Sunday, December 30, 2007

Look Back - rummaging through Viewmagazine.tv


A look back at some of the items that have stirred me/viewmagazine.tv to thump our crate at our own little slice of cyber speakers corner.

For the next two days viewmagazine.tv's front page will have its front face changed more times than ... than.... Oh Gosh who can I not libel.

This post will be updated throughout the day.

Since the morning it's been an IM6 - Interview with Chatham House Director from 2001-2006 that took centre stage.

Then a a report: Is Television Killing the Arts?.
Commentary and viewpoins from punters down at the South Bank Centre talking about TV's relationship with the Arts

From 2 GMT onwards be a multimedia Videojournalist - promo from Cairo in the style of Bourne - er sorry it looks mothing like it.

From 5 GMT 8 Days - the film about the UK's first journalist to become videojournalists using the Press Associations ground breaking scheme.
To date it's trained scores of newspaper journalists

Then sevenish Robb Montgomery and David in Cairo with a podcast that has us gabbering on about videojournalism and visual storytelling.

Penultimate change playing a little flash diti which bookends to How to Podcast - similarities with radio using experience working at the BBC World Service and the BBC's radio station for London.

And finally for the day - how do you become creative:
"....While the arts has come to be recognised as a repository for the creative thinker, joined by science maths, and architecture , it's not a word associated with journalism.."



Meanwhile my teenager nephew is on habbo. He's in this pic with the red bandana- just gate crashed a party VIP, he says. It's second life of sorts for TEEEENS ( somebody's going to scream now and say "no it isnt!)

He's just off to a club called the majestic which I'll show some pics later.

I've just asked if I can do a profile of a hip teenager, though "hip" yurk I'm showing my age.

So profile of an alright teenager

Ok - top five tunes

1. Grime
2. Grime
3. Grime
4. Grime
5. Grime


Top things to wear
1. Combats
2. Era hats
3. Air Max 90s
4. Hoodies
5. t Shirt


Top thing about the opp sex
(he's shy)

1. Dunno, he says

Top things about grown ups
1. Don't listen to what you have to say
2. That's it basically


Top thing about Habbo

1. Meet people
2. Have fun
3. Teenagers only
4. Make your own room
5. Doing what you wanna

Lets give it up for Omar Tackie -

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

Staring vacuously at the hidden pud tucked behind the marg in the fridge, which family did not see, and thinking... Err Naah.
( Fridge door closes)
(light on Mac coms back on)

And another post is completely out of the question - get a life boyo!
Anyone for scrabble? Few Friends in living room.
(Everyone staring at me vacuously)
Feel Bourne Triology coming on...

Why video stories work VII


Perhaps one of the most gripping pieces I have produced recently was talking to Rachel North.

Gripping has nothing to do with me the producer but the person being interviewed.

There are many technical reasons, as opposed to its creative elements, why video works and it can sometimes be taken for granted.

If you watched Brit TV features in the 80s and 90s there was a huge safety net for why video/TV should always work.

I recall so vividly how at BBC Reportage (1992-93) we would:

  • 1. Bash the phones - searching for stories/ contacts- often sparked by the newspapers.
  • 2. Search approp. contacts and literally write up mini books about what they said.
  • 3. This would be shown to an editor who would drive us into the area she/he felt yielded good SOTs ( sound on tape)
  • 4. Go out and shoot - looking for those same sots.
  • 5. Come back and have secretaries transcribe.

    Point 5 will perhaps bring on the biggest gasp.

    From 8 pages of transcript you'd comb through picking out those vivid sots.

    "So as I looked out of the window I felt a pain. It was sudden, and then I started to bleed. I blacked out and then I'm told I lost all time and when my mum came home and saw me, she took me off to the hospital and there they said I was lucky to be alive, because I had accidently drunk poison that should have killed me. I'm not sure how that happened, but I thought at the time it was just a stomach ache....


    Now circa 92 what might have been edited would have been
    (1)"I felt a pain. It was sudden, and then I started to bleed. I blacked out..


    (3)"I accidently drunk poison that should have killed me"

    With a voice over supplying the bits in between.
    Jane was discovered by her mother x hours later. At the hospital doctors were amazed she was still alive -- insert (2)

    The system worked because the programme had a sizable budget to play with, and accuracy rather than speed was the driving currency. ( though the two are never tradeable)

    But what people said suddenly became interesting in another guise; nuances, choice of words, semantics.


    Pushing Video's sot content
    Yesterday, BBC local news led with an item about the tragic death of a policeman, but started off the piece saying the commander of blah blah police force has sent his condolences..

    Uh! Yes this might be news, but not as the lead in this case when scant knowledge has been said of the event.

    Similarly, journalese e.g hhospitalised, medicalised truck - heard that one yesterday - and "a car has collided with a tree" take on new meaning.

    But I digress.

    Turning over a news report or feature piece in the hustle and bustle of 24news accords no such time luxury, so you learn to drive a live conversation homing in on the good bits, waiting to further explore, and intervening when it goes flat to pick it up again.


    Do all the hard work in the field

    Cutting down time in the news arena before even getting back to the edit is one of the keys to help you unlock Gonzo VJism.

    And added to that the conviction of knowing what your piece is about.

    If you've got the SOT, why waste any more time. Leave. Say thank you.

    I'd pursued a member of parliament all day, and when he agreed to an interview as part of a press corp, I only had two questions for him.

    "Do you intend to resign... why not....."

    He was a bit perplexed: "Is that all!", he quipped.

    I ran all these together.

    I didn't see the point of a fishing expedition asking 30 questions when I only had space for 40".

    Average time of a sot depending on your territory 4-8 secs, 8-15 seconds, 15-25 secs, 25-40 seconds, though clearly if you're in the latter then you're verging on docs.


    Christmas Game

    It's not a bad pasttime game.

    Close your eyes and see if you can pull out the sots of your partner or parent talking to you.

    Nice for Christmas too if your mum can finish a five minute oratory with you staring down at the Christmas pud and still know what she was talking about.

    "That would be Mr Bell, mother... you know Mr Bell, that's who you're talking about..the one with different sized feet"

    Listen out for the dip in intonation (break). That's the edit point.

    Then if you can find any of Margaret Thatcher's old tapes (youtube) try it again.

    Thatcher it was rumoured knew how to control her inflexions so effectively she kept on rising in tone until she finished her point.

    Real bummer to edit as it sounds incomplete and you're forced to take the whole 40 secs.

    So the interview below is an example of a quick knock together video that er works: Rachel North, who survived the tube bomb blast, needed little intervention.

    Let her tell the story - that's the best part of radio as well.

    Animated voice, paints pictures with words, and speaks in 15-25 second chunks.

    Whoops! 30 seconds gone, lets pick up the inflexion to arouse secondary interest.

    Three different cut aways drove the visual narrative.

    Time taken about 10 minutes for the interview in which I originally posted with perhaps one edit.

    Here's part one - 1.40 odd seconds for part's two and three you can find them on viewmagazine.tv here

    video
  • Have an original idea - the people you love to hate



    You know them, they quote the Bard, Joyce's Ulysses, and claim to have understood Rushdie's Verses, even though they'd never read em.

    You shoot them daggers eyes and mumble something like F@£%%$£ and p^%**.

    I was working at Channel 4 News at the time, when The Satanic Verses was released.

    Ok, Ok, I'm a simpleton, but I didn't get it.

    There!

    But then in yesterday's post I mentioned: Alan Kay, Ted Nelson and Vannevar Bush.

    And anonymous posted a comment:

    "The difficulty with this article is knowing which part of it to leave out of a submission to Pseud's Corner...."

    He could have been refering to other areas.

    But I posted a reply agreeing in part...


    The trouble...
    The issue I have with the opening para of this post is the unfamiliar names.

    Well not entirely, if you get what I mean, but the bit that forces one out of their comfort zone so much that a whole piece becomes inpenetrable can be a pain.

    Then there's the equally sinful quoting said figures in succession of each other to support a skewed point.

    But worse is when you realise aftewards that the author hasn't said anything worthwhile. They've not had an original thought.

    Yahh!

    The last one gets me, cuz whilst I believe a lot of what I like talking about is rooted in the past: cameras - degeurotype; the web-memex, it's tiring hearing all that pat again, if you've heard it the first time.

    What I like...

    What I like is a repository of ideas discussing the new new things, with context, but with a fresh take.

    Furthermore I'd prefer if it wasn't so abstract: Mathematics and Multimedia, getouta here.

    Though... though... there's a wee point in this: "Wanna know about water don't ask a fish"

    Paul Brannan, BBC Exec would make me laugh when I'd extend an invitation for him to pop over to the universty to talk to students.

    "Oh good", he'd remark, "I might be in for some original ideas, which I can lift and claim are mine".

    The last bit he was joking about.

    But original ideas.. yes

    We're for ever lifting ideas and remoulding them. This very post is here courtesy of anonymous, but I guess it's the level at which we quote chapter and verse that can become irritable.

    Rework ideas, rework em.. that bit at least i hope showed its crown from yesterday's post.

    In the end it's that mantra that keeps coming back and that which you feel impassioned and passionate about.

    K.I.S.S.

    Verbosity is...
    I had a teacher in the boarding school I grew up in Ghana.

    He used to say "Let taciturnity and serenity be achieved in this architectural edifice".

    Effectively, be quiet in the classroom.

    We'd never laughed so hard, but soon stopped with wry smiles when we discovered he meant it. That's the way he spoke.

    Can't say I have ever quoted Joyce et al in an article, and never will, but the idea of tieing up different thoughts to make a point stick is the stuff of PhD thesis, which ( hick) puts me in a wierd space or not according to the last piece.

    But this post/blog is no place for self aggrandisment, but as I've said a notebook of scribbles and ideas; brain dumps, a sort of functional Tourette's Syndrome.

    But it's also about engaging and truthfully sometimes it (post ) works and sometimes it doesn't.

    And when it doesn't that's when the fun really starts, because that forces you to ponder, rethink those ideas, refine them if possible and perhaps discover something new.

    "I exhaust my ideas so I'm forced to think of new one" I claimed in this 60" promo.



    "Yeah I can hear you, but not rubbish ones mate" LOL

    Ideas..that's why I write this blog for that thing.. that thing.. ideas.

    p.s. Yer can't take yerself too seriously

    So where would you like to be in 4 years time - redux


    "So where would you like to be in ... say 4 years time?"

    The clocks ticking away. Your palms begin to secrete even more. You're sitting opposite 3 figures. One's fidgetting with a pen, the other gazing at you as if you're about to confess a crime, and the interlocutor is waiting.

    "I would like to be an editor"

    There's a pregnant silence.

    1 MINUTE EARLIER - DEJAVU
    "So where would you like to be in ... say 4 years time?"

    Clocks ticking. . .

    "I would like to be a foreign reporter

    Silence. .

    OK PEOPLE CAN WE SCRUB THE TIMELINE BACK EVEN FURTHER I'M READY THIS TIME.

    'So where would you like to be in ... say 4 years time, David?"

    I don't ****ing know. What the **** do you think I am a futurologist. If I said I wanted your job. You'd think I was an arrogant a***. If I pitch myself any lower, you'll think I lack ****ing ambition, so where do I wanna be in 5 years. Truth? Doing something I love doing. Being successful at what I do.. Yeah, not because of you. But because of the hard work, I'm going to put in and the law of averages.

    SILENCE

    I walked out of the interview room thinking that's what I would really like to say, but I'm weak and feeble. My final answer was average. My clenched fist almost made it past my oesophagus.

    There is ambition; what we love doing; drive; bloody mindedness; and the law of averages.

    A loose assessment (1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8 seconds, there!) leads me to a conclusion - how we so easily misconstrue and become determinants at what they mean.

    Ambition is good in the US. In the 80s it took on a more aggressive persona: "Greed is Good"- ala Wall Street's Michael Douglas' character.

    In the UK ambition is to be left in the fridge with the half used can of beans. We all love doing something and working in the media has a high "I love my job quotient". But here too there are tacks on the floor. How much do I love you to want to stay on late and impress the editor who will remember my radiant chuckly reply when I spoke of drive, and combed my thoughts which screamed "Bloody mindedness".

    We all want success: to be the best postman, most accomplished burglar, and a good journalist. And we'll do what we can legally to get there. But we're lumped into an ecosystem which rewards the antithesis to that we deem good character.

    B****... HE IS A RIGHT W******
    My diary shows I uttered those words possibly 1 trilion times in the beginning of my employ. Well actually I didn't but I must have heard it amongst the small gathering around the coffee machine.

    There can be few professions in the world that are so personality driven, residing on ego ( in varying dollops) and insecurity.
    And it's this unhealthy mix that is in part the daily catalyst to spring step to work to the sound of music, walk, then drag feet by midday.

    But we love it. Many of us wouldn't do anything less. This is no place for shrinking violets my boss told me. Er what did he mean? I had no idea what he meant. Translation, if you can't shout about what you do, then no one will do it for you. Actually the more succesful ones are more tactful about how that's done. Oh yes and at some point you're gonna be loathed. Fancy becoming a manager?

    Email 13.17 Sunday
    As you know Jim there was a slight problem with the edit that carrie should have dealt with so we went back. Did you see that item on Ar** irrigation on Newsnight's newsbelt?

    Inference: The sods working late again, post 10.30. No 11 that's when their newsbelt's on. Gosh how ambitious can you get? And look at the time of the email. **** off and die.

    In part, the green mist could quite easily descend on me on these ocassions. But what was it that I/we felt envious about? Them or my lack of that killer "et tu brutus" stroke doing the same thing. I didn't want to

    The web cohabits this wierd and wonderful world of contradictions. More so because of our abilty to interact, scrum and thwack that arrogant journalist/writer back in the face. Particularly joyous if it's the paper or journo you love to hate.

    But as the new superstars of the web are showing, the old personal human traits so prevalant in the media are showing no signs of abating. One major differences is that this new group have had a rather meritocratic rise in blogospshere based on you, I and my pet dog sparky who would bark when he saw Amanda Congdon on Rocketboom.

    No where would you like to be in say years; no where did you go to school; no er, we already have a person with a disability, ethnic background, er whatever in the workforce. This time it's me and you. Our blogs, the quality of them, our youtube videos, flick pics, sniper-edge pods say more about us than anyone could.

    Yeeeeees, (i'm squirming) and No (very abruptly !)

    Jon Snow on my reel produces the biggest reaction to this schizo-mania. Those who know me, will probably have guessed what it means, that when I sit down the chairs don't illuminate. Of the student's I know and have had the pleasure or working with, I can't imagine a more crass intro walking firstly into a lecture. Not because of what Mr Snow says, but by actually believing it.

    C'mon...

    But the Snow effect, a visual CV, the equivalent of those pithy comments for the paperback you're planning is a proxy vote of sorts, a short cut if you like Snow to cutting the author some slack, a grandfathering ping

    Grandfathering?

    Three pieces of advice passed to me, passed on. When considering a career into the media.

    Find yourself a grandmother/grandfather - a mentor.

    If your dad happens to be Michael Grade, mentor? They'll be coming to you? I was once paying a brief visit to the home of a very powerful TV exec. She sat me down with a cup of tea and begun to tell me about how I should work hard to get where I wanted and then segued into a tale of her daughter.

    "Gosh she works so hard. She's just finished two attachments and even the Managing Director's are calling asking if she want to come back", she said gushing.

    Yep, musn't be judgemental. her daughter probabaly did sit down to Gustav Holst's The Planets in Full Score, but it didn't seem illogical that the reason also her daughter was being pursued... you get it!

    But grandfathers/ mothers have a place, and self belief as well. One of the professions I advocate to anyone/friends e.g. journalist aspiring journalist is to teach.

    Because a) I'm finding I can shortcut all the ***p I went through by hopefully passing something on
    b) the first time you stand in class you're as naked as the day you were born. If what you're saying doesn't make sense, watch out. Furthermore, there are no airs and grace in the lecture just what I refer to as the cauldron.

    Everyone is equal, our respect reciprocated. It's an assymetric coms line, where often the more you're pressed, the more you learn about yourself. The more you learn about yourself, the more you want to push further.

    I worked at so many outlets in my broadcasting career that I lost touch, and while a quick flash at my CV may look dandy, it's in part a card trick; huge highs followed by lows. In the UK in 92 I couldn't fnd work in the UK, so relocated to South Africa, ploughing townships and the most aweful places for a story. In 97 I emerged from an agency disillusioned and then like everyone else probbaly goes through badgered enough people to get work, in 2002 having dusted down the last year's general election, I begun to question whether this is what I really wanted to do.

    And then I had a idea - viewmagazine.tv though it wasn't called it then. here's an early incarnation if you're interested.

    The law of averages says this it's a big numbers game. The 5 percenters. The more we play in the field, the more we're likely to get the ball. Success is relative. Hah I was once touted in the Evening Standard as some doer. What i want to do is pay my mortgage. The law of averages says in this ecosystem where there's a lot of back/foreground noise, find something you're good at and keep doing it. The law of averages says it's a big bell curve, that only a few will make it, a large percentage of us will do ok and a small amount will... well.

    The law of averages says those who work hard will be rewarded and the best reward is that which you like doing, whatever that is.

    So where would you like to be in 4 years time?

    An International multimedia Correspondent

    Say Jim does HR have anything on Multimedia Correspondents?

    Friday, December 28, 2007

    Flashback to an Assassination

    David recalls flashback to the death of another giant in Asian regional politics, PM of India Rajiv Gandhi, 21 May 1991, whilst working for the UK's largest Asian programme.

    I can't remember the precise time; I should really, but I remember it was time for us to wrap up the programme.

    And then word came in from one of the production assistants that Rajiv Gandhi had just been assassinated: 21 May 1991.

    It was a hard thought to swallow.

    But we stopped and looked at each other.

    Mike a popular presenter of Indian music, Deepak and a few others held their breath.

    And then it was confirmed.

    BBC Radio Leicester with one of the biggest Asian audiences back then would be demanding we filled the news, but the main newsroom was away; it was past 6 O'clock and the skeleton staff behind had never managed a rolling news programme.

    On that day we pulled out all the stops, tempered by staff getting emotional, but being professional.

    One interview followed another; the next shift presenter carried the prog and so on.

    At times like this of course its about the person, (Bhutto) the family, the bereaved and so on.

    But as I listened to the news waking today, I caught that feeling in the pit of my stomach, how another suicide many years ago had called on people to rise to the height of professionalism and deliver fact and sturdy commentary to at least help ease some of the confusion to the what and why, even though nothing makes sense at all

    A Sombre Affair - Bhutto in pics


    A very sombre and deeply moving affair, Visual Editors captures the assassination of Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto as reported by Indian and the International Press.

    The Mathematics of Multi Media News


    David reflects on an article written about broadband

    "Multimedia in my view, is not an invention but an ongoing discovery of how mind and the universe it imagines ( or vice versa depending) fit together and interact.

    Multimedia (MMs) is where we have always been going"


    So said William Gibson, the author who has done much to guide our thoughts and ideas within cybermedia.

    The word he changed the world with was cyberspace.

    Much has been said about MMs origins; many claiming it started with television, a multi-sensory device; or even cinema, a system of moving images so radical that when a train was first shown on screen - people physically cowed for fear they would be tramelled.

    Better still watch Eisenstein's Revolution: Battleship Potemkin for a simply unsurpassable piece of multimedia theatre (Cinema).

    You could even argue hieroglyphics present a good case.

    The dispute over when multimedia started if it ever did, going by Gibson's assessment detracts from one of the central arguments of where it's going and what it can do.

    However I'd also acknowledge that a source, an origin, provides a platform for advancement.

    Ted Nelson, a man so ahead of his time theorising open systems that the web should have been his invention commented on innovations surrounding the new digital economy of hypermedia.

    That even though CDRoms kiosks, DVDs and the rest were innovatory multimedia systems they were closed, unlike computers that allowed an open transaction and flow of new ideas.

    This would later lend itself to Berner's Lee nonhierachical structure and open protocols.

    This is not a closed argument (I wouldn't dare) but it strikes me that in the pursuit of ongoing discovery in an open system the status quo of closed TV reports, cinema etc represent an ideal which is so passed a paradigm shift quotient that 2008 awaits to be a truly exciting year.

    For me this harks back to an earlier article (:() how to use the web a year ago Broadband's capacity offers scintillating innovation, for Journalism.co.uk

    I'm looking at that now, proclaiming "ungh!"

    Vannevar Bush 1945 prophecy now
    Re-reading Vannevar Bush's seminal essay circa 1945 which would cause huge excitement in amongst others the science world, one begins to marvel at the present.

    Bush, Roosevelt's scientific advisor was a genius.

    "Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanised private file and library. It needs a a name, and, to coin one at random, "memex", will do."


    In 1945 Bush had already seen the web.

    But something else to take from that period onwards, that all the major advancements towards this evolving multimedia platform involved an array of disciplines: scientists, engineers, artists and poets.

    Journalism, despite its own internal brilliant advancements was just one of spokes.

    It should frankly be of little wonder that today it is technologists, dramatists, and engineers who are pushing at the seams of multimedia.

    And that multimedia within journalism itself is so ill-defined

    Journalism ~ writing for a journal. Was there ever a misnomer for our century?

    In fact multimedia journalism is the imaginary media of its age.

    Whilst mathematicians were comfortable with Natural Numbers, Integers, Rational and Real Numbers, how might they deal with numbers whose square root was less than zero?

    Put simply -2*-2=4, so what could yield the answer -4?

    Mathematicians found it in a fifth quadrant, imaginary numbers (j or i), so the square root of -4 is 2i.

    I had fun teaching an eight year old nephew this over the Christmas.

    If anything from a scientific POV, it illustrates an ability to adapt (though thoroughly brutally in the science world) and address varying circumstances when they arrive. For instance solving integration and differential equation in physics.

    In journalism we're being made privy to far more information than the present paradigm can handle.

    Spatial context gives us location and timeline, but we insist on a 2 dimensional approach of what, where, how, why and when.

    Interactivity offers us differential windows into a story, but we adamantly pursue a linear exposition, blithely ignoring other "less important".

    Multimedia gives us many access routes to create as well as eke out layers of knowledge, but for its use with video we deign it should be closed.

    Here is the 9.O'clock news and if you don't like it well, sod off.

    Alan Kay said in one of his essays recounting McLuhan's Understanding Media [1964) that McLuhan's claim about the profoundness of the printing press was not merely about making books available but "changing the thought pattern of those who learned to read it".

    Could it be for both those who read and those who teach multimedia we'll have to ride an even bigger crest than that of 2007?

    Could 2008 well turn out to be the year when we not only break out from quarantined eco systems of say video news, but embrace a different thought pattern of presenting the narrative?

    See related article on video hyperlinking at Viewmagazine.tv which was featured in The Economist

    Mike Jones pod on open and closed systems - extremely informative

    Thursday, December 27, 2007

    Amid Christmas, Wii, Multimedia, Soul and Food -unk


    And then there was Christmas

    Three hour journey on the MI to Sheffield and beyond took seven and a half hours - Roadworks -arggh.

    Then the hood of the people carrier came off - &^$$^$

    But the two days have been sublime.

    Tucked in the attic in farm country we listened to the original recordings from this thing called "records" from labels such as stax, King, and Blue Note.

    Donny Hathaway - Someday we'll all be free
    Marvin Gaye - What's going on
    Bobby Womack - I don't know what the world's coming to
    Lee Morgan - Sidewinder
    Esther Philips
    James Brown and the famous Flames
    WiLson Picket - Hold On I'm coming
    Aretha Franklin Dr Feelgood

    One of the wrappings happened to be a Wii - I will not be distracted, I will not be distracted.

    But the best bits included:

    Reading some of the original seminal manuscripts of Vannevar Bush, Ted Nelson, licklider, Weiner, Alan Kay amd Marineti -behind the Futurist Cinema.

    It was one epiphany after another.

    That posting with added fibre soon - a refreshed outlook to multimedia.

    Ladies and Gentleman one piece of news that I think we'll have fun with includes an interview I have been pursuing for a while which now has the green light.

    It is the interview I feel you'd like to hear from one of the key figures working for that leading media house talking about the new things they have planned et al.

    And over the days/ weeks before it, a plan on how you might share in the event.

    Meanwhile, more on the man who by this time next year if he gets the funding he so desperately wants will have changed the media industry in a way that will be cataclysmic.

    We spoke a couple of days ago and he's pening an article for viewmagazine.tv

    He reminds me of that Gene Hackman character in Enemy of the State.

    He is one of the world's leading encoders, able to write realms of raw code without error.

    But if you google him he doesn't exist.

    However evveryone that has had a whif of what he's doing is in awe and that includes one of the world's most powerful media moguls who sent him a personal note.

    This is truly, truly big.

    Meanwhile a recut to an earlier film I made in which I held back an aspect of the film, which now I can tell, and I figure it may just make you laugh with amusement.

    All very cryptic.. but sorry, seven hours driving with no sleep the day before, I just wanted to get this of my chest.

    See you tomorrow

    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    Mr Man - tracking adam and Eve



    To you and me he has no name.

    A silhouette which we no sooner would ignore; more emails to read.

    But Mr Man has an identity constructed to sate the digital appetite of many apps.

    On Facebook, he's posted his birthdate (unwise, but there you go) and where he lives; his circle of friends add to his digital DNA, and then the books he reads colour in his background.

    His cinema preferences and blog posts scoured over by marketeers is cross referenced with other social networks he belongs to.

    Each fabric, thread of information adds a layer of information.

    We know he lives in New York and using his name and available public data we can track his travel movements.

    Each time he logs on, they're logging his web trail - how long he stays on, what he talks about.

    The marketing team attached to Cloverfield- JJ Abrams secretive film project have seen his comments and chat-history.

    They've crossed referenced with a google index they've invented matched to a trust index.

    He knows his films, science fiction e.g Children of Men, Alias, Mission Impossible, so he gets a free review ticket through the post.


    Do you know who you are


    He might even be a Cool Hunter.

    See article on Film here

    Marketeers used them extensively in the 80s to pump brands; the cool kid in the block.

    Whatever he wore others followed.

    Now he simply goes about his business.

    But Amazon knows his preferences, Apple know he buys the latest Mac; third parties from tech sites send him review cards.

    The professional critics days may be numbered, but not him.

    He clusters around like minded people and as he matures by 2015 he is the new net superstar - simply by being.

    Simply by understanding how it all works.

    And then came the Semantic web

    Oh boy

    Happy Xmas - as David takes time out with family and friends.

    Many happy returns.

    The Matrix Journalist

    video

    Its namesake may be a tad passe.

    Six years is a long time in web history, but the ideals have some currency for what we seek to define in the evolving journalism order.

    No longer will linear packages/conversations be adequate.

    Perhaps not now, but in some not too distant future.

    Already the spatial quality, it's google quadrants - longtitude and lantitude - are much sought after.

    Its matrix includes how the report sits within what is being realised as the extended narrative. e.g. comments etc.

    How we view the piece within the Matrix of others: technorati, del.cio.ous. stumble upon, linked, pulse, google analytics, facebook

    The deeper we go this dystopia becomes less fictional.

    Wierdly, bizarrely, we're imagining what we'd like to do, only to discover we can.

    In this trailer, we hear from Technorati's David Sifry,the New York Times' Naka Nathaniel, Dan Gillmor, the Royal Institute of International Affairs interviewed over three continents, UK, Egypt and US.

    We have a rare look inside Egypt's state broadcaster's new high tech studios where journalists are looking to experiment with the Matrix.

    Here for uncompressed version of promo 600px by 300px

    REFLECTIONS

    As we bid adieu to this year in expectation of the next, a look back on a few things, in no particular order of fun, frivolity and work, which are now deep memory pylons.

    Most are just images which capture a moment and reveal their own story.

    FT
    One of the real pleasures was working alongside the FT.com team.

    Sharp as razors, as you'd expect, but full of fun.

    How often, from afar, we mentally prep ourselves only to be immensely surprised at the turn of events.

    The digital pages of the FT will be one to watch with a new team unravelling new areas of multimedia reportage.

    video



    8 Days


    It may have weathered, but as new outfits or traditional ones try out video and the rest, 8 Days still appears a favourite from my logs.

    As with most of the dedicated films on viewmagazine.tv there's a sense of he movie poster about it; something that heavily influences my work.



    You can't see it


    Using the clone tool in photoshop I comped this image to illustrate how some of us just can't see it, this new Event Horizon.

    Disturbing somewhat!

    In a film (was it Greenaway?) I recall a beast had his eyes in the palm of his hands.

    What was that film again?


    IM6 VideoJournalism


    I've often interchanged this coinage IM6 or MI6; the latter more interesting as that's the acronym of the UK's foreign intelligence service.

    But this image was one of 6 on viewmagazine peeling back the idea of integrated multimedia video journalism.

    The main window is the deep sea dive off Gallipoli which includes the BBC World Service report from Gallipoli


    VideoJournalism circa 1993


    How far we've come.

    An image of an old colleague from the days when we lugged around a huge camera costing 40,000 us dollars working at London's equivalent of New York One.

    Rachel, now a professional motivator, has recently been knighted with an MBE for her services to Afghanistan teaching and empowering women with communication skills in radio.

    More here on the videojos 10 in 1994




    Take a 300,000 US dollars car, a network TV presenter and me, the VJ, and this is what you might get from an unrehearsed shoot.

    My friend Kevin was taking the car back to Ferrari's base and asked whether I wanted to come along.

    He was late and so wasn't really up to many of the sequences I threw up in the air as we drove.

    "David, sure, maybe some other time, but I'm a bit late returning the car".

    But this is waht we got and you've been generous.

    Perhaps some more tests in 2008.

    Any sponsors?

    The Ferrari 599 GTB isn't she something here for viewmagazine.tv which has far less compression or if you prefer here on Brightcove
    Or here on Youtube.

    Part 1


    Part 2




    The Superstar-in-waiting


    And how, how can I forget the amazing Nancy Ginindza - a former student of the University where I lecture.

    The head of the course, Kienda called me up:

    "David quick you gota come and listen to this".

    Nancy's music, raw energy is the stuff of William Wallace.

    Kienda and I have spent a few late evenings at her gigs trying to capture what she does.

    She hasn't broken through yet, but if we can still play a part - great.

    Looking forward to devising her promo in the New Years



    Same song with visuals




    Happy festive season

    Saturday, December 22, 2007

    TV's Loss is the web's gain


    You could call Claudio Von Planta the Jedi Master of actor Ewan Mcgregor and Charly Boorman's trip across the plains of Africa to South Africa, in Long Way Down.

    Claudio is one of the people in TV that makes it happen.

    Talk about the project as much as you will:

  • Hey we'd like to film Iraq
  • Can we film up the Himalayas?
  • We were thinking of going to these jungles to film this rare tribe.
  • Is it humanly possible to film some guys who have this hairbrain idea to circumnavigate the world?

    And then as the suits head of home, glass of wine at the ready, extoling their latest acquisition and how it will get their names into the awards lists, Claudio goes home, methodically packs, says his bye byes and with equipment you'd likely laugh at saying: "Is that all", gets to work.

    But Claudio is tired of TV.

    To be frank we've been tired with it for a while.

    We would spend quality time trying to rationalise how it is, with the number of good stories around, commissioning editors would still be so prescriptive, absurdelly sometimes so, in what they wanted, which made you look for the nearest bar.

    Commissioner: "OK what we're looking for is the world's uggliest person who's married to one of the most beautiful people you'll ever see.

    There is merit in the above.

    I'm not a complete killjoy.

    But in the face of where we are now, this prescriptive model needs a facelift.

    But then you look at Dave, the UK cable channel and think, nope they've got it right and there's the audience.

    Dave is the success story of the year, a cable channel produced for men, showing the best of Top Gear, Survival stories and so on.

    I might add Claudio's stuff would look good in there as well.

    Old Ways

    If you ever produced UK TV current affairs in the 80s you'll remember this scenario well.

    It's the one where the programme producer writes the script for the report you should come back with, and inside his script it says somewhere, "Rats emerging from grubby dustbin, looks at lens, then scurries away".

    I'm being honest here.

    The producer would literally act the factual film.

    It's what they identified as the winning formulae.

    Truth we've moved away from that level of prescriptiveness, but not that far.

    New Ways


    Claudio's new project was accompanying a charity from England to Sierra Leone with landrovers they inteneded to give a charity.

    Despite his pedigree, there were no TV -takers.

    TV had already done emancipation and slavery in 2005, so Claudio did what most are now doing, he went of and did it himself and the results?

    Well you've seen the short above on the web.

    He tells me he had to put the confessionl elements of the story together very quickly - an hour - as sunset was around 6.pm and b7 6.30 it was pitch dark.

    And for the first time Claudio also lens his narrative, authorship to the film.

    What next?

    Claudio may well pick up another TV project, but he's not chasing.

    He has a bold plan, an amazing one, which he'll let me talk about in the new year.

    But in a climate where the world's problems are our own, where one of the most powerful media in the word, Television, could be used to resolve, rather than conflict; where this amazing canvas is inordinately being used as a crayon tray ( by adults) to titilate, then you have to welcome what he has in mind.

    Here for the charity
    Here for Claudio talking how he works to David


    +++
    This is the card he sent his friends

    Dear friends,

    I have seen a lot of Africa this year and I thought I will send you a Xmas card with a purpose:

    (david says: Picture here, but have not posted out of courtesy)

    Giving a voice to people who make the world a better place

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqP26ilrL74

    This video sequence is part of an anti-slavery documentary which I shot in November. I hope you will find the message inspirational and forward the above link to friends.

    Merry Xmas and all the best wishes for 2007

    Claudio von Planta

    website: www.vonplanta.net
    email: claudio@vonplanta.net
  • The ecosystem of new reportage


    Photo/painting courtesy of the 1st-art-gallery.


    This re-configured post, below, was inspired by Mike Jones' lecture 1 and 2 a continuation, which ellucidates on structural forms, creative commons etc. and is required listening for students and academics.


    I have posted this in the past, but I hope you'll understand why I'm reposting
  • I'm adding to it
  • You probably didn't see it the first time, and will unlikely find time ever to trawl ( archives-funny word that on the Web) to see what I may have been talking about.
  • Conversations/ narratives are viral/ circular in this medium.

    Would it take a bold person to suggest that Aristotles notion of the art of narrative: Beginning, Middle and an End may be challenged?

    The arrogance of it. Oh boy!

    Undoubtedly, you need to start somewhere ( i'm starting this piece), but also recognise it has its roots somewhere else - the last post here

    It has a middle section, as does this post, but if I link you off somewhere we could get caught in a typhoon of middle sections becoming first; my middle section fuses into your beginning, which in itself is arbitary, as your beginnng may have be spawned somewhere else.

    And then where does it end?

    It doesn't. oh boy!

    I'm playing with form here, but in essence this is where we are or heading replicating the very matrix structure of the web figuratevly as an illustration; a Mesh, rather than the centralised, decentralised form APRANET looked at and discarded.

    But structure is what we also thrive on. Aristotle made narrative easier to comprehend and package.

    Nice one Mr A or could I be so impertinent to call where I'm going with this as Digital Aristotle.

    Multimedia Film
    A film with no beginning and an end.

    Am I being silly now?

    But could I expand the window, entry points for a film?

    The easiest form for me at the moment is the picture, Luca-Giordano's form, which captures the mood of the piece.

    So for the report I'm producing for January, I'm pushing myself (*$£@&) to find the image that captures the multi-strandness ( is that a word) of the reportage.

    If I exhaust all and get stuck I'll resort to a Giordano, I'll graphically construct the piece.

    What the picture should hopefully do is provide a start, entry point into several different narratives of the story, that at some point touch/cross each other.

    I interviewed seven different major themes, that's seven different films.

    Nope, I won't finish those all by January.

    But you get the idea hopefully, and it doesn't mean all seven themes need to reside in the frame.

    Exhbit 1n+1
    Take this pic below, taken by a good friend Sajo Idrizonvic.

    There are at least two obvious entry points into the story: the police and lone man.



    But what about the cameraman behind the lens and the bystander almost out of shot top right?

    Of course some may decline to give their story, but if we can pull all those together, is this evolving entity not richer?

    Another "of course", at least for the meantime, is that we enact these scenarios online.

    Which poses an interesting conundrum for me when I show any work in the future at exhibitions.

    I may well end up showing a multistate film, or singular point of view, which gives more clarity when you seek the online link.

    There will be instances, hopefully where I may not be able to provide the other strand, but someone does, and we agree on a shared video hyperlink.

    Of course video hyperlinking still needs sorting out, but it will, it will.

    I'm looking at some encoding at the moment and will also be calling on the help of some friends.



    +++

    Original blog
    I stood there mesmerized for ten minutes, just studying the piece.

    It is without question one of the most captivating art pieces you'll see at the National Gallery in room 32.

    It is Perseus fighting Phineus and his companions by Luca Giordano- October 18, 1634 - January 12 1705. This picture above is a remarkable reproduction courtesy of the 1st-art-gallery who reproduce handmade oil paintings.

    Our history consists of defining images, endless unique ones that capture an essence. Director Ridley Scott says the lone image of a gladiator about to slay his enemy was the key to taking on the film, Gladiator. There are many more instances like this.

    This is my "kwa", my latest at least. I have seen it before, but now in my directing/producing phase it has new meaning.

    Continued here
  • Friday, December 21, 2007

    Media Critique

    Mike Jones over at Digital Basin provides a critique of the Manifesto on video journalism posted a while ago.

    He makes some salient points, and provides, within the quality of his assessment, his own ideas as well.

    He writes:
    In particular i find myself grappling loudly the notion that the media producer is Not just Editor and Camera operator but that their toolset and creative options are much wider than that - motion graphics, design, interactivity, on-line construction.

    But I also see a flaw here with an element of David's manifesto. In making a significant point about the role technology plays in empowering the independence and flexibility of the VJ he specially singles out Point 17 as "My (meaning YOU as a VJ) software includes: Final Cut Studio, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, In design, After Effects and Flash".


    That's what we do. GREAT!

    A critique saying what's wrong and offering a solution should be entertained, even if the author ( ie me, perhaps you) disagrees.

    No one knows anything that is too much.

    Solution solving
    In the middle of a shoot with a crew or a project, when things unexpectedly go wrong, those that know me, will recall my penchant for saying:

    "It's about solutions, not problems".

    David: "OK stop for a moment, we know what the problem is, lets get over that and come back to the "why" later, but meanwhile how do we fix this? What is the solution and our options? "

    So Mike's own intervention moves the dialogue along: the critic offering nothing is like the howl of the wind, the critic finding time to offer up solutions is like the howl of a wind bearing drops of rain proclaiming it's about to rain buddy so go grab an umbrella.

    I gave reasons for the contentious (17), so why not hop over to Mike's blog and if I'm not being too presumptious, if you're not already one of his, click his RSS.

    Meanwhile in conclusion to the thread on problems and solutions, a thought on this process, often besieging managers.

    Part of our own traits within this behavioural pattern (Sol vs Prob) can often be our worse enemies.

    We expend so much energy on a blame culture, as opposed to a particpatory one; one that's buit on meism rather what collectively we might achieve that, it's any wonder we can move ahead at all.

    That doesn't mean giving the crown jewels away, so yes you can still monetise, but at the same time give ownership.

    We do it many times in different guises: the boss hates all your ideas, so you find a route to place the idea with your boss convincing him/her this money spinner was their idea.

    In journalism the "me and them" that still festers bares it soul around an age old pattern: Older people are wiser, those with years of experience know better and you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

    If 2006/7 was the period of touchy feely, one suspects 2008 will show some interesting paradigms.

    The critique quotient may well rise.

    Broad shoulders anyone?

    How to launch a news video service in London - What's wrong with the news!



    One of the most intriguing aspects of regional vid news in London is the lack of it, unless you consider the half hour squeezed from traditional broadcasters as adequate.

    Take this map above, its a representation of the number of boroughs/ municipals that make up London.

    It has several local newspapers - sometimes as much as three per borough competing with each other.

    There are an estimated 7.5 million people of diverse culture in the capital, which generates huge sums of money.

    According to the national statistics online here are some other interesting figures
  • 5 milion of those are between 16 and 65 pensionable age
  • "London has a relatively young labour force, with 41 per cent aged under 35 compared with 36 per cent nationally. This reflects the young age profile of its population. Londoners are more likely to be self-employed than people in the UK as a whole. In the second quarter of 2006, 16 per cent of working people in London were self-employed compared with a UK average of 12 per cent|". ~ direct source quote
    Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics (ONS) and more ( see link

    BUT there are ONLY TWO half hour evening news broadcasts that serve London.

    May I repeat that: 2

    And less I skew my own argument I'm not pleading for lengthier evening broadcasts - no, that's not the point.

    The way news is covered in the capital resembles something bordering on serendipity - based around proximity of news, press release news, editorial currency and balance ( which news item the editor favours) and limited staff based around the central arcane hub of news gathering.

    It's a system that has stood the test of time as news has evolved, but how well does it bear up to scrutiny today?

    Hyperlocal news, thus, is a real battle ground for broadcasters, newspapers and any new venture, across London in particular and the UK generally.

    How News is Made
    It's a bit of a misnomer as news/events are continuingly unfolding, but how do you make sense of it?

    The traditional model gathers news around a number of sources
  • Calls to the police and emergency services
  • headlines and front pages from local newspapers
  • Pre-prepared news items from a forward planning desk
  • Judgement and whim of editor and editorials
  • What the opposition is doing
  • PR traffic
  • knowledge from the reporters and correspondents
  • a subscribed to diary service saying things such as Will Smith will be in London on December the 5th to promote his film.

    The fundamental flaws in all of these credible processes is one that has crept up on broadcasters in the multi news litaeracy age, but first saw daylight back in 1993.

    Firstly
  • The method of gathering is too centralised
  • News values are predicated on prefab foundations
  • and the sytem is too inflexible to respond to sequences.

    As you're reading this now, it's more than likely that a significantly pertinent event is happening which may have a huge impact on Londoner's daily lives. The value placed on that item involves a myriad factors one of which will be "Do I have the space to put it on air".

    Traditionally brodacasters pool their reporters to jobs for the day, unless they're feature pieces.

    Their time and reportage is more or less fixed; you come in to the building you get your assignment you leave to cover it.

    These flaws I refer to became obvious when we launched London's Channel One TV in 1994, modelled on New York One -a 24 hours cable news outlet.

    The concept of newsgathering was in principle, though this eroded because of news competitive pressures, placed around the beat reporter.

    And each beat reporter was supposed to have greater affinity with their community, though as I say London's model came no where near to NY1s.

    But the real jewel in the crown to emerge post Channel One, which today would have a powerful news indices, was civic journalism.

    The combination of civic journalism - a paradigm of an experiment launched by the Knight Foundation - coupled with decentralising today, could generate what would possibly be a tour de force in news coverage - a 21st capital which really doesn't sleep.


    The hyperlocal news today is....

    Regional newspapers passing through the video bottle neck, circa 2005, did so in part response to land grab the hyperlocal market - advertising n’ all, before mainstream media.

    Some like the liverpool Echo and Manchester Evening News are proving formidable at providing local vid to strengthen their print brands.

    Some however are making a fist of it by adopting TV stanzas, wedded to the mechanics of mainstream news and programming, a clear mistake.

    We may dislike this truism, but the x-factor, a definition much used amongst UK broadcastersin the late 80/90s, before a hit TV show camer along, gave kudos to the messenger and complex inter- active qualities between the outfit and consumer.

    These complex qualities, distilled by marketeers, were exactly what made Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, Trevor Mcdonald and George Alagaih houselhold names

    So the model requires something else or the very least some background work.

    Fight back
    Traditional media is doing its bit to gain a foothold in hyper- local news e.g ITN with local news on broadband.

    All in search of that pot of gold; the untapped ad revenue is counted in hundreds of millions of pounds.

    The BBC has carried out extensive research into local TV using broadband and much of it is enlightening.

    I have a video of one of their senior managers from the department carrying out the trials which I'll post soon

    But how micro can local go ?

    City, town, community, street ?

    2008 trully will define the battle grounds

    We’ll be working with a few outfits in the new year looking to go local, as well as trying something like this out in January, - interactive magazine online which hopefully when it goes active with the back end might prove interesting, or not!

    p.s Question If you're running a dedicated Flash based server content wrapped on a Frame, how re you generating meta data?
  • Thursday, December 20, 2007

    Think Politics- Can MTV show the networks how to engage youth?


    Any psephologist, actually anyone that follows wrestling may be able to recount the amazing story of professional wrestler turned politician Jesse Ventura, elected Governor of Minnesota in 1999.

    Jesse snuck up from behind all the favourites and pollsters by mobilising the unhidden 1000s of wrestling fans who would vote for him.

    At the time of his win, at a Freedom Forum seminar in the UK, I recall marveling with John Owen, the then Director of The Freedom Forum U.K, and Adam Clayton Powell III at the significance.

    Jesse is widely acknowledged as the first person to use the net to reach out to voters.

    It would take a few more years before the likes of Howard Dean or John Kerry would touch the net flame and even then you could argue no one's quite replicated Jesse's theme.


    Youth Politics UK
    If you want to count the youth vote and the net in the UK, then you'd do better 'duck feeding'.

    Election upon election, candidates face the perennial problem of failing to capture the youth vote; the youth turned off, face down from the collective mores and didacticism.

    In the 2001 election as one of the producers for ITN (UK) Channel 4's flagship political programme, Powerhouse, during the election we barely, if ever, touched youth issues.

    So MTV's initiative, Think.MTV.com. in which 51 young multimedia reporters cover the 2008 US elections nationwide with with regular short videos and blogs makes for an interesting read and experiment.

    A number of questions come to mind.

  • Can the youth vote have any real impact on the body politiks of the election?
  • Could the Net truly come into its own confounding anyone but the youth?
  • Could it be the youth who get the killer question in that might turn politicians' on song message sour.

    A case of be careful what you say to the guy in the baseball cap who looks eight, cuz he may well have you on national TV.

    Anything, anything that engages the youth with politicians has to be given merit.

    But the underlying reason why the youth tune out is still there, so MTV may have to reinvent the wheel in political reportage to avoid playing only to the classroom swot.

    In the UK, many moons back, a BBC youth current affairs programme Reportage had a modicum of success; their issue-led films were good, often picked up by the nationals.

    But you often felt politicans spoke to the programme to appeal to mums and dads in an attempt to convey the missive: "we care about family values".

    If MTV can get the politicans to be accountable to them, as the block swing vote, then we might just rest Jesse's accomplishment's to rest, for the mean time.

    And with green issues and the environment looming large that might not be a feat too far.


    Footnote.

    In 2001 I ran a summer programme, Postcode for young people becoming film makers. We toyed with the idea of politics, but felt we couldn't reach the audience.
    Perhaps that times now caught up with us
  • The great debater

    Sometimes the simplest sites are the most effective.

    Take the great debater directed and starring Denzel Washington with Forest Whittaker, and Oprah producing - now that's a winning combination.

    Here here to the site designer who demonstrate also how full video will be so common place in a few clicks to come.

    Phishing, Mad dogs and Police Camera Action - the difference a day makes

    Mind your security

    You couldn't write a script for it, but the last 18 hours have been eventful to say the least.

    On my way home passing a friends house, we noticed two burly men in a dark car looking down into a laptop.

    There was it appeared to be data streaming.

    They could have been innocently surfing broadband networks - which in itself constitutes a crime - sans permission.

    Phishing has become increasingly popular as most broadband users have not secured their networks.

    It's most common on high rise estates where criminals are known to lie in wait siphoning off traffic data which could include your sensitive financial details.

    When we went online we counted at least 9 overlapping wifis open to attack.

    So we went in doors and called the police and handed over our findings.

    My colleague unable to contain himself crossed the road and asked if they were detectives.

    They laughed- all 6 foot 16 stone of them and then moments later drove away.

    When we spoke to our ISP, they were dismissive, assuring us such things did not happen and no one could get into your network.

    Riigghhhht!!


    +++++++++++++
    Mad Dogs


    Out on a bike ride this morning, I spot three dogs Rotweillers strolling with their handler.

    We had three dogs as pets during my teens, but if I can I'll avoid them.

    Which is what I did, until two decided, barking furiously, to home in on me.

    I stood still and shouted out to the owner.

    "Madam your dogs!!!"

    "Oh they don't bite"

    "Of course they don't, they're your dogs"

    "No really, they don't bite"

    'They're still coming at me". Meanwhile I'm standing still looking peripherally at them.

    She made some feeble attempt to call them, they continued on their path snarling.

    Within normal voice range, I pointed out, firstly I should be able to walk anywhere in this park without being threatened.

    And how would she like it if three mean looking men peeled of from the pavement and walked close up to her, whilst muttering we're not going to hurt you.

    And furthermore, if I did manage to grab something to defend myself, she'd be pretty furious.

    Yes dog owners, you need to be a little bit thoughtful sometimes.

    +++++++

    My package on multimedia is taking shape, but it's too slow, so in an attempt to inject some action, I'm hoping to go out witt he police on a night raid.

    That way too I can illustrate multiple entry points for multistrand storytelling

    Area police press office isn't being too helpful, asking what they'll get from this.

    How journalists may well be covering crime stories as videojournalist, didn't quite cut it.

    And that's part of the problem.

    Institutions are still insulated from the changes taking shape on the ground

    The art of storytellinng


    The room, animated with the whirring din of conversation, wine freely flowing, all of a sudden died to a gentle hush.

    The throng of guests parting like the chorus line of a black and white 20s film.
    He was heading my way.

    I wiped the palm of my hand on a handerkerchief, bowed my head gently in expectation and extended my hand; a colleague sitting nearby did the intro.

    Your Royal Highness this is David…….

    .... Whheer! haven't I told this story before yesterday...

    So what's behind this and why was Jay-zee laughing his head off

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    Tell me a story - The art of storytelling

    The room, animated with the whirring din of conversation, wine freely flowing, all of a sudden died to a gentle hush.
    The throng of guests all seated slowly began to rise, parting like the chorus line of a black and white 20s film.
    There he was.. the man...and he was heading my way.

    I wiped the palm of my hand on a napkin, bowed my head gently in expectation and extended my hand; a colleague sitting nearby did the intro.

    Mr Mandela this is David…….

    At that moment brimming with deity conscious I looked at the official photographer.

    He looked back.

    And then shrugged his shoulders, mouth upturned gesticulated at his camera; the film had finished.

    And that was that.

    My encounter with Mr Mandela is but a hard copy of an image available only in my mind.


    Emotional
    If you’ve laughed at or sympathised with me in some way, then it may well be because I have told a good story.

    The grand denouement of meeting a figure many of us would want to encounter; the picture which we would have wanted to show mum, dad, family and friends but alas no film.

    Grrr the chances of that happening; the chances of any of that happening.

    The art of storytelling appears as an article in this months Havard Business Review (HBR) from an author Peter Gubber who’s credentials as a film maker and executive with Rain Man, Batman and the Colour Purple behind him shows he tells far better cracking stories than I do.


    It would be a trite difficult to at first think there is a philosophy that underlines telling a good story, but this article and a fair few before it brings the issues bang up to date.

    Gubber delineates four areas of storytelling crucial to the form as follows:

  • Truth to the audience
  • Truth to the Mission
  • Truth to the teller
  • Truth to the moment

    With such momentos as a storyteller never tells the same story twice and the unwritten contract between author and audience.

    Sadly HBR's article is locked behind a pay wall and it wouldn't quite be cricket to recount the article chapter and verse, not to mention the ethical implications.

    They want to make money on it, so be it.

    But it did have me reflect on my journey looking at the art of storytelling particularly with a video camera in hand.

    At its basic level videojournalism is point and shoot, and in some cases that's enough for the story when it's unfolding as a dramatic event before your very eyes.

    But there are many times when its the construct, a visual-auditory jigsaw puzzle which relies on more than what's in front of you.

    I often use this example if you want to play along.

    You're driving 50km/hr on a road and a ball bounces in front of your car.

    What do you do?

    Now, instinct, don't think, what are you about to do?

    breaking instinct

    If you work in the police force you'd have been coached to slam the breaks; there is a child running after that ball.

    Instinct, learnt or otherwise is a powerful reaction to what we do; film making no exception.

    Sometimes it comes from practice; there's a reason why actors graduate to directors or news makers become doc- film makers.

    The art of making mistake after mistake and refinning that moulds a different perspective.

    The art of videojournalism; perhaps the boldest transition to newsmaking, as one person carves out the whole news journey, involves more than a multitude of knowledge nuggets involving tech-push buttons and point and shoot.

    I'm reading the HBR article again and agree with all their points, but if I were to sum up videojournalism in four points it would be

  • Passion
  • People
  • Perpectives
  • Preparation

    And briefly before I let a yarn go sour, it goes something like this.

    I'm nuts about video and it's look and feel; how it can be manipulated; how the sound adds to the video; how what's usually out of the lens adds to he story; how leave people to do so and they'll tell you what the story is; and rather contradictory how you've got to work the story to get the best out of people and it.

    If it looks easy, it may be because it is, but I have got into the habit of discarding my first idea - too easy.

    Where's the hook e.g. emotion, draw etc?

    People, people, people; at parties I'd be in the kitchen listening to stories and different perspectives.

    And then the prep work that goes on behind the scene and on the ground, by the-seat-of-your-pants and by engineered desire.

    And that in a nuteshel is it, unless that is you want me to flesh out some, and if that's the case then this story is not as bad as I thought after all.

    to be continued. . .
  • "You know" watch -BBC Radio 4

    Sol Campbell lamenting the level of abuse and taunts on the football terraces and how the FA has let him and many other fotballers down, an issue that annoys me seeing it.

    But like piece of spinach caught in the teeth I found myself getting distracted as Mr Campell ploughed through his interview with "you know" every 5-15 seconds.

    You know, it gets in the way of the message; if you know what I mean

    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    Mi6 Videojournalism




    Image from draft book

    I have put together a draft for a book on videojournalism which covers a broad palette from working at the BBC in the 80s, looking at Vjism in the 60s; the dirty word in the UK media, Channel One TV; to the more up-to-date talking about modern forms of storytelling.

    Story forms that include videojournalism gonzo, techniques and methodology on the Press Association course and exchanges with a number of outfits in South Africa, US, Berlin, Norway and the UK.

    I'm soon to be in Bejing so am holding off til that leg

    Part educational - a sort of how to without the clunk clink of it all - and part personal journey, it's about story, story, story with hopefully some interesting anaecdotes, some almost bordering on the absurd.

    Example: always pack condoms on expeditions or foreign shoots, you'll never know when you'll need to protect your camera from sandstorms or rain - yep I don't bother with the rainproofs etc.

    To date there's been, oh dear, near a 1000 journalists I have trained - loose count and that's going some way back.

    If you'd asked me what I'd be doing when I left Applied Chem school I couldn't have told you this, so ( shrugging shoulders) sometimes I stop and become a wee bit amused.

    But we're enjoying it which is why we do it, isn't it?

    Here's an old draft of the front page which will undergo further changes.



    WHAT IS VIDEOJOURNALISM ?

    Videojournalism is an advance on television news production - a shift away from the predictable appproach television has stuck to doggedly since its inception.

    It is next generation television: story telling in which you are not bound by the many constraints of traditional news production.

    As a movement the form merges a graphical and photojournalistic stanza; a poster cover depiction of the moving image, where each shot matters, each shot counts.

    If Capa lived to capture images on light weight, hi-tech cameras, he'd be the classic videojournalist and his dictum that if you're not close enough you haven't got the shot would still count.


    **Broadband Era**

    Vloggers, video bloggers will undoubtedly rule the net. Their short, sometimes idiosyncratic productions well suited for a medium where time is compressed and users' attention spans shortened.

    Videojournalism is a sibbling of video blogging and citizen journalism.

    It's a low entry, affordable and highly versatile discipline - which will not only alllow you to compete with television, but often beat it.

    The first videojournalism station in the UK in 1994, which this author worked for, animated the industry.

    It frightened some as well.

    That's because our story composition, narrative and creative use of pictures were different.

    The time it took to get the story on air or online was swifter.

    Today, for newspaper outfits, magazine publishers, corporate PRs, creative agencies, the aspiring film maker, photographers who want to increase their earnings, video journalism offers a powerful visual solution.

    All you'll need is a small lightweight HD camera and PC with film editing software - all highy affordable - and an enquiring mind.

    From short news pieces you'll leap to lengthier features and THE FORMAT, before breaking that rule.

    And you'll learn all this in a short amount of time.


    **Meeting the Web 2.0 Challenge**

    And what's more you'll go on to embrace the newest form of videoojournalism Mi6 (Integrated multimedia 6 ways)

    From your shoot you'll be able to publish 6 ways, the audio for podcast, stills, multimedia, video, a promo and of course your article.

    And you'll find videojournalism will sharpen your video blogging skills or what television calls the piece to camera ( UK) or stand-up (US).

    If nothing YouTube has shown us video nations we're driven by video.

    As a videojournalist your instinct for visual story telling will heighten. As an organisation you'll increase traffic to your site.

    As a manager you'll look at the bottom line and realise the cost and returns from your new venture more than square up.

    Videojournalism isn't cheap, but it's a resource you can ill afford.

    Be part of the visual video revolution.


    ref: posted in Videojournalism Today
    *Multimedia posting
    * Film site -Multimedia Film released in January
    * Trailer for Mi6 Videojournalism
    * Scott Rensberger and Claudio Von Planta Two of the many accomplished VJs around the world.
    * Amusing little ditti - made in 99 Featuring Dany Glover - as one of his producers working at ABC News South Africa in 1994
    * Flash promos circa 99 for Lenox Lewis, Chatham House among others The beauty of these were their file sizes around 200k and interactivity

    Monday, December 17, 2007

    What's the point of websites


    David's website in 2001

    We've been here before.


    For me in 1997 having produced a site showing my work I wrestled with the notion of what looked like self aggrandisement.

    Unsure I emailed a friend: " Is a personable site nothing more that the vanity of placing a mirror in one's back pocket?"

    The web was corporate; a window to a business' world but personal sites?

    There were noticeable exceptions e.g. Auriea Harvey - that brilliant NY digital artist

    But for franchisees like me, what was the point?

    But we, me, published into a black hole nonetheless.

    Today, any such luck or determination to build your own site should be met with squeals of derision.

    Why bother when there are enough off-the-shelf solutions at no cost to get you a web presence.

    Any number of blog sites will do, but of course the daddy of playing the web field is Facebook.

    Jeff Jarvis captures the zeitgeist of Facebook brilliant in his Guardian article today

    Too late

    So why would you want a website, when everything's there on plate - at which point I half expect a chorus of deshevilled chilrden to break into song with this doctored verse?

    "Ere now, Oliver, you just copy Dodger
    and I'll help you out with the words, alright? So it's
    "I'll have anything"

    Why would you not want a prefab portcabin house with its plethora facilities, available on demand?

    Why would we want to produce something like this when we might seek an off-the-shelf solution

    It answers itself, but not quite enough.

    I look at viewmagazine.tv and my ask why bother?

    Though when I peruse theronin, or HillmanCurtis I'm certain in my assessment.

    Branding and characterstics; that certain je ne sais quoi which provides you with that distinctiveness and aura of being.

    Facebook may be the best site going, but you'll not see the BBC, or Guardian jettison their brand to go all out Facebook native.

    But that's it then.

    It's not an exclusive deal either or but and "and".

    But where then do we see the distinctions in form and function between our Face and our own sites?

    It won't be lost on any of us why we have Facebook; it's not so much a platform, as a Killer medium funneling considerable day time, and night energies.

    In part it's the low hanging coconut; drink and you'll feel good, avoid and your daily fix of hugs and pinches will leave you looking cold turkey.

    As facebook encroaches on the apps ground of web site building, it'll be up to those that want to be different to up their game.

    By that, content that's so compelling, outlays that ooze immersion, playability that would have WII addicts wanting to stop by.

    Truth, we're not there yet.

    How can we be ?

    These intermittent web growth spurts indicate with some trend extrapolating there's more juice ahead in what we're trying to do.

    The most absurb twinning of courses: computer science and journalism, may have had you doubled over laughing a year ago, however today, you're fearing the worse.

    CSS go.. CSS go.. We're a limited time away when journalists will have to know CSS, action scripting and XML as a matter of course.

    Why?

    Because what they are likely to encounter in this new rift we're opening will be unimaginable compared to now.

    WSWYG may render a lot of code knowledge redundant, but perversely understanding what it means will make you better lay person underneath the bonnet.

    If you've ever tried to check whether the oil in your car needs changing when your partner has no clue, you'll understand what I mean.

    Even more intriguing we have absolutely no idea what algortithms will emerge from the bowels on google to rank that precious piece of copy.

    Writing brilliant article may soon just not be enough to get the bots to show the humans it's definately worth the read

    Key words
    Don't sneer or feel despondent if the following fail to set you on fire; there's time yet.

  • keyword proximity
  • how often google crawls through your content
  • noindex or nofollow attribute.


    But for the videomakers amongst us what could the future hold.

    This year was the year of Brightcove, soon not to shine so bright when it switches off its free-to-submit without ads on the 18th of December.

    In fact this year was video distribution galore year.

    There's still acres of innovation and when video hyperlinking hits you might as well pack up if your videos aren't scoring.

    But more relevant to the method and quality of video, (news video) will be the aesthetic and the advanced visual language skills to make video leap from the screen.

    There's an incredible scene in 300 where a gladiator vanquishes opponents in swift ballet movements in a stacato-sped up- stacato style.

    It's rich and tantalising to watch.

    The technique for such a dramatic shot involved three cameras filming on the same plane; three independent cameras which could manipulate their own data: slow, normal, sped up.

    That's just one technique, but texture, composition, function will all heighten to ensure we spend 20 minutes on average on a site rather than 5.

    So what are sites for?

    My bet is still to this end game of web video presentation, again not at the expense of text, but the point where the screen supports HD and dimensions that will have your niece laughing at you when you show here Youtube's 425X400 screen.

    What are sites for?

    With what we've been thorugh this year, we're about to find out in another frenetic year ahead.


    David has just gone back to browse though his CSS cookbook