Sunday, December 18, 2005

The revolution is over

Can print journalists with two weeks tv training make good tv? Well you be the judge have ended the argument. The revolution is over. A thorough joy; hard work, but the results say it all. I'll be writing more about this on Also the pioneers of the scheme will be sharing some throughts- hopefully, but as steve outing from says "the future of the net is, er, video".

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


...and that's why what's happening in the US, as opposed to Blighty, is hugely educational. As usual we're late in the UK and the press has given it scant mention, but Rocket boom and Steve Garfield's video blog, have me hooked. The logic is all so perfect: short, humorous pieces wikth that viral quality.

For other genres the jury is somewhat out, but again there is an underlying paradigm, that strengthens the whole model of videojournalism online. Get that TV Exec, dumping traditional TV online might bring in an audience, but the medium, online vs sitting in your comfy sofa laying back are different. Online, you're a 15 second click away from someone leaving.

So where does that leave factual-based programmes? I reckon high end productions, and strong pithy narratives are the answer, just as writing for the net is about targeting time poor punters.

This next year, the cat's out of the bag now, will see further pressure on traditional TV, with the new vloggers gaining ground and so far we're yet to feel the impact here, but then the beauty of geomorphous Net will alter all that. Here, here for Rocket Boom

Monday, December 12, 2005


fabulous stuff from the Hull Daily Mail who after two weeks of basic videojournalism are posting stories online that defies belief. the landscape truly is changing. Long day again today, but enjoyable. The film also should be finished soon

Thursday, December 08, 2005

insurgency in iraq and domestic politics

Professor Ahmed s. Hashim is a remarkably distinguished scholar. His subject is Insurgency and Counter Insurgency in Iraq and to a Chatham House audience, it's fair to say we were hooked by his knowledge and candour about the war in Iraq. There was so much to take in e.g. personal photos, testimonials of insurgent factions - many debunking myths that the media itself has been party to.

His snapshot from Tal Afar in which he spent time, also in his other capacity in the US Army [his job which brought him to Chatham House is as an academic in the Strategic Research Department of the Navel War College in the US]. I'll write more on the actual event later.

But it's a quagmire beyond any semblence of our fed comprehension and it appears more and more that UK/US officials have little idea about what to do.

Meanwhile, friends seeing the new conservative leader, David Cameron, are actually considering voting for him, by default also his party. It was his walkabout in Brixton that showed a level of ease and also political sophistication, that while naked, has gone down pretty well. And that comment to blair, "you were the future once" was cyanide.

Is there mileage in a course about the media and military? I have met a few academics who think so... busy day today.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

the new republicans

Could I possibly finding myself rooting for the new UK conservative leader, Mr Cameron. The day starting with a smittering of incredulous punditry from Today guests, pontificating why labour would rule the day - something to do with policy. Come on!
Firstly, just as there was anti-tory sentiment that got Mr Blair in government so the yukky boot is now on his foot. So all Mr Cameron has to do is sound sensible..cuz at the very least, one party states are not a good thing, and we've had that for a while. The fathers of the US constition had the very best intentions for there to be healthy tension between the two houses - something that's been lacking in UK politics..

But could I, alas, find myself voting for the tories. Well there's still the tory hardliners there which would strain the arm come election day. But what if he does a root and branch ala Blair. Now that would be interesting.

I have also noticed newsnight on BBC TV leaving an ident on its show that we can view online. I wonder how many people are doing so. I had a 2 hour talks with a BBC exec recently lamenting the lack of figures and that even on broadband they weren't pulling em in.

Well where's the beef? Where's the added value for going online; where a report would reveal that something it did not on its terrestrial equivalent? And why if the BBC wants a new audience doesn't it leave the tag soliciting an audience on the show permanently.

When I stared at my pc to build my first site in 96, the debate raging then amongst a burgeoning community of onliners was what constituted interactity.

It hasn't gone away. Twenty years ago at my organic lecture class, my lecturer had excited me with boolean algebra to build a flux condensor to purify some organic compound. Computer science circa 1987 was akin to Dr Doolitle on acid. What the heck is going on? But there for me were the early signs of building loop functions ie interact-cause and effect - ivity.

Interactity is part logic part dysfunctionality. That's because we're taught over the years through language and comprehension to become so logical as to leave no room for expression, deliberately making things wrong. It's what acturists might refrer to conflct management accountacy. What happens when this goes wrong. Our answer is it won't or shouldn't but that misses the point. We're so hung up trying to resolve questions or issues, even before we've tested those limits, while making assumptions of a baseline of our audience's knowledge.

The refinement of this behaviour is what makes a good TV reporter. Seek clarity, keep it simple and tell the story. If you're a regional journalist opinon is eschewed, if you're a correspondent intergrated thinking as described in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review as seeing many sides and charting a new course, then differences of opinion is to be encouraged. BUT still your editor will expect a close of business in your reportage.

"Hey David can you give us a 3 min feature using the following interviews, perhaps, one of the editors I worked to would tell me".

The best interactive producers are 4-7 year old who ask why at every level and break conversations into constituents. Beyond that I'll profer to maths and trignometry majors, where Sin, Cos and Tan offer myriad ways of approaching a problem.

Clicking on a link is not interactive just as clicking a red button isn't, compounded further by the insult from broadcasters that you're tunning into video on demand. (VOD) 12 channel pipes continously broadcasting can only be afforded by a few, which is why cable/broadband will rule eventually.

Active interactivity is an egagement giving you and your audience a wide girth of independence to fill in blanks. Take Brendan Dawes Saul Bass "Psycho" or even the simplistic now, but elegantly sophsticated "9 months" - both favourites from the turn of the millennium. 9 months wowed you with nodel points along the cycle of a woman's pregnancy. It was point and click, but its imagination was your intrinsic desire to unravel the 9 months - via stunning photography and music. It could have been infinity show and still we'd watch.

Saul bass let you reconstruct the psycho shower scene. I think that's what clinched our BBC consultancy when a colleague and I sold an idea of a virtual newsroom to the BBC's Vin Ray heading up the the corporation's journalism college.

And while pondering the founders around 2000: True is True, Precinct, Submethod, Design is Kinky all added in their own way, devising rules born of superior technical and creative knowledge to the graphic and hence also multimedia well.

Interactivty is more than divying up a linear feature bereft of crucial nodes to ellicit further reaction. It works at an intuitive level if you're one of those people who thinks interstially, otherwise elements of game theory or even predictive human behaviour is required.

what happens when I press A. Will I be rewarded. And will that in turn make me want to press B. And how immersive can I be before I realise I'm drilling deeper and deeper.

The real landgrab at the moment is the sophisticant of multimedia- the aesthetics and language of video tossed with the architecture of interacticity. It begs new a structural form in its conceptualisation.

Whilst its as old as ARPRANET, it's vocalisation has been as an antecedent to the hegemony of unitary media and voices. It might just as well have been sir xxxx answer to democracy in the net age.

Those questions at the 10.00 morning meeting become the basis of a platform to engage further dialogue. It's a pain, because you'd rather seek closure but more is better.

In 2001 a colleague and I had a eureka moment. Rosalind Miller, a brilliant designer who now teachers at St Martin sought a new aesthetic style to engage viewers, which in itself was a derivative of early russian film makers such as Vertov
and the loop. Oh yes everything we want to know has its groove from some broken record years old.

The loop however wasn't enough. We needed a strong story; adversity verus the odds, good from bad, triumph in the face of disaster emodied of course in the art of puglism e.g. young boxer looking for an out. Channel 4's Late commissioning producer had expressed an interest in the documentary I was making with the help of a couple of friends, Jon Mac the photographers photographer and Claudio Von Planta - who is the director-cameraman of directors, presently on a motorbike travelling the world filming.

The deal fell through, so in a rare moment of clarity we thought of turning it into an interactive documentary. There were huge limitations. The first being the story. It might have worked linearly but needed more work. We spent four different shoots with the boxing outfit in Islington before the Mime (mind map) structure revealed itself worthy of more questions than answers. Then there was bandwith. How do you fit all this into a 28 , max 56k modem?

The real breakthrough which you can see at work any day; we worked on ours further, was the revelation of how the inverted pyramid structure of news writing feeds into modularity coding. Simply pick up the next paper by your side. After the first paragraph notice how any jump to subsequent paras of the story retains the integrity of the story when we web back and forth through the paras.

Importantly also the dynamic of video compostion meant you could be certain where people's eye would travel. This was something we discovered after. In documentary form by itself, the film maker has a strong often subliminal hold on you by employing a number of techniques, principally movement. Note Polanski's China Town and the bedroom phone scene where almost all the audience sways to attempt to capture the full frame of the subject.

After much work. In 2000 you try working a film doc into a 28k modem, our efforts were rewarded. Channel 4's digital departments gave it the thumbs up at their digital awards final. It was a finalist. Blue Print magazine, the blue chip magazine of design covered it over four pages, and Lennox Lewis would request I join his team.


By now post-dot come blues had set in and our interactive agency had gone the way of many soho outfits. But a fire had been lit. Multimedia is the rebellion sibling of broadcasting, a disruption to linear conversations. On a political level it's not so much about a multitude of media, but voices and opinions seamlessly transcribed into an entity.

Its strength, should be its purpose to provide schisms for new debates and particularly in a western media where the oppposing view is suffocated, diversity of voices, ethnic and minoritiy views are placed outside the sphere of influence, give succour to new discourse.

That will eventually entail multimedia engines with xml/asp/htm imput-output. We're nearing there.

But our concers in these very early tentative steps of multi faceted media conversations should be relying on cues from traditionalist communicators. When ITV new says it wants your news because it is engaging this new church of online democracy, it has little idea that it should be having a broader conversation, not just in context but control - JUST LET GO ( Fightclub) if its can afford it.

When Christian Metz asks what is cinema evocatively deconstructing semiotics and its linguistics; we might ask what is multimedia in its capacity to cull the power of illusion, to integrate or not art and narrative, to experiment with grammar by itself and incorporate where necessary the viscerality of video.

Geographers refer to it as the equilibrium profile which results in the riverbed and water yielding new patterns and complex behaviour. We're there and then not quite yet

This week. If you can't experiment or innovate is there any point in media courses or joining Brit TV, who's last creative 160 IQ rests in the 90s.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Near Completition

The blog.. this will be the umpteenth. I'm much better at building sites, but I've relented to laying my thoughts down. Getting ready to head off back to Howden to catch up on videojos.