Thursday, July 03, 2008

Example of multiplatform Reportage continued

Former army personnel Ian Hamilton looks on in contemplative mood standing next to Anzac war graves. His great uncle was the Commander-in-Chief of the UK/Anzac force. Today Ian is a successful lawyer living in Canada

Yesterday I posted on a story that was mashed up as an Example of multiplatform Reportage.

  • TV/video spot
  • BBC World Service Radio feature
  • blog
  • article
  • A css film web site
  • Flash emailable promos
  • video promos
  • photomontage story. What me might call Soundslide

    Example of Multiple Platform Reporting - Video journalism et al from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo

    To that today I might add today

  • Mobile xml reportage
  • Outernet interfaces and multimedia game theory stories . see The Family
  • Video hyperlinnked film
  • And a stronger series of linked SEO linked stories - Some interesting stuff coming out SEO and page leaking.

    The report itself warranted this multiple approach. It was a one off. So you could debate the merit of stripping a story for other platforms. :The "Kill what you can eat" approach is game-specific.

    As with most VJ pieces I make, they're unrehearsed, though I do give myself time to think through, visualise what the end product might just be and if there are any risk assessments.

    We were going to be out at sea for around ten days, so I needed to take as much stock and gear, but still be mobile.

    The call itself came out of the blue: a hoarse voice, Turkish, asking me if I was David and that he understood I was a diver.

    I confirmed this and the caller hung up.

    Minutes later, a PR woman called explaining the nature of the previous call and whether I was interested in covering a unique expedition. It would mean diving to quite deep depths. I had three days before setting off.

    Ordinarily sports diving involves plunging to depths of 30 metres on normal compressed air. However we would be going to 50 metres plus, so something called a Tri-mix is required.

    This is where the relative amounts of oxygen to nitrogen is altered to prevent serious injury or fatalities.

    This was my risk assessment. I did not have any diving gear at the time, but was told they'd supply and I'd meet the ebullient and highly knowledgeable John Bantin. John Bantin is the Jeff Jarvis of In the dive world.

    Bringing the pieces together
    I put a call into BBC WS Outlook to sell the piece. I knew their house style as a listener, and had many years freelancing for another department of the BBC World Service while reporting from South Africa.

    One thing I have learnt though, it doesn't matter what your experience is you have 8 -15 seconds on the phone to a producer before they'll either say "send something in" or thank you.

    8-15 seconds is the length at which you'll say something on the phone in one breadth, one para, before pausing.

    And if you know radio, it's about the pause.

    The pause in an interview is where the producer is looking to edit you down.

    The producer bought the piece, added his own instructions and wished me well.

    For TV, I got what was a tentative nod from BBC 3 - an outlet of the BBC focusing on the 18-35s - though in truth I did not hold out much hope as BBC 3 like any commissioning outfit has a long lead time, and BBC 3 was notorious for giving the nod and then letting you down as I discovered, and I have emails between myself and commissioners to prove that.

    Frankly I should have done more to sell the piece to Channel 4 News, where I'd previously shot and produced a piece on South Africa

    Charting the end in mind
    It's important to recognise whether you believe to have the skillset. Different media require different approaches though one often dovetails into another.

    With radio it's all about painting pictures with sound. I needed a long XLR cable for my mike and condoms to wrap around. That way I could lower the mike into the water to get the sound effects of the divers coming up. You can hear this on the radio version.

    Video journalism was about finding characters and drama to tell the story and fortunately I wasn't short of that, including a revolt on the boat as conditions and food were deemed below par.

    A visit by a Turkish historian, who was keenly awaiting one of the divers was pure video/television. The historian harboured deep feelings about ANZAC forces who killed his family and now he was waiting to forgive and meet the descendant of the Commander-in-Chief who ordered the battle.

    For the video I had a Hi-8 camera. My VX1000 was out of commission. I added a mobile monitor playback to my luggage.

    That way I could monitor what I had and was lacking by the day. Also in my pack, my canon E0S, bakelite powerbook - which looks ancient today and Sony Pro - for radio.

    Avoiding Disasters
    Disasters are part and parcel of big shoots. The actuary's approach is to minimise, but also have a system that allows you to function where something goes wrong.

    The first thing to go wrong was my tripod did not come of the Turkish airline, and by the time I had enquired it was in the air off to somewhere unknown. I would eventually get it back after the expedition, having to tip baggage handlers along the way.

    Then my video camera fell into the Aegean sea. It was a split second. I was accidentally nudged on the deployed boat - which is pretty small.

    The camera seized up for a day, but amazingly worked again after it was put out to dry. Next time I thought I'll get an underwater casing.

    Four days in i knew I had a strong story and my blog would reveal how on my last dive, I got sucked in my a strong underwater current which nearly proved disastrous. Subsequent days we couldn't dive at all; the water had got up to 2/3 knots. Not ideal for diving, and on one of our night dives, some conga eels took a liking to our night torches.

    Next week I'll talk about building the Flash, multimedia elements
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