Thursday, March 02, 2006

Band of Sisters - the new multiskilled media prosumers

One of the most visible evolutions of our contemporary media age has been its democratisation and meritocracy. So it was a joy yesterday to spend two hours with a class comprising all women in mid-career or contemplating pursuing video as a new hobby or career-turn.

The course in North London, at a place called, Heron House, [] trains women in technical skillls for example graphics, editing, camera, lighting.

There is a world of difference when speaking to mid-career women, some of whom may have families. They want a practical, realistic view of the industry and if they don't mind me saying will let you know very quickly if you're off message.

Some of the questions revolved around the differences between Final Cut Pro and Premiere. How After Effects could add value to your production. How Flash as an application is so underused by broadcasters. How to go about setting up an online station. And for me a firm favourite how a number of tertiary institutions are failing to train modern day producers to take on the market.

As a former BBC employee and freelance producer, I'm not talking about producers in the BBC sense, formidable as they are, but the more radical multi-skilled creative and journalist. In an interview with the world editor's forum [] I mention how divisions of work, labour and diehard habits mean we usuallly execute tried but tested methods, but which often make us impotent too to new ideas and practices.

In part this is because of unions and regulatory laws, and the other frankly, why should I multiskill, when what I want to be is the best camerawoman or most adept editor. Learning any new skill merely dilutes my specialism, or does it?

Realistically, our broadcast/ AV industry has a good enough turn over, but not enough, to meet the ever growing demand of graduates et al who want into the media. But herein lies a rubicon , which has been crossed knowingly or not by everyone.

If you can't get into any number of organsiations. Don't despair. Today, broadband allows you to broadcast your own material. The market then becomes your judge and jury and that's healthy. That's what the English 17th century philosophers, Thomas Hobbs, refered to as the Intelligent Commonwealth.

I don't doubt that the zest and curiosity in the room, coupled with combined knowledge could be a real tour de force in setting something up as a collective. Interdependence [ Covey's 7 ways of success] is a strong theme here for building upon ideas which appear someone distant.

The Open Source movement and its ethos may be counter intuitive to business but it has served many netizens and media envagelists well. Copy left rather than Copy right will equip you with tools that can be shared and assit you in growing in unison with your shared partners.

"So how do you get your stories?" was one of the questions, as I opened up With great patience and feeling emotive about the subject. I have a day job, but will work around the clock or do the "Death March" ( c.f coders working arond the clock). Yes, I said, more or less everything you see on the mag is mine in production, but that takes away from the point, that quid pro quo arrangements are constantly going on, so that everyone's a winner.

The real point here: you, and your stories is the killer content.

Broadcasters and Publishers exist because of you. As I write this, I have just finsished marking some Masters in Journalism student work. One student has interviewed an Indian gentlemen who's taking it upon himself to ride his bicycle across the world. He has the most extraordinary tales. His day job, after his sabbatical, is working as a government civil servant.

If he ever puts up an online site detailing his Phileas Foggesque travels I'll be one of many I trust who'd log on.

online video packages made for broadband c.f Jakob Nielson for what that entails

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