache to enable extremely fast, smooth playback within After Effects. The NVIDIA Quadro 4000 is the fastest CUDA-based card that you can put in a Mac Pro. This means it’s the best match for Adobe’s CUDA-enhanced rendering options, and will give you the best performance with the ray trace renderer. We’ve also included a copy of CINEMA 4D Broadcast, the CINEMA 4D configuration Maxon have built for anyone looking to create more complex 3D models and motion graphics for broadcast work.

See the bundle on

Want to know more about your CINEMA 4D options? Read the roundup, or get in touch with the team on 03332 409 306 or at For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page

Video: Discover the new Touch Type tool in Illustrator CC

Video: Discover the new Touch Type tool in Illustrator CC

We’ve finally learned why Touch Type is called Touch Type, thanks to this clip from Adobe TV. As well as running you through how to use the Touch Type feature to edit the font, colour and positioning of live text in Illustrator (and do so phenomenally quickly), Adobe’s Rufus Deuchler explains that it’s easy to use with touchscreens like the Wacom Cintiq range, where you can simply tap and drag elements of your text to reposition or edit them. So now you know. 

Want to know more about Adobe Creative Cloud for teams? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news and tips, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Top web resources: Getting started with Pro Tools 11

Top web resources: Getting started with Pro Tools 11

Before making a major new purchase – upgrading to the latest version of Pro Tools, say – we always recommend that you do a bit of research, and we’re sure any sane Pro Tooler who’s made it to our blog is doing just that. If, however, you’re worried that you won’t have time to sift through the other 158 million results Google has thrown up, fear not. We’ve rounded up the best news, reviews and recommendations from around the web, including a few gems from our own archives and recent news like the fact that the Control 24 and Pro Control are no longer supported (you’ll need to upgrade to the C24 or D-Command respectively). Between this primer and our expert audio team at, you’ll be up to speed on Pro Tools 11 in no time. And then you can buy it here. How convenient.

The best of the blog: top resources from

Pro Tools 11: What you need to know 

Since Avid announced Pro Tools 11 and Pro Tools HD 11 at NAB 2013 in Las Vegas, we’ve now had a bit of time to let the news sink in, and properly inspect all the new features, CSI-style. With improved performance, enhanced support for video and video hardware, as well as a cheaper upgrade path,Pro Tools 11 is shaping up to be Avid’s most impressive version of their digital audio workstation yet. Read more.

Avid solutions: Pro Tools 11

Key features, hardware options, add-ons, plug-ins and turnkey bundles all explained on our dedicated Avid page (it’s like this, but bigger and with buttons telling you to buy things). Read more.

Is your hardware ready for Pro Tools 11?

The biggest audio news to come out of this year’s NAB show was without a doubt the release of Avid Pro Tools 11. Chief among the things you need to know is the fact that this iteration of Pro Tools has been completely rewritten as a 64-bit application, so if you’re using old Pro Tools HD or HD Accel hardware, you’re going to need to update your hardware to use it. Read more.

Do Pro Tools users need Mac Pro?

Once upon a time, when all your audio add-ons needed FireWire and Pro Tools took up all your available slots, the only real option for doing high-end audio work was a Mac Pro. But with the arrival of Pro Tools HDX, the Magma 3T and Thunderbolt interfaces, you now have much more flexibility… Read more.

Avid’s list of Pro Tools 11-qualified Macs

Before you make the move to Avid Pro Tools 11, it’s definitely worth checking your Apple hardware is up to the job. Luckily, Avid have compiled a full list of Apple computers that are approved for use with Pro Tools HDX and Pro Tools HD Native systems with Pro Tools HD 11.0 software for Mac OS X 10.8.3 and later. Read more.

Avid Pro Tools 11 reviews and walkthroughs: because those in the know, know

FutureMusic review Avid Pro Tools 11

This glowing review comes to you courtesy of FutureMusic’s Steve Evans, and contains some handy project transition advice for anyone who wants to make sure all their Pro Tools 10 projects stay intact when they upgrade. There’s also a roundup of the top improvements that we heartily second. Read more.

MixCoach takes Pro Tools 11 for a test drive

Back when Pro Tools 11 first appeared, MixCoach’s Matt Butler put together this mixing walkthrough. Find out what he digs and not-digs, while picking the new set of keyboard shortcuts at the same time. Watch the walkthrough.

Introducing the Avid Video Engine

We recommend all you sound for picture types sacrifice four minutes of your time for this brief rundown of what the Avid Video Engine is going to do to your Media Composer/Pro Tools workflow (short version: good things). Learn more.

Helpful links

Top five questions when upgrading to Pro Tools 11

The team over at Pro Tools Experts have put together this handy FAQ page for anyone thinking of making the switch to 11. Read more.

Avid’s Pro Tools 11 Knowledge Base

Just in case PT11 will be your first ever Pro Tools purchase and you haven’t encountered this yet, here’s the link to Avid’s own sprawling knowledge base. (The official FAQs are also worth a look.) You’ll never want for official documentation again. Read more.

The Avid plug-in finder

Don’t you wish someone would compile a list of all the plug-ins out there, so that you could easily search for ones that did what you wanted with the system you had? And don’t you wish that someone would put the Pro Tools 11 filter on that list and link to it from a conveniently-placed blog post? It’s your lucky day The nice thing to come out of this list is that fact that many manufacturers are now making their plug-ins AAX 64-bit compatible, including favourites like IK Multimedia’s T-Racks mastering and processing plug-ins and the Vienna Symphonic Library. Find your plug-in.

The approved interfaces and peripherals list

With the move to 64-bit architecture, some older interfaces and extras are left by the roadside in Pro Tools 11, including the Control 24 and Pro Control (you’ll need to upgrade to the C24 or D-Command respectively). This is the page to head to if you want to check whether Avid have tested and certified anything you’re about to buy with Pro Tools 11. Read more.

Think we’ve missed something vital? Let us know in the comments. Want to know more about Avid Pro Tools 11 and your audio options? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

New ways to capture the action: NewTek TriCaster for sports clubs

New ways to capture the action: NewTek TriCaster for sports clubs

If you’ve got a sports facility with digital signage – and this applies to anything from a leisure centre to a football stadium – NewTek TriCaster is the easiest way for you to start creating your own content to deliver to screens, whether that’s post match analysis delivered to executive boxes or a live online stream from a local tournament.

Whatever sport you’re hosting at whatever level, you don’t exactly need to be a rocket scientist to work out that the more of the action you help audiences see, the more they’ll keep coming back. TriCaster allows you to take feeds from cameras around your facility and mix them to offer spectators the best possible view of the game – you can even combine it with NewTek’s 3Play instant replay system to stream slow motion recaps of key moments to signage during the game or as part of half time shows.

Adding content to your digital signage
Populate digital signage with NewTek TriCaster

Populate digital signage with NewTek TriCaster

If you’ve got a large scale screen over your pitch (or tennis court, or ice rink, or pool), you can combine TriCaster and 3Play to mix realtime footage of the game with instant replays, ads from sponsors or for upcoming events, and your own branded graphics, so there’s no chance of any spectators missing a key moment or message. At the same time, you can send content to screens in executive boxes or any other private viewing galleries in your facility, or run highlights and adverts on screens in your concourses and entrance areas during the build-up to the game.

You can also add in feeds of realtime comment from social media sites and clips of past performances, so everyone watching gets as full a view of the game as possible, or charge sponsors to have their own clips or graphics added to the feed for additional exposure on their part and additional revenue on yours.

Recording and repurposing content

TriCaster can record all the footage you shoot to its internal hard drive while it’s streaming, so you have an archive on everything you’ve shot to repurpose. This could mean that players rewatch games to identify what they need to improve (great if your facility provides a lot of training), but you can use that content to engage fans and potential sponsors, too. Get the footage online post-game for anyone who couldn’t be there, create highlight reels to play before your next match or to share online, or combine the clips with new live footage and stream your own post-match analysis show.

Create your own graphics and post-match analysis with NewTek TriCaster

Populate digital signage with NewTek TriCaster

Engaging with a wider audience online

One NewTek customer, basketball team Miami HEAT, even went so far as to create their own pre- and post-game analysis when their local broadcaster stopped broadcasting games. They managed to reach over 1 million fans through livecasts on their website – you can see how in one of NewTek’s fantastically-soundtracked TriCaster case studies. (Any Miamians reading, we’d love to help you but unfortunately we can’t sell to America.)

As well as helping them keep bringing fans back to their site, features like this can actually help you create extra revenue, as TriCaster will let you intercut live footage and clips with sponsor messages (you can even do this on your digital signage mid-game, if you like).

And if your team, club or facility is active on social media, you’ll be pleased to hear that TriCaster offers one-click sharing with sites like Twitter and Facebook. You can select stills or single clips to send to the web straight away, or create bundles of recorded content to post online later. You can even add tickers and social media streams to your signage so that fans at the game can see the online response, or add their own messages.

Take a look at our range of TriCaster solutions, or get in touch on the details below to find out more.

TriCaster is easy to use and can be managed by a single operator, so you don’t need a large creative time to put together effective content – we can even train up your existing staff for you. Get in touch on 03332 409 306 or email to find out more. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook