DDMIX for Schools - Dance Competition

Simplifying and streamlining the competition

Dame Darcey Bussell’s DDMIX for Schools was hosting a series of regional school dance competitions throughout the UK. Their aim was to get children excited about dance and fitness, but they needed some help to streamline some of the registration, technical and administrative elements.

The regional competitions were building upon the success of a smaller scale competition that was held at WhizzFizzFest 2018 in Aylesbury. Our partner company Purple Shows, conceived, planned and delivered the idea of taking the competition on tour for 2019. So DDMIX in partnership with Purple Shows expanded the competition to include a total of 7 regions.

The basic flow of competition went as follows; a school was invited to enter the competition by their local Council, the school would indicated if they wanted to participate, if they did they would be sent a dance video from DDMIX to practise, the schools would record their pupils performing the dance routine, Darcey would judge each school’s anonymised submission, the best schools would then be invited to perform and compete on stage in front of Darcey.

In the 2018 competition a lot of these processes were done manually and with a lot of back a fourth over email and information being organised in spreadsheets. With the competition expanding into more regions and with each region expecting to be a lot bigger than the 2018 competition in terms of the number of schools invited the organisers knew they needed to make each step in the process as simple as possible and that’s where we came in.

After reviewing the process from the previous year, we knew we would be able to help in some key areas to ensure things ran smoothly. The main area we knew our help would be especially useful would be when schools submitted their videos. This was because with around 50 schools being invited per region there was the potential for 350 videos being submitted for judging. Keeping this process as simple as possible for the schools and for the organisers was important but keeping the videos secure and compliant with data privacy and GDPR was essential.

We split the whole process into 3 distinct phases,

Phase 1: invitation and registration

With our experience running the registration process at numerous events, this stage was the simplest for us. We created a site to explain the competition along with a form on it for schools to complete to join in. This gave the organisers a central database to work with and kept things simple for the schools.

In total 186 schools across the 7 regions signed up to compete.

Phase 2: Video submission and judging

Our system also sent each school a unique code for them to use when submitting their video. This code allowed us to associate the video to the schools without them needing to make an account, simplifying their experience.

Now for the actual video submissions, with a possibility of 350 roughly 3-minute videos being uploaded and no idea of the size of each file, there is always a risk of our servers being overwhelmed. Although not likely, every uploaded video could have been RAW uncompressed video footage with a file size running into several Gigabytes. For most of our projects we think in Megabytes of bandwidth and Gigabytes of storage, with this we we’re looking Gigabytes of bandwidth and Terabytes of storage. So, we needed to ensure our servers we’re up to the task and we used AmazonWebStorage to handle the actual storage of the data.

In the end only 90 videos were submitted but with wildly different file sizes, so we were right to be cautious.

Uploading of the videos was only half of the challenge, we also created a judging portal so that DDMIX could view the videos online to rate and select which schools should go through to the final. To ensure this would work efficiently we automatically converted and compressed each video so it could stream to whatever device Darcey and the team from DDMIX were using at the time.

Phase 3: Reginal final promotion and ticket sales

During this phase the site changed back to a being mainly for information and although we originally thought we would be incorporating ticket sales into the site, this was no longer needed. This was because when it came closer to the time the decision was made to let the individual venues hosting the reginal finals handle the ticket sales as it would be simpler. So all that was needed on our end was to include links to each venue’s box office.

Project Results

With 1,968 children taking part across the UK, the project was a huge success and met its primary aim of getting children active and excited about dance.

This was a particularly rewarding project to work on with a great message for young kids. We felt fortunate to be a part it, especially after we got to attend a few of the finals and see how happy all the children were to meet and perform for Darcey.


Take a look at our other Case Studies.