Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Soundslide show - wow


When you're working alongside someone like John who has done this you're both privileged and in awe.

This year we've refurnished the online module, it's been pushed further to 360 degree reporting, so podcasts, soundslides, Flash, CSS, Videojournalism, online SEO writing and marketing, plus building a site at cost by evaluating the brief and add ons e.g. Java, XMl - all get a look in.

John my colleague will be taking the cohorts on a whirlwind tour of understanding how to take pics and producing soundslides like this.

Absolutely marvelous.

What I would give to be a student sitting in to hear John talk about Grime Britain - the years of Thatcher and the Miners strike.

BBC interview - Youtubed



Youtube promo interview with Head of BBC Multimedia Newsroom. I said Head of BBC News ( Woops!) I'm sure there's a difference. It wasn't intended.

I'll watch the bite back, see whether it's cataclysmic enough to remove.

Managing Change - the media way

On one of the busiest train concourses in London, commuters can be observed randomly criss-crossing one another heading for their destinations.

Whilst as good as clockwork, the 8.10 a.m commute from your house to work will be a harrowing journey of people packed into carriages resisting the temptation and scourn of other passengers to move up so others can join.

In each case a simple remedy beyond further stock and concourse investments may be at hand.

In the case of Victoria simply placing pedestrian lanes by colouring the ground with arrows pointing the way might ease the daily collisions.

On the trains indented sole marks indicating where passengers could stand would force even the most reluctant that there is room to move.

Both these instances involve change.

That is management change.


All Change
The solution may be techincal or otherwise creative, but often it involves changing the mindset of management reluctant to spend any more money without immediate returns.

Videojournalism and the new paradigm of multimedia is like that.

It could transform your fortunes, but how and presumably not overnight is the thought.

If you've been privy to the Telegraph's story of how they changed ( i really should post this video some time) it is instructive for the will and determination to lead the way.

For many months a core group of managers travelled the world visiting newsroom upon newsroom gathering and deciphering "intelligence", then processed that to set up the distinctive hub which gelled web and print.

Most change sparks thoughts of a revolution and the Telegraph has not been inure from criticism of change.

Internally, it starts, and then it spreads out with an envangelical zeal bringing others on the way.

Change happens all the time around us and we all cope in some way.


We're all changlings
You'll get up tomorrow having to negotiate something you didn't do the same way the previous day.

But the idea of change can often scare us.

It smacks of "in the with the new and out with the old".

It is a vision and hostage of our fortunes.

And at some point when the zeitgeist crystallises we have very little option; we simply can't wait any longer, for the paradigm has engulfed us. It's no longer a fashion - here today gone tomorrow- it's a way of life.

A new style is born.

The web was not going to last and it did.

Video was a pipe dream but we're awakening every day to new possibilities.

Whether you're Vjing or not, whether you're a fortune 100 company or not, whether you're a super tanker media company or not, change changes all the while, over lengths of time.

And it's not whether we can buy new shinny toys to do our latest bidding for us, but whether we're ideologically prepped ourselves for the ineavitable.

Change happens and in our organisation we make allowances for it; we'ne built in the change factor.

The BBC as you'll find out in our video blog interview has innovators within its rank.

You might even call them creative change merchants spotting the new new thing.

They're not alone.

But, but we could learn from this thesis.

The signs are we warm to change in principle as Clinton and Obama tell their stories, but the realities ahead can be awkard if we haven't properly managed those doling out and those on the end of change.

The days of a job for life was kicked into the long grass long ago; the days of continuing on a linear curve are now equally messy.

2008 - this could be the year video breaks free.

Or is that too radical a change.

shoot.cut.code.mix.publish 6 ways

Not so much life flashing before your eyes, more like watching a washing machine on a slow cycle.

Death under the sea, must be really be unpleasent.

I'd wrestled for what seemed an eternity to break free from a ribbon current whose strength resembled accelerator waves used for training olympic swimmers, and now I was slamming against armament, 20 mm shells, that could go Kapow any moment. Of course bad luck comes in threes

My oxygen tank, the result of my hyperventilatiing, was now registering low. I needed to find a minimum 5 minutes for deco time before surfacing otherwise risked the bends. Not really ideal circumstances for laughter therapy. Probably no one elses for that matter.

More with video here

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Left side versus Right side new journalist - which one are you?


Can you see what it is yet? An image that requires spatial interpretation



Raise your hands now.

Few answered the call.

Minutes later a sea of hands naturally sprung up.

The question posed to professional journalists sought to gain an understanding of their artisan credentials.

Whom here considers themselves an artist?

It is a ridiculous question for scribes and frankly also phrased this way:"Who considers themselves a writer", isn't, worth asking.

But in some small and perhaps significant way this sits at the heart of the new new thing we're wrapping ourselves around - multimedia.

Around the 1860s the French physician Paul Broca was one of the first to unveil the functions of the brain and since then many neurologist have documented the hemispheral war between the two lobes.

But some things have become standard: the left brain eulogises words, sequences, abstract and analysis as its attributes, whilst spatial awareness, maths, images imagination among others exercise the right side of the brain.

And when we look at right side functionalities you might as well posit multimedia there, though, yes, writing is left side.

This might set up a couple of questions for which I'm not qualified to answer, but, pose well why not?

What graphic students set out as multimedia has a different meaning to where journalist place their store.


But the questions?
There's a reason not all of us can draw, as much as we haven't mastered the new tenants of multimedia - whatever they may be.

If a contemporary form of journalism is to emerge from the kinetics of now, then it isn't merely about learning tools such as Flash, Director ( ??) of SWX, is it?

Is it about finding ways of developing right side brain functions earlier on in the game, by say, incorporating innovative exercise, nay even, Art (scorn!!) and maths (code) into the education of journalism.

AT THIS POINT DAVID'S CLEARLY LOST IT!

For just as we've nutured the science of writing, literally from infancy at school to a higher state of delineating complex subjects into decipherable quintissential strings of letter ie words, should we not also be seeking artistic merit and code as a feature of advancing our multimedia, multimodal new disciplines?

And if we are to, what and which syllabi to start with to see the next generation through?

And if we dare, is that journalism any longer?

I studied Applied Chemistry for my degree and took Art seriously dropping it before A-levels.

One of my lecturers considered me dylexic when I failed miserably to write a gas flow computer cycle.

Truth, I couldn't see the point; oh the joys of youth :)

Has it made me a better journalist?

I couldn't tell you, which somehow mutes my point, but what I have belatedly realised from that discipline is its approach to problem solving and mind mapping - particularly organic chemistry which often had me rather absurdly building three dimensional bonding molecules in my mind into 3d fixtures.

Which doesn't mean wihtout the sciences or art, you're unlikely to be the Flash web guru you are today.

That's not the point here.

I'm just as exercised over the next code-ridden application to shimme across my desk.

I'm merely agonising over whether a new set of rules, principals, training needs to fashioned by those clever people in news and academia towards what might be termed causal story telling [in its simplest form, if that isn't tautology]

That is, the if and then; if this happens, then where does this go.

You'll note those are some of the rudimentary principles behind Flash

Technlogy inspires art and art inspires technology and somewhere in there perhaps some inspiration is required for the new 4th quadrant of journalism: space.

Monday, January 28, 2008

ambitious global Vlog Butterfly


It was an ambitious idea, but when I finally secured the interview of the BBC's Head of Multimedia Newsroom, I had the idea in mind.

I contacted a few friends and colleagues around the world. If they could pose an idea to the head of BBC's News what would it be.

We oomed a bit, some were straight of the bat, but all chipped in.

Ahh but the question had to be on video.

Yet still they persevered and then eventually via FTP and send it, the videos came through.

Peter Horrocks gave me considerable time for the interview, and I'm grateful for that.

And he answered all the questions.

That was the fun bit.

Now I'm encoding the video and building the application in Flash.

It should go Live with all the interviews on Friday and if I can say so myself, some insightful questions yielding absorbing answers.

If you work for the New York Times, then you'll be pleased at a segment of our interview.

Thank you to all that participated and to those that did not make it this time.

A Vlog Butterfly is a wonderful way to extend the value of an interview both in video, ( the clips are being sent to the respective authors) and giving ownership to smaller sites competing for attention in this blog-theatre.

I'm looking forward to showing this at a number of conferences I'm presenting at including Apple, World Editors Association, Berlin and Cultural Exchange.

The film which shows the behind the scenes interview with Peter Horrocks as well as an indepedent film on multimedia in conjuction with Dominic from the Press Gazette should be completed at some point.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Promo on Blip



Promo now on Blip TV

Timeline history for producing clip in viewmagazine.tv

Produce clip in FCP> publish to AE> back into FCP> compress export> import CS3 Flash> add Preloader> Add photoshop image treated>export with new parameters>import into CS3 dreamweaver> FTP> check bugs> send out to Blip> facebook etc

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Viscerality, content and burning ice.




Dom Omope was the second shooter on the BBC interview involving a number of super bloggers from around the world.

He's a former student of mine in a manner of speaking who is now doing a masters at Goldsmith in broadcast journalism.

Whilst he has a strong visual eye he wanted to know more about aesthetics and promo making.

He'd shown some previous work to technicians he knew who commented that I'd used Boris FX to make this film Digital Diversity.

I don't use any effects from Boris or pre-made, preferring to create them in FCP and then After Effects.

In my studio we built this promo and it took about 10 minutes or less and then another 5-10 minutes exporting and washing it through Flash.

It's a visceral thing, but yes it can be taught and I think Dom took away a few tips.

One is identify a style and copy that. I trawl through Apple Trailers looking at new editing styles.
Secondly don't be afraid to experiment.

I laid the bare bones of this short promo within a few minutes, influenced by the camera movement, then set about manipulating the film.

An experiment I play with some friends is to show them a match fire, ask them to close their eyes and then place some ice on the back of their hand.

Many swear they have been burnt.

We're so used to matching perceptions with outcomes that it can be difficult to look for new meanings. I'm a fine one to speak myself, but I do like the idea of being taken out of a comfort zone.

Doesn't always mean a shoot will be a huge success. 9/10 times I'll make good of it, but I'm greedy ( sorry) I'd like each one to satisfy an element within me that says, this thing that we do is being moved on, even if its in small steps.

One of my inspirations is the Ronin. I'll post one of his latest promos later today.

Dream on David - 007 Videojournalism


A Quantum of Solace!

So I'm available for walk ons, VJ shoots and well and behind-the-scenes.

You'll rarely find a sapien fed on western movies who doesn't know Bond; I remember being carted off to the movies with an aunt to watch Spy who Loved me.

A new director at the helm again, this time Oscar nominated Marc Forster, behind “Finding Neverland” and “Monster’s Ball" - two very different flicks, so the direction should be one to watch.

I have had two brushes with 007 by proxy, one a dinner evening with Colin Salmon who stars as MI6 station chief Charles Robinson.

Fine actor who at one point was also being tipped for the James Bond role ( read here)

And the other an interview with former CIA head James Woolsey where we talked about 007 and what he thought about him getting a job within the real spook world.

Well for one thing Woolsey said, James Bond would have been called Officer 007 if he were in the CIA, as the CIA recruits agents to betray their governments and reveal secrets.

While if James Bond were in the FBI, he's be called Agent 007.

You can see the 4 minute interview here.

Now time to go take this Tux off. Why did I have it on. Can't remember now.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Ferrari 599 GTB

Couple of months ago viewmagazine.tv showed the story of us ( friend and I) road testing a Ferrari 599 GTB.

What we didn't tell you was we had a puncture at the start of the shoot.

And do you know the Ferrari doesn't carry a spare tyre.

You call their headquarters and they send someone prompto in an equally fast car to come and change your set of wheels.

Mr tyre changer has an interesting lifestyle, sometimes jetting off to warm climes on the continent because of a beached Ferrari drivers call for help.

The full video story coming soon

Frankenstein Camera writes Sionphoto



We're back to the cams again with this from Sionphoto who
tells me about his HVR A1E Letus 35mm adaptor setup
Its really designed to be on a tripod, but its hand holdable enough,
especially if you're used to bigger cameras.

I might try mine with a monopod.

The Letus adaptor I have is the 'mini', whereas other cameras like
the Sony Z1, PD 150 or Panasonic DVX100
need an adaptor with a larger lens thread.

Using a lens like a 24mm kinda defeats the object of having limited
depth of field, so I'd pick a standard
zoom lens (35-80ish) or fixed lenses like 35mm or 85mm.

BBC Interview -Vlog Butterfly

Today, in a unique exercise for viewmagazine.tv a double whammy, an interview with the head of BBC News Peter Horrocks covering extensive ground in multimedia news and a vlog butterfly, in which 8 super bloggers and authorities in their own right posed a video question which Peter answered.

More soon video video

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Vlog Buterfly

One day to go...

Heath Ledger The death of web news morals

Tragic by any circumstances, but also distressing that his parents learned about their son's fate via a news broadcast.

The explosion of media has a downside; the interminable race to be first.

Yes it wasn't born in the web era, but rears its head more often.

We saw it nakedly during the Virginia Tech shootings, and we'll continue to witness a slump in an area that must be preserved in the bid to tell others business: respect and a code of ethics.

David Brewer who was one of the earlier web evangelists to set up CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera shared a telling thought with me.

The desk team of a well known news brand reported an incident giving the names of the deceased; the incident itself happened on the African continent.

But watching the news from home, David hit the phones to instruct the team to cease to report further the names of those dead.

There was some bewilderment he says from editorial, but a call later from a senior editor thanking David put it into perspective.

When Africa seems so far away, when you don't know those involved, have no affinity, but know their names, what's the harm?

"We must first inform the next of kin", David would stress. Absolutely!

The dash for news, unmoderated, plentiful in its supply presents new dilemmas which outlets with no code of conduct could care less about.

Being first and gaining important currency and kudos overshadows a dying agreement of scruples and good judgement.

Whether it's ledger, Virginia or Africa, there are people affected by the pain of that story.

They deserve better.

We should try and keep some perspectives.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Feature stories - Testicular Cancer

I'm fishing out some stories that I made for BBC national radio and this one srtuck me. Testicuar cancer - one of those issues that dare speak its name.

I met a young man ex, navy in the Isle of Wight who'd had a testice removed because of the illness.

Miraculously he did manage to have children.

A specialist at Hammersmith hospital advocated self-examination by men.

I quipped after going behind the curtain, er slightly embarassing though isn't it.

Women exam their breasts all the time, no more embarrassing than what men should be doing.

I don't have the figures to hand, the presenter would have read out some about trends etc. but it does make you ponder.

I'll put it on itunes shortly

Front page of view features a little promo for the piece on multimedia with the vlog butterfly project - two days away.

Shoot Bourne - even cheaper @!^*!!

Thanks to Sionphoto who leaves this comment in response to last post which deserves a huge light of attention.

thanks muchos

sionphoto said...
...your spec is for PL cinema-cam lenses, which can cost a small fortune.

I have a Sony HVR-A1E with a Letus 35mm adaptor:

http://tinyurl.com/2ughqo

35mm adaptors usually flip the image upside down in the viewfinder, so you need an external monitor to 'turn' it back round.

The M2 needs an additional 'flip attachment' to turn the image back to normal, whereas the Letus flips the image to normal inside a single unit.

Get some support rods (they say you don't need 'em, but it puts a hell of a strain on the camera lens filter mount):

http://tinyurl.com/35gocn

and a 35mm stills cam lens (in my case, a 24mm Nikon) and you're good to go for plenty of handheld Cloverfield/Bourne SpewCam action, without having to drag an external monitor round to see which way up everything is...

The whole setup - which coincidentally I only bolted together for the first time yesterday - cost about 700 quid.

Shoot Bourne on DV Cam




There have been various improvements to make video look like film. The Panasonic 200 shoots 24p, removing various fields from your timeline and now this.

If you want to blow your competitors apart don't even think twice. Bourne Supremacy on an ultra shoe string budget. Mind you I'm off to find how much it costs first.

5 mins later.....

Back again, I have just found out. I have cribbed this from their site here.

M2 Cinematographer Bundle: HD Edition for PL Cinema Lenses

Includes:

• M2 Cinema Lens Adapter

• Special M2 HD Achromatic lens

• 15mm Rod Support System - 18"

• Arriflex PL lens mount

• Redrock Hard Mount Kit, Shim Kit, and 82mm - 72mm Step-Down Ring

• M2 Cinematographer's cap

• Power Supply

• Carrying Case


M2 Cinematographer Bundle: HD Edition for PL Cinema Lenses.

Price: $1,821.45

I;m not endorsing the company per se, but the results truly are stunning and considering, not so long ago a lens on this thing her could cost you 15,000 UKP odd this looks a good buy.


Shooting in South Africa for a Videojournalism feature for Channel 4 News

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The design of online film making

I'm tipping a big hat here to Master of Flash turned Master of online film, Hillman Curtis, who is an extraordinary inspiration.

A number of speakers from Flash on the Beach went out for a spaghetti session couple of years back and I was able quizz him on some of the things he does.

That was after this interview here which, yes I'm gushing, but seriously if you don't know his work, I'd recommend you look at his site and short films.

On pentagram, he achieves the most incredible shallow depths of films, so I dropped him a line and he revealed how he gets it.

You've gota love film cuz Hillman engineers different lenses on his DVcam and the truth is it's not that simple a, and b, you need a really good cam op to get focus.

The aesthetics on this makes the point

If you subscribe to American Cinematographer, you'll find some handy tips in there which could easily influence your VJ shoot.

Vlog Butterfly

Two days to what could turn out to be quite an extraordinary vlog butterfly

CSS for journalists

It's not often I post about current Masters journalism students - my own rules of confidentiality et al, but today possibly proves a point for emerging journalism and journalists.

Within a couple of hours they'd learned CSS div tags and then with a deadline of 40 mins looming created the two front page holding sites, radically different to one another, in css to w3 standards.http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

I posted a while back how at a Nato war Games exercise we made packages and filmed/interviewed senior personnel in situ of a conflict 10 mins, took 15 mins to edit and post, whilst then creating new host sites 10 mins.

Here's an aspect of that a teaser of the Nato programme, and then out in more detail what goes on.

I'll need to change the "load movie" variable as it takes a wee long to load, but bear with it.

Apologies I have just seen this, but my site was wiped off the server a couple of months ago and it looks like in reloading all the data, I missed loading the trailer.
(will reload soon)

The Cairo shoot with Robb Montgomery was also a fast turnaround; from the time we got into the Old City to the time we left a couple of hours later, the story and edit was in the can or mac I should say. We sourced all our interviewees cold.

Part of the technique, like videojournalism is learning to undershoot - go for the essentials but covering all bases.

I hope to expand on that when I hook up with Rob from in Chicago
http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif
That's where we as journalists can go with this. Swift turnaround, videojournalism films and css div tag sites to house, Metatagged n' al.

Next the IM6 approach of multimedia stripping a video and producing the MM package.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The perils of the world.. and er, videojournalism

A global economy on the brink of a recession kicked off by the US.

Does anyone remember Reaganomics - now that was something?

LA times Editor is sacked because the ed refused to comply with staff cuts.

Gaza's power supply is cut off.

And in the race for the Whitehouse the exchange between Obama and Clinton is about to heat up.

By the way, I hope to have my friend and radio host - one of the longest serving in New York, Mark Jack Riley online to talk about what's going on and what he's detected real soon.

So I was going to talk about perils and videojournalism, a subject that people/execs don't like discussing, but I'll save that for another time.

Back on View - a hommage to Bourne is in the making, with no deadly violence.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Videojournalism with no voice

We've looked at styles and production in detail and I'll be unveiling some interesting stuff in the near future.

A radio interview that really interests me includes a 20 min interview with Louis Farakhan, plus some other well know US writers.

And from the 1994 epochal assembly of US journalists of colour, Unity 94, interviews galore talking about a range of subjects.

How interesting for me, since OJ Simpson was on the menu then; he's about to be on again.

These however are radio pieces, but are an additional and necessary quotient to the VJs armoury.

We speak very little about the voice in VJ reports, as a core group of VJs don't voice over.

But the voice, and you don't need me to tell you is an instrument which is a k.app for reportage, videojournalism reportage particularly newspapers.

So how do you use it, appear natural on tape, project, set up a confrontation to match the pictures, create your ideal range, and sometimes just leave it alone?

I had on and off a number of sessions of voice training with the BBCs voice unit when it was around and I'll be talking about some of the things that helped me and might work for you.

Videojournalism Training ~ Press Gazette article

Still on the press gazette, I was interviewed last week about setting up VJ in the newsroom.

It's an easy-entry article.

Apologies as there is one thing that I would have wanted to have changed, but reporters deadlines and all that I didn't see the final piece before publication.

Anyhow fairly simple stuff: what camera, tripod, editing kit, training needs...

In a recent post I spoke about videojournalism for managers, which is worth reading if you're going local production or hyperlocal.

Some time soon, I'm speaking to managers of one of London's most succesful newspapers and will be telling them almost everything in this post.

BBC Ups Game

The idea was greeted with howls of "foul"; the corporation has done much to quell that, particularly with newspapers.

Some might have even thought the idea was permanently shelved after the BBC's financial cut backs.

But hyperlocal is back on the agenda.

Reported in Press Gazette this week, the BBC unveils a prototype for ultra local news TV.

Andy Griffins reveals details of the BBC's plans.

Last year I spoke to Andy and his number two ( I recorded an interview and presentation) and the plans as they were then, based on market research, were awesome.
I'll post that soon.

But hyperlocal sets up the dna of news as how its should be in the 21st century. News you can use.

Channel One TV coined that phrase: news you can use, in carving up london boroughs during its reporting/programme cycle.

It works.

Viewers will far more tune into a network which delivers door-step information, mixed with informative, education, entertaining national, and world news.


The question for newspapers is have they done enough, before the BBC's launches.

Brand value and a deep understanding of TV and videojournalism; the BBC has some 900 waiting to be deployed across their sites, some of whom are working regional already, versus brand value (local newspapers) riding the curve of videojournalism.

One things sure, inspite of all olive branches and the desire(?) by the BBC to work with local outfits, there will be casualties.

Back in my neigbourhood, I'll be giving a local feel of hyperlocal with a one off launch of a mag on viewmagazine.tv

This is the year of IPTV, hyperlocal, and maturing web video - as if we didn't know

View mag - back to basics



When it was first launched two plus years ago, it looked like this. BUT it was built in flash - and so was losing valuable SEO indexing.

Now I have taken the site back to it's original format, but strengthened the coding with CSS div tags, which should make it more easier for browsers to read.

The original concept, which was picked up by the UK Press Gazette in 05, is also resurrected.

And the colour, well black divides many people; its a closed colour, but does give some leeway to the idea of magazine journalism so users are expecting daily updates, as opposed to white which is instinctive in news paper journalism.

The Gazette then wrote this:

"Using View - now on its third quarterly edition - is like stepping into the sort of hi-tech world imagined in Steven Spielberg's science fiction movie Minority Report.

The site is made up of 64 pages and organised ostensibly like a conventional magazine - pages can be scrolled through sequentially if the reader wishes.

But the contents page also acts as a browser with click-through links to the various stories.

As your mouse icon hovers over pictures they burst into life, often with audio. And throughout the site, text reports are interspersed with video documentaries, audio interviews and other multimedia clips.

The site is put together with original video and audio created by Gyimah and other "backpack journalists" - people who are able to shoot, direct, edit and present documentaries and news reports using a digital camcorder, a laptop and the latest film-editing software."



In the coming weeks it'll feature more video showing the distinct differences between videojournalism across various strands, including IM6 Videojournalism highlighted by uber lecturer and super blogger Andy Dickinson on his blog recently.

The Outernet, Video hyperlinking in a multistrand interview and film, and pod-blogs will soon be evident.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Performance lecture



It may be a generic term but Prof Wolfgang Kissel of Bauhaus University threw the word into a phone conversation which I thought, "neat"!

So what is a performance lecture?

Truth I coundn't tell you, but based upon what Prof Kissel has in mind from a previous lecture I was asked to do in Berlin, it's a cross between stand-up and standing on your soap box at speakers corner ( Hyde Park).

Undoubtedly one of the most terrifying things to do is to stand in front of a group/auditorium of strangers and talk about something which as night follows day, you get something wrong, swallow some words and even, even fall of stage when your mikes not working.

So how do you stay calm?

For me it's the swan syndrome, trying to look ok on top whilst thinking furiously below and sometimes you can die on stage; or "corpse" - the expression.

It happens with me when I haven't sought or pinned down what the producer wants, so I once spoke about an array of things to an audience in Norway who wanted to hear about the birth and journey of videojournalism.

Yeouch. We rescued the talk in the main auditorium session as I furiously re-tuned my presentation with the producer.

Lets face it the producers always know best.

Al Gore a lesson in performance

One of the best performance lectures I have seen online is Al Gore's - a master class in delivery, hubris, attack, comedy.

Hands wide - showing what it's like to be frisked at an airport butressed with self mocking.

You may disagree with what he says, you may even think him insincere which some have posted on Youtube, but that's not what I evaluating.

Of course it's Al Gore and he contrast of the life now versus that with inches to the White House makes for good comedy, particularly when it's delivered by him.

But the whole point of the performance is to get a message across in an entertaining way and have the audience participate.

Stand-up comedians develop a sixth sense for reading an audience, preying on the one person who will be the butt of all their jokes.

For the lecturer, some caution as you're delivering factul stuff and you never know when the chap in the front seat is the IT guy from BT about to challenge you. Woops!

It's about a personality coming through the talk, a gonzo approach to presenting what you've learned.

I still get incredibly nervous before a presentation, not because I haven't prepared but because it's the unexpected, and then usually quickly I get into my stride and end up lying down on the floor with my hind legs up, running through the auditorium screaming something and often having a conversation with myself.

Why do I do it?

Why do I do it?

Well I don't always, but that's me.

One of my other fav performers is comedian Chris Rock who is gigging in London.

It's reported he brought the house down, or as my friends would put it, "he killed it. Yep Killed it"

It's also reported before taking to the stage, his first time in the UK ( will they get my jokes?) he was incredibly nervous.

Then he made an opening salvo:

If anyone of you think darts is a sport you must be out of your mind.

hahahahahah Quite!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Deconstructing the camera

This is my camera.

I will learn to love my camera

Where my camera goes I will follow

I will sleep with it.

Care for it

Treat it right

Because without my camera

I am nothing.


NB Ok it might sound a little extreme, but at the point where you can take the camera apart, decode all the buttons, prep the camera before location, then half the job's done.

My colleague has a nice acronym before she goes out to shoot; SING.

Shutter, Iris, Neutral Density, Gain - all of which affect exposure.

And you know what happens when your film's too hot.

.... this is my camera

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ouch Newsnight

Meaow ! Newsnight Michael Crick has a dig at ITN's new Flag ship news for failing to show appropriate footage in the Peter Hain MP saga.

Why I love Video - a journey through network to personal broadcasting


A scene still from 8 Days.
Question are these men i) Reporters discussing how well they've done ii) Policemen anxious about something iii) criminals anxious about something. Answer below

One of the most challenging, yet ultimately rewarding times I've had working daily in the media was at Worldwide Television News in Camden, which would ultimately be enveloped into becoming Associated Press TV.

The first few weeks were a revelation: video feeds, Sat 42 permanently feeding from the Middle East, telephones constantly ringing, editing-on-the-fly as feeds were coming in and broadcasters at the end of a phone demanded access and inserts for their national news.

At the same time you needed to collate information from various wire sources and present a bullet-proof script; six writers at a desk, with a chief writer overseeing final scripts.

What you wrote was often the crib sheet for other broadcasters to forge their packages.

One of the writers, beautiful writer, just beautiful, used to write for the ABC New anchor Peter Jennings....

Middle note
[in writing this post I went over to you tube to watch Peter Jenning's final on air broadcast and in that unforgettable honesty of his, he said something:

"And I hope it goes without saying that a journalist who doesn't value deeply the audience's loyalty should be in another line of work."

I never knew Mr Jennings but I was introduced to him and shook his hand, when I was an ABC News Associate Producer in Johannesburg during South Africa's 94 election]


Real Time News
By the day's end at WTN we'd package two reports, which would be sat'd over to CNN, WS and a host of international broadcasters.

It really was something to finally get home after a shift, tune into CNN to find your package being played.

I even kept one of mine, because WTN and supposedly other agencies made a science or art of packaging pictures and words:

  • Short cuts, intro often not more than 15 seconds, and always, mostly always, you'd be searching for the strongest pictures to catapult the package.

    On any one day, two phones on both left and right ear, with three feeds coming in and fielding phone calls from crews, you'd be scribbling time code ready to hand over to an editor.

    You quickly implemented a version of Gestalt's theory about grouping and associations.

    Pictures were swiftly arranged into sequences, variety spawned different patterns of sequences; varying patterns of sequences broadened the visual consumption of the video.

    Often a 1.20 package felt like 30 seconds.


    I loved WTN

    WTN has lent me many things, which cusp around videojournalism

    1. The Visual Stockbroker - developing an urgency, a sense about the turn of speed of news and how to make rational judgements.
    2. Visual acrobatics - developing a secondary sense of filtering news - a sort of muscle memory to handle what's necessary and isn't.
    3. And a strong sense of story telling driven by pictures, pictures, pictures.
    To recoin a phrase: It's the pictures stoopid!


    Johannesburg 94 and a right wing terrorist bomb devastates downtown Joburg. This picture was taken about 15-30 mins after the attack, whilst I was working as an AP for ABC News (SA). I lived nearby and my house shook. Later I would report for one of the news channels of the BBC World Service. I'll post that soon.

    Outer-agency
    A year on or so, I left WTN.

    I spoke to my manager back then, Guy ker, about doing some creative work.

    Agency work is not creative, capital "C", and the itch to get into the field again was strong.

    I left, but would re-acquaint myself with Guy at ITN and Channel 4 ( who said some nice things about me) and for four years regularly freelanced as a producer.

    Before C4, I had shifts at a number of networks including BBC Breakfast and it's this journey that videojournalism begun to really make sense.

    You can rarely tell how cold a hot bath is if you've been sitting in it for long.

    Though I'd worked for a number of outfits before Channel One TV -which pioneered VJism in the UK in 93+, now the pieces were beginning to fit.


    I love video

    I love video

    I love video for its interpretations, it's elasticity.

    I love film for the same reason, though I think I can rub video in my hands and gesticulate more.

    I love video for it is a living moving fluid canvas,for anyone thinking themselves an artist to brush stroke and eventually look for their master piece.

    I love video because of its draw. It isn't just pictures. It's tone, tonality, balance, perspective, colour, texture, composition, can make you do things. It can make people do things.

    I love video because it's flexible. It will share a stage with others e.g. music or make do on its own. It is, and someone else probably Mchulan said it better, there is no medium like it.

    I love video because it doesn't have a square root, a pi, an exact answer. Just an approach, close, even body-odour close, to the author's wishes. When we talk to the old masters e.g. Charles Wheeler about their story experiences, we get a rich tapestry of "how, and why"; their conveyance of ideas.


    What do you see?


    What would be your reaction to this event if you witnessed it live?


    News has defined qualities, what the camera sees cannot and should not be manipulated, however the true camera (the eye) records and interprets emotion and feeling by sending signals to the brain.

    Go on, next time you witness a carnage, accident, an unexpected event with a friend watch as their eyes, the iris size changes.

    They might squint, they might look sideways, they might manoeuvre themselves into a position that better suits the interpretation of that event.

    If you witnessed an accident at that moment a child rides by on a bike, you'll track the kid, probably, momentarily re-interpreting: "Oh my God, what if...."

    These are relationship issues, contextual, but they help to make sense of the event.


    Video Futures

    Video News which aims for a neutral density shies away from those cinematic micro-psychological-inner meanings.

    Filmmaking does not, which is why great cinematographers can make you weep (yes news can as well) get you high with excitement, and get you angry just perhaps by using colour.

    For that I loved watching the odd NFL film made of Super Bowl final game.

    Visceral, in your face, every crunch a cringe, and loud thud - this is not as nearly matched by watching it televised on the day.

    Getting into the trenches, getting eye level amongst the pack gives off a different vibe entirely - something the videojournalism I have come to know attempts to ape.

    Somewhere, somehow, we can experiment with form, function, trust the authors or not to give us their interpretations which may be universal or not.

    Videojournalism combining a wide gamut of things already discussed may move towards this, particularly for newspapers with points of view.

    Videojournalism here by the way doesn't exclusively mean one-person camera for anyone familiar with the British national press.

    It may well be that these news organisations delivering on the nuances and emotional persuasions we learn to know, will be the winners in the new Video news war.

    It may well be (wishful thinking) that someone creates a video which acts more intuitively and closer to the eye; it already does in some regard with white balancing and you only need to look at some of the still camera lens technology to see what I'm alluding to.


    And Finally

    One of my last big foreign assignments was a story about a village boy in Ghana who would benefit from the skills of an internationally recognised plastic surgeon; he was to have a new face rebuilt after a flesh -eating virus had ravaged his features.

    It's a story that had so many emotional strands, not least the family had no way of paying for the operation and matters were really coming to a head.

    On the day we played it to on Ghana's national TV station, the TV audience flooded the decrepit phone lines wanting to see the piece again.

    And in the end, the hospital waved its fee of a two hundred dollars which the family could not pay.

    That's why I love video.....

    .... And lest we forget

    "And I hope it goes without saying that a journalist who doesn't value deeply the audience's loyalty should be in another line of work."

    RIP


    ++++++++++++++++++++


    Answer: Policemen. We're now so visually literate that the cold - blue tones are often associated with police, plus the masking closes the shot given the impression of anxiety.

    I achieved this through after effects, but could have achieved, though not as good, the effect I was looking for by mis-white balancing ie white balancing against an environment with a different colour temperature, say indoors.
  • Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    One picture - three different stories



    This photo was taken by my friend, Yannis Kontos, a fantastic photojo who I've lost count of the number of world awards he's won.

    It serves as a great illustration of the emerging edges of vjism

    One photo, but there are at least three different stories.

    I count six, though I'd easily take four.

    Can you make them out or posit your own?

    In news we'd run them as clips, but there's no reason why we can't start of the package from different vantage points and clip others.

    You decide.

    Incidentally this is the classic VJ picture.

    If you could capture the same frame as a videojournalist, do what the photojo would do, NO FEARS, you're at the edges of emerging VJism - at least what I've been observing.

    Question is how dirty are you willing to get?

    I showed the above pic to some newspaper eds in a VJ session in what was a really good creative storm.

    video

    Vantage Point - Multimedia film


    One of the best cop series of the early 2000s was Boomtown.

    The premise was an event e.g. crime viewed from several different angles, a style called Rashomon - after the film title from that great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.

    For me it represented an interesting model for news and feature presentation.

    The structure and content in news can often be about perspective and point of view; interpretation.

    Experiment.

    I once ran an experiment at a summer school where I had two young men run into the class I was teaching, shouting and yelling, scuffle on the floor and then take my bag on the desk.

    After the class had calmed down, It was only about 15 seconds, I asked them what they'd seen.

    You won't believe the different range of answers.

    The excercise, once they realised it was one, was how we perceive and write up first hand incidents; effectively real news gathering as opposed to processing.

    You won't believe the number of conflicting accounts I received.

    Interpretation

    So New's is about interpretation, and in punditry/professional comment you're seeking someone whose judgement aligns with your sensibilities.

    You may disagree with them but they have the conviction of their argument, which explains why the same people crop up time and time again in punditry.

    But what if you could choose your entry point into a news item via a multimodal point - the absence of a definitive visual linear hierarchy.

    Think of an ensemble in a play etc.


    The Future of News?

    That's where I feel news has new areas to develop and why video hyperlinking will become a powerful model

    This multiple strand look is the bed for Vantage Point starring Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker and Sigourney Weave.

    As with most trailers the art is in the promo editing - breathless seemless palate of cuts

    This is kinetic stuff.

    Their site also introduces an interesting level of interactivity

    Next week I'm giving viewmagazine.tv a make-over in expectation of a hugely important experiment being shared world wide, which I'm loking forward to sharing with a talk at the World Editor's Association in Sweden and Cultural Exchange

    NB. No where near frenetic or even comparable, but the roll tape back effect is something I tried in a short piece Y-Generation, joining the CIA which you can see here.

    Wait for the pic to load and click.

    How the effect was made?

    Make a mask in photoshop from any photo> gray scale> aply halftone effects and > radial Blur and import to your film timeline.
    Process your film by 1000% speed deleting every other frame.

    You'll get the juddering effect > then wash the tones through After Effect.

    Are cut aways necessary?

    Mindy McAdams whom needs no introduction. Ok then, well respected renaissance prof in the media in the US and author of Flash Journalism, which I recommend you must buy left a response to a post.

    I have posted it here as it raises a number of points which are worth looking at in so far as TV versus New Visual or even say Videojournalism is concerned - though VJ as term is open to so many different interpretations.

    I know Mindy and admire her work, and I'm not perfect.

    The piece Mindy's referring to is Why Video stories work VII
    ++++++++
    Mindy writes

    Yeah but David those cutaways to the serious-looking reporter (you) standing there are totally lame. So TV news! So fake!

    And what's with that intro with the siren? There was no siren and no yellow police tape the day of the interview. I think you needed either a VO intro or cut that whole bit with the siren, eh?

    She's a great talker, you're right about that.

    David writes

    Hey Mindy How are yer?

    Cutaways in situ are still the visual construct that drives the visual narrative.

    After what's now been called the Yentob saga, where it was first thought this BBC senior figure inserted himself into his film which he discovered he didn't C/As came in for a bit of a bashing.

    One network even dropped them.

    But as a VJ or TV bod it's still the device that will get you in and out of an interview when there's little picture, plus it brands.

    The looking serious is exactly how I felt listening to her talk about her day - again in situ effect.

    The siren and pictures at the top is the window into the piece. That's both my arc and mis en scene.

    It's a direct reference to the event which she was a part of and visually sets the scene.

    I can see your point, yes there was no siren on the day of the interview, but I know you're not saying don't use archive or create "windows"

    That interview took me about ten minutes to do and just as much to post.

    Time wasn't the factor, but it's what I call "kill what you can eat".

    It's also something I still advocate. I have got limited time - secs for users' attention.

    A V/0 may have worked, but to those unfamiliar with my interviewee, I'll ask myself visually what gets their attention, her or incident.

    * If I had copyright use of that iconic phone pic from the tube, I might have used that, but I'm free to use the siren pictures shot by one of my former brill students Corrine from the US last heard of in Iowa filming the Caucuses.

    I left a response to, perhaps, this area we're playing in on Andy's blog talking about the various levels of VJ

    VJ for tv e.g. interview with
    Chatham House Director
    VJ for VJ e.g.
    Reuter's Phone story and some more that tear up the rule book. e.g. 8 Days

    There's lots of things about TV News I'm not a fan of - and I have got a lot to say about that.

    *I'm also aware on my VJ travels that a lot of VJs/Trainers eschew c/as, GVs, WS, PTC or stand ups et al, whilst developing their own house style e.g. award winning VJ Ruud Elmendorp whom on occasion does the odd PTC.

    * Here's an interview with Ruud in Berlin at the International VJ Awards.

    Yet the language of TV news or say cinema has some things as a VJ we build upon.

    Personally done well,( and that's a point in itself) the insert construct ( C/A) I believe won't disappear.

    But in the end it ain't about me, gonzo or TV mode. If I feel I can get a user to the end of an interview, then job done.

    :)

    * not on original post to Mindy's post

    Monday, January 14, 2008

    News at Ten marks out of ten

    NB See posting two day ago to get an idea what I'm talking about

    Didn't catch the beginning by a few seconds to hear the opening.

    "We are back..."

    But well they're going to run out of superlatives soon after all the firsts they're bagging.

    This show probably cost a small fortune.


    Problem is they've raised there own bar; so can they keep it up?

    LOL, now they're deep underneath the ice - yes Bill Nealy had to tell us again.

    Is this the Day Today?

    Oh yeah finally, something futuristic a video blog!

    Oh there's me thinking Vincent their sports correspondent would get an English reply from the English Football Coach in another er, not quite exclusive.

    The last piece - ITN's trademark report "... and finally" was more drama than dreamy, but it involved a daring rescue and some chopper reporting.

    Verdict - Slick, better lighting in the studio and location, signature tune's been updated, but how would you separate the show from the same one four years ago.

    Has news production moved on? Has the language changed? Is this appointment TV in tune with our radical changing needs?

    These are some of the things I'll be talking about at DeMontford University's Cultural eXchange Programme.

    I'll post more details soon

    Bauhaus Video Journalism

    Few academic institutions have had a profound influences on the creative arts such as architecture, design, film and graphic design, like Bauhaus.

    Founded in Germany in 1919, it's style focused on geometric designs and a minimalism which has become a trade mark in furniture design.

    Next month I have been invited to deliver a paper/seminar of video online at Bauhaus University.

    Just like a trip to the Guggenheim in Bilbao last summer, I'm certain I'll be inspired.

    Wierdly Video journalism at an advanced level feeds of the Bauhaus mantra: strong lines and simplicity without looking simple.

    Hopefully I can make a short film about the excursion

    Saturday, January 12, 2008

    News at Ten - the come back er kid, no grandpa returns


    Reassuring, velvety, cosy and the right sort of boyfriend if it were one to bring home to mum and dad.

    Some traditions are hard to beat and next week an institution returns like the prodigal son to make us feel greatly British again.

    News at Ten in its hey days commanded British news' attention like the British did with its empire circa 1900s.

    But then they the execs tweaked, tinkled and eventually put the programme to bed, permanently, or so we thought.

    Apart from keeping us molly cuddled, News at Ten gave other network bosses ulcers.

    me even argued News at Ten delivered big audiences because of the bouquet of programmes before it; the legacy of a film's audiences bode well.

    But then the presenter Sir Trevor Macdonald - a mild mannered, thoroughly decent veteran broadcaster in the family of Cronkite and Alistair Cooke - could stake his claim for the show's huge appeal.

    We loved and love Trevor.

    Oh boy we loved him.

    I was once introduced to him once back in 97 when I worked as a freelance producer on ITV's lunch time and 6 O'clock News

    We loved him so much so that the coup de grace for the incumbent News at whatever time it's at.. what !

    10.30!

    10.30?

    Yes, 10.30

    Where was I, yes the coup de grace of the news at the moment should not hurt.


    The mac is back


    So News at Ten is BACK.

    We could write a thesis about this.

    ITN despite its many relaunches resurrects an old favourite seeped in nostalgia and that key word used in news world: TRUST.

    News at Ten ran from 1967 and 1999, reappeared in 2001 and then was finally laid to rest (poor ratings) in 2003.

    It's signature was the gongs and the carbon template style of US news presentation - a single anchor made to look like the joint chief of staffs - the pulse of the world in his fingers.

    It won't be the first time programme managers have awoken the dead and won't be the last.

    But this is a gamble worth watching.

    Because when News at Ten reigned we were but a cell, no a mitochondria, in the web, never mind web 2.0's awesome publishing galaxy.

    Back then we would still wait patiently to see the world at Ten, rather than as it happens.

    And the world was nary compressed from all the satellite and streams of news feeds doing the rounds.

    If its broke say news execs, fix it.

    News at Ten is launching in the middle of an information war, where paradigms have imploded in black holes and no one, exec or otherwise, has the Midas thing to guarantee huge audiences.

    If News at Ten gets the numbers watch out for a raft of oldies coming back.

    Dr Who - you ain't seen nothing yet.

    If it fails to live up to the hype, there will be eggs gushing of the face of many execs and someone somewhere who came up with the idea will fall on a whacking great sword.

    There will also be mirth and much dancing behind ladles of wine and rum from frienemies (friends who are in fact your enemy.

    Ask any news exec in the UK at the moment about News at Ten's relaunch and a majority will welcome it with open arms, and a dagger hidden in their belts.

    You see they'd be willing it to work, so they can bring back their old brands without taking the hits if it fails.

    On the other hand they wish it wasn't back, at least till they could relaunch their shows, but won't because of fear of failure.

    Yep News is merciless.

    News at Ten is the old gene pool in a Darwinian pool world


    Will it be a success or failure?

    So will it be a success or failure?

    Nope! Can't read the freakin tea leaves again; doh!

    But this is certain, the dynamics have changed, and five million per night will be welcome to the ten million it attracted not too long ago.

    It's trade mark.. "and finally"- a homage to amusing sometimes witty stories which is to news like I am an Inuit (shoosh don't tell anyone) will be lifted to youtube even before the final credits run.

    Sir Trevor will receive hordes of messages welcoming him back, one of which from his bosses will be a healthy wad of...(mustn't get vulgar now)

    Will News at Ten work?

    New studio,immersive video wall, star trek presenter's desk, new lighting..it's almost all been done before.

    News at Ten, News anywhere may not be the problem, but the language of engagement, the lingua franca of its communication visually and literally.

    [For an idea read the cinema and the effect of indie cinema circa 80s/90s and its revival]

    Will it work?

    Sadly not as much the bosses might hope, because those halcyon days, those golden days of the news brand is the stuff we read to our nieces and nephews at bed time.

    News at Ten rearranged to News (on the) Net might be a different proposition.

    But then that means I have got another 300 words to write.

    Flash for film makers - Gripe

    I have worked with Flash since 3/4 and by and large have found it one of those k.apps for building sites.

    I know, I know, some of us can't get our heads around.

    Wait ! I'm about to join you.

    Flash, and you must have been living under the floor boards if you don't know this is an animation - design tool.

    It can be used to quite frankly do some amazing things.

    I have it them to make promos - which you can email to clients at a minuscule 200k as well as start to build sites such as this New Nation Rising.

    CS3 - Flash now under adobe makes a radical departure for non Flash folks.

    I don't doubt it will have raised the bar for Flash designers making their skill that little bit more invaluable,but if you're a non Flash user or film maker, get ready to do what Flash want you to do - spend some money on training.

    The interface more or less looks the same as Flash 8, but some crucial easily employed functions have been deprecated.

    "stop sounds" are now behaviours and loading movies takes a different route.

    It's so less intuitive as I see it that it almost removes the ideal of teaching journalists.

    Perhaps after a bout of training that may change, but that's not the point.

    I imagine I'll arrive on campus to find CS3 installed.

    My immediate thoughts at the moment will be to stick to CS2 (unless you've got some serious flash stuff to do), but deploy CS3's FLV encoder.

    Stick to CS2 or below unless that is you want to do serious

    CS2's dreamweaver, equally powerful and I'll be using that for CSS design.

    I haven't opened CS3's dreamweaver yet.

    Heaven help me!

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Going back to its roots


    When I first published viewmag the idea was to mash up and create a sort of visual magazine and I guess it said something in taking a Batten award, but then I think it lost its way aping the now accepted design aesthetic of newspapers.

    Colour is so significant in design for it denotes from the onset what your publication is or attempting to be.

    White a universal colour or non colour to be abstract gives space and openness and is ideal for newspapers and to some extent magazines.

    It's strength is in minimalism.

    If you look at the Times, there's a fantastic illustration of the rebirth of online newspapers with colours e.g lime green which previously many newspaper execs would have ignored.

    Black as a design is equally universal, but has the disadvantage of seeming impenetrable.

    However it is a classic.

    Say what you will about fashion, we'll keep coming back to black because of its inherent chicness and no nonsense aura.

    But it has to be done well, and that's not easy.

    But by next week hopefully I'm hoping to take viewmag back into a news magazine feel, with a few new things, which I'm borrowing from my radio days.

    Secondary changes should take a while, but eventually envelope the whole site which should revert to how it was when I first published.

    Hope we like it :)

    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    Where you should be today as a Journalist

    I can't think of a better place to be today if you're a journalist.
    -EMOTIONS AND JOURNALISM at City University, London.

    This is a comprehensive 15 month study into an area of journalism so far removed from the job.

    Last July I met the principle researcher Gavin whilst I spoke about working alone, sometimes as a VJ in away from home e.g. South Africa 1992/3.

    But the area I would have most been interested in would have been this from their own literature.

    Unfortunately I can't go as 'm in the middle of some monster marking.

    From EMOTIONS AND JOURNALISM DOCUMENT

    14:15 Session 4: Rage in cyberspace: is it farewell to dispassionate journalism?


    "Reports on political conflict, sex abuse and violent crime have always stirred strong passions in audiences.

    Now with the internet, readers and viewers have new avenues for publishing their opinions and making their feelings plain to journalists.

    Trolls and flaming havebecome new words in the journalistic lexicon. Does the web amplify strong emotion, creating an ecology in which there is less space for more emotionally nuanced positions?

    And does this mean that journalists in the future will also need to bring more of their own feelings and stories into their reporting, if they are to be heard above the crowd?"

    Speakers to include:
    Vicky Taylor, Editor: Interactivity, BBC News
    Stuart Allan, Professor of Journalism, the Media School at Bournemouth University

    Is Bourne new cinema or queasy movie making?



    Peter at Shooting by numbers picked up this post - an interesting discussion over at Vanity - about Bourne and whether it has raised the stakes in movie making or is queasy movie making.

    Some of you may remember I had been in talks with Greengrass' PA about an interview which at the last moment fell through, but I'm hoping to be lucky in the future.

    Not quite Bourne, but this month I'll kick off the big interviews on the subject of multimedia with a key figure and an interesting, I hope bent to the interview process.

    Anyway that's for another day


    Bourne Magic or Sleight of hand

    I'd say to a growing band of visual story tellers, video journalists and indeed film makers I know (very few :)) Greengass' work represents something significant.

    That it attracts a wide array of opinions, more often than not evoking discussion about the craft of film making, is part testimony.

    Film making irrefutably is a living art and every director possesses a DNA, unique or recombinant, which either adds to the gene pool or not.

    Pudovkin and Eisenstein which was raised as a post on Variety's post and is often wheeled out when speaking genres isn't contestable alongside Greengrass.

    They are the Eves or Adams, much studied and dissected in film schools and in which thousands following have paid hommage one way or another e.g. BattleShip P. and The Untouchables.

    The kinetic-aesthetic look Greengrass rides us along in Bourne has strands from a milestone visual shift in the 90s with US drama Homicide - Life on the Street (handheld) and Bochco's NYPD Blue, where the plane of filmmaker frees up again and the viewer appears almost to be onset caught up in the frenzy.

    Peter Yates' Bullitt freed up areas of film directing before and many others have done since.

    Hit TV series 24 does handheld, in some parts even with a DVCam - see if you can spot it.

    For videojournalists like myself , Paul and his team up the ante.

    There's a photojournalistic quality and an added energy within the lens (those movements), let alone the scene, that has a visceral quotient a bit like Marmite (British spread) you either absolutely love it or you absolutely don't.

    Personally, I am hugely wowed, as are students from the Masters programme I teach - a position which obviously won't be the same elsewhere.

    But just as other directors and movies have influenced a genre, Greengrass has done something with the spy narrative and dramatic film (U93) that will yield comparisons alongside other directors and films I reckon for a long time to come.

    Wednesday, January 09, 2008

    Videojournalism for Managers

    Management can often have an ambivalent cosiness with video journalism.

    At power breakfast meetings the banter will be around who’s doing what.

    And quite often video akin to either a venereal disease or v for victory is splayed across the table.

    "Jim over at the Claxton Daily is doing what, video?"
    "Damn it!"

    At some point in the ensuing weeks, your manager will either call you into their office or better still you’ll arrive at your desk to find a shiny box and clothed bag with the outline of a 12 bore shotgun which will make you think whether your boss has been taking Get Carter too seriously.

    There will hence be a lot expected from you because frankly video, well, it’s easy.

    Just point the camera and blow tape; you know how to blow, don’t cher

    Because on your first exasperated shoots, having read the manual from back to front and again, your package will often set you back a week; a day if you’re really up for it.

    Truth is it’s not that video is difficult and your IQ isn’t on par with Madonna ( she’s reportedly a 150 plus by the way – yep that’s way good) but you’re having to get used to alien concepts of electronic media that not less that a few Christmas’ ago had a whole communion of disciplines involved.

    More frightening, your managing editor will ask you why it’s taking too long to produce that report on the city’s biggest murder in between the feature piece and banging the phones-English media expression for chasing media experts.

    It’s a discordant existence between those with a vision and those who have to carry it out. And wearily it might have you questioning the whole advent of multimedia into the newsroom.

    So rather long overdue here’s a rough guide to videojournalism for management in the newsroom.

    1. Consult at some point with staff first about your brand new scheme and why you need it.
    2. Why because if you’re not adding value and your video isn’t well produced you're not really doing yourself any favours.
    3. Ask around what vjism is and enquire about resources and workflow before purchasing inventory.
    4. Resources: are we buying Pinnacle, Avid or Final Cut. And cameras is it Sony Cams or Cannon because some systems are more intuitive and geared towards the solo journalist.
    5. Re-work the rota if you’ve bought into the dynamics of the newsroom. Should journalists be responsible for tasks outside of producing video
    6. Determime what house style to adopt. If you look at ITN, Sky and the BBC there are significant differences in their televisual language. There are also significant differences in videojournalism.
    7. Give your staff room to experiment and develop their strengths. Often that means time to produce features and jump off the treadmill of news.
    8. Where possible facilitate gatherings for videojournalists from your newspaper group to meet and share ideas.
    9. If there are top up schemes around don’t shy away from spending some of the kitty’s spare change for staff to pick up new ideas: training is ongoing.
    10. Pick up a camera yourself and go out on a shoot. Former Sky news editor Nick Pollard who was managing editor of London’s first videojournalism station did so attracting admiration from staff which was reciprocated.

    And for good measure introduce regular viewings of your own VJS' work and what other are doing. And do remember to praise your VJs for their good work.

    It can be a lonely pursuit at times

    Tuesday, January 08, 2008

    Ask not what videojournalism can do for you, but for your readers


    Pam grabs a shot to the nose of her package

    I had the pleasure of sharing ideas with some senior regional journalists: pam, Catherine. Malcolm and Gareth (have I got this wrong) in the mystic art of video journalism.

    I say mystic rather tongue in cheek because it’s easy to to assume Videojournalism is a universal term across the media.

    Go on lean over to the colleague next to you and ask.

    Chances are if they have heard of it it’s nothing more than video-on-line, a perception that doesn’t discriminate across status.

    But as the four editors demonstrated in an enjoyable mix of practice, theory and media banter, there can and is a distinction from merely producing video copy online and something more bespoke.


    Videojournalism's different personalities

    Broadly speaking there’s videojournalism for TV, videojournalism for videojournalism and videojournalilsm for the DIY

    Television exercises its fail-safe version of videojournalism by replicating the nomenclature of the crew team.

    "See mum I can do the work of three people!"

    It’s like a scout with a pocket knife being asked to fell a tree for an evening fire.

    As a scout you might ask whether there are better alternatives to hacking at a tree and that frankly you're resourceful enough at achieving near same aims via different means.

    Meanwhile Jim’s still hacking at the tree with his saw,electric or otherwise, into tiny manageable pieces you’re around a camp fire roasting the second round of those chestnuts.

    Being nimble and thinking creatively has its many advantages.

    Within bespoke videojournalism other formats are beginning to crystalise.

    Non-invasive which lends itself to observational form and the more authored gonzo whether the visual and literary narrative attempt to separate themselves from the bulk of the crowd.

    Videojournalism then becomes the writers visual pen; the correspondent with an evocative line or visual code which makes you rethink the status quo.


    News you can use
    If videojournalisms had a mantra it might be that it’s all in the detail, or news you can use, because what it it attempts is a micro reportage of macro news: the scale down of a 21 inch TV screen to the new improved 600X330 online makes the visual language point.

    Dump the Wide shots and go personal, closer up and still at the point of the FBCU.

    Here now Videojournalism cheekily borrows from new alphabet soup of evolving arts like motion graphics and indie films.

    And those changes fall alongside the cultural changes print personnel are going through, whilst not being saddled with the ways of old - the aging vernacular of TV news some 60 odd years old.

    Pam, Catherine. Malcolm and Gareth will be some of those to watch – Sorry guys, no pressure LOL

    BUT any number of journalists might argue there’s a hidden VJ hand in the equation and in the swelling ranks of newspaper VJs' success. Management.

    And that’s what I’ll look at tomorrow.

    Monday, January 07, 2008

    digital newsrooms and journalism

    Reading through the guardian this morning I enjoyed the read from Roy Greenslade who's been touring the digital newsrooms and Jeff Jarvis who's been pioneering a few digital experiments of his own in the grey area of journalism meets marketing.

    One can't be downbeat, but whilst Jeff is able to call on NY suits to assess start-ups from his cohort, it's an unusual scenario within universities here.

    I can't talk for all universities, but that's a generalisation from my role sitting on the professional journalism - University media course body, The BJTC.

    At UCLAN, Mike Ward amd his team continue to blaze a trail with their industry tie up and MELD.

    Watch this space this year as many univeristies including where I lecture, the University of Westminster, have since attained Skills Sets's academy status.

    Jeff speaks of CPM, CPC and RPM - Ad speak such as cost per click etc. highlighting the oft repeated, but dodged point: "how do you intend to make money?"

    Google's wrapped up this area aligned to its SEO - something else journalist will have to get their heads around - but more time spent with business grads over the next building should germinate new ideas.

    Meanwhile Roy's excursions around the digital highway of newsrooms throws up some interesting conclusion.

    One of them regional newspapers being at the forefront of cultural change.

    In my role as videojournalism consultant I have witnessed the same.

    In the last couple of years I have been privy to the going ons with regional journalists from our VJ contacts and the rest, and with nationals such as the Telegraph and Financial Times have mixed it with some of their new journalists.

    The FT presents a case for more multimedia offerings with some new multimedia and videojournalism staff; it's last one about counting the cost of food was a blinder.

    Soon the Telegraph's new multimedia journalists, the first of their kind in the UK, will be back within the Telegraph from working around the regions.

    It'll be worthwhile taking a moment to see some of their new methods and techniques at work.

    Friday, January 04, 2008

    How to build a network

    This was posted on the Editors Forum,but I'll tie in some new things with a follow up from some cool new things over the weekend.

    Thursday, January 03, 2008

    The great media paradigm shift

    Is that it? What now?

    It's a phrase oft-repeated in Hollywood flicks when the lead's heroic act to bring about worldly change falls flat.

    In the non celluloid system following a frenetic period of hustle and flow, execs huddling execs, conference attendants lifting open secrets from competitors, scene 45 take one has grind to a monumental halt.

    Damn!

    Conclusion: you now know what they know and what they know everyone knows and no one knows anything new, at least as a critical mass utility for the mean time.

    I mean where's the fun in that.

    If you're a media exec get ready to exhale as you tick of the following: twitter, blog, pod, VJ, multimed,scrobble, ASP apps, flikr, Myface.

    Yep, It's Hammer time. How did the track go"

    "You can't touch this; you can't touch me".


    Five compressed years

    In the last five years, two more like it, there's been a shift in thinking.

    No!

    We use the word paradigm rather liberally, and I am no different over at viewmagazine.tv.

    But has there really been a change so radical to mirror Gutenberg's Press, which after all wasn't just about producing a printing press per se, but an attitudinal change to new information?

    Yes!

    No!



    The P word

    Paradigm seems such an explosive action: a community believes totally in one set of rules, a few have different ideas and cause the others to shift, abandon their ways entirely.

    A new paradigm shift, fundamental thought process stirs a colossal way of life to abandon its belief.

    See the earth is round, its round: It's a bloody sphere. You're all wrong. Flat my arse! ~ anon.


    Big New thing
    No one could deny there hasn't been a round of teutonic changes and frankly the Oxford dictionary should add "the Net" as a synonym for Paradigm.

    But what about the way we do things: the media, press, TV?

    If we look back on the breakthrough of broadcasting and wireless it was the Irish's 1916 use of a wireless ship broadcast to inform anyone sailing close by to tell the US press of their plight, that is cited as broadcast turning point.

    The broadcast pros hadn't yet figured the commercial sense of radio and broadcasting.

    And if it hadn't been for that grubby set up between wireless/TV, the electronics industry and some fairly powerful officials, then broadcasting could well have turned out to be a many-to-many exercise - the very thing that has us belly-aching with joy about the Net.

    And film?

    Well that's still film delivered in a manner which is as old as film.

    If the cryogeneticists could hurry up a bit and get Eisenstein back, d'you figure the daddy of film and montage wouldn't chuckle a bit at what he sees?

    "Oh yes I am Legend is a bad film and how did you do that?" he might say, "but yes that's a montage, and that's a montage and that's a two shot and that there is my favourite conflict arc".

    There's a reason why dye-in-wool media folks can leave their places of employ and still find work, as opposed to those poor monks who had to throw their quills away when the printing press arrived.

    Has there been a radical change?

    You've got to watch this again. Sublime!



    What's the question?
    We still largely watch linear TV, which has been lifted hook line and youtube to the web and newspapers still deliver a version of what they do in hard copy coupled with the existing paradigm of what constitute news.

    "Ok what we need to know here is what happened, who it is, why it happened, when and where...how?"

    Every one's now doing news: the actors have changed, perhaps the philosophy, the technology adds some finesse, but the model of the product has more or less stayed the same.

    "We bring you the news" dah dah dah
    "Ours is the unbellished news" deem dum dee
    "When you hear our news, you'll never want to hear what others say". dala dah
    "This is tomorrow's news today" de dum de do
    "This is the news that you want" dom dom dom

    We're still wedded to a powerful model of info flows that has not changed.

    And why should it?



    Web n+1

    Web 2.0's radicalism hasn't usurped a way of life, has it?

    It's been incorporated into the body politik of what we do, a bolt on to the status quo.

    Perhaps in developed economies it has to be this way.

    There's just too many zeros at the end of that market cap to truly entertain something new.

    Just as drug enforcers could never quite rid the world of illegal drugs in one fell swoop, even if they could and with all the right resources because of the legitimate economy it supports, web 2.0 has to make do with the here and now.

    Could it be so different?

    Conjecture?

    The new new thing
    So 40 years on from now about the time when newspapers have been pegged for history's waste paper bin, will that generation look back to 2004-7 and say with alacrity:
    "Now that's big, that was a paradigm".

    Or what possibly could they be working with that lends them to say the converse.

  • A three D dimensional web as the norm?
  • Could information become so interstitial that it in intelligently gathered around us?
  • And how might we be compositing information e.g. news that's so mind shattering, that its construct leaves you breathless - if you look back on this period in 2050.


    There are no radical changes
    There's a wonderful footnote in paradigms greatest gaffs when some respected figure, a Lord, proclaims physics has reached the end of the road in knowledge.

    Then some bloke called Einstein says something considered weird and wonderful that collapses a good part of Newton's laws.

    I mean the cheek of it!

    So what of these new new things.

    Day dream
    "Oi Gyimah would you stop staring out of that ruddy window"

    I used to get that a lot when I was a kid; I'm doing it now.

    But what would we do without day dreams, cooked up bizarre inventions, oddball moments, cranky thoughts about the moon being made of cheese.

  • Imagine that you only read and viewed information that was so necessary that it really was news you can use.

  • How about a speech recognition device that pinged you anytime someone mentioned your name anywhere in the world.

  • Or that if you needed info on anything it was literally a breath away.

  • Or how about a machines that rendered all other media publishing devices obsolete

    "I wonder what's happening in South Africa with the ANC and how the election will shape".

    Google bot audio super spiders collate key word references (electrical signals in the air - think radio) and decipher priority as an immediate answer to your question and more if you should so need and tell you on the many devices where you can access this.

    Every now and then you get a flashing light on your wrist device; someone's talking about you.

    If it's red a negative word has been detected; if its green a positive word.

    "Would you like to turn of halcyon to negative connotations Dunkley Gyimah", it asks

    Hail the thought police have truly arrived.

    But how far off from these are we?

    A couple of things I have seen point to some of these and tomorrow I'll continue this conversation.