Photos: Top Row - Katya, Neil Jones & Mark Windsor-Hampton taking a break during filming the Laird Technique of Latin DVDs in Brighton / Mark & Mr Dereck Brown: the man responsible for dance filming in the UK
Photos: Bottom Row Left to Right - Pengy: Camera Assistant No.1 (a link to reality when life go crazy) / IDTA Nationals, Blackpool 2017: hundreds of competitors...fun / Lobby (lobster): General Assistant No.1
Back in the 1980's, filming dance events was a thankless task.... Honestly, would you stand looking through a small black and white viewfinder all day? Cameras were as good as you could afford: 8mm / VHS / Hi-8 / S-VHS etc.... Lighting was poor, sound was as good as you could get and, if you were lucky, you could stand on a table to get a better view. Sometimes if you were really lucky, someone would lend you a step-ladder to get a slightly higher view and you might even have a spare microphone to point toward the record player... yes, the record player…
But, who would stand all day and film with little
reward? One man did....... Mr Dereck Brown (see photo - chequered jumper) He filmed events from dawn to dusk with little reward and edited
them to the best of his ability; sending boxes and boxes and boxes of VHS tapes around the world to
grateful recipients in addition to running a very successful dance school in Peterborough and travelling the counties as a dance examiner
Not only was Dereck a Director of the International Dance Teachers' Association, he is one of a few to be awarded the Carl Allen Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Dance, the title Director Emeritus by the IDTA and also awarded the Sonny Binnik Award for Services to Dance by the Ballroom Dancers' Federation. If anyone deserves a thank you and another award, it's Dereck for having the foresight and time to film
Zzzzzz.... copying tapes was a slow progress and many times Dereck would set
his alarm clock to change tapes in the early hours of the morning; all to get
the videos out as soon as possible.. Don't forget; a four-hour tape (VHS-240) would take 4 hours to copy...
These days everything is digital and we're averaging 1 Terabyte of storage per Congress (when I was a kid I didn't even know the word "terabyte" existed...)
In the 1990's, digital editing became affordable (just) and meant videos could be transferred onto computer memory, adjusted and re-arranged at will rather than the linear process of copying from one VHS machine to another with the occasional problem of realising the title was wrong at the start of the video so having to go back to square one..
Also the picture quality didn't drop which was a bonus. If anything, pictures and sound could be improved
Storage was expensive and we often didn't have enough space for an entire Congress so after editing half and copying it off to a Master-Tape, the hard-drives would have to be erased so we could load-in (digitise) the second half of the event. It seems daft these days when a 32 GB USB memory-stick costs about £6.99 but back then, a Seagate SCSI 32 GB drive would set you back £1440 (I know - I bought one... it's a great door-stop these days...)
DVD or ON-LINE?
Whist there are many videos satisfying a demand for on-line content, in keeping with LP’s (vinyl albums) there’s still nothing better than holding your own personal video copy and a
case with track information; rather than having your purchase consigned to a
hard drive on your computer or hoping the Wi-Fi works. That's why we're sticking to DVDs as they're still a universal playback format
Dance events will continue to be filmed every year and we make sure all lectures are recorded to the best of our ability for your benefit. Who knows what the future holds as far as content-delivery goes, but we'll make sure all the videos we have are available to everyone; even if that means sending out a VHS tape. And yes, we can still do this!