Monday, December 27, 2010

Solo Integrated Multimedia Videojournalism - 2011 look foward

The transition in which the image gradually becomes clear on is allegorical of video story telling I have been going through since formally from 1987.

On I have included the following:

"In the 90s groups of videojournalists who considered themselves creatives working with photographers, broadcasters, journalists etc, conceived of an integrated approach to storytelling in news et al.

It would bridge multiple apps in varying forms, reconfiguring a visual praxis and plastic semiotic on and offline. This is one of those stories. The site-build, videos, interactivity and articles is the work of one author, a senior lecturer and International conference speaker".


The Retwitter Show titles - journalism 2046 from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

Put another way, in the 90s groups of videojournalists begun to crack applications like Flash and Director, mixed with After Effects. The visual praxis is a reference to change in style and language over the years.

If you look at a 1960s film there are things they do, that today would be considered outdated. The average news interview cut was 30 seconds plus, 43 in cases. Today, 3-12 seconds and you're out. What's the point of the SOT (sound on tape) then other than a reinforcing of the authors inherent bias or point of view.

Similarly the visual praxis has altered from 16mm grainy to 35mm glossy to mimicry in HD.  Academics would say HD mimesis :)

Plastic is a term used by the Arnheim and later Andre Bazin, one of the first film scholars, to describe film; referred to as the plastic arts.

So back in the 90s for want of a better name videojournalism assumed this all encompassing medium. It became plasticine, highly malleable, incredibly adept and frankly as limiting as ones imagination.

Videojournalism programming

Traditional programming which we can't jettison yet, mixed with idea forming for the net age, looks simplistically like this above. Each module represents a wider circuit of ideas.

Now here's the fun bit, which we're all having a nice little ding dong with at the moment.

If you cast your eyes across the book shelf of multimedia (Flash) film, art or music in your library you'll be lost in the sea of hardbacks, but when it comes to videojournalism - what do you see?

One of the best books for multimedia journalism using Flash is  Flash journalism by Mindy McAdam's.

In the 90s in the absence of any notion multimedia had any relation with journalism we sought out books like Masters of Flash, featuring the likes of the the fabulous Hillman Curtis, Brendan Dawes, Joshua Davis  - they became our mentors for most of Soho in the 90s. By default we looked for answers beyond classical journalism.

I remember it well when one senior BBC manager exclaimed: What's with this thing Flash? and he was a head of interactivity.

Advances in coding structure of Flash is such that today Hillman's site advises against purchasing his mega seller, but you only have to look at work like this to see how far ahead he was. My favourites are:
What made them exceptional wasn't just the creativity, but the functionality trying to push flash down 56k modems. That they did was genius and is still a function of google indexing today. The faster the site loads, the more appealing you are to Google's SEO robots.

In fact I can own up now, the coding structure - which I learnt helped me land the job as one of Lennox Lewis' promo, site and film makers. Lennox at the time was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world - about to take on Mike Tyson.

One of those sporting feats and occasions I'll never forget.
Filming Lennox Lewis training for his big world fight

There were magazine's galore as well e.g Computers Arts that showed the dark art and also inspired, today usurped by .Net magazine.

Cast your eyes - what do you see?
So when you look around for videojournalism, what do you see? There are a smattering of books - all good by the way starting off with Videojournalism: The Definitive Gudie to Mutliemedia skilled Television Production.

The book is out of print by the way and the author is an old friend from the group of videojournalists from 1994.

But the interesting thing is just as there are a million books on all the other creative fields, so there will be room for this nascent form, videojournalism to be scored in books a plenty.

Though I admit at this stage I agree with my publisher who sought a name change and different direction for the book I was/am writing. "The discipline is too limiting at the moment", she said. She's right.

It's not so much that you'll want to learn videojournalism, which can often be television masquerading in see through-clothes, but that you'll want to understand what the artist you're reading knows and how.
  • Where do they get their ideas from?
  • How are they inspired?
  • What are their epiphanies?
  • How do they deconstruct and construct their work?
  • What is their methodology?
For every artist, willing to submit themselves and publicly contest the artistry of their form may have something to say, that may interest you.

That's not to say you have to be over 25 to say something expressive [yes that can be patronising] since experience is independent of age, but we can't also discard the fact that if you reported the Vietnam War, you'd have experience to have reported the Gulf.

There's a reason why many journalism professors tend to be post 25, because aside from their knowledge, what you really want to tap into is their experience.

When ex-students talk to me about the job market in the UK, I remember my own private battle and the closed TV shop of the late 80s/ early 90s.

My sorry predicament would lead me to board a plane to meet a contact I had never met and defacto emigrate to South Africa to report from the danger zones of the townships.
David reporting for the BBC World Service from Kaylesha township

All of a sudden experiential learning begins to play a part.

They, multimediast, all have some back stories that compelled them to do things we might marvel at. There are obvious caveats to the form. In the latest work in Cairo, Salma- a newly minted videojournalism says she loved the independence, and flexibility.

To you it may be something beyond Salma's experience. How do I reconcile the mechanical camera with my own subjectivity? What is real and what isn't?

The award winning British journalist and documentary maker John Pilger opens up a debate that the camera, the device we place absolute trust in, can lie.  It can lie because it's not recording the truth, or the journalist or videojournalist is being too selective, because they can or are unconsciously being hoodwinked.

By the way this criticism wasn't beyond being levelled at the father of documentary, Robert Flaherty in the 1930s.

So our interest in the form is predicated not on just on normative values, but the experience of using a camera and failing, and learning from that to succeed. We read stories about stories. The stories we try to conceive ourselves laden with passion, conflict, information, hold us together.

And to keep our interests we look to cultural theorists e.g. Brian McNair to guide us, to keep us ahead of the creative curve. Take the concept of John Caldwell's 'Second shift aesthetics', where a multimedia story supports its television version, or how we think and that method of how thinking is changing.

A colleague of mine is presently researching the next generation of collaborative thinking. She used to work as a researcher for NASA, so her research I venture will have huge interest.

New Visualisation

Meanwhile, 3D TV is taking off,differentiating itself from online. Now a 3DTV every 7 minutes is going to a home near you from one of the big high street chains .

That surely will affect the 360 panoramic of video making because say the experts depths must be enhanced for the effect, camera positions and rapid cuts will be kept to a minimum to allow the aesthetic impulse to take effect.

"Some stories won't work", adds Brian Lens, Sky's Product 3D development, talking on the BBC's You and Yours consumer show.

 Then there's tablet visualisation. Take this interview I did in 2005 in Norway with Phillips's Frank Daems about their new e-reader - the birth of the tablet. How it's all changed. Or think about the apps market, or as they rounded up on You and Yours, the future of social space from the laptop to the living room.

So the future of the video form, still growing looks bright indeed, and just as there was a group of bespoke multimedia artists using video in the 90s, in the 00s we have videoists specialising in multimedia.

The fields wide open.


David continues to be excited by developments and in 2011 will be a juror for the Royal Television Society's Innovation in Journalism