Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Power of You: Moment of Thought

I see it now!

Scientists refer to it as the ‘Aha’ moment. Otherwise, also the ‘penny drops’, or that moment of lucidity, when strangely the answer appears so blindingly obvious that you wonder why you were held up in the first place.

Cognitive torpor. So slowly you roll the person over, metaphorically of course.

By the end of the academic year, as the Masters students on the documentary programme of the University of Westminster prepared to hand in their final project, I had an idea.

Nothing extraordinary on the surface, but there was something in it! What’s the most memorable form to tell a story?

A story that is self-contained, but because of its internal dynamics, could leave a secondary message of pedagogy in our times.

That 21st century conundrum which, if it weren’t for the precedent in the enlightenment, we could surely argue this is a period of unequivocal great change.

Except it isn’t. All generations wipe the lens of their glasses until their rosey enough to distort history. The citizen journalist, for instance, has forever been amongst us, in the super 8mm users clubs of the 1910–80s .

Jessica Borthwick, a pioneering filmmaker of 1913 was a CJ, whilst women were still fighting for their due rights. Borthwick took a camera course, a couple of guns and headed off to Bulgaria to film the conflict between the Balkan states e.g. Greece and Serbia and the Ottoman empire. She spent a year and showed her films back in London.

Paul Garrin, my favourite delivered an homage to Russia’s naughty boy filmmaker, Dziga Vertov. Garrin who in 1989 filmed riots in New York’s Lower East side became a national figure amongst news folks with his hi-8 camera. Oh and his hommage was ‘Fuck Vertov’. Tasty!

Mustafa Hussein, filming the Ferguson riots in Missouri is our contemporary vision.

Like the many millions who see video as the communication medium par excellence, while I don’t deny its prowess, there is a nuanced view I take in its potential.

The conflict between video that shows a message, invariably used in news and video that interprets with connotative images, reserved for cinema, is a long contested one.

Before narrative became the dominant expression lifted from literature and theatre, all film enveloped a style, Gunnings called The Cinema of Attraction.

At its heart, it is the moment, the spectacle, the cinema idyll. Pre-narrative cinema around 1907, the progenitors and actors acknowledged the camera, breaking the fourth wall. They were expressionists. The creators were not bound by rules.
Oh just look at the shimee. Film too was about to get a buff. Hollywood, then in development sensed how to make a buck with imagined stories, and thus Griffith, Porter, Chaplain found a home.

From thereon, cinema had its surrogate, and the new kid on the block to play second fiddle was documentary, except in and amongst the documentary modes of Western Europe there were still artists who saw how they could use cinema of attraction’s metier in their films.

Even the daddy of documentary, Grierson was described by the daddy of suspense Hitchcock on Scottish TV in 1961 as a man of the cinema.

Now, if that hasn’t confused you!

But in that great tradition of how we promote conventional wisdom, which French philosopher Michel Foucault would call a discursive formation, collective thought is subsumed by authority.

And that authority is so respected we suspend huge areas of independent knowledge to their wisdom. The news brand in front of you, knows so much, it’s not worth you thinking.

How on earth did the BBC collaborate or even goad Yorkshire Police into a public carnival to search Sir Cliff Richard’s home on allegations of sexual assault. They should know better. Ah!

In this period of quint enlightenment, the most impressive and necessary role for educators and baby boomers is to help address this fandom to the phantom immediacy of new knowledge, as if the world was stupid before 2000.

Without yesterday, we wouldn’t have today.

As Carolyn Marvin, author of When Old Technologies were New, puts it:
Focusing attention only after people start relying on a medium misses the critical era in its development. By the time an audience has gathered around a source, many of the negotiations over purpose and mission are complete. Routines have already been developed. Limits have already been set. A “hard pattern” of processes and purposes might already be guiding the product.
Everything now has an antecedent, and helping ourselves and others to understand them and their contexts is enlightening.

How could then this idea amongst Masters students be put into practice? I call it videojournalism-as-cinema. And technologist Rob Ojok and myself see huge potential.

It is a transmogrification of media and its ends, a respect for factual, but also what the giants of filmmaking bequeathed us that we have somehow forgotten.

You never forget a movie Metz, a film scholar, once said, even when it’s a bad one. The film is called Moment of Thought. Its function is to entertain, but also educate in a discursive way.

I’ll be dumping it onto www.viewmagazine.tv in a couple of weeks.

When I finished explaining this to a friend, he uttered: ‘I see’.

No you don’t, I replied. Not just yet!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

How journalists and police complicitly played hard and fast with the law

Wherever events surrounded Sir Cliff Richard end up, he has been hard done by. The public press coverage is a powerful lynching stick, loaded with supposition and winks.

The presumed innocence before being charged and tried is overarching, but something more strategic is at play.

According to Leveson's recommendation unless the alleged perpetuator is a risk to the public, they shouldn't be named, when accused.  They blame the BBC.

However, the police in proceeding as they did have played a cynical but legal loophole card. 

To charge someone, means the case becomes active and no contextual pieces can be published by the press. This often diminishes the chances of others from coming forward because they may not know the detailed circumstances/ history of the charge. 

Furthermore, police are presumably deprived of any potential investigative leads that may be unearthed by the press, in an era of squeezed police resources.

In this situation the CPS, in considering the case, must attempt to build their evidence on that of one person against the alleged offender.

By putting the story in the public domain, and not charging, the press are free from the constraints of contempt on an active case.

Moreover, others with so called 'relevant' information, if that is the case, may feel compelled to add to the charge. 

When the CPS deem they have enough evidence then they may feel emboldened to charge the accused. 

Surprising however that the BBC, the moral arbiter of journalism standards should be complicit in this story, if that is reports it tipped off police are true.

One can only surmise that the Savile scandal has swung their ethical pendulum.

But the wider concern is journalistic probity is compromised. Do the means justify the ends?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Vice Magazine's (Vice.com) became successful and its presence that can be replicated

'No Violence'

'You don't know violence'

'You deserve it'

The man smartly dressed in a dark suit approaches his seated subject with deference. "Excuse me'. he says. Moment's later he is straddled across the man knocking seven bells out of him.

The scene is not staged, and at first glance it appears that a TV reporter has lost his sense of decorum.

Few scenes in a documentary elicit as sharp an intake of breath and gasps of incredulity as this. 'What the F***' !!!! chime several of the younger viewers in the room I'm in.

The suited man is Okuzaki Kenzo, a war veteran who single-handedly is trying to track down army officers in his regiment who committed unpunished war atrocities 32 years ago whilst holed up in Japanese camps in New Guinea.

These crimes included eating captured soldiers. Locals were dubbed 'black pigs' and captured Americans, 'white pigs'. Black pigs were eaten.

This multiple award-winning documentary by Japanese filmmaker Kazuo Hara is an exemplar in the field of documentary making. The Emperors Naked Army Marches On made in 1987, by today's standards might be called 'Immersive'.

Indeed, immersive journalism is observed amongst a new generation of filmmakers as a new category in factual filmmaking. Witness the rise of Vice Magazine, whose juggernaut of uber cool filmmaking owns, if not is wholly responsible for custody of this new term.

The rise of Vice Magazine is often retold in mythical terms,  some believe it to be a johnny-come-lately overnight, but as this Independent newspaper articles shows it's an eagle rising from urban regions of Canada; its birth place via a government grant. That was 20 years ago.

Today it's a global empire and a hard won reputation exemplifying the mantra:' you've got to be in it to win it'. No wonder Mr Media Murdoch came calling. Vice's popularity is well earned in an industry that tends to reward media executives with mimicry and the ability to tinker at the edges.

What made The Emperors Naked Army Marches On particularly absorbing derives from qualities and cultural milieu that Vice sails close to. Though it's yet to feature any of its reporters beating up their interviewees.

But Vice too is not a phenomenon in the ambit of cultural wonderment, but an example of some basic tenants more fundamental of human behaviour, and the sneaking middle finger to corporate media befuddlement.

A minor point first, which might seem like angels dancing on the head of a pin, but stay with me.

Has Vice found a new journalism called immersive? No! Does its constituents care? No? Is mainstream media worried? Yes! And for that traditional media needs some way to define Vice's output  at board meetings with an accompanying consultant so they can replicate the franchise. That mimicry thing again.

The narrative is Vice is doing cinematic journalism. It's an ambiguous phrase. What does cinematic mean? To the generalist, it is the mimicry of a film perception whose fidelity is 4K, use of music integral to the form, and subject matter which is populist and youthfully-skewed.

Generally speaking all memorable factual films are immersive, and the argument of separating 'immersion' from 'Gonzo' as a special genre is a problematic one. Critics claim immersive differs from the Hunter Thompson approach that wraps the story around the author, as opposed to the experience of the author as the defining theme.

Channel 4 in the UK in the late 80s, early 90s took the radical approach of eschewing professional reporters for its documentary strands like Unreported World by looking for authors who were professionals in their field.

The comparisons fashioned between 'immersion' from 'Gonzo' in their respective fields of film amd print, fundamentally different media, is and ill-suited one.

The daddy of Gonzo, Thompson, was an essayist/columnist and a bad-ass writer, whose recourse to sell-destruction and daring-dos became the story in print.

It was the equivalent of Jim Morrison of the Doors penning The End after a mind-bending white-dust session.

In film, it would be like giving Marlon Brando, or Steve McQueen a camera in the 1970s to document their wild times.

In the 70s any television, whether journalism or documentary couldn't dare come within a comets distance to anything resembling drug-fuelled reportage.

Reporting and the documentary business framed by Western standards was generally respectful and professionalised.  Robert Drew's Primary (1960), Jean Rouch's Chronicle of  Summer (1960),  Ed Murrow's Harvest of Shame (1960)  are themselves captivating and immersive examples of of journalism for reasons that the audience are lost in the wash of the films.

And all of them, a significant point for this articles, were different to the prevailing status quo.

But for a closer definition of this so-called immersive journalism without the gonzo-fest, Paul Garrin's Fuck Vertov (1989) stands head and shoulder above anything in its time.

Garrin, an artist and activist, publicly and in a monumental way shows the power of a new handheld video cameras,  which was ridiculed at the time as the home movie camera.

Garrin talking about the revolution

He films himself getting caught up in New York Lower East side's clashes between residents and NYPD police. The story went national and Garrin's life was threatened. But not before proclaiming a new form of de facto immersive journalism.  He was not a reporter, and so did not have to play by the rules and somewhat immodestly frames his discovery as witnessing.

Garrin's 1989 film trope however did not become a mainstream style, but the 1990s were looming and a fundamental mutant relationship between technology and societies' behaviour was about to become a defining moment.

The key to Vice's Success
If, as a culture writer or social historian, you examine the different styles of film/news styles and the audience's reception to it, something both illuminating and fascinating occurs. By marking a genre, that is broad key film styles, you can define the time and the public mood at the time.

Each period of the 20th century possesses a dominant and generic style of film/documentary that is strongly motivated by what's going on in society - that is how we're living.

A key moment I have chosen to start from is the 1960s. Turning points can be detected from the war years apriori as society, worn down by the conflict, looks to restore respect and deference that mirrors the style of film and reporting that emerges. Grierson's documentary mode of the 1940s reigns.

In the 1950s, and cusp of 1960s, society begins to shift. Young people are being placed at the centre of consumerism, Beatlemania emerges, Rebels are without a cause, the Paris Riots spark a global renaissance. Equality in the Civil Rights underlines humanities push for equality.

All these both reinforce attitudes and individual attitudes erect behaviour which affect governance.

The film style of Robert Drew, and before that Free Cinema emerges from Drew and Lindsay Anderson's antipathy to corporate TV and film, and the pair are as irreverent as any young person to scheduled news today.

Filmmaker Robert Drew discusses his ideas that created American cinema verite (1962) from Jill Drew on Vimeo.

Cinema intimacy and mockumentaries, such as David Holzman's Diary, appear as answers to prevailing deficiencies in life. In the UK, society can begin to look inwards and 'take the piss out of its self'.

In the 1970s, there is an attempt towards the recalibration of traditional values. 'We are all in this together', as Lyndon Johnson tries to fix the narrative for 'our' boys and the Vietnam war. The mood transitions from liberalism to the hard knocks of Nixon.

The clues aren't to be found necessarily and exclusively on Television News. TV's journalism structure is on a high to make money and has no wish to change then as now.

But in documentary and cinema, there is a shift to capture the woes, anxieties and ambiguity of society. It is a reflexive state notes documentary scholar Bill Nichols.

Core films e.g. Coppola's Apocalypse Now and ET mirror new national bogies and uncertainties. Cinema Verite is waylaid in the 1970s, subsumed, of sorts, Robert Drew would tell me in an interview into mainstream TV.

In the US 60 Minutes, conceived in 1968, imbricates this new style of TV journalism reportage as 'participatory' journalism, meshed with the new found verite.

It comes into its own in the 1970s. In this scene from Ed Bradley's report on Vietnam boat people fleeing their country bound for Malaysia, Bradley the reporter becomes rescuer. So much for the objective reporter.
Ed Bradley helps Vietnamese boat people in his film

There is a tacit wink to personalistation, 'immersive' filmmaking then for the time and place. In the UK World in Action invents a style that is aggressive documentary making without a reporter. Paul Greengrass is one of its more famous graduates.

By the 1980s, the gloves are coming off. Whatever lessons society learnt from the 1960s are about to be put into practice. Baby Boomers of the 1960s, now adults, can start to fathom an individualism glimpsed way back. In the UK Thatcher, both innovatory figure to some and divisive to others reflects the whims of society.

We're allowed to get emotional. The Brits welcome Phil Donahue onto daytime and for the first time shockingly start airing on national TV their dirty linen.

In film mode the reflexive style, as detailed by documentary scholar Bill Nichols gives way to the performance strand. Nick Bloomfield, a soundman, peculiarly fronts the screen as reporter. It's weird-looking at the time and is redolent of the professional expert as spokesperson.

In 1991 it culminates in Bloomfield's signature film, The Leader, His Driver and the Driver's Wife.  It is a brilliant film that sends up South Africa's Right Winger Eugene Terre'blanche,  and Terre'blanche never gets the subtlety.

The 80s and 90s is about meism.  Me, me, me, me, me.  Films in this period largely rejected the status quo writes Nichols that is : 'Voice-of-God commentary not because it lacked humility, but because it belonged to an an entire epistemology. or way of seeing and knowing the world, no longer deemed acceptable'.

Even corporate television that had played with the style, but rejected young people for the 'conservative' reporter, gave in.  In the UK, BBC Reportage, made by young people, presented by young people, and  the Word landed on TV like a French Exocet.

Reportage broke rules and the niceness of TV's conservatism. It  tracked down paedophiles, mercinaries who laundered their money in the city, how criminals could steal money from your bank account with nothing more than a plastic plain card, and asked if young people do the crime, f***ing don't cry.

BBC Reportage from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

The rules were blown to smitherins. It's in this climate that Vice is born, alongside youth movements such as The Face, ID magazine ( which Vice would later buy) and a new rage in people activism.

Younger generation were demanding more from the media and could finally settle on outlets that could sate their appetite.

Vice had an invisble helping hand to later stardom in Canada. Whilst the TV Networks were still predominately older fogeys,  City TV in Canada invented the concept of the videojournalist, with young cafe-societiees wanting to run the show.

City TV in Canada, just like Channel One TV in London, which also embraced the ethos of young people TV had a good run, before they changed tack, or in Channel One's case, closed down. Reportage also saw out its time. The brash approach was giving way to a softer edge again, or so we're made to think.

Society was entering an 'US' phase - individualism upended by social networking. It was no longer de rigeur to show off. But here's the big difference.

Vice kept going. Vice TV could never have worked on TV because of the manner in which TV's business advertising interests is skewed to baby boomer high earners, as Current TV found out, but by staying in the game, Vice is reaping its rewards.

For Vice, and other big youth hitters at the time, like Heavy.com and F1 (a music site now defunct)
online presented fresh opportunities towards a different growth proposition. The embrace towards Vice, via a long tail of fandom is a reaction to the times were in. The audience, younger, tired of hearing what they should do or want, now has its own voice and outlet. It's MTV slanted to popular current affairs.

The style is performative, reflexive, observational and to older folks 'brazen'. In fact it's a post modernist stew largely prescriptive towards performance.

In interviews, including ones with me about new styles,  Vice is often cited to me as an example of cinema. It is, but of a particular type of cinema for largely its western audience. That's not a criticism, but that societies export styles they're used to within a given time and region.

For that reason one thing's clear, the audience will change again, a different style that soothes the audience will become dominant, the web will enable the recycling of tropes that are historical, but have been distanced from our viewing, and so long as Vice is alert to those dynamics, its relevance will hold.

All companies, a bit like followers on twitter, are prone to losing fans. The key is to be able to lose enough, but not so much it leaves you lean.

What's next  then as a style guide with society's witnessing sharing, greed, barbarity, extreme lengths towards compassion, is anyone's guess. Transcedental perhaps and going behind words and images towards deeper emotions.

That would be some Vice!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Videojournalism-as-cinema: reinventing television news, as the new videojournalists

Next month I'm speaking at the World Documentary Conference in Falmouth about this strange new film form called: videojournalism-as-cinema.

As with most academic presentations, I had to produce an abstract; a brief about my presentation, which is a couple of paras down.

But videojournalism-as-cinema is not some abstract theory of a film form. It was born from various questions.
Before Vjism, smallest camera made  in 1947 B&H  Filmo
  • Why do video news providers struggle to capture the attention of various audiences, generally younger 15-30 years? 
  • How did News networks muck up this thing called videojournalism by making you think it was all about one person making the news, when such practices are as old as news?
  • What is the point of Videojournalism-as-cinema?
  • Why would we pay to go to the cinema, but not pay to go and watch the news?
  • What's some of the best cinema that's grabbed you?

At its heart it proposes ways to reach users by considering aesthetics, form function, style, technology, cultural and sociological and ideological values,  and human behaviour.

Here's the abstract
‘The first impulse is to record it or to interpret it’, says Film Director Martin Scorcese (Silver Docs, 2006), being interviewed about filmmaking. He adds: ‘One says to record it is documentary and to interpret it is dramatic fiction’.

This ‘common sense’ view has persisted when comparing the television documentary form and Hollywood’s subjugation of the word cinema to denote dramatic fiction.

Academic studies, coupled with the pragmatism of filmmakers have yielded forms such as Cinéma Vérité (O’Connell, 2010), Docufiction (Lipkin, Paget & Roscoe, 2006) and the journalistic essay in Personal Cinema (Rascaroli, 2009). These forms imbricate cinema modes e.g. visualisation, structure etc. with non-fiction forms, such as news and the television documentary.

In this presentation, using empirical evidence, David Dunkley Gyimah maps out the infusion of cinema in news making that stems from within the discipline of videojournalism.

An under researched field, videojournalism’s public reframing is much needed, however in his 20-minute slot, Dunkley Gyimah presents evidence of a stylistic form used by exemplary videojournalists, known as videojournalism-as-cinema.

Arguably, mains stream news (MSN) uses cinema artefacts, but according to Dunkley Gyimah videojournalism-as-cinema practitioners are more overt in their appropriation of dramatic fiction styles as influences, as well as cinema’s earlier framework in Russian cinema.

The implications are many, but in this instance, Dunkley Gyimah focuses on how videojournalism exemplars create news films that are memorable.

Above all it involves the effective communication of ideas involving a wide pool of styles.

follow David @viewmagazine

O’Connell, P. J. (2010). Robert Drew and the Development of Cinema Verite in America. Illinois: Southern Illinois University.

Leyda, J. (1983) Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film - Study of the  Development of Russian Cinema, from 1896 to the present. Princeton: Princeton  University Press.
Lipkin, S. N., Paget, D., & Roscoe, J. (2006). ‘Docudrama and mock-documentary: Defining terms, proposing canons’ . In: Rhodes, G. D. & Springer, J. P. ed. Docufictions: Essays on the Intersection of Documentary and Fictional Filmmaking, 11-26. (6th Ed). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co

Rascaroli, L. (2009). The Personal Camera: Subjective Cinema and the Essay Film London: Wallflower Press.

Silver Docs (2006). ‘Interview with Martin Scorsese, Documentary Vs Narrative’. AFI Discovery Channel Documentary Festival. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/wactch?v=RHFmjGxB0lU [Accessed: 5th September 2013].


David Dunkley Gyimah is a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster lecturing in videojournalism, documentary and online/ social network practices. A former broadcast journalist/producer at BBC Newsnight/ (1990) Channel 4 News and ABC News South Africa, Dunkley Gyimah is also one of the UK’s first NUJ recognised videojournalists in 1994. He is the recipient of a number of innovation and journalism awards e.g. Knight Batten and is chair of the jury for Broadcast Innovation at the RTS. Dunkley Gyimah is an artist in residence at the Southbank centre and has recently submitted his PhD that examine videojournalism and its offerings towards a future journalism. He graduated from Falmouth postgrad in journalism in 1989. His work can be viewed from the sites his built 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Jon Snow's gaza piece. There's objectivity, compassion and professionalism. Broadcasting needs a reboot

Jon Snow’s Gaza appeal risks reducing reporting to propaganda 

Journalists have cried ‘something must be done’ before, but they must avoid emoting

The headline appeared in the Guardian newspaper and has split the broadcasting fraternity. I replied on the Guardian site and have reposted here.


I guess Loyn's use of the word 'risks' allows from some wiggle room.

There is a classical illusionary view that the grandees of television news adhere to - an 'objective' approach. 

Thank goodness then for an alternative outlet e.g. the web.

Because while there are some pretty unprofessional things in this space, it does allow for reportage of a kind that is responsible e.g. Jon Snow's appeal, but does not have to wear the detached, impersonable clothes of reportage Wyndham Goldie, the Sykes Committee et al prescribed for news. 

Those rules for impartiality were a veil of protection for misleading the public, but their blanket adoption meant reporters would not be allowed to show any emotion.

BBC news presenters placed behind a screen (1954) were the most extreme of this emotion ban. 

Granted it's held pretty well and yes TV might be a different place, if in every piece a reporter spoke personally about what they saw, or said hello to dad and shed a tear describing their experience.

[see Al jazeera reporter, though I'm not sure about the hello bit.] But for goodness sake, give it a rest when you go online. 

Online isn't just an adjunct platform for broadcasters, though perhaps some wish it was. It's a place where reporters don't have to be bound by regulations. 

That nuance is easily separable. Similarly in blogs, and magazines, such as the New Statesman where Jeremy Bowen expressed his opinion about human shields in Gaza, it should be the prerogative of the journalist to say what they want whilst being professional. 

Insofar as they adhere to television's impartiality ruling on TV and from Snow's conduct grilling both sides in this affair, this appears fair, what's the fuss? 

The converse and bogeyman to all this is the US and the lack of a fairness decree, but the lack of impartiality does not preclude honesty and the journalism industry should be working to find new ways of codifying the profession in the 21st century.

Richard Sambrook talks about transparency. It's one of several routes.   There's a lot to be said about US scholar Michael Schudson's point that: journalism is a cultural construct bound by literary and social conventions.

Thus, you should be able to report emotion without risk being a propagandist.

Post script.. added

Roy Greenslade weighs in stating there is no such thing as objectivity in journalism

More notes: It must be remembered why impartial journalism was introduced into broadcasting. In Grace Wyndham Goldie's autobiography, she points to the limited number of news outputs at the time ( circa 1940s) that led to various committees setting up and maintaining impartiality.

How's your google glass? Google's world

David Dunkley Gyimah at Google Glass HQ in London testing glass

How's your glass?

Doh!  I meant the one you're wearing, not your $1500 50mm lens.

And so it was that another conventional term transmogrified, forever lost by a community of photojournalists to a populace comparing the aesthetic, ergonomic and tech functionality of their google glass wear.

It wouldn't be the first and last time a word has been misappropriated; there's Face time, killer, and videojournalism. Get over it!

Currently in its development phase, piquantly pegged as 'Explorer programme', Google's X project behind the driver-less car, is also reprogramming the fixed 'hunched back' surfer.

Glass' raison detre is a no brainer for how it will revolutionise the web, and mobile data retrieval. When I made this 'wild claim', Lars put me in my place in twitter.

Oh no I added, you've misunderstood me. Many of those core-functions, walking and texting, double-bent over a latte watching Breaking Bad, as the person next to you lifts your bag, should reduce in numbers.

At face value, Glass is a mobile phone attached to your right-eye, and so it eliminates all the functions that involve you having to look down onto a screen.  

Hence, it mimics futuristic car dashboards  and I can see how institutions will sanction their students wearing glass thus reducing those pesky social networkers from hiding behind a screen sending their loved ones emoticons.

In fashion shows, no one need peek into their screen, and miss the bit where Ms Campbell does something spectacular. Meanwhile as the show unravels, premium front row members will be accessing data  e.g. price, background videos relevant to the show.

Easy really, all you need is to produce bespoke sites that glass can access. Glass becomes the utility as well as the phrase for those that wear it.

Google's quest to have their product mass adopted is not a question of technological determinism. It won't happen because it must, but because as Professor Brian Winston points out technology is usurped by a need, a supervening necessity.

Pricing, will be key, and the sums will no doubt be caressed to push maximum take-up. Trend extrapolation provides a hint of what's to come.

First it was cameras and phones merging; the iPhone and iPad kickstarted an industry spawning new apps, accessories, and receptive media-responsive websites. Glass will no doubt do the same. 

A new industry of websites lay ahead of us. In 2006, I envisioned the Outernet - a scenario where the Net breaks free of its fixed desk screen. Apple featured it on their profile page together with a hearty article that if you googled 'David' and 'Apple' there I was by my lonesome at no.1 in google. 

The mobile phone accessories industry will also be hit. This assumption comes from how filmmakers and their propensity towards more reality e.g. hyperreality,  plays out.

Anything that takes the fuss out of holding a camera as a community of head-mounted GoPros illustrate gives us a glimpse of how a permanent 'google' lens, which films 16g, will take its place.

In virtual reality, as witnessed during the Chinese Expo, Glass users may enjoy 3D virtual environments, where non glass users see the world in sight-3D.

Less talked about, but important no less is security. In London, spates of mobile phone thefts have risen, when all the users were doing was making a call. With glass in full display, either encrypted data or units that are keyed to work on unique frames, will deter opportunists.

Another feature is privacy. There is no visible guide for a recipient to acknowledge you're filming. These are issues that sociologists, technologists and cultural Neos will grasp to help shape a new discourse.

For me as a filmmaker, educator and web entrepreneur, its wider expansive use will come from revolutionising filmmaking, videojournalism and POVs that have become the norm.

 Think Cloverfield, Quarantine or Lady in the Lake - which involved singular, linear film views.

In any case it need not be POV, multiple filmmakers/ reporters will break open the proscenium of performance filming. Everything is on.

I could have done with it when shooting the last scenes for my PhD video in Southern Turkey.

The technology flow we're encountering with Glass is perhaps the redolent of those components associated with Star Trek. The mobile communicator, touch pad devices , holodeck and now a more elegant form of Geordi La Forge's visor have been represented.

Tele transportation, is that next?

follow David @viewmagazine

Thanks to Dominic and Ben at #GoogleGlass for letting me play with glass and taking these photots.

You can see more of my work here and here and here....:)

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Be better at what you do - a short guide

On the morning after a presentation at the International Journalism Festival, I went for a run. I was so taken with the architecture of Perugia, that I came back to the hotel at 5.30, On the morning after a presentation at the International Journalism Festival, I went for a run. I was so taken with the architecture of Perugia, that I came back to the hotel at 5.30, grabbed my equipment and made this
A strategist would have suggested the term 'best' would have been more appropriate. In the eyes of mortals, Lionel Messi, Jordan, Ali, they were the best, but they all believed the could do better.
Best implies an ultimatum. It stops there. Whereas we never stop learning. We'd like to be better. There are individual philosophies in all these, which Linkedin members/ and others can guide us to. So here's a general guide to getting better.

1. Learn from the exemplars.
In any field there are a few, relative to the field's participants who have shaped the discipline. In mine which is media, it's Robert Drew, pioneer of Cinema Verite; Gilles Deleuze and Dziga Vertov. Learn all you can about them. Often embedded in their histories you'll discover their motives and the 'secret' that made them.
Robert Drew, who worked in photography at Life Magazine was tired of seeing television pictures that could not get close or track its subjects, so he took the principles of photography to create a new mobile camera and as such a new language, Cinema Verite. Below is a short interview from an hour interview I had with him.

2. Even giants, have masters.
Your exemplars have their own idols, so its worth tracking back again. Deleuze's ideas for understanding cinema emerged from Henri Bergson. This process of 'ping backs' could go on and on.
There are few times when an original idea emerges from thin air. Everyone is influenced by something. You can decide if you want to stop at your 'ping back' or go back further. I usually go back one more step and then focus on my exemplar in detail.

3. The conditions, what are the conditions?
Ideas are rarely universal. They are constructs from the society and culture you inhabit. For that reason, those ten point guides may be apt for the territory you live in (West), but not the East.
Look at the conditions. In China, our pitch really did revolve around socials e.g. Saki, Karaoke and foot massages. In the West this could be construed as play. The translation of fresh ideas into new territories tends to work when the hosts are receptive to receiving new ideas.
In television, a sizeable number of countries adopted the Western model of television news making, because it was deigned the best. In modern times, that's not necessarily so. Television, like so many things e.g. cooking food is a human construct.
The BBC is guided by regulations of impartiality, interpreted by editors. Fox TV, is not legally bound by impartiality rules, as the FCC ditched the fairness doctrine in 1987. Fox TV says it's impartial, but there's no external body to oversee this.

4. Be respectful, but not too deferential.
Your exemplar set a standard during a time, a period and place. History writes her or him up as a pioneer, but as times change, so do the conditions and society. Was Drew a pioneer? Yes! Was he correct for his time? Most likely! Is he right now? No! Is he still relevant? Yes.
Drew's premise was don't interrupt the filming process. His French counterpart, Rouch, believed you should, that is you should be allowed to ask a question.
In Drew's filming, if your subject says they've just committed a crime, you're not allowed to intervene and ask what it is. Who's right then? Neither and both. It all depends on the conditions, the environment and the audience. In my thesis on videojournalism-as-cinema, I explain what this means. [The link is not the actual dense Phd thesis language, but accessible articles on perception].

5. The audience, the audience.
Conditions are shaped by the audience. Audience are society, a focused group from society and culture. Yes, technology too shapes the audience. Ask the audience.
In 2006 I presented in Sweden on Television of the Future. The host had booked me on the strength of my online reputation. I had two presentations. One at 4.0'clock to about 200 people and another at 6.00 to more than a 1000.
During my 3. 0'clock presentation, a few people started walking out. By the end, the producer was a bit concerned. 'David it's not that they didn't like you, but that they did not understand some of the things you were saying', she said. Some months earlier I had presented at ONA New York, where it went really well. [see video]
'Right!' I said to my host, Amy, 'in the time between 5 0'clock and 6 0'clock we're going to rewrite this. If you don't understand it, then I'll take that as a guideline that the audiences won't'.
We changed it. At the end of the 6.0'clock session, I got the biggest bear-hug from Amy and a welcoming audience. It worked. Two key take-aways from this. No matter how good we think we are, we'd do well to put ourselves into the hands of the producer. She/he should know their audience better than you should. Nowadays, I always go earlier to the conference room and 'mark' it out, by asking questions from audience members, who perhaps may not know I am about to present. They don't have to be polite then.

6. Prep, prep, prep.
Yes, I could and do send my slides over to producers - all part of the presentation. Interestingly enough. In the West, we often stick to short, snappy power words on slides to provoke thought and catalyse our presentations.
In Middle Eastern, African and countries like China, powerpoint slides are equivalent to notes, so the clients more often than not request comprehensive data on power point slides to present to delegates.
But being better at what you do involves successions of preparation. The first attempt; the changes; the reflective look; more changes; more reflective; and then tweeking; leave alone; come back and do it again.
The process I describe above is allegorical and not the absolute direct steps for the process. It essentially means ideas are palimpsestic. They often require refinement.
Once in a while I'll come across a Masters student who has fixed ideas and doesn't want to go through this process, believing their version is perfect.
It is their prerogative. But it does make me think 'Why?'. Learning to prepare is a self-critical skill. How do you know what you know? What will be required of you? 

It is a painful, enjoyable, but a necessary process knowing that you could do better.

7. Humility.
Knowledge is not exclusively age-related, though wisdom general, but not necessarily comes with age. These boundaries are not fixed.
Humility means you're willing to take on board new experiences. The better practitioner is prepared to listen. She or he also tends to critique, rather than criticise.

They are different processes. The one who critiques finds logical reasons to explain. It is also a rhetorical process built on evidence. They also understand the need to praise good work and again offer cogent reasons for this.
The one who critiques provide routes for understanding, without believing there's is the best. They learn to collapse joint ideas, and re-synthesis, crediting where due. What I am writing here comes out of me, but is a combination of experience and many others' advice.

8. It's not personal.

In my career I have worked for some of the BBC and Channel 4's top shows e.g. Newsnight. I never once got a job through human resources, but I was always 'found' and invited to join a team.
That 'found' came from persevering and sometimes being in the right place. Being rejected, I have learned should not be taken personally. That's not to say you won't or can't. Some use this to better themselves. But don't get wound up. Move on and find the next challenge.

9. Surround yourself with friends.
Friends come in various guises. School friends who are loyal and aren't afraid to critique you. Friends at work, some of whom might tell you you're the best. School friends might do the same too.
In any case, you want those who will weigh you up, to help you by being candid. Perfection is a utopian ideal we strive towards. Accept the critique and if you have humility, you'll grow.

I had a driving instructor who was critical. A previous instructor treated my sessions as a joy ride. I know who I preferred.

10. Challenge yourself and recognise your limits.
Disperse those ideas, so you're forced to think of new ones. Share them too. Each time though, push against limits. I have just come back from a 6K run.
It was 3k a couple of weeks ago. It hurts, but I recognise that the run, the payoff with endorphins and the lasting effects spill over into all sorts of other disciplines.
Da Daah! Happy getting better!

David Dunkley Gyimah is a multiples international award-winning inovator in videojournalism and the web e.g. Knight Batten Awards. His recently completed PhD examines videojournalism debunking several myths as well as charting a course for the future. It includes an interview with the father of Cinema Verite Robert Drew. David isa senior lecturer at the University of Westminster, artist in residence at the Southbank Centre and chair of jurors at the RTS Broadcast Innovations Awards. You can see his work on www.viewmagazine.tv and www.videojournalism.co.uk