Friday, October 31, 2008

When David met Jayz

Well the truth is I did and I didn't.

I was reflecting on seeing Jay-z in full stride in the arts programme Imagination on BBC TV.
David meets Prince Charles
Two years ago at the University of Westminster, Jay-z, Run and Russel Simmons gathered. I was standing next to Jay-z for a considerable time and I couldn't think of a single question to ask him.

Actually I turned to one of the students and told her what she could ask, after she said" "Er what's he done, music wise". Yep I fell apart laughing. LOL

I dd kick myself afterwards cuz I remembered my niece would have even loved a "hello'.

Ah well. Happens doesn't it.

David filming Moby in Washinton DC
But I have had a few gem moments with other artists.

There was Grace Jones in South Africa. I'm watching her now on Jools Hollands later as I post this. She was scary then. She's scary now. Cuz she's not afraid to tell you off.

She was pretty sharp with me. Woops she's just called modeling prostitution and stood up gyrating her body. This is a car crash. Luckily Jooz Holland has an anti-ruffle gene.

Quincy Jones also in South Africa.
Cameo, Larry Blackman in Leicester
Fela Kuti, Roy Ayers Ertha Kitt and London and a few more.
I'll see if I can find some of the recordings and post, but if you skirt to and enter say Maceo Parker or Roy Ayers into the search you should find a recording.

If not I'm a numpty and should post.

Follow David on Twitter- who has recently been appointed an Artist in Residence at the renowned London South Bank Centre.

David working for ABC News in South Africa in 1994 was one an associate producer with Danny Glover

Finalists - Game Changer for Wemedia Miami

David has been nomintaed as a 2009 wemedia finalist game changer for creating Integrated Multimedia Video Journalism, as a viable training course.

It involves a cinematic accelerated production of news and story telling, which earlier this year he shared with journalists at Camp VJ in Chicago.

To vote for him, please go to wemedia and ping his name

p.s David would like to point out he did not write the subbed submission on the wemedia site. Er, it's a bit brassy eh!

David says: "Thanks every one for your support and all that!

The Future of Video Journalism - Conventions continues

The Future of VideoJournalism is part of a three post article looking at the conventions of videojournalism. You can read the most recent here and the first post here.

Cinema and Video Journalism meet
"You might call me a doc producer, and you might be right. You might say I make news features and I might consider this. You might say the pieces I made look like motion graphic packages and I might not disagree. And then you might say actually what do you make? ...
And I might reply all of the above and none so specifically. No one owns video journalism. It can neither be prescriptive nor easily defined. It is what is is to those that practise it".

1996 - West Africa, David reports and interviews US Special Forces training Ecomog soldiers, preparing for tours in Liberia.
Neither exclusively reportage nor videography, Video journalism occupies a rare and evolving genus. So much so that it's found itself at the centre of a tug of pedagogical and industry war.

At stake is the notion of dictating a prescribed set of rules, attract a following and have commerce do the rest.

If you disagree with the body politiks of any of its major communities, then you risk ridicule.

There's nothing new there. Thomas Kuhn captured our propensity for protectionism and a move away from fixed discourses in his pronouncements: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

So where might video journalism go?

The seeds lay in the past, even a more immediate one. Or as John McHale, a cyberneticists explaining American Culture would say:

"The future of the past is in the future. The future of the present is in the past. The future of the future is in the present"

The Immediate Past
In 2005 as the first UK newspaper journalists to practice Video journalism, the Hull Daily Mail, Liverpool Echo and Press Association journalists,rolled out of the Press Association following three intense weeks of video and narrative discourse, we all agreed on one thing.

Video Journalism is not TV.

There were reasons the regional journalists wanted it so; distinction, difference, a fresh outlook.

Mine emerged from the 18 years or so in the media, many of which involved working either as a journalist, producer, reporter and in some cases video journalists for some of the most respected networks around.

What I had experienced and seen what Video Journalism could do was different, not always necessarily better than TV , but different, tailor made for this new web platform.

The wondrous nature of video journalism's origins give some idea. TV its most obvious cousin emerged from the silent movie reel with a lot of help from radio.

In fact the first coterie of TV reporters e.g. Cronkite (US) Dimblebee (UK) almost exclusively came from Radio, and before that print. They were the finest of their time.

The classical nature of TV news mirrored in many respects Hollywood's formulae for story structure and resolution. But whilst different genre conventions began to evolve in film e.g. avante garde and documentary, TV News maintained its set of codes, though different house styles emerged for different corporate authors.

For example ITN reports differently to BBC; ABC will have its house style as will CBS. If anything the form that creatively mashes up TV with a sub genre e.g. 1st person narrative versus omniscient is documentary.

Video Journalism has thus gestated from TV, where as a broader, richer canvas would be a hybrid of cine/photographic language and radio/TV reportage, which a growing number of VJs are reveling in.
Scott Rensberger, [right. pic] one of the US's most celebrated multiple award winning video Journalists talks to David.

The latter sets up an interesting proposition. In order to critique film/video we need to comprehend some of its language and distinguish our analyses from the audiences' expectations.

The former of these resides in what might be referred to as an evaluative assessment. Who's the audience? Did it satisfy their needs? Were the graphics good? Did it meet what often is a reference to classical story arc?

These are instincts often you build up and again depending on the target audience will differ from one group to another.

An interpretive analysis of film presents huge problems and is the stuff of critics, whom themselves may differ in opinion, but they often have one thing in common: a rich historical understanding of the product.

Video Journalism's Achilles
Why is this problematical now?

Because whilst you wouldn't ask someone who's had a limited knowledge of newspaper design to present to the board a critique and launch of a new newspaper, it has parallels in an interpretive analysis of video, if your knowledge of video is limited.

This is by no means qualifies only those with the scars of a camera to talk meaningfully about video journalism. I personally wouldn't dare profess to knowing it inside out. I am a student of its form with a particular perspective.

Whilst conversely not having looked down the lens doesn't disqualify those new to the genre. You don't need to have been a video journalist to understand any of the forms of the video journalism.

Our collective televisual maturity provides some fallback.

But it does mean when we critic its form it would be expedient to have a broader understanding of analysis deployed. Story form, a play with the form, comparative analysis, technical innovations, tone and delivery - just some of the things that matter I would say in Video Journalism's increasing diversity.

This last statement sets up a segue for point of this post: "the many forms of video journalism".

The future of video journalism is and will be a break into different forms, as witnessed at the 2006 Video Journalism Awards in which you could distinguish between genres like: breaking story, video feature, independent, self reflexive and so on.

And then there's the unknowns, or trend extrapolated thinking knowns [ sounds tautological, blame Rumsfeld, better still Lacan].

Unlike the media of television which delineates its product linearly, notwithstanding styles such as Flash backs and Flash Forwards, the web is spatial, and so we might well see a style emerge that captures spatial story telling. In 91 Manovich gave us a reason to see this with THE FAMILY at 56k modem speeds.

For more contemporary and innovatory forms I strongly advise to look at Richard's Multimedia Shooter.

That void is being touched with multimedia, but we still can't be sure of the shape of things to come. When video hyperlinking breaks, what next?

  • When the video configurational size jumps from 620 to full screen, what next?
  • When virtual life meets real life, what next? [ incidentally I'll bring you a report from the Science Museum, in which I hosted a panel of some of the UK's most talented multiplatform story tellers including one who mixes real and virtual life using his mobile]
  • What happens with holographic video? Remember wag the dog!

What we can hope for at the moment with this nascent form is a healthy debate and discourse.

No one owns the form.

At the moment it is without form [ unless you prescribe to its TV tendencies], we have the ability to create a new visual stanza that just as TV borrowed from its antecedents, it takes and moves on to boldly......[ you're ahead of me :)].... gone before.

One which takes into account narrative and exposition, montage and sequencing [ spatial as well] and the new technologies that are likely to come on stream.
  • The Future of VideoJournalism is part of a three post article looking at the conventions of videojournalism. You can read the most recent here and the first post here.

David has been nomintaed as a 2009 wemedia finalist game changer for creating Integrated Multimedia Video Journalism, as a viable training course. To vote for him, please go to wemedia

David Dunkley Gyimah is researching the Outernet for his Phd, integrated multimedia video journalism and is researching with a colleague a Video Journalism doc, a remaking of Darwin's cell theory.

For more on David's ideas around videojournalism go to, in which he's about to add some fresh material.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Power of the mobile

Power of the mobile.

In light of the BBC's Paul Branan, editor of emerging platform's talk a couple of days ago, this dropped into my email box.

An interesting, an event in Helsinki, Oslo and Trondheim 1-5 December, prising open the future according to mobile.

Click here for more info

The Madness of Britain

If you're flying in to the UK today and in the serenity of your hotel or eventual resting place, switch on the television, or Tele, as we might say here, brace yourself.

The lead and subsequent running story might have you clutching your bag and signaling to your partner: "Sheryl, I think we should leave the UK. I think there are some terrorists on the loose".

Therein, the images of two white adults will flash across the screen; one with a trademark Barry Whitesque facial hirsute, the other clean shaving with Barry White esque Loreal hairstyle.

For the next hour or so, they'll keep cropping up. The baffling bit is the footage that follows depicts middle class people, greying hairs and rinsed wigs not looking fearful, more outraged.

If you're lucky you'll catch an image of one of the perpetrators hosting a radio show and probably scream at your partner. "Sheryl, that bad man is hosting a freakin show, you know like David Letterman..".

Partner: "Oh yeah, lovely suit, what has he done".
Male Partner: Haven't a darn idea"

Mad Britain.
Britain's gone mad.

A crime has been committed.

Now lets not underestimate the crime; here's the background.

Two talented performers, one a major chatshow host, the other a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stand up, a sort of David Chapell on a really bad day, played a prank that went horribly wrong.

They rang up another performer, an old skool one, you know, someone from the: "Bewitched" era, except this was Fawlty Towers [ I know, I know, that means nothing] and said lewd things on his answer phone.

Things like, oh I have slept with your grand daughter and when you hear this you might commit suicide.

It was bad, pretty bad.

After making the programme, it sat on a shelf ready for broadcast a couple of days away.

The victim of the prank, a pensioner, is said to have pleaded they don't broadcast this recording.

He was ignored and then some days later the broadcast went ahead. On the day itself there were a couple of protests.

Then the newspapers got hold of the story, the Daily Mail, a paper that appeals to conservative England.

Then to use that proverbial expression: "the S*** hit the fan". 30,000 complaints and rising.

As the days unfolded, I thought "oh dear, no one from the BBC's talking".

Then again, I thought if the BBC responded to every event then would they ever make any programmes.

Anti Customer Service
Consider this 'one off' story for instance relayed to me by an acquaintance whom I worked with whilst at the BBC. Our mutual friends is now a senior reporter in the organisation. He picked up the phone from a viewer complaining about something.

After listening to the complainant for a while he said:

"Er did I give you my name".
Complainant: No
"Well **** off then.

So you see the BBC gets complaints every hour, every day.

Yesterday, the two top flight performers were suspended, one then duly resigned, but that wasn't before the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition, had weighed in.

And now the BBC is holding emergency meetings.

Yes this is code red: the Madness of Britain.

Comedy is now under threat, the direction of the BBC as a vanguard for young people is under threat. More resignations and sackings are expected.

Damn the BBC might just implode, and then we'll find at last the moon is made out of cheese.

So what's going on?

Ah drama par excellence. Spleen venting of a kind that has its roots elsewhere and has slowly been simmering away.

The financial collapse, fat cat payouts, anger, avarice, gluttony and excesses in the financial system added to the mix.

Ingredient for a distaster
Here are the ingredients.

Jonathan Ross, one of the pranksters, is one of the highest paid presenters £18m ie around $29 dollars give or take some change and this swinging exchange rate. Too many that's obscene, way obscene.

Jonathan Ross presents a number of programmes on the BBC. So if you're not a JRoss fan, you're already complaining about why you should have to put up with this.

And it gets worse for you. His deal lasts till 2010.

Russel Brand, the other transgressor, is also paid a nice sum £200,000 a year for his radio 2 show

Then there's the BBC, whose relationship with the Daily Mail might be described as er "non existent". You might say the Daily Mail thinks the BBC is a $£@^&(()&^%$£@!!!! and the BBC might return that compliment.

The BBC, to its detractors, is the firm you love to hate, you see. Funded by tax payers but with no accountability, if it went to the wall, we'd go psychotic. Yet at the smallest of windows, you'll find groups complaining, sometimes even legitimately.

Then the issue of its funding pops up. Grrr! Why the papers argue are we paying a tax towards an outfit we have no control over, did not elect their management, and they rarely cater for your taste.

Damn if it does and if it doesn't really. Newspapers fearful of their future criticise the BBC's expanisionist ambitions. Must bring em down a peg or two, so this latest saga plays right into newspapers' hand.

And finally the misogynous, aegist and indencency nature of the crime. An apology simply wouldn't do.

So there you are, a warnng to you if you're flying into the UK and want to make sense of this Madness of Britain.

A crime has been committed, those guilty indeed do need to be reprimanded, but a root and branch look at the BBC???

Well then that's it. The press had mooted it, post Sutton, commentators had poked at it in their columns. Think back to another talented performer Chris Evans resigning from his radio show complaining of fatigue to his boss Mathew Bannister.

THere was going to be an endoscopy of the BBC at some time. Thank goodness Jonathan Ross has provided means.

Of course this isn't the first time Ross might be cast into the wilderness. Following on from his highly successful shows in the 80s, the Last Resort and into the 90s, Ross hit rock bottom. He's recounted this story so many times, so will he bounce back.

Yes. In two weeks time all will be forgotten and we'll move on to something like Gordon Brown's masterful curtailment of the banks [ yeah! ] or why Brits hate boxer shots.

Meanwhile did I tell you he story of me when I used to dance on Britain's Soul Train in the 80s while a chemistry maths undergraduate and a rather bossy floor manager kept on prodding us where to stand. His name Jonathan Ross


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Burying the lead -Media Tip 102

I'm shattered 96 hours of full on with little sleep, but it was worth it.

Firstly our Masters students put together a blinder of a show today; 6 sessions of online culminated in a 5 hour news cycle towards their online newspaper.

There were many highs; one student pursued at least 6 different potential interviewees before getting her quote. Persistent pays. 

Secondly, and following on from today's live newsroom, it was a dash across town to the University of East London for my annual review of my Phd.

I'm through to the next year, and now the fun starts...

But burying the lead - media tip 102?

There are some advantages if you can call it that for working online. A huge slice of it is processing. Take a cut here, rework that para from that site there, grab a quote somewhere else and you're done.

But when you're the primary news gatherer and you're still grappling with the idea of news worthiness, how do you spot the lead from the mass of copy?

The Cat Sat on the Mat
The Cat Sat on the Mat is one of the games, it's easy.

Cat, Mat and Sat have to be used in the first para of a make believe story. 

Then you go Jayson Blair, creatively constructing  a story of 350 words.

It's a pretty hilarious exercise, revealing some active imaginations. But when the laughter done ask your students where the lead is.

Most often its buried and thus the expression, the cat sat on the mat become an allegory for the lead being buried.

As journalists we get paid to execute some fundamentals:
  • Asking the right questions
  • Using words accurately
  • and spotting the news story
Of course there's more..., but these are some of the basics

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Paul Brannan BBC on mobile phones - talk

Blogging live: Paul speaking for about 30 mins.

You can see a short video of Paul at London's Online News Association, when we gathered to hear reuters talk about mob phones

Paul Brannan,editor of BBC Emerging Platforms is talking at the Uni about reinventing the future.

A precise follows as he highlights changes in the industry.

Paul talks about " 13,000 job lost in US - Source Garret co Inc.
Penetration of newspapers down, 2007 steepest decline in a while.
At home UK losses in ITV and Channel 4".

Inventing the future through the past
He later goes on to speak about Paul Chappe ho invented the pre-telegraph 1791.
"If you succeed you will soon bask in Glory", he notes in his presentation.

Chappe's invention was picked up by Napoleon who helped push it along.
But being first does not guarantee success, he adds. Chappe did not benefit from his invention.

Brannan takes a stab of the future and shows a picture of a mobile from the 70s and more recently the 90s explaining how technology has changed.

Nokia calls it the age of the 4th screen, ff on from Cinema
Some stats he reel of from the BBC and those getting content 47 percent users survey used mobile. 50 + percent said they used it to surf the web.

Uses DVDH signal ie the phones, but the problems receiving signal.

Slide of Hellen Boaden, director of BBC News shown talks about 2m gone because of the nature of news. It says fewer that 24 percent of 15-24 watch 15 consecutive minutes of BBC News on TV in any given week.

Paul explains how mobile picked up last images of Saddam Husein

Paul then segues into UGC and talks about how the power now lies with the audience.
References Nokia 95 phone then points to Kyte which runs UGC, then Qik -allows streaming to sites, and then there's and 12 seconds.

Disparate content from RSS readers such as netvibes, Paul adds is his mode of surfing online. If the news headline doesn't work he's off.

Zoopy contacts with friends, synchronous data, to give context. Trusted places site ensures you give credible info otherwise your rep suffers.

Here's Paul's advice to about 140 students gathered in the conference room

  • learn the basics
  • embrace change
  • innovate
  • learn every tool
  • recast journalism's relationship with the public
  • listen collaborate enable and serve
  • add value avoid commodification
  • and have fun

Q an A
Paul goes on to explain the sort of person he'd employ if he were in an interview.
  • - good writing skills
  • - knowledge of online apps
  • - some coding skills if they have them.
  • - enthusiasm- a zeal to learn

Quesions ff on Trust
Paul explains Trust is everything.. defending the BBC

Question of those who took pics at Bunsfield fire. Were the people there irresponsible?
Paul points to strict guidelines that the BBC uses to guide those who submit UGC

Question on hyperlocal TV
Paul says BBC not doing hyperlocal, however imminent decision due soon on this matter. See my previous posts

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Origins of Multimedia meets Video journalism Flashback 2001

The piece is called The Family - a finalist at Channel 4's Digital Awards. Click here to launch

It's something else to look back on this piece of multimedia work from 2001. One of the first attempted integrated multimedia video journalism pieces.

I need to tell you a few things.
  • Few people outside of the design community knew what Flash was. We were on Flash 4 going into Flash 5.
  • Flash did not support video, only bitmaps which you had to animate to look like video.That meant you had no video controls. You had to write code.
  • We were on 56k modems, so we had to encode these to unfathomable small sizes to today's standards [using load movie scene variables] because broadband resided only with big companies who could afford T1 lines.
  • IMVJ was the dream, that is matching video expertise with Flash. Credit here to Rosalind Miller the designer and encoder.
  • We filmed at a boxing gym set up for urban kids, quite a few from troubled backgrounds, in Islington.
  • We collected sound using a sony walkman and video with a Vx1000.
  • I got hit in the ring operating a minature steady cam. Yep suffer for your art.
  • The piece had no navigational direction, it employed play and spatial theory. If you've never read Lev Manovich - The Language of New Media, go order it now. It's where I got my epiphany from
  • Heavyweight boxer Lennox Lewis' team on seeing this hired me to work with them. I had the time of my life witnessing the fight of the century Tyson vs Lewis
  • You can read about it here in Blue Print - an article that I think has some currency now as it did back then.
  • I was introduced to BBC Commissioning Editors to consider some more "circular docs", though it never came off
  • It lead to me meeting Hillman Curtis - The Flash Guru -awesome!
  • Read up further on video hyperlinking - something I believe will be the next disruptive method/technology. The Economist rang up for an interview aferwards. Gobsmacked!
  • If you look at the credits ask yourself now if you could perform all the known disciplines, because that's where we are with IMVJ now.
  • This week I'll pull out another Flashback from 1996 - an ad broadcast on CNN International, made in 24 hours and whose renumeration you could only describe as "silly!"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

All quiet on the front

Has it all gone quiet on the front or is it me?

Some business advisers refer to it as the seven year cycle.

Innovation all done, we're in the maturating phase, where that clever gadget, new way of life, becomes a product, business must turn over to make money.

I wonder if an audit of past and present were performed whether we'd spot any great upheavals.

Thing about bedded down technologies is that when they're good, they're good, and when they're mediocre they stay mediocre, or do they?

I suppose it's all about process now. Who can stay lean, fast and efficient.

And from a business point of view turn over a profit.

The best time to be disruptive is when you sense calm.

Me, I'm considering shredding viewmagazine. It needs an overhaul.

And then some

Friday, October 24, 2008

creativity in the work place

The last few days have been pretty extraordinary.

And then the question was asked: why would anyone want to do a Phd?

There are many reasons I have heard, but an over riding one from the cohorts at Smart Lab.

Many of us want to examine the status quo, and find some context for our own passions. And then look to see whether there are alternatives.

And it's not the end per se, but the journey of discovery that's a heavy draw.

This week we did the ologies. By that ontology, phenomenology, ethnography, videography.

I was reminded of a well known BT advert were a Jewish mother character, Beattie, played by Maureen Lipman praises her son for his sucess at one of the "ologies".

There are few places its said when you can take a team of people from different disciplines, place them in a room where they undertake pecha kuchas. You should try this.

This meaning more or less chit-chat in Japanese, but really amounts to power point slides in break neck speed, and then watch the strands of different opinions emerge into a creative soup.

Frankly it's a wonder my Master students are doing that.

The added ingredient to fostering a safe place amongst this very eclectic gathering is the location. A creative zone or to use one of my colleague's, Camille's expressions, inspirational zone

Anyway more on this latter, I have got 5000 words to consider

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Have blogs been kicked to touch by twitters asks BBC?

Has blogging had its day? Does twitting now rule?

There must be something in it for the BBC's Today programme to give almost 6 mins of air time to it this morning.

Worth listening to here and see whether the argument holds water?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sonic Conversations and films

It was designed to repel teenagers gathering outside shop fronts.

The mosquito emitted a high frequency noise only audible to teenagers.

However shop owners had not anticipated the black lash and the civil rights implications some youth groups would raise.

But then some youngster got wise and transformed the noise into a ring tone.

And the ring tone is not only a device to thwart teachers but also keep one step ahead of parents and the police.

Just one of the things discussed in a session today on sound crafting at the Smart Lab which included a fascinating talk around sound war fare and sonic water cannons.

The latter sees how you can send a stream of narrow audible sound, even subliminal messages so unless you're standing in an exact particular spot, you'll hear nowt.

Tomorrow we'll be down at the Dana centre, part of the science museum, looking at citizen film makers.

They'll be speakers on avatar-characters, collaborative film making and mobile phone features.

The questions have been asked before, but we've moved on a bit, so could this new discourse in film ever challenge the status quo.

How much is this new quantum in film making innovation over substance and is it only the preserve of niche audiences?

Creating an Ad aired on CNN International and some

It's Phd away week, where thirty or so of us, all with different fields of interest gather. More on that and what may be of interest with its terms and frames of interest.

Today I interviewed a prominent expert in child development and play who had some fascinating things to say translated across journalism.

Tomorrow at my presentation to colleagues I aim to illustrate how size, speed, content and aesthetic may well matter on the web regarding video stories and video journalism.

Later in the week I'll post a 30 sec spot, one of a few, aired on CNN International. The story behind the story was being rung up by a client who had paid for airtime but had nothing to show and wanted to know if I could create an ad in less than a day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Training Matters -redux

In this I outline why journalism training has never been more pressing in today's climate.

I was a speaker at this year's 15th World Editors Forum of the World Association of Newspapers in June in which I spoke about training to hundreds of editors. This is a redux of an earlier article.

In the twenty years I have been a journalist working across various disciplines, five of which I have combined as a senior lecturer, few issues rank higher within the space I ocuppy as training, whether it's in the lecture hall or newsroom.

In those twenty years I have been fortunate enough to work with, train with, or train scores of journalists.

Some of my earliest international memories include working in South Africa in 1993 alongside the International Federation of Journalists, the Media Workers Association of South Africa and South African Union of Journalists creating a Training the Trainer programme.

Soon after arriving from South Africa on his first trip in 1992 David wrote this Dispatches for the BBC's In house newspaper, which would catch the attention of a number of South African media institutions.
  • South Africa Report for BBC Radio 4, the only non- South African documentary played on South Africa's public service radio during the historic 94 election.

  • The need for training was something South Africa's institutions readily embraced for a post apartheid regime.

    More recently I have consulted for a number of newspapers in the UK, including the Press Association and FT.

    What's clear amongst many editors and proprietors is the need for training -not just as an away day exercise to bond staff, and that is necessary - but as a means of keeping the working environment fully active: to enrich the iron in the blood.

    The motive is not just to be on top of the game, but in front of it.
  • What's media scape like?
  • How can we strategically stay ahead of the game?
  • how can we respond to the the changing needs of journalism?


    I am perhaps one of the thousands of fortunate journalists to have experienced some of the best training around during my newsroom years.

    The BBC's Training Unit, which does not exist in the form it was in the 80s and 90s, saw its fair share of me for voice training and various journalism practices.

    I once even served as a guinea pig for broadcast managers to interview an ethnic minority and assess whether their interviewing style needed changing or whether I was simply hopeless. I had worked for some of the biggest outfits, but not via interviews with personnel, but by managers seeing my work and calling me up.

    BBC Radio Leicester, the first local radio station in the UK, where I started my career was where I received some of my best training under station manager Leo Devine, now a senior BBC figure.

    And I was reminded of that culture of training recently when a broadcaster approached me at the Royal Festival Hall and reminded me that I trained him in 1988.

    David in an edit suit in the days of physically cutting tape recorded on a Uher
    Other than that, like most news rooms you just got on with it - de facto training on the job - for which I have also had some tremendous experiences working on the likes of Reportage and Newsnight.

    Training, is either the thing that dare not speak its name of our career, quite unsexy in one guise, or a fall back position, a safety net that ensures a broadcasting outfit could maintain its professional status quo by bringing up staff to the water mark of best standards.

    Without playing down challenges in that era and the commitment from those that could afford this expense, there appears some startling differences between then and now.

    It was no genius on my part that when I graduated from journalism college , Falmouth, following years of the sciences and a degree in Applied Chemistry, I landed a couple of prime jobs.

    Serendipity played a part- right place right time - but truthfully I'd been maxed to the head with training.

    And truth, as a former chemist more used to writing chemical symbols than essays, oh I needed training.



    David presents his ideas to a critical audience of leading media practitioners at the prestigious National Press Club in Washington DC before collecting the coveted Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism.
  • National Press Club report here featuring Adrian Holavaty - a VJ report back then we more or less knew journalism and any scenario planning of trend extrapolation provided a fairly comfort zone ahead.
  • What's the worse that could happen?

    Oh we're launching a 24 hour news show, which requires multiple feeds from the journalist.

    Difficult and daunting YES, but in the broader sense of the word it was still journalism you understood.

    Today, no such luck, the seams of a profession are being picked and rewoven into a new, some say exciting, others believe a shapeless tapestry.

    Added to the normative variables of journalism e.g. storytelling, ethics and writing, we're witnessing new parameters - which in many cases we might argue have nothing to do with the profession.

    It begs questions, many ones, wider ones.

    What, if we can afford to train our journalists, should we train them with?


    Where do we start?


    Interactive documentary, The Family, made in 2000 using Flash and Video Journalism was a runners up in Channel 4's digital media competition
    The buzz word at the moment is multimedia, a discipline that pulls in a wide facet of journalistic talents nominally spread amongst a team.

    Now it's expected, within foremost the emerging generation and to an increasing extent those already in the profession to be the passport to keeping their career going.

    We're in the evolving era of jack of all trades and masters of them all.

    We will still need specialists, journalists who have no need to master these things, but the trend suggest a collapsing of interdisciplines into one.

    It's a Niagara Falls chasm of a leap from the days I remember at the BBC when friends where being asked to become bi-media.

    From bi to sex and counting; soon you'll be dec skilled - that's 10 separate disciplines.


    David training the first UK Newspaper Journalists to become VideoJos resulting in his award winning film 8 Days

    In 2005 working with the first regional journalists to attend the Press Association's (PA's) Videojournalism training session we proved that print journalists could indeed learn TV.

    And if you're long enough in the tooth to remember the BBC's excellent journalists training schemes where 12 cohorts become the chosen ones across the nation, you'll be no stranger to the mantra surrounding the once mystic art of TV making.

    The feeling was: "If you haven't got a double first from. . . you're ahead of me here, you're not coming in".

    Now print journalists shoot, cut, edit, voice their reports and we're training them to do it swiftly and produce appropriate visuals for their chosen platform.

    Video online can either using one person be video journalism for television of video journalism for video journalism - the creative gonzo form.

    And along the way of what I refer to as blank paper syndrome, there have been noticeable success.

    One that tickles me after taking a call from one of PAs early training adopters was from the Liverpool echo - David how much can I charge for news footage?

    The Echo made a nice tidy sum that day selling their story to the BBC and commercial broadcasters.


    The International Video Journalism Awards in Berlin. David top of the shot can be seen filming minutes before collecting an international award
    However, videojournalism is one arm of as the name suggest multimedia - a many tentacle beast.

    But those that can are having a go and making good on their online ventures.

    However one of the biggest tasks besetting training, a sort of pot-noodle of a word, is not necessarily the technical and theoretical skills we need to learn, but the paradigm and creative bent that is required to comprehend changes; changes which don't look like slowing down.

    Contemporary attitudes, re-engineering our approach, mixing technology with the traditional, thinking spatially rather than linear ( see post for, writing for human eyes and artificial one e.g. robots are just some of features we're having to wrestle with.

    Has training ever been more crucial?

    Well no not really, this is all relative; each by gone era will trumpet the importance of training

    But that doesn't diminish the profoundness of training, here and now.

    Is it crucial now?


    In fact I'm thinking of tagging on RnD to the word training, which often still evokes thoughts of Open University lecturers looking like fallen rock stars wearing hush puppies.

    RnD because in the current climate training is not, or should not be about ensuring staff are kept up with good practices but prepped for disruptive forces and how to seize initiatives.

    I use an old image illusion to make a point that if you can't see it, it doesn't mean it's not there.

    Or as I have said in the Video journalism manifesto, if it hasn't happened it awaits to be done.

    Go to the web young journalist said Anthony Moor, editor of on a posting that oozed passion and foresight. ( I apologise it does reference me as well)

    For examples of if it hasn't happened it waits to be done you can look to the British media's relation with videojournalism.

    After Channel One, the BBC would take up the reigns of this new media form as a viable asset, seven years on from C1s beginnings and in between that period no one would dare try for its lack of a broadcaster's endorsement.


    Why does training matter?

    It doesn't if you're not interested; you'll get by.

    By why it matters otherwise is it is the engine that drives our progress: the swan syndrome, looking elegant on top but webbing furiously.

    Here and now, it provides us an in, to what might come.

    There are many of us, you who believe the tower fans of change are yet to gather force; the net at a standard 16mb plus will drive a medium of unimaginable power e.g. live net broadcasting, IPTV.

    As I write this I have been made privy to software in the making (I'm under an NDC) that when it comes off will completely and utterly change the landscape.

    There's work to be done; present forms are evolving, new ones are emerging.

    Journalists are having to think like graphic designers, motion graphic artists, action scripters, SEO analysts and as they slay one form, within the core disciplines the experts are raising their anti.

    Cubism turns to futurism and then constructivism emerges.

    Online, the foundations of what we once did might still be sound, but the style is (meta)morphosing.. futurism to a new futurism.

    The flash documentary I made with my colleague in 2000, runners up in Channel 4's Unleash the Talent, I believe still holds, but it's old hat; we've moved on.


    David presents from Flash on the Beach a gathering of some of the world's best designers using Flash or otherwise, while below he talks training and new digital techniques at Apple's store in Regent Street, London.

    Training matters because it's about progress, not the fag end of budgetary expenses.

    Three years ago a colleague and I conceived an online learning tool for journalists built in Flash.

    Last year the BBC acquired its intellectual engine, and us as consultants to make its own version to launch its flagship Journalism College training.

    Why does training matter?

    Because there is no certainty for those who remain complacent.

    Big companies can and most likely will conceivably go to the wall if they don't change.

    Doing nothing now is no longer an option - hoping this thing called the web will blow away.

    We (more so in developed countries) occupy one big mother board so if you're not innovating, someone else will and your CEO will have no excuse to shareholders when that tech company down the road launches the next big journalistic tool that you should have had.

    Brrrrr Final Cut Pro!

    It matters, in a bizarre twist of fortunes because large swathes of university grads are leaving the nest with fabulous skills - that much we know from within the BJTC - but there are cases where some fail to find homes that can use their new skills.

    I see the timetunnel of Channel One looming in which of the hundreds of VJs - some very good , some er, perhaps needing more journalism training made choices to move elsewhere as the market did not support VJs

    Today only a few have survived from the days of Channel One.
    Former Channel One Entertainment star Julia Ceaser is today a Presenter and Business Correspondent on BBC News 24
    Can there be such a thing as over skilled?

    £$%^&*@@! No!

    But what the present generation know, what they can do is so awesome that it leaves managers bereft of ideas what to do with them.

    In a recent posting I say tongue in cheek go hire a teenager for Christmas.


    Students and Lecturers report on Nato troops during an evacuation order in which real special forces were deployed
    The Nato programme at my university is unique.

    Students get a chance in a lifetime to be in a make believe war zone environment as Nato forces battle each other, setting up their own game theory scenarios and letting these new journalists loose to report.

    Students by then will know how to shoot video and stills, pod, sat. back to base, get an idea of rank and procedures on board anything from a destroyer to rapid boats.

    Training matters because without it we become anemic, we atrophy, we become bored at what we're presented with and if not industrious we fall behind our competitors whom today are world wide.

    To coin an old phrase demo or die, train or be slain.

    The choice is yours.
  • Monday, October 20, 2008

    Virtual Worlds Seminar

    Blogging live

    Bruce Damer a leading authority in Virtual Worlds is set to outline his theory on the evolution of life simulated in virtual worlds.

    Speaking as a panelist at the Virtual Worlds conference at the Queen Elizabeth Centre, Bruce started out by road mapping the emergence of virtual platforms and urged attendants to join the matrix he is setting up.

    Minutes before the session opening, I had my body scanned. The company, 3D Body Scanner NX, behind it says this sort of emerging technology has applications for the clothing industry, but also has significant medical apps.

    I'll post more in a while

    UK's hyperlocal TV revolution

    In Norway to talk about video journalism I shared a presenting programme with Tim Burke, Editor BBC English Regions, driving the video journalism movement.

    His presentation was rich in statistics and polls indicating how well accepted a VJ trial programme in the midlands, Birmingham, had gone.

    I later interviewed him briefly and will post that sometime this week.

    Local TV, the more acceptable term used within the BBC to describe their move into broadband news reportage will have a huge effect.

    For news competitors it also presents a significant challenge, highlighted here couple of days ago.

    At a time when ITN News is pulling out of the regions, the BBC will be able to display its hegemony without contest.

    While like millions I'm reliant on BBC News and its many productions, I temper my news intake with variations from other sources.

    Notwithstanding what local newspapers will have to offer, Local TV will be a playground all onto the BBC.

    That must be a good thing at first as it'll illustrate how breaking down national news into truly hyper local interest should be.

    Or reporting on matters for communities e.g. disputes over trash/rubbish can be far more relevant than national matters.

    The trouble is the cost to run such a programme could be prohibitive to any outfit contemplating new entry into the news market, that is if they want to run a national campaign.

    Region by region, it's different. Newspapers already have the infra structure and local reach, but perhaps not the video reporting clout, website support and triple play potential.

    Yes, a thoroughly good report could quite easily find itself going from community to regional to national: bottom up rather than top down.

    There is one thing I believe newspapers could do and that is to adopt an agency approach.

    Mirror the BBC's activity by offering the best and some on a dedicated web site, which could be accessed at local levels.

    I'll talk more about this with Tim's interviews as well as Michael Lally, RTE's head of News', bold citizen journalism experiment, the likes of which have not been replicated anywhere else I know off.

    Meanwhile see for mor info on video journalism

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Newspaper architecture and video

    A friend asked me a question and I thought I'd doodle something regarding setting up a site.

    I admit it's basic and each segment warrants its own interogation, but hopefully if you're considering going down this path, it should set you on your merry way.

    Front end
    The front end team of designers and coders with an array of language skills should do you proud.

    The chief designer or creative director should be able to translate editorial needs.

    Many newspapers employ their own in house tech development to create css pages to hold the pages of their site together.

    Most designers will speak css, ajax, html, xml, java Flash action scripting and lingo. In many cases a lot of what you might be looking for exists on the web and can be customised.

    Middle Ware and back end - a good Server provider, with strong support. There are an endless number on the market. 1&1 is a favourite, whilst Fasthosts in the UK has strong support.

    You might even think about setting up you own server, though you'll need to be on top of firewalls and setting up mysql databases.

    If you're planning a beast of a site, tune loading and balancing servers, and or even streaming ones would be a good idea.

    When it comes to video players the market's saturated with them.

    From a couple of the newspapers I consult I've had some interesting conversations and the chief quip appears to be support. How much personal technical support can they give? How easy is their CMS for uploading and what's the look of he video?

    There are other features to look for: viewing window size and web 2.0 apps, controls and of course costs.

    Colin Powell endorses Sen. Barack Obama

    In this excerpt from meet the press Tom Brokaw interviews Colin Powell who provides a detailed and considered answer why he will not be supporting his party's presidential nominee.

    Irrespective of your allegiance Powell's submission paints a poignant picture.

    Apart from how prevalent this will be reported, and that you can absolutely disagree, it'll be interesting to see how many prominent pundits capture Powell's race as a defining criteria here, rather than his judgement.

    Colin Powell endorses Sen. Barack Obama

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    The End of UK Media - November 27th 2008. BBC's Video Journalism Revolution

    On November the 27th 2008, a decision, which will amount to a seismic disruption to UK media, principally newspapers, will take place.

    The BBC will announce whether it will introduce hyperlocal televsion.

    It's huge. A real game changer. And for the newspapers, the end of media.

    • Because few newspapers can succeed against the might of the BBC and BBC local will be formidable. They already have video journalists for the 65 or so broadband sites.
    • Even though many newspapers are doing video, when it comes down to it, the BBC believes viewers will choose them above a local newspaper who's just started video making.
    • The decision, for once, overtly legitimises the use of video journalists as a news force.
    In 2005 precisely because of this, The Press Association, with the support of UK regional newspapers, embraced video journalism.

    Earlier this year, I interviewed Peter Horrocks, Head of Multimedia News at the BBC.

    The decision will be an explosive one and judging from this link it looks like it will get the green light.

    What's the point of a video journalism showreel?

    Martin posted a question, which prompted me to ask what's the point of the reel?

    A showreel is the business card of media types trying to show what they're capable of.

    From directors, producers, reporters, cameras.... and corporate bodies, the general wisdom is that a strong reel can provide you with that sheen to attract eye balls and more business.

    Does it work?

    Well in my experience there are variations in its rate of success for different professions.

    Perhaps the most fuzzy is the reporters' reel. That's because unless you fit the profile of what the director of presentation/ talent is looking for, it matters less whether you compiled your reel or cashed in a favour from Ridley Scott.

    At Channel 4 News, one of the senior execs was scouring tapes, a lonely arduous task clunk clinking the VHS machine [ no such luck today]. Within 10 seconds of inserting a tape, it came out.

    The programme had an idea of what it wanted, and would have been tracking its prospect.

    Running tapes would be an opportunity to confirm its findings within a larger exec meeting or just on the off chance come across a gem.

    I would say the latter happens very rarely.

    Stuart Cosgrove , a senior figure at Channel 4, was nonplussed by them, adding there was no way of verifying who was behind making the snippets of film he was watching.

    He was referring by and large to the directors' reel.

    Getting a job via a reel
    In the late 90s, an email from the BBC, which started off: "Apologies for the delay but we were having to go through a number of reels", did result in a meeting with a senior exec interested in me shifting.

    However the only success I ever had with a reel was working for the BBC's Youth show Reportage.

    Janet Street Porter's office requested I send in a VHS.

    All she asked for was a piece to camera of 20-40 seconds. I'd already met the programme's editor so the reel again was to affirm or discard their findings.

    Reportage liked its young crew to have a certain... how do I say this...confidence and if you were going on screen, that well worn phrase would echo in the room:"Does the camera like him/her?"

    The venerable and popular UK presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli, with the Scottish brogue was one producer/reporters I worked with in 1992, so you'll know what I mean.

    I did my piece to camera in my backyard and was later ribbed by the Reportage editorial team and also told what Janet said when my tape came up, which made me laugh.

    Reporters' reels are nay impossible to sell. At best showing off on screen with a montage of favourite reports will not do much, unless that is you've a habit of interviewing top celebs.

    However the template appears to be:
    • a piece to camera/stand up.
    • interview with a well known figure or live broadcast
    • and then a short news package is more than enough to convince the watchers you've got the 'hire me' factor.
    Reels for directors work differently. The film makers' signature style is on display. My boss and friend Jon Staton ( Ex Saatchi head of TV) watched them regularly for commercial shoots.

    The short list were then rang up or met for a chat to see how likeable they were and what they might contribute to a shoot.

    The producers' reel is also selling something else. The success of a show hangs around a producer pulling everything together so if a reel is eminently watchable, then credit goes to the producer.

    The editor, camera, lighting have their own reels.

    A curio however for me is the editors' reel. Editing in film, generally differs from editing in video features and news.

    In film the editor constructs the dailies and very much crafts the story. In news and features the editor can often find themselves being strongly directed by news reporters.

    The video journalism reel is so nondescript, it could take up chapters. For it's an amalgam of all the above.

    The emerging Video journalism Reel
    The market place I believe isn't matured enough to look on VJ reels as a revolving door for jobs.

    Though there have been noticeable successes from newspaper VJs, I have exchanged ideas with, moving into television.

    In both cases Andy now working for sports network s Setanta and Vicki who's at BorderTV are story tellers and the camera likes them.

    Many video journalists prefer not to go on camera, so it's their film skills they're touting.

    My colleague at Channel One, Sacha Von Straten, makes the point on Rosenblum's site [Sorry it starts off with a halo buff] that he hid his VJ skills after Channel One in preference of being taken seriously as a producer/director.

    So the show reel is a literally now from this image a electronic business card.

    Corporates swear by them; they're more commercial orientated in this case. And the media has a certain ambivalence depending on which profession you are.

    But one thing is generally accepted, good ones tend to be a hit with viewers.

    The producer/director behind Usain Bolt's video after his amazing 100m run has a job in the media for life. The whole film is testimony to their talent - blogged here.

    If it were me I'd submit that with my job hunt. Trouble is directors/producers want to be current, so it's more than likely snippets of this wonderful video will find its way into the video producer/ director's reel.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Can video journalism up ante for multiskilling?

    Two way Live report - war games from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

    As a piece of narcism I look like I'm 12 years old, but this video tells a story behind the broadcast.

    It's an amorphous word, "multi-skilling". What are the limits?

    For video journalism there's the obvious roles: shoot, edit, report

    But there are other facets which can be nurtured, and our bosses were keen they were deployed within the work flow.

    Thus it wasn't uncommon to complete a story, then with a sat truck nearby re-connect your camera with cables, pause for thought, fit your ear piece and then have a live 2 way with the studio.

    The story here in itself is a fascinating one particularly if you're into Bond 007 cum real life intel.

    Here the UK's government allowed a one off visit to its war games room in Northwood several feet below ground.

    It was an eerie, yet stimulating journey.

    The rooms were cavernous, protected at the entrance by huge immovable doors and a sentry armed stood guard.

    Inside the room murmured giant wall sized computers and an oval table with VIPs names etched on it.

    There was a pool of crews and we had a limited time to get our story.

    This led to perfecting a style called "track and rushes". Here with the visual image and memories of the sots (interview clips), you found a quiet place, wrote out your full script with annotations and voiced the piece.

    The idea was any editor or colleague could take your tape, digitise your voice over and cut a piece the way you would have wanted.

    The skill of track and rushes, which was honed into minutes ( 20 mins) certainly concentrated the mind.

    In some ways it mirrored the old practice of wire reporters feeding live copy down to their newspaper miles away.

    And as soon as that was over, the studio rang up asking for a live 2way.

    Multiskilling in Video Journalism
    Video journalism did not launch my journalism career but it did bolster areas of it e.g. live 2 ways, long format productions and news presenting.

    Here's a fuller list
    • Writing - knowing how to write for different platforms.
    • Reporting - making 1-5 minute pieces with accompanying Q and As
    • Producing - bringing together the elements for a balanced story, or not sometimes.
    • Directing -Where to place the camera and subjects. Increasingly, many of us learned to direct without overtly guiding our subjects. In other words films were made in situ.
    • Camera work and Lighting - Working an array of cameras from $50,000 digibetas to DVCams. That included understanding white balancing, back focusing, choosing appropriate lenses and filters. Getting to grips with steady cams, dollys, blondes, redheads..
    • Presenting-Voice projection and inflexion.
    • Presenting and packaging. This was also helped by 8 years of BBC radio work
    • Interviewing - Getting to the point or sometimes being forensic. You didn't have time for extended interviews, unless they were extended interviews.
    • Graphics - using Photoshop and After Effects. Eventually making motion graphic pieces
    • Mixing and Post -Riding levels on sound desk+ Cool edit
    and later:
    • Interactivity: Flash and Director with lingo
    • Web: Dreaweaver and CSS, Fireworks and basic java
    • Creating long format features 40 mins plus.
    • Compression - codecs , difference between bits and bytes.
    Were all of these necessary. No!

    Did they help, Yes!

    And where they helped the most wasn't in selfishly trying to undertake everything, but understanding the working habits and vernacular of specialists working these seperate fields.

    This often meant being able to combine technical, creative and an editorial understanding of a project and serving as an interpreter between sizeable ( 30 upwards) teams.

    Can video journalism up the ante for multiskilling?

    I think so.

    Video journalism convention continues some more

    Breaking conventions in videojournalism is part of a three post article, this is the second piece. You can read the previous one here and the third posts here.

    - Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light is the first full length concert film without a single audience cutaway. True or False?

    Peter at ShootingbyNumbers, whom we regularly exchange ideas on video, responded to yesterday's post on conventions in video journalism and I thought it might be interesting to continue the exchange here.

    Here's Peter:
    I think perhaps the notion of drop-ins, cutaways and b-roll is becoming identified with an increasingly unfashionable aesthetic - which promotes "high production values" over simplicity/authenticity.

    what value do they really add?

    - Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light is the first full length concert film without a single audience cutaway. True or False?

    I haven't seen the full Rolling Stone gigs just the odd trailer. Yep Peter I can hear you muttering "sacrilege you haven't seen it".

    I don't entirely disagree [ politicians answer eh] with what you say, but I think it's a question of language. Perhaps even my use of the words, and I can see where there's some ambiguity.

    The terms e.g. drop in, C/As don't necessarily have to be the preserve of the high enders, multi-camera shoots.

    The trailer of the Stones provides some examples of drop ins and cut aways, but here's the rub, my notes might have read "reaction POV" for C/A- which is a clumsy word really.

    ... Cut away.. cut away to what an inexperienced film maker might ask.

    You're talking about the concert itself, which I'm obviously not qualified to answer factually because I haven't seen it.

    But I might imagine that a conscious decision was taken by Scorsese not to cut to the crowd... woops, get reaction povs, leaving hyperfocus attention on the Stones, and that would work.

    Have we seen enough of fainting men and women swooning, wooping and barking.."Man I love you, You're the ****ing best man".

    Or, that wee comment by Mick Jagger about cameras all over the place on the trailer negated any camera crew threading about on stage despite the great shots to be had there.

    However at the pace Jagger moves you can see how a Steady Cam operator would eventually, quite literally get a mouthful.

    Like any piece and I'm sure we both agree the shot and eventual edit has to be motivated. Often when I'm tagging, I'm looking for the verb in a shot. If its doesn't exist, then I'm not going anywhere.

    Motivated cuts could be the theme for these two films, high end as they are: Snake Eyes and Bonfire of the Vanity, dir. Brian De Palma.

    Snake Eyes dir. Brian De Palma

    This is not the opening, but a selection of scenes

    Bonfire of the Vanity, dir. Brian De Palma

    This is not the opening, but a selection of scenes

    The director is bold enough to run about five to ten minutes of the opening without a single cut.

    If I'm in a theatre of good action I can see how I'd be motivated by the same style.

    Ultimately there are so many styles and thoughts emerging within video journalism that there's a path for all, but as you said a while ago it should look to push at the edges otherwise it's in danger of being a surrogate of TV, when it really is something on its own.

    That something for me is a mashup of photojournalism, reportage, motion graphics, cinematography, gonzo and above all experimentation.

    p.s Trying to locate a James Nacthwey's video of him shooting stills in a conflict with the a video camera mounted on his still

    • You can read the previous convention in VideoJournalism here and the third posts here.

    Peter's latest response
    certainly worth seeing for the cinematography. Scorsese used top camera ops - the guys that shot Babel, Bourne etc.

    sacrilege? there is not one single low-down wide angle shot of Keith looming over the camera - aka "the mythic shot". Now that is sacrilege!

    One other interesting thing about the performance is that the band all use in-ear monitors - which are used to feed a silent count-down to all the musicians - so the start of each song is like an explosion - extremely expensive but very stylish.

    Hahahahaha. Now that's how you choreograph a show. Even talent needs hidden help

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Art by offenders

    Miniature models painstakingly depicting an orchestra made out of music manuscripts

    Extraordinary, but for reasons many assume offenders and convicts are not creative.

    That at least was the reception I got when I made a film on this in the 90s.

    I can't show this film because the inmates serving life sentences at the time may by now be out of prison and I did not have them sign any release forms. News rarely does.

    And the Net was barely crowning.

    But at the South Bank is an exhibition to inmate art, featuring a range of extraordinary pieces.

    I asked if I could take photographs and the security warden said it was OK.

    I merrily set about taking pictures down stairs only to be told by a curator I couldn't.

    Fair enough I thought.

    However it did occur to me that as a policy, someone higher up in the organisation that's behind this should allow for photographs, [ attributing the artists] if that is they want to you to see it or encourage you to go.

    p.s the pics were taken with the Cannon HD CMOS