Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Brown bowned out

The 2001 General Election and I'll always remember it for a rather interesting incident. I was a producer on Channel 4's politics show working for the very thoroughly nice Andrew Brown, brother of the now Prime Minister of Britain.

The piece I produced, audited by BDO Stoyward suggested labour had put up taxes by stealth. Andrew ok'ed the findings and that was that. Until it emerged at anyone of the labour party election conferences, Political heaveyweight Michael Brunson who was fronting the election special, was being sidelinned, blanked.

His waving paper would stay up. Gordon Brown looked our way most likely irritated at the programme and its assertion. I wondered what kind of conversation would flow between Andrew and Gordon.

Andrew was a good laugh and had a small laugh at the incident. Before the show completed its last run we all headed off to Ascot - my first - where perhaps the Brown's knack for finance was evident. Andrew won on a number of horses making about 100 ukp.

I took along my super 8 Nizo, so whilst I have no sound on the video, it's a rather memorable and personable piece.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oh yummy mysql

I am a journalist. . . I am a journalist. . . I am a journalist, so what am I doing figuring out mysql databases courtesy of Frederick - a genius coder. Every journalist on the web should have a friend like Fred. So I figured out with his help what the class selector was fr the css code. Fred got into the database and a few cranks, spanners dropping to the floor, and then presto. Now I'm under the bonnet.

Right that's it. I have got a piece to write on young offenders. I am a journalist. . I am a journ-acoder . . . I am an encoder.

Beats me whatever it is that works in this wierd and wonderful time

The most disruptive era in storyville

My thanks to Paul Barran, Interactive BBC for extending an invite for my Masters students and me to pay a visit to their nerve centre. Lots going on at the BBC and else where.

A snapshot: the BBC fully understands, at least from Paul's perspective, that this is new, changing, adaptable, and that no one holds the knowledge. That's a fundamental shift from how the organisation felt when I worked there many years back.
More later

Friday, June 22, 2007

What is video journalism?

Q: Is video journalism a journalist with a camera ?
Q Is video journalism TV news online produced by one person?
Q Is video journalism, none of the above.

Mostly anyone can tell a story with a video camera. You do it all the time at weddings, parties etc. You just point and shoot. In the same way mostly ( a generalisation of a fairly media literate populace) everyone knows how to take a picture. You've done in with friends, at the drunken party and so on. But you'd openely confess they're good photos for what they're worth but not ground breaking.

Then there are amateur photographers with an appreciation of light, composition, rule of thirds etc. Great photos on occasions, some have won awards. Then there are professionals. What might that mean today? In this case they earn a living from what they do.

They are professional rule breakers. Instinct and guile play along side experience and risk. Will that picture work when it breaks every convention?

As cinematography goes there's a scene in the Godfather where Al Pacino's character is about to bump his brother. It's back lit and breaks all the pro rules, but the DOP Gordon Willis knew what his eyes were telling him.

On Homicide Life on the Street, just as in 24 they regularly "cross the line", but the director relies on a hunch, instinct that is borne of practice, allowed to germinate from the years of experimenting with type and form.

The directors of Noir painted with negative light. The shadows became the primary source.

Video journalism is everything you want it to be, but when I take a class or consult for a group, I want it to be about pushing on the aesthetic of video film. It won't always work. But like the print journalist, the commentator I'm hoping to engage at a level where there is a reaction.

My own style of vjism as emphasised by ITV journalist and former press Gazette media writer Zoe Smith is how to control hand held. Can I begin to mimic the eye, even sometimes caricature it? That's the route I went down in 8 Days.

I'm looking for my first unrehearsed ( it always is) VJ shoot of 10 mins where there is no break in filming, but should push the visuals. I'm experimenting more with colour and of course sound. 40 percent and more is the sound. For that I have some wonderful people in local BBC Radio and Radio 4 to be thankful towards. Joy Haywood - Radio 4, Barbara Myers - "I want to be Normal", Fergal Keane who paints pictures with his voice, Victor Lewis Smith on Loose Ends circa 1988 with a bullet comical genius style of production

Painting with sound, designing with it remember Walter Murche's Apolocolypse Now - the fan mimicing the rotor blades of the helicopter.

So what is video journalism? Truth it's news film making dangerously placed in the hands of one person. Dangerously because News has grown up to be a collaborative factual beast, handworked into form and shape by an Editor, Sub, Director, Sound camera man., producer and some.

And now, now you're trying to tell me many of those people are redundant. With parachute journalism, you're in and you're out and your base is telling you what they want and how. Difference with VJism is you're on he ground, you know the conditions and should be able to eke out a story.

There is a scene in a Red Cross Film on Human Rights, which I was asked to provide a voice over. It was Vjed by a friend which explains this fundamental craft of film making.

The former Rwandan commander he interviewed spoke in the third person about the atrocities committed during the bloody war. Thirty minutes passed and then they wrapped up. In the car, silence until the commader just opened up. "It was me.. me.. I did those things.. I'm sorry for what I did".

By the time he'd reached the end of the sentence a camera the size of your palm was trained on him. The lighting was all wrong so my friend shifted his stance. As the commander paused, a question was thrown his way. The question was long enough for the VJ to take out his monopod. The man would start to tug his fingers. It was significant, so in one action observing that the facial expressions and interview would not be compromised, he performed a smooth pan. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1 seconds later.. enough in the can to go back to the framed interview. Wait a minute, the answers within the orginal environment have changed. So he alters the focal length and composition so you can use the reponse elsewhere in the report. Transitions alter time, move the report along. He did everything I would have done and without really thinking. In a VJ environment you're tuned to visuals, sound, mis en scene, the next shot, what questions you intend to ask....

In TV, video on line, this possibly wound not have happended. TV want's the set piece. Stop the car so we can ask the questions again and then, then lo and behold mood is lost.

Small wonder that when vjism was launched in 94, every conceivable editor I can think off shrugged their shoulders and said: "It'll compromise TV with its quality. There's no way on person could do all that".

What the editors didn't realise they were saying was there's no way I could do all that.

What is Video journalism? It is in the eyes and knowledge economy of your editor. If they've never free dived before, they'll ask you to take a snorkel, even a tank.

The construct of news is not a scared stone handed down by Moses but it is a form refinned over the years to tell stories, but that was at a time when the paradigm of news was different. In film language, it's like talking something from the 70s. Competent, good, gets the job done, but you're facing a far more televisual literate viewer, who wants the skinny, the inside of the story.

One of the least debates we've had with news has been its mode, and where we take it. Invariably when the subject of news and its outmodishness comes up, it's the studio and its graphics which recieves most of the attention.

What is video journalism? It's one of the most powerful and underused forms of story telling in contemporary times.

What is it again? It's a style which is only now beginning to mature and that it will until its critical mass makes it one of the obvious choices for the way we'd like to inform and interact with you

More here on what is video journalism

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Egyptian journos look to the future

Viewers of BBC Newsnight will recall an item on bloggers from Egypt the previous week. New Media meets the old guard - quite literally in a report by the BBC's world affairs analyst, Magdi Abdelhadi, that gave a perspective of press/ judiciary freedom and how the authorities handle bloggers.

So with the currency of that and my own career interest in ME (though I fess I have been thin on the ground as late) I was fascinated to meet with a group of senior Egyptian Journalists in the UK on a fact-finding tour.

They were journalists of all hues with a few bloggers and twitters as well. The exchange was encouraging and Masters Journalism student Tamer Almisshal whom I invited along gave a wonderful account of new and emerging media and its signficance to the region.

Summed up, Tamer, a former BBC producer from Gaza, who will likely resume his role once he completes the remaining few months of his masters said: "We have the stories and they ( the west) have the technology", adding more or less that learning everything one needed to know about journalism in the UK would stand Egyptian journalists in good stead.

No this wasn't a commercial punt and neither was my lecture peeling back web2.0 plus and video journalism. Any web cum video journalism savvy region could positively contribute to the reportage and understanding of a region whose problems need no elaboration.
I remember years back at WTN glued to Sat 41 pictures on the night shift. Back then as now, many pundits will likely comment journalism is healthy and gotten more transparent (not a point I want to argue here) but undoubtedly Newish Media, youtube, digital journalism one could ARGUE has a far more penetrating value ( basket for basket) than how we take it for granted here in the UK.

I have said the same for reportage in Ghana and various African regions. Tarek Atia's site is an interesting case. The tools, the assets - all about improving commuications. It may not be your idea of cutting edge but ranks a healthy 100,000 in google ranking.

He's a busy man, but video, pods etc would definately improve his waistline and those who regularly pay him a visit for the portal news he distributes.

The journalists I met have expressed a deep desire to understand more about the ways of the web 2. journalist; the Tamer's and his class mates who shoot video, pictures, make web sites, blog, index with google rich tags, produce promos and heavens knows what else in these unfolding times.

If it can help us better understand the matrix of ME politics then we're better for it.

p.s here's the book I reccommended Blog by Hugh Hewitt. If you've any other additions do post/email me and I'll pass it on

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


My isn't facebook becoming obsessive. I first heard about its addictiveness from Clyde Bentley, Associate Professor of Journalism at Missouri School of Journalism at Trust in the Media, San Antonio... oh a couple of years ago now. But then the BBC's all present media -techonology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones did a piece on it an by all accounts people are going around poking each other. Suits me, I like poking, so go ahead and poke.

Interesting day with senior Egyptian journalists here in the UK to learn some of our ways: hour and half of bloggs and video jour alism. Egypt less you've been in Guantanamo is pretty hard on bloggers, but the newspaper industry sees change and the use of technology.. so lets watch this space

100 days of Alan Johnston's incanceration. Share a monent to pray, meditate, look positively to the future. No one deserves this.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Things just fall in place

This from Rob of who I'm a big fan.
This is Graphic motion design of a quality you'll rarely see anywhere else. If you're a film buff, graphics student, video journalist enthusiast, an arm chair TV addict, or hairy monster, enjoy and spread the good visuals. The narrator is his little 4 year old. Pure pure Genius.

*Things Fall Apart*
Says Rob
"Motion collective Devoid of Yesterday (consisting of directors Rob
Chiu of The Ronin and Chris Hewitt of Dstrukt) team up alongside
audio designer Ben Boysen (Hecq) for a new short narrative led piece
that explores a child's pent up anger and frustration that erupt in a
force that marks the end of innocence. Sometimes... things just fall

Created over a three week period and previewed at the ICA in London
the 2 minute piece has been picked up for distribution by Autour
DeMinuit and is to be featured on the BBC Film Network website.
Hope you all enjoy and feedback much appreciated!"

Ferraris and the wind rushing through your hair

Photos©Warren King

Some years ago when City boys dreamt of curves, Ds, and a sleek body as they left the gym, the man in this picture was already puckering and showing of his new exoskeleton.

Kevin Haggarthy tests cars for a living. What he knows about cars is just plain selfish. He's so sought after that the big names in sports and luxury will have him up at their workshops; the place you and I can't go and then say: "Here you go, go drive that for 6 months".

On a couple of ocassions he's called me up

Kevin: Hey David I'm picking up a DB, d'you want to come along?
David: Ah Kevin I'd love to but I'm working

Kevin: Hi David I'm picking up a concept Porsche Where are you?
David: Damn it Kevin.. You picked a day when......

On one ocassion he says:

Kevin: D'you want to meet this young driver who's going to be a formula 1 driver one day. He's still in Go-Karting, but Ron Dennis has expressed an interest. If you want to do a doc, I can get you an intro.

David: All the networks have gone off sports progs. I have just been with Lennox (lewis) and I can't get anything sold for toffee.

Last week that young former Go-Kart Driver won his second Grand Prix. I have been foolish in my life.. Tres imbecile. We did do one programme together. I was at Channel 4 News and needed a car to test a premise. Will the police stop two black guys in a swanky car?

So we decked out the car with multiple cameras and sound courtesy of ITN's secret camera unit. Got all the necessary papers signed off. Yep that kinda thing has to go to the Chief Exec and then off we went. Nothing. For three days driving around with purpose, nothing.

It could be, I told Kevin, that you look and smell the part, but then again this was not about baiting. It was about being ourselves. A week later however driving in my old Fiat, taking some friends home - they'd just come from Ghana, so had that look of tourists about them - I did get stopped.

So this time Kevin says hey David I'm doing Windrush and I'm picking up a Ferrari on the weekend, want to come?. Guess what my response was..... You can only strive to be stoopid a couple of times.

Danger Underground

It will take death by asphyxiation or dydration before they decide something is worth doing. Even then the process will involve recriminations and the obligatory enquiry held back from the public. And to be honest the acturists holed up in a public relations war room will fob off any calamity. Was it a minister? A judge? A senior UK figure? Celebrity? What price human lives away from any combat zone.

So we waited, and waited. That stale putrid recyclable air making me more nauseous as the minutes became clusters of five, ten, twenty, an hour...

Straddled between Kennigton and Oval on the Northern Line our carriage whirled deafeningly at a standstill. We Brits (odd, how would I know) can be a stoic bunch. No agitation, no unrest, a flapping of papers as the free tabloids were combed through for the umpteenth time - that's it.

Any news that was forthcoming was eviscerated through a decrepit comms way fighting to be heard above the recyclable air din. Brits don't do public information well. Presumably, that rests with the discretion of the train's driver. So finally after 40 minutes a figure came bounding through our carriage.

" Sorry, the train in front of us is broken down. I don't know how long it's going to take. I have no idea when we're going to move". If you stared hard enough wincing you'd swear this was said said with a pinch of alacrity. Probably his three scores and something hold up this year. I'm being unfair. But when you've unwanted time on your hands, going no where, having reread David Beckam's success at Real Madrid and columnist Gary Bushell standing for Mayor, your mind begins to race filling its wake with all sorts.

The man to my right, a young looking Amitav Bachan in Burning Train is besuited and calm. The man in front of me whose gaping akimbo legs intrude on the space of the next passenger shifts ocassionally. The woman to his right is flying through her crossword. That's a lot of crosswords; she's pulled out what appears to be a book resplendent with checkered black and white squares waiting to be defaced. The man seated next to me swears once underneath his breath once and that was that.

A group of people gesture to the driver, twirling their fingers and pointing to the tannoy: "we can't hear you". "Uh" was his reply. You can bet tomorrow he'll soldier on pillow talking into the system. I'm just the train driver guv.

But then we did start to move. That tannoy message woman who announces in that courteous voice as if she wears pearls to bed says the train will start to move then stop suddenly. Hold the **** onto something. No she didn't say **** .

The crossword woman looks up catching my eyes and opposite passenger and smiles one of those knowing smiles like its all over. Not quite.

More waiting, more juddering. By now I'm parched. I can see a bottle of water in Crossword woman's bag, but I daren't ask. Civility reigns. This must happen a lot because no one's kicking up a fuss; it's been an hour so far enough time to make the aquaintance of the person next to you, share in what you have in common that moment - angst.

Not a bit of it, at least in our carriage. Finally, finally we're moving at speed. It is 7.40, 8.10 I can't remember now. My brain's turned to mush.

When the doors fly open at oval attracting a sudden gush of wind the relief etched on faces is visible. Fire fighters and police bound on speaking, fighting the whirl again. I still can't hear you and neither can all the passengers to my left who've all lurched forward.

"Been a fire in one of the trains three down. Sorry we've had to evacuate...." I caught that much from him. They're handing out bottles of water. I take a sip. Now bottles are dancing through the air, being hurled across space. I still have 30 mins of my journey to go so I dare not down the lot - no bathrooms!

Another besuited man who placed his bag on the grimey floor before seating down is off. His enquiring about alternative routes. Mostly everyone stays put. Lighting... twice... Nah!

As we whizz by one stop after another commuters united by their experience clutching the day's branded object which might have said: "I'm a commuter get me out a here" ( it's a British programme) peel off.

My stop next. The man to my right has caught up with a friend, boyfriend, in the same carriage as we funnel up the escalator. I'm not home yet. Another 40 minutes. Yep mines an hour an half to two hour journey to work. Small beer compared to others I know.

Another day, another scene which you could quite easily dismiss on reflection; far more calamitous things going on you see. You get stuck in the tube for an hour and you're whinging. Get a grip!

Today I'll take the same route. The government has announed new train stock but it won't appear for at least another 5, 7, 10 years. If Wembley Stadium's anything to go by, 20 years. Minister dont take the tube or at least haven't been beached ( now there's an oxymoron) in one, so ma nana ma nana. When it gets done, it gets down. Those poor wretched commuters.

So I guess statistically speaking they'll be some injury of sort. The Mayor of London organised a competition to see how they could make the tube's cool. Apparently the entries were all rubbish. So we're left to traverse the Danger Underground.

Oh c'mon. It can't be that bad.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

OMG - Disaster

@$!&^% What am I to do? I was running then heard a loud thud and crack. Arghhh my phone. Disaster - weekend!!£

Right that's enough blogging for one day, I'm off to read War and Peace

VJ swarms

Two thoughts occupying my mind for a seminar with Egyptian journalists surround the use of video journalism and emergent reporting. The corollary of my trawl may expand past a two line mention in previous posts.

Swarming as best definned on author John Arquilla's Amazon book site

Swarming is a seemingly amorphous, but deliberately structured, coordinated, strategic way to perform military strikes from all directions. It employs a sustainable pulsing of force and/or fire that is directed from both close-in and stand-off positions. It will work best--perhaps it will only work--if it is designed mainly around the deployment of myriad, small, dispersed, networked maneuver units. This calls for an organizational redesign--involving the creation of platoon-like pods joined in company-like clusters--that would keep but retool the most basic military unit structures

Some of the best laid plans for injecting fresh ideas into an environment have often come from the military on the one hand e.g. Art of War by SunTzu and or experienced practitioners in their field and strategists within boardrooms. That old adage, If you want to know about water, don't ask a fish applies.

360 reporting is one term which sits on the edge of adman tag and something approaching a more rounded delineation of the facts on a story.

The press take a direction on the story. It's boxed and packaged for you under the tenants of journalism's objectivity and impartiality at best. But there are inherent difficulties in assigning complex multistrand stories for reporters; time and closeness towards a particular bent of the story.

Vjs much like newspapers working cooperatively could unravel the story in so many ways, at least to examine the two poles of what is often refered to as the "two legged story" government versus pressure group etc.

In 8 days, a film I made about Videojournalists pitting themselves againt detectives to get to the story, swarming would have helped in scrutinising both sides in real time.

It begs the question which in turn erodes the thinking that Vjism is in fact cheaper media on the make. For if anything in a robust media economy, it should not be uncommon to examine different aspects in more detail thus deploying swarms of VJs. Financially it sounds like suicide, but those economies can be ironed out.

We'll see versions of this at play in existing media during the hustings; and general elections of politics. Reports from different camps forced on broadcasters by election law. But if swarming were to have a bigger impact in video journalism then it should be deployed a lot more on stories with shades of black and white.

My best use to date: Denmark, an evacuation order is in process for refugees in Nato's make shift combative war. On a long pathway heading to a checkpoint and waiting helicopters at least three stories are evident - all part of a bugger issue.

1. the fleeing refugees
2. The army commander controlling the order
3. the treatment of evacuees at the checkpoint. There were no women soldiers to pat down female evacuees
4. And a car involved in an accident which has invited the attention of Spanish Special Forces.

The reporters and Vjs peeled off.

In situ I could assign a VJ/reporter to two strands 1+3, and 4, whilst another reporter took up three and the mop up exercise.
But each team had the awareness also to pick up on strands their reporting colleagues may not have been privy to. The result a richer diverse stream from the story.

Now I'm not proposing this is the ultimate use of vjism, neither am I suggesting it a panacea for reportage where the story has no legs, but that it is an option.

BBC impartiality at risk says Guardian's Emily Bell

Fascinating piece providing an insight into a seemingly new trend at the BBC in which programmes made by the corporation are presented as news. Worth reading all the comments which add to the layers and indeed Emily Bell's response to blog poster the BBC's Kevin Marsh.

Journalism embraces a spectrum of grey which can often require bifocular vision to differentiate the grades; and what's good for some can easily be picked out by others. What makes it all the more "sticky" is that in the cauldron of web something zero (where are we now) the propensity to trial new approaches has to increase. Innovate or atrophy! And this time saying nothing - "Don't feed the trolls" Wiki's James Wales would say - is increasingly not cutting it.

Has the BBC got it right on this one or has Ms Bell found a flaw ? You decide here

Friday, June 15, 2007

Brain dump

There I've logged it.. My one idea. Many people keep a note book with them, even by their side as the sleep. Though the best story I heard about detailing a good idea was when the person arose in the morning, cocksured of the night's fleeting scribble when the idea brewed, only to find the insignia on his note pad " Write down the big idea before you forget". Doh!

Some people have a dictaphone. I tried that but was too incoherent to remember what I meant. That's the trouble with loose unassociated thoughts. What works for me are mind maps. They're atomised structures that don't restrict interpretation.

So my small big idea - that does make sense. That looking back on tapes and interviews from 96 everything going on now more or less was predictable. Ok 2020 is a wonderful thing now. But more to the point, we are all creatures of game theory. We all want to play whether its tic tac toe or a more complex associated form of verbiage. It's culturally and genetically programmed into us. And at the point technology allows us to we'll colonise.

Across a plethora international news rooms they watch each other. Stalking, anticpating who's doing what and how. Often it can be less about story telling and more about The Game.

And the more we get good at it, the more assured we become moving around in small tight knit circles. It's poker. And then all of a sudden someone else wants to play, but you've never seen them at the table. Then another one. And in the end, so many people want to play that they form their own networks. Time for an evolutionary assimilation or revolution e.g Thomas Kuhn's paradigm

In game theory there's room for any number of permutations: win-win is an idealistic one, but truthfully that's not what's on the table. Our penchant to want to play more and more become ever so demanding.. so if we could glimpse how game theory might facilitate what we really wanted to do with the media back then in 96, what about now?

Where's my mind map now....Imagine a network where you shape the news. yes it's still a fixed time, but your time. Everything is finite. Correspondents engage through a visual medim e.g the web, tele, mobile about their findings. The reporter/ correspondent you so cherish has become the brand. I floated this idea at a talk to Christiane Amanpour.

Here is the news, 40 correspondents in windows you'll access. Yes its playtime. Our penchant to want to know is unwavering but now we have the people doing the "knowing" for us there to answer what we want.

On the day this really is the news market. Not too disimilar from how the agencies trade stories; new commodity brokers. In the 90s I worked at Worldwide televsion News. They supplied news stations. Could a set up furnish you and me?

Today I want to know everthing about Gaza. My network e.g. google news 5.x0 tracks down the reports across various ranked blogs and media outlets and assembles. Packaged news is so limiting, so my system tells me, a pod is about to be laid down. The middle east correspondents across BBC, ITN, ABC, CBS are on visual outenet answering what you need to know. Nah, I wanna watch it live.. hang on a minute James.

My interface has me watching the latest, responding in a cue, talking back to my mate James. Oh and wait there's a 10 second delay on the talk back. Already three users have been booted off by trying to make over zealous remarks.

A semantic web with voice tag recogntion sorts out the reports I need. Any report that includes the words e.g. how things got so bad" pops up.

Database news is the next big big thing with more advanced tag structures attached to chapters within the video ala itunes already.

So i have n idea when we get there... ( must come off these yellow pills) but it was a good game nonetheless.

Footnote: that was one hellavu dream

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Apprentice - and the winner is

Of course the franchise. But here's something. Last season South Africa acquired the rights to make its own. A series fronted by that ANC heavy weight business supremo Tokyo Sexwale.

I won't tell you what happens because... I got in contact with some SABC contacts and was sent over the tapes. I took the final episode and with my good friend MBA student Doreen managed to rustle up some MBAs around her house to show them the final episode.

What's unique about the SA version is no task goes to waste. Every task is a sustainable job to be handed to someone.

So we screened the final version and then got the producer on the phone from SA. Our small audience was able to ask anything about the show. We were also given the contacts for the winners, so we culd yet follow that up.

So if you're feeling withdrawal symptons from the Brit version, check back soon on viewmag where I'l fnally edit down the SA pakage and I can tell you now there's some interesting twists, very interesting twists.

hahaha Oh the joys of wanton vacuous vanity

So this friend from South Africa emails me laughing. She's got the skinny on me. Yeah!


This! daa daa daa

Oh c'mon I was young unsure and vain..

Now I'm older unsure and vain...

But just so she couldn't do anything untoward, I have done an "11 mile"
So I'm outed... Gosh this was early-mid 90s..

There's a whole history around this.. but that is another story.. suffice to say they don't half keep you waiting for ages.

Today met with my old boss, whose mate is an intelligence person. Well known on BBC and Sky.

He's putting together a treatment for a shoot. Wanted to know what i thought so I'm adding my two bits. Should be interesting. He's in the Robert Steele " Avengers" mould

Got some wonderful pics from Bilbao, fab photographer, where I did a talk and this week recut the Financial Times piece which is uploaded to Youtube and here .

Yep the tripple play Youtube it, face book it, my space it - whatever next?

Monday was really something. Was at the opening of the Royal Festival Hall. Simply luscious. Bolero and a whole number of tunes reminded me of my days back in Cornwall.
Tthe great and the good of the arts/ literature world were there. I had ro strain not to hear the person sitting a key fob away: Salman Rushdie.

Ah well...

Oh that pic LOL

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I need to write more

Just about to post yesterday's invite to the reopening of the Royal Festival Hall. Awesome ! And the Bolero. But this above first.

Really I need to write more

Saturday, June 09, 2007

What is it? What is it?

Reviewing some blog debates, I stumbled upon a post from Mindy Mcadams. Yep, she's got my vote
"I can’t help but think that video is the content of the previous “new medium” — television. As McLuhan said in 1964, the early content of any new medium is always an old medium (radio programs were the early content of TV). So if video does come to dominate online, I would be surprised if that turned out to be the permanent state of affairs. I don’t want to receive all my information about world affairs and local issues by watching video. I doubt that everyone else does."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Be creative - go take a shower

But I can't I'm not creative.

So, I'm having this chat with this soon to be PHD, and it centres around creativity. I'll put the video up soon. But because of that I go for joggs now. No not because I want to jog per se, but to give my mind time to roam.

I get the same feeling diving. So what's going on? Two things: in a nutshell. Firstly, yes depending on what sort of person you are everyone has a creative zone. Could be morning noon or night. I was told find it and nuture it.

Secondly go fo runs, let your mind simulate the early periods breaking from sleep. And Finally, take showers. No not because you're unsavoury, but water it's a powerful elixir for the creative process.

In fact every employer should have showers in their company. Serious now, don't lower the tone now with those thoughts

So what are you waiting for. I've had five already :)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Outernet

At some point the Internet grew up.
sorry for the typo

Devoid of Yesterday

Rob Chiu does things that you wonder how on heaven's earth he does them. When I wan to be inspired, rob's site is where I go put my feet up. Actually I don't that much now as I pretty much have a mental library of the work on his site.

Rob and I go back some years. We met on the covers of a magazine called Computer Arts. He had his reel in one week and then mine the other. Reels are reels, but rob's was beyond belief.

His style is teutonic, a sort of David Finch meets Carson and Tony Scott. What he does with visuals will make you weep with joy and probably send you to amazon to buy a book on After Effects.

Yesterday he sent me the preview of his new piece. Gosh would I just love to sent it out, but er No. Embargoes are not meant to be broken.

There is a new space that video journalists could inhabit, mixing motion graphics with their skill for story telling. It gets wrapped up in something I call MI6: integrated multimedia.

The bar Rob sets is way high. On Black Day to Freedom, about refugees which he produced, curated and everything else, some of the most talented young designers around the globe gave freely their time. Hahaha he had me running around the woods behind my house with a sony tape attached to me, being pelted with rain, so we would get the right voice effects for his piece.

Anyway's what am I doing trying to encroach on his glory. Super.. superb. Go to his site and then again next week to catch his new piece.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A short story: Maria

A short story I wrote inspired by the plight of young displaced people. Part of the critically acclaimed book and production Black Day To Freedom now posted on the BBC

Thanks to Rob Chiu for giving me the opportunity. You can learn more about the piece below +

Maria can't see tomorrow. She's not blind. She just can't think past the present. Life has become a surreal kaleidoscope of muted blurred dull colours moving in slow motion.

In front of her lies a long road going somewhere. . . to her left and right ragged vegetation and behind her memories she has been forced reluctantly to leave behind. Embers and smouldering heat from a once vibrant village just about find her nose, touching also her unblemished skin.

Soon she will be out of range, but that is cold comfort. What will she eat? Where can she sleep? How will she find her brother?

Suddenly she is stopped in her tracks. Something catches her eyes in the dirt. Risking her life to stop she stoops to ponder the simple object: a page from a magazine, barely depicting a smiling face, mouth agape, ready to eat.

If the page were complete and she could read, she would see a young boy devouring a cake with the words. 'Sumptuously delicious."

Her moment of thought is broken, a flurry of shots, mortar rounds, a loud bang, brilliant colours and then a deafening silence.

When Marie comes around, she notices new clothes. It is dark. Time has aged. She stirs to look sideways and then the other, and then begins to simper. A lone voice, velvety, meets her cries mid-air.

It is an angel all in white, smiling. Maria's troubles are over. She is in that place, heaven. "So what's your name then? You're lucky to be alive."

Jane Goodman is one of the remaining aid agency workers in a region wracked by civil war and the little girl she has helped bring into camp is one of many casualties.

Maria has never seen a white person, except most recently as a picture in copper coloured soil. Her religious teacher once told her what angels looked like, but they were supposed to have wings, otherwise this woman has near enough the same features as her: two eyes... a nose... mouth... two arms... and two....

Maria can't see her legs.

The woman notices her changed looks and beckons a colleague.

Over the course of the evening as moths flicker against the lamp, Maria explains to the two strangers, one of whom speaks her language, how she fled her home, how militia gunned down anyone they saw, how her mother on the verge of her last breadth made her daughter feign death, and how her last words were: "When the soldiers turn their back run.. run with your brother to the hills.. run for your dear young lives".

Few eyes remained dry as Maria Stephens slumped back into her chair and lifted her prosthetic legs into a more demur position.

The darkness has lifted, but the wounds of guilt and blame are there, as today she leads a new life in Berkshire, the UK, attending a new school.

She was lucky. She lived.

She was given a new life in England and a new mother. 

Jane Goodman has since swapped the care of the destitute for that of young minds needing to acquire knowledge. She's a school teacher.

Maria's simple yet powerful soliloquy stemmed from the simple, yet powerful words inscribed on the blackboard: Refugees.

She has since learned she was one. That in England, her new home, people get very animated by the subject, ranging from outrage to despair.

She has learned of the different classes of refugees; migrant, economic, political, transcendental, even psychological.
They all share something in common. An attempt, often futile, to escape circumstances they have no control over.

As she wheels herself back to her desk, a classmate asks: How did you cope with all the pain and suffering all that while.

Maria pulls a dirty piece of paper from her satchel and mutters something in a language no one understands.

If they did, they would hear her say: "He reminds me of how lucky I am. above all he looks like my brother. He never leaves my side and I also know he is really with the angels.


I wrote this for a publication called "Black Day To Freedom". The curator/ instigator Rob Chiu would later ask if I could feature inside an animated piece he was creating.

Black Day to Freedom, a critically acclaimed production and one of the best pieces of animation around the plight of refugees is now posted here on the BBC and where I debut as the reporter's voice within the piece.

There are a number of thing you can do towards this issue, particularly bringing to the attention of politicians and news makers what's going on in Dafur.

A video report on the release of Black Day featuring Rob can be found here here Rob releases Things Fall Apart this month.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The New Online Order

My quarterly subscription of International Affairs Chatham House
dropped therough the post. You can always bet there's going to be an article dissecting the new world order, but it got me thinking on the train to work: what about the new online order?

In the past few years we have all grown to become accustomed to a daily fix of lattes, RSS and a further cruise around our favourite sites. They are countless, but a new online order is evolving, which runs a parrallel course to the bricks and mortar world. This really is the Matrix.

So whilst they are legion Mindy McAdams , MultimediaShooter, Cliff Etzel , Adrian Monck ,Peter Ralph, Joe Weiss , Social Media (J D Lassica), Andy Dickinson, students at the university of westminster, Ian Reeves Rob Chiu - the Ronin Hillman Curtis and newstoday are a few places I sneak in for a warm cup of tea and a biscuit.

I guess soon the way protocol technologies going, my IP will soon flag me up when I try to sneak in.

"Er hi er Peter?"

Which all gives rise to this newish phenomenon of a new online order. There are differences, a generalisation, but I do believe that something is brewing worth many doctorates. Who am I kiddin? They're already a feature of hundreds of books.

The hierachy in news offline is highly guarded, whilst that online is a temporary transaction between you and your new friend. Interestingly then not all brill commentators offline make inviting bloggers online. A bit of humility goes a long way. Of course that inverse equation of the more experienced you are the more humble you become works most places.

But unless you want metaphorical arrows slung at you, then best to be yourself - hoping that you are one of those people who would gladly get the first round and then take us on the tour of your news outfit :) . This edifying style was so obvious when I first met Dan Gilmore a couple of years ago in San Antonio. A nice guy then and nice guy now and his story encapsulates the new world online order per-fect-ly.

" At some point I realised the audience I was writing for knew more than I did, so I kinda became a facilitator", he says.

Friends you will rarely hear such magnanimity in the corridors of broadcast newsrooms. No, no, no.. I'm not slating broadcasting.

Cocksuredness is a trait of youth and zeal. That said perhaps the online world has less to lose, unfazed by status, they just get on with it. Where else would you leave the details for a complex piece of code to a complete stranger? May the gift culture live on.
I have started a cursory look at Future TV. I know, I know. No sooner have I muttered modesty than I appear to be wrapping myself with hubris. But not so, I'm really having fun just trend extrapolating - a kind of science fiction, personal Verne journey.

There was a piece in the Sunday Times yesterday that's got me all excited: Cloud Spotting. Yep plain clouds, not storms. If you've ever wondered like the author does: mind floating into oblivion peering out of your window seat 35,000 feet up, or seen the angels with wings in the culumus, you'll understand the fascination.

The dreamer; and that's what I'm doing in a series of pieces, which today feautures an incredible film maker Claudio Von Planta.

And then, then I had a look at Joe Weiss - Bloody nice! Bloody nice ! And that MUST be the order of things to come.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

People are creative White Paper Syndrome

A broadcast network station head, an old friend emailed to ask if I could put together a proposal for future TV. I'm off again, the kid in the classroom staring out into space as the teacher barks David. Quite how nature works is beyond me, but that same day, a future TV conference emailed asking if I was interested in presenting at one of their conferece during the summer, so this weekend I let go. As usual, these are private views not atributable to my place of work. wada wada wada.

On viewmag you'll find the first installment. Let me know what you think. I'm going walkies below again, or at least my mind is. What is it these things we do that we often have to justify!

Evolution is inevitable. revolutions, conflict to unseat the status quo are often a last resort.

Whatever we do, we continually strive to better ourselves. We see a blank piece of paper and we want to scribble. At some point we'll lose the ability to be nonchalent about what we do.

Structures form around us, hierarchies, a group dynamic - we learn to fit in and in so doing see a blank piece of paper and think we're not worthy of scribbling any longer. We've acknowldged our imperfections

At school we'll learn we're not like anyone, because within our circle of friends and sphere we will find we're unique. Those that are good, get better; those lacking confidence meet further despair.

Some of us will be imbued by a sense of passion from which will develop resolve. You can't destroy passion. Fortitude becomes our default, irrespective of what anyone thinks about us, we do what we do. badaboom.

You want to become a scribe - just write. You want to become a snapper, just take pictures, but remember you can be a jack of all trades but a master of none.

Then an enlightenng period dawns, we acquire better access to knowledge and then... then it's commodified... but this time we have the Net

Evolution is inevitable, revolution is encouraged. Rules were made by you, because frankly there are none, other than default behaviours which through modeliing and simulation, leaders in our group dynamic imagine what it will be.

It should only make sense, if you think it does. Learn the rules, set your sights then set about making your own.
See a blank piece of paper do what you feel you want to do. However you may feel within that limited circle need not be; online there are kith and kin. The Ghanaians take the vine of the plam wine tree and offer it to a youngen:

Break it

Then they add scores more, and watch your youthful zeal wrestle. It will not break, at least the conventional way. And that long solitary vine fold it a couple of times and it takes on extraordinary strength.

Everthing around you is a guide track for how difficult or easy it was for that person to get there. Whoever said you can be jack of all trades and master of none, was talking about themselves.

Be disruptive, but remember also to embrace chaos when it comes your way: do onto others what you want them to do to you. For soon after you've buit your own citadel, forces of change will arrive. Evolution is inevitable.