School Memories: Videos about SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School

There are a series of video I produced to school anniversary celebrations in 2010 (40th anniversary) and 2015 (45th anniversary).

1. How to Build a School: 45th Anniversary Video

Type of Media: Video
Completed: December 2015
Created by: Stephen Richards (editing and retouching of video and photographs, intro music, music recording)
Music: Arranged and performed by Kate Kwok
Assistance with Scanning: Nicole Ma, Annika Wong, Kelly Tse & Crysal Chan

This short video looks back on the first 45 years of SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School. To cram 45 years of school life into the two-and-a-half minutes, I chose to present the video as a kind of how-to guide for developing a strong school. A school should start with a sense of vision and mission, and there needs to be a campus, caring teachers and dedicated staff. However, a school is really about the students, about the things they experience, the things they learn, the things they discover and, most importantly, the people they become. Therefore, this video is dedicated to all the students who have joined us over the years.

One of the scary but satisfying things of being a teacher is to see students grow up. They arrive here when they are around 12 years old and before you know it, they have graduated and are off to pursue further studies, develop careers and follow their dreams. They take with them their memories, but they leave behind a kind of shared culture, they leave behind a tradition for the next generation of students to build upon. This is the message I tried to express at the end of the video. There are tons more photos I had wanted to include, but time was limited. Hopefully. I will be able to add them in future videos. I hope you enjoy this video.

I produced the video for Lamwoo’s 45th anniversary dinner. I was asked to produce a two-minute video so the images fly by quite quickly at times and I was forced to leave out some interesting photos.
The music is Kate Kwok’s performance of her own piano arrangement of I Vow to Thee My Country bu Gustav Holst (which he had adapted from the main theme of the Jupiter movement from his orchestral work, the Planets). We recorded that last summer and you can see the video of her playing it here:
Kate Kwok: I Vow to Thee My Country. The intro song is from one my own songs: Dreams.
 

Super 8 Video: 1980 Anniversary Celebrations

Type of Media: Video
Completed: October 2010
Created by: Stephen Richards (editing and retouching of video and photographs, editing of music)
Camera Operators and Photographers: Unknown

These Super 8 video clips were recorded during our school’s tenth anniversary celebrations in November 1980. It is the only video footage we have from the school’s first thirty years. If you know who recorded the video, please let me know so that I can properly acknowledge, their work. The type of Super 8 film used for these recordings cannot record sound. All sounds and music were added in the editing process.

I hope you enjoy the journey back in time.

 

Photographs

The scanned photos seen during the end credits can be downloaded from our flickr page:

www.flickr.com/photos/43402751@N08/sets/72157625071330071/

 

Music
The following tracks were used as background music:

  1. Dustin O’Halloran – Opus 36
  2. Gackt – Returner
  3. Epik High – Forest
  4. Joe Hisaishi – Theme from Princess Mononoke
  5. Kostas Pavlidis – Spread Your Wings and Fly
  6. 楊庶正 – 祝福太平山 (performed by the Lam Woo’s Intermediate Girls Choir)
  7. Hon See-wah – Erhu Solo
  8. Michael Nyman – Peeking
  9. The Brilliant Green – Goodbye and Good Luck

 

About the Editing Process

The images were edited using Premiere Pro and After Effects CS4. The photos were retouched in Photoshop CS3.

In June, I found eight small reels of developed (and very degraded) film in a paper bag, at the bottom of a big plastic container full of old photographs from the 70s and 80s. The container itself was at the bottom of a cupboard. Our TA, Cherry, helped me track down a local company that could do a telecine transfer (i.e., create digital files from film stock)—Last Coyote Productions.

Apparently, Super film should be stored in very dry, near freezing conditions (a far cry from Hong Kong’s hot and humid climate), so the film has deteriorated quite a lot in the past thirty years. Before the editing process a lot of the footage looked like videos of shadows moving around in a purple murk.

Each reel contained about two-and-a-half minutes of film. This is why the editing sometimes seems a little choppy. A lot of the shots were very short (just a few seconds), presumably because the video camera operators were trying capture long events in a few minutes of film.

Almost all the usable clips from seven of the reels are included in this video. The eighth reel features the speech day, which mainly consists of recordings of (silent) speeches and students receiving awards. I will clean that up and post it in the coming weeks.

I’m still not satisfied with the images (the colors seem washed out), but they are a lot better than they were at the beginning.

Original Film (Left) and Final Product (Right)

I did learn a lot about the different colour applications in Premiere Pro and After Effects. The following effects were used:

  • Auto color
  • Auto balance
  • Auto levels
  • Brightness and contrast
  • Levels
  • Color balance
  • Color offset
  • Level
  • Gamma
  • Pedestal
  • Remove grain
  • Luma curves
  • Shadow/highlight
  • Photo filter
  • Color finesse (an After Effects plug-in that lets you handle a lot of the above effects at one time)

Related Videos
We just did a telecine transfer of three reels to start with. The process is relatively expensive, and we didn’t know what was on them or if the footage was usable. I produced a few videos from this footage as a test:

Lam Woo Pom Poms

 

Lam Woo Lion Dance

 

Gymnastics Dance Routine

 

The following footage did not suit the 10th Anniversary Celebrations, so I uploaded it separately:

1980 Speech Day (Unedited footage of the school’s speech day held during the anniversary celebrations. A recent version of the school hymn being performed by the school’s mixed voice choir is used as the audio track.The film quality is not good because the lighting conditions were not suitable for shooting with that kind of camera at such a distance (the camera appears to be have been positioned on the balcony at the back of the hall). In addition, the film has deteriorated over the last thirty years and almost all colour information has been lost (the whole film had turned reddish). Basically, I just tried to make the scene visible by working with various effects relating to light (mainly luma correction).

 

3. School Memories: Hong Kong in the Seventies

Type of Media: Video (photo montage)
Completed: January 2009
Created by: Stephen Richards (photo scanning and retouching, video editing)
Photographers:  Unknown
This is a video photo montage I created documenting the school life of a our secondary school (SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School) in Hong Kong during the 1970s. It was produced for the school’s 40th anniversary celebrations and is intended to be the first in a series of promotional videos.

 

Things I Learned

The video was an interesting project to work on because it gave me some insight into some of the changes that had taken place in Hong Kong since the 1970s. When editing the sports part, I used a lot of long shots (in terms of both distance and time) because the backgrounds were interesting. The community sports stadiums had dirt running tracks that seemed to be nestled up against tenement buildings. Some of the images feature what looks like a time-keeping van from the Omega watch company. Nowadays even the most basic stadiums have artificial tracks and automated time-keeping systems, and a lot of the tenement buildings seen in the photos have long since been torn down.

It was also interesting to see how the school rules have become more controlling over the years.  Nowadays, male students must keep their hair short, female students with shoulder-length hair or longer must tie it up and dresses must be below-the-knee (the teachers in the discipline section at our school our kept very busy monitoring uniforms and punishing offenders). In the photos from the 70s, in contrast, a lot of the boys have long hair, few girls have tied up their hair and the skirts are way above the knee.

People in Hong Kong in the seventies were also a lot more tanned! When I was retouching the photos, I was always thinking “”Why are the people so dark? Are my settings for brightness, exposure or levels wrong?” I eventually came to the conclusion that most students just had darker complexions back them. The seventies would have been before before PCs, widespread use of air-conditioning  and shopping malls in every district. There weren’t so many reasons to stay indoors, so my theory is that students were just outside more often. As well, in the last couple of decades the cosmetics industry in Asia has been focusing a lot more on skin-whitening products, emphasizing an existing cultural bias towards fair complexions.

It was fun to remember the 70s fashions. I’ve always been unfashionable, so I never got into any trends when I was growing up during the seventies, but it was interesting to see all those staples of 70s fashion—bell-bottoms (even the school uniform trousers were flared), long and wide collars and boldy patterned jackets.  There were also a couple of fashion trends that I don’t remember or that were unique to Hong Kong; I don’t recall eye-glasses being so big or white turtlenecks being so popular.

 

Producing the Video

The video was edited using Premiere Pro CS4.

When editing the video, I aimed to create a nostalgic feeling by creating a montage of video footage and photographs of the school during the seventies accompanied by Hong Kong music from the 1970s. The first obstacle I encountered was that no such video footage exists. There are a few rolls of Super 8 film from 1980 (I will get some of these developed this summer) and a collection of video tapes starting from 1990.

The collection of photos was also problematic. There weren’t that many photos, most of them were unlabelled, a lot of them were tiny (just slightly larger than the size of passport photos) and many were in rough shape—covered with scratches, tears and dust marks. The negatives were in even greater disarray, so I chose to scan the photos using a flat-bed scanner set at a high resolution (600 dpi) and 200 percent of the original size. The resulting files were huge, but the large sizes made it easier to retouch the photos (I will also be able to crop the photos and prepare them for printing in the future).

The photos were retouched in Photoshop using various methods:

  • I adjusted the brightness, contrast and levels, sometimes altering things like exposure and gamma (and sometimes doing colour correction for the few colour photos). For some photos, the foreground was too light or dark so I would just select that area and adjust it.
  • All the photos needed noise reduction to reduce speckles, spots and scratches. This was done by adjusting the ‘dust and scratches filter’ setting  to get rid of the most ‘rubbish’ while preserving the facial features of the people in the photos (the despeckle filter didn’t have much effect). Then, the clone tool was used to remove the more noticeable defects. This was a laborious process of ‘cloning’ or copying nearby sections and then placing them on top of the defect. Occasionally, the smart blur feature was used to get rid of speckles on plain backgrounds (the backgrounds were selected using the magic want and magnetic lasso tools).
  • Sometimes drastic surgery was required. For, example if an image of someone was missing a right eye, the persons left eye would be copied and moved to the appropriate place, reversed and the surgery completed by using the nudge and/or clone tools to remove evidence of the operation.
  • A couple of  photos were covered in white spots produced by the light from the scanner highlighting the grain of the photo paper.  The technique used to remove most of the spots was to scan the same image upside down, rotate it 180 degrees, paste it as a layer over the original image, auto-align the two images and then change the blending mode to darken.

Some of the images needed to be rotated, but this was done in Premiere Pro because I did not want to worry about having to crop important parts of photos.

 

Music

The music soundtrack includes English and Cantonese songs recorded in the seventies by Sam Hui (Hui Koon-kit), Paula Tsui (徐小鳳), The Wynners (溫拿), Frances Yip (葉麗儀) and Roman Tam (羅文). Needless to say, compiling the soundtrack required a fair amount of research. If you are interested in learning more about the music selected for the  video, I’ve written an article on that here: longzijun.wordpress.com/soundtrack-to-school-memories-hong-kong-in-the-seventies/

 

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