Sunday, March 23, 2008


David - what has been the reaction to this melding of Solo VJ'ism and this new language of cinema - especially those entrenched in the stodginess of traditional journalism?

Does this new melding elude to the idea of rules are meant to be broken - and thus a new way of reporting is born or is it to appease the masses for a softer, more entertaining way to consume the news?

This may be the catalyst I need to get creative after a dry spell this winter.

Warmest regards

Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist

Hi Cliff

I can't generalise as you're always going to find resistance in news making: it has embedded rules and what nots for so long that established organs are likely to continue as is, until. . .

Television, film, painting - they're all living arts.

The geneology of painting has travelled through Impressionism, Expressionism, Dadaism, Modern and Contemporary Art and that's just talking about western models.

Each time one of the forms found public space it had its detractors and supporters.

Cinema - likewise, and that's where many TV practitioners borrow heavily from.

Eisenstein's Battle Ship Potemkin - 1925 is one of the most heavily used "canvas films" indelibly influencing a generation.

Canvas film = deconstructed with style and shots used in further cinema.

Film techniques absorbed by TV such as linear causality and parallel narrative,Argentine author and film critic Jorge Luis Borges was talking about way back when.

I'm digressing.

News is documentary or film verite, but the tools used in collecting images are no different than the painters' brush.

As we become more televisually literate, we demand more, because a lot of what we see looks homogeneously the same.

Our language becomes more sophisticated. Our visual acuity becomes more enhanced.

A telling example: my mother and many others find Bourne's editing style confusing. A new generation need not refer to any visual dictionary to understand exactly what's going on.

The sacrosanct argument is you can't embellish news. But we do that anyway by way of subjectivity and the person/ organ informing you - albeit without design news execs will say.

( Don't worry I understand the argument of news making - though there needs to be a contemporary debate about it)

What Videojournalism or Man with a movie Camera or even IM6VJ - Intergrated Multimedia 6 Videojournalism offers is a new lingua franca.

It's no different to the camera in the hands of a skilled director e.g. Abbas Kiarostami.

The web as a mega broadband pipe and interactive coding has more to give - and its getting it in terms of "the new painters", solo reportage - expanding the agenda and seeking new discourses.

Consider this for instance - call me naive - but given our many shared problems, why do we still use TV news a divisive medium.

Sorry but I could fill hours talking about this.

In the end something that has never been done, awaits to be done. Many might throw their hands in a resentment, but that won't stop the many others looking to make new meaning of the tools we possess.

p.s Incidentally this reponse is not to say factual TV hasn't undergone change.

Two pivotal points in my career

1. BBC Reportage late 80s - early 90s which introduced MTV reportage. Yes you needed a crew, but the gene of Reportage would find its way into many BBC docs and factual programmes e.g. Here and Now, Black Britain, Panorama.

2. 1994 World News Conference - a Canadian graphic designer refines the split graphic interface that would become a hall mark of CNN.

ps2. Breaking the rules? No, not for the sake of it, but the rules of TV were set up tp enable new comers to the medium to make proficient TV.

  • Don't cross the line
  • Rule of third
  • Don't goldfish
  • Shoot with the light source behind you
  • Don't have your sots fight the music

    They're guidelines, that's all they are.

    Talk soon
  • 1 comment:

    Cliff said...

    David said:

    "Television, film, painting - they're all living arts"

    Having come from a non-traditional path of learning photojournalism (and now the new language of the Solo Video Journalist Paradigm), I can relate to this quote. I think I sit on that dividing line of age and progressiveness. Seems many my age and older find the new visuals NOT to be true to the dogma of traditional visual journalism.

    My perspective is "Time for a Paradigm Shift folks".

    My not having been indoctrinated into the church of visual journalism maybe has allowed for me and others of the same world view to think outside the box. We here in the states tend to be stuck in a narrow world view with many believing the world (and news reporting) revolves around the U.S. instead of looking at being a part of a world community. It pains me to know that I'm not going to be there in Chicago to absorb all that you, Robb and Angela are going to be teaching - the attendees are in for an eye opening experience, mate.

    One of the tools that I've observed you use is going outside the NLE and into compositing apps like After Effects and LiveType - to utilize those tools in ways that would seem to the dyed in the wool video journalist as sacrilege to use - How often do you work in these apps in relation to the traditional NLE? Just as recommending that shooters get lightweight and shoot with hand held consumer cameras - this unveils the closed society of video journalism and creates numerous opportunities to record events in a medium that NEEDS to be shown in a new visual language.

    Now the work ensues for shooters like myself who find themselves NOT having access to hotspots around the world who must try, who need and who must find compelling stories and then apply this new language of cinema to what is already a difficult challenge in and of itself.

    Hopefully soon we will get that chance to dialog in person well into the night over pints on this - I'm sure it will be a career altering experience for me that I will never forget.

    Cheers and Happy Easter

    Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist