This page contains
the detailed report written by a ceramics student on an undergraduate
degree at a British University.
of NEVAC material:
- The NEVAC videos
are invaluable for recording the professional as well as personal life
histories of eminent ceramists.
- The choice of
ceramists is good and is particularly significant as some of those filmed
have since died and these records become all the more valuable.
- The filming of
the ceramists work is particularly relevant as without this archive
we may never see many of the pieces of work shown, as many may end up
in private collections or may be lost with time.
- The filming of
the ceramists whilst at work is especially important because this allows
people to experience almost first hand the working methods and techniques
of the ceramists, something they may never have the opportunity to do
- In general the
picture and sound quality of the videos is very high.
- The informal/personal
style of filming is good and is more personable than a rigid style.
I think it encourages the interviewees to be more relaxed during the
- The still shots
of some of the work are a good idea as it would be possible to draw
and study the work in detail.
on the interviewing approach:
- The informal style
of interviewing was good and evidently put interviewees at ease, allowing
the artist to talk freely.
- Interviews held
in the studio or whilst ceramists were at work were particularly insightful
as these help circumscribe the context of the interview and, keep the
interviewees more focused on the subject they are talking about, e.g.
they tend to talk about the work whilst making it and not get side tracked,
and the resulting video is more visually stimulating.
- The fact that the
interviewer has some knowledge of ceramics (or is a famous ceramist
themselves e.g. Walter Keeler) leads to stimulating interesting conversation,
allowing for a good level of dialogue rather than over simplification,
and explanations necessary for complete novices.
on the interviewing approach:
- A slightly more
formal approach to the interviews is needed, for example more specific
questions need to be asked as a few of the interviewees tended to ramble
and this makes it hard to discern any relevant information disclosed
- Because the interviewer
has a good knowledge of ceramics then it is assumed that the audience
will also have the same level of knowledge, this may not be the case
and so perhaps some more questions are needed to encourage interviewees
into explaining things in greater detail.
- I did like the
fact that the people doing the interview knew about ceramics, e.g. Wally
[Walter Keeler] but I think that it was assumed that the viewer has
the same knowledge of ceramics as the participants of the interview
and this may not be the case. Also there is a possibility that because
the interviewee knows that the interviewer has some ceramic knowledge
then this may influence the way in which the interviewee explains things
and the subjects about which they talk.
- I feel that the
interviews could also be slightly more structured. It would be interesting
to expand the variety of people being interviewed for the archive. It
would be valuable to interview curators of ceramic exhibitions, private
collectors, auctioneers as well as ceramic students, gallery owners,
those working in ceramic factories, production throwers etc. to give
an idea of the industry as a whole. Also to interview people on the
street about what they feel about certain ceramic objects, would be
insightful of present culture particularly if people were asked to give
their opinions on the same objects in say 10 years time.
Criticisms of the
content of the video:
- The interviews
started very abruptly with no introduction as to what was being talked
about or why, the information given on the catalogue not being detailed
enough and not explaining the relevance or importance of the subjects
- The variety of
the ceramists seen on the usability test was limited to older more traditional
ceramists: younger ceramists with different approaches and genres of
work also need to be filmed.
- Ceramists talking
about their histories, ceramics etc. in their own homes is visually
unexciting, it would be just as useful to have these on audio rather
than on video, the video as a medium is not being used to its full potential.
- There seems to
be no correlation of questions asked of the ceramists (although I would
probably need to view complete sets of videos for a few artists to judge
this fairly). E.g. some artists talk much more of their personal histories
whilst others talk much more of their own work or other peoples work,
there seems to be no guide lines as to what information the interviewer
seeks to find from the ceramists as such the interviews appear arbitrary
- To a certain extent
the video material does cover topics that I would wish to know about
but not to a satisfactory degree. I would like to see more studio-based
interviews with each ceramist being asked to give a demonstration of
the way they work, with tips and techniques of a practical nature. I
would like the focus of the interviews more biased towards the work
the artists produce, their inspirations, influences, aspirations etc.
and more talk about ceramics in general rather than their personal histories.
Although I realise that their personal histories are an important part
of the archive, the main reason that they are being interviewed is because
their work is so successful and so this must play the greater part in
the interviews. I would also like to see more interviews with ceramists
talking and handling other peoples work.
Criticisms of the
technical aspects of the recordings:
- Camera shots on
individual pieces lasted far too long, as it is possible to pause the
videos then this length of time per piece was not needed. In general
pieces of work were only seen from one angle and you were not able to
get a proper sense of the object in 3d.
- The camera work
needs to be more professional, for example on the Mary Wondrausch (1
of 6) the camera person is practicing with the focusing of the camera
and we hear a discussion about the best shots to take, we do not need
to see or hear this. Also we hear Mary Wondrausch talking in the background
of the film but you can't make out what she is saying.
- There needs to
be more relevance to some of the shots, for example in Marianne de Trey
(2 of 10) Wally [Walter Keeler] is the interviewer and the camera
stays on him for an inordinate amount of time when it is her we need
to see, particularly when she is talking.
of the web-based video database:
- Techniques e.g.
throwing, slipcasting, hand-building etc.
- Types of ware e.g.
bowls, cups etc. Materials e.g. porcelain, stoneware etc.
- Training e.g. where
- Map e.g. where
- Picture index of
- Time period e.g.
when they were alive
- Outlets of work
- Genre of work,
e.g. functional, sculptural etc.
about how the web-based video database may be organised:
- If the archive
is primarily aimed at ceramic students then it must be very user-friendly.
If it looks too complicated then students will be put off using it as
ceramic students (at least the ones I know) are notoriously bad at using
- The introduction
to each ceramist is of utmost importance, to put the videos in context.
It would be useful to see at a glance, who the person is, the type of
work they produce, their contribution to the world of ceramics in general
and the exact content of the videos. Information needs to be easily
- When listening
to audio recordings it would be useful to have a photo on the screen
of who is talking.
- As user-friendly
is the policy, then from the beginning there should be some instruction
button available which would take you to a menu which allows you to
see exactly what the system can do and how to do it. There should be
some sort of help button such as the doctor cartoon suggested at the
usability test. This should be available when needed but not constantly
on the screen. Perhaps it could be a video of somebody explaining what
- The web-based interface
should be made as visually stimulating as possible e.g. clicking on
photographs or pictures to work your way through the program. The use
of symbols is a good idea for finding different sites but there should
be a key that can be brought up at any time to find out what the symbols
- It would be useful
to have the transcript scrolling as the video plays: this would have
to be optional though so that you can hide it if preferred. A good idea
would be to have certain words on the transcript highlighted so that
it would be possible to pause the video and click on that word for more
information about it. For example if the artist is talking about a certain
type of pot which is not seen in the video, I would be able to click
on the name of that type of pot and a picture of it and some information
about it would be shown so that I could better understand the conversation.
- It would be useful
to be able to split the screen in two so that you could have a video
playing on one half of the screen and a static image on the other half
of the screen. This would be useful to compare objects as well as techniques
- All videos should
have a time line with time calibrations on it (some of the computers
didn't have this) so that you can tell how much of the video that you
have seen and how much is left to go. It would also be useful to see
through the use of symbols or miniature stills of the video what is
happening in each time interval.
- When the video
is initially loading the viewer should be made aware of this as it is
possible to hear the sound perfectly yet it takes a while for the image
to show (you see only coloured stripes) which may be misconstrued as
a computer error. At all times it should be possible access the video
information, for example if you click on a name in the main directory
it should take you immediately to that video.
to top of the page