18th May 2016

Bells and Bellringing CD

This CD is now out of print, but the slides and notes are viewable online.

Review by Bob Hardy

This PowerPoint presentation has been created by the CCCBR to introduce bells and bellringing to non-ringers. It consists of a sequence of around 80 colour slides — some diagrammatic but mostly photographs — in the form of a manual or self-running show. There is no worry if your own computer does not have PowerPoint installed since the show runs using a viewer utility provided on the CD. The CD also auto-runs, offering the user the choice of the manual or self-running presentation.

The show commences with some introductory material about bells, followed by about 30 slides covering in detail the process of bell casting and tuning. It then moves on to describe how a bell may be sounded and hung, with particular reference to a change-ringing bell, and this leads nicely into a set of slides which explain change ringing itself, starting with a simple diagram of pairs of bells crossing and ending with the grid and a sound clip of Phobos S Maximus. The final slides cover a miscellany of records (longest peal, heaviest bell etc) which, in the case of a manual show, seem ideally suited to inspire further questions from an audience.

The slides of the manual show can be advanced at will by the presenter and have no accompanying commentary, although a small number do have an associated sound clip. This leaves the presenter free to add his or her own words, which I would certainly find very useful, but this is not essential since notes for a delivery script (in the file Presentation Notes) are provided in both .pdf and .doc format on the CD. There is also no worry in the unlikely event your own computer cannot read either of these files, since a reader utility (the file wdviewer.exe) is provided on the CD which you can install and use to read and print the .doc format file.

The self-running show, lasting some 40 minutes, could be used either for direct presentation (ideally by a ringer) to an audience, or as a background item in the context of a larger event or exhibition, such as a church flower show. In this mode, each slide is accompanied by a commentary, based on the delivery notes mentioned above, which is read slowly and clearly and avoids getting bogged down in ringing jargon.

The slides are all of good quality and each seems well suited to its purpose. The material, both visual and audio, is well adapted to a non-ringing audience. It is also well sequenced and provides good overall coverage of the subject of the title. Although the section about bells seems long in relation to that about ringing itself, the quality of the slides here, and the interest they provide, more than make up for any perceived imbalance.

The provision of two showing modes is good and gives great flexibility. When I give my own ringing talk, I always invite the audience to ask questions as they think of them. The manual show would certainly enable me to keep on track better than I sometimes do, while still allowing pauses for questions on the fly!

Interesting are three video clips and an animated slide (which for some reason is “hidden”), all mentioned at the end of the presentation notes, but which do not form part of the show due to the limitations of the PowerPoint viewer on the CD. This is a pity, since the videos are a valuable addition to the whole, However, users who have PowerPoint 2007 (the full program) can display all these files. It is also possible, using the Windows Media player, to load the three videos into a play list and then switch between the Media player and the manual slide show to play the videos at an appropriate place.

Niggles? Yes, there are some. First, some general information and instructions about the contents and use of the CD would be helpful. I was given a printed copy of the presentation notes but I am not sure if this is normal and there was no other documentation. Users do need to be reassured the CD will run regardless of whether they have PowerPoint themselves, and the presence of the Word reader utility needs explanation.

I was also surprised to see the auto-run facility bringing up a DOS-type window. In 2008 this seems just a little archaic for a CD of this type.

Suggestions? A few. Given the number of slides relating to bell tuning, a few sound clips of well and poorly tuned bells would improve this section. An update to the latest PowerPoint viewer would allow at least the animated slide to be shown. Some information about playing the videos with the latest version of PowerPoint, or using the Windows Media player, would also be very helpful. Finally, the ability to pause the self-running show would allow gaps for questions when there is a static audience.

Would I recommend this CD? Indeed so. Apart from its direct use to me as a speaker, I could well envisage lending it to a (potential) learner to provide background about the pastime they are considering, or have just embarked on. I’m sure also that some clergy might find it educational!

Bob Hardy

Review by Andrew Harper

A Central Council Powerpoint Presentation for use during talks and presentations on bellringing

I have long thought that there is an opening to promote bellringing via talks and presentations to local clubs, associations and schools. This was confirmed by a recent presentation I gave on the history of my tower’s bells to a local Historical Society which received many compliments. I also like to give a presentation on ringing to visitors at the Church’s Open Day and these are always well received; so much so that it has led some visitors to take up our art – but not enough unfortunately. There has been one problem though that stopped me giving more presentations; a lack of a suitable presentation. I have tried to pull one together myself but I don’t have access to suitable images that could be used to provide a balanced, interesting presentation. Well, that excuse has been eliminated by the Central Council PR Committee who have issued a CD comprising 2 presentations; one self-running with voice over, and the second comprising just the images with a set of notes that can be used to develop your own script. The presentation has been available on the Central Council web site for some time now but it wasn’t possible to download it and nor were the speaker’s notes available.

Using the CD is really simple. All you need to do is insert the CD into your PC’s CD or DVD drive, and when prompted, select 1 for the manual presentations and 2 for the automatic version. Both presentations are identical with 82 slides in Microsoft Powerpoint 97 to 2003 format. That doesn’t mean you need Powerpoint to view the slides as they have thoughtfully provided a copy of MS Powerpoint Viewer. However, this won’t work for the animated slide that forms part of the manual presentation as that will require Powerpoint to be loaded on you PC. There are also 3 video clips that should have been shown as part of the presentation, but for some reason that didn’t work on my copy although they could be displayed separately. The disc also contains a copy of the presenter’s notes in MS Word and Adobe pdf formats.

The self-running version (option 2 on the disc menu) could, in theory, be set running and left unattended (with suitable means of securing the PC!) but is probably too long at 42 minutes. This time could have been shortened as there is a delay of about a few seconds between the new slide being displayed and the voice over starting and between the voice over finishing and a new slide being displayed but that wouldn’t shorten it by more than 2-3 minutes at a guess. Alternatively, it could be used during a presentation to a group although I wouldn’t feel particularly comfortable with that.

The images cover the history of bells and ringing, bell casting and tuning, the principles of ringing, ringing music and interesting bells around the world. Some of the slides also have an accompanying sound track to help make the point, but I think that some of the others, especially the ones describing the principles of changes, could also have benefited from a soundtrack as well. The quality of the photography is generally excellent and credit is given to the copyright owner on each slide. I find that it is sometimes difficult to explain the principles of ringing changes to a non-ringing audience but I think this CD has pitched it about right and the explanations are clear and well backed up by the pictures. Of course, the presenter can also expand on the notes to help explain the principles.

The presenter’s notes are not meant to form a script but should provide useful information to help the development of such a script. I did spot some things that I would want to point out if I gave the presentation that weren’t covered in the notes.

The real test would be in the reaction from a real live presentation but I wasn’t able to put that to the test in time for this review. I look forward to trying it out in the near future.

Andrew Harper

Publicity Officer
Wotton-under-Edge Branch
Glos & Bristol DACBR

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