Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Multimedia, multifaceted, multistate - 2009, back to 2005s future

Back to basics? circa 2005 as posted a couple of days ago remodelled today.

2009 will likely see a consolidation of many of the discombobulated ideas flattening out in greater open spaces. We've been excited by the last few years. There's not a lot you don't know now that your neighbour does not.

There is a broad consensus of agreement on what works. Our entropy of ideas are pulsing less frenetically than before.

But the new league of thinkers have smelt blood. So their ideas push on. From Twitter - the new new thing - what cometh next?

India's growth in media and newspapers defies all other geographies, and China too will become a cauldron for remodelling newer media ideas for their own sensibilities.

There are questions of process and production? How do we deconstruct this rubik cube, we've just worked out, to reveal new puzzles?

Why because some people are compulsive temperers [1]: taking radios apart, picking the wings of blue flies, figuring out why "why" needs an answer.

Some look to the future, others hark to the past; some rework old ideas, others think the original. The latter are a rare breed. Eureka moments that shift Teutonic idea plates are thin on the ground.

Truth it's always been like that, even this recession is no new phenomenon, though its intensity is arguable. Necessity is the enforcer of new thinking. In 1992 at the height of the UK's recession I learned that much relocating to South Africa.

The law of the few, stickiness and context - the impulse there and then- is as important now, more so perhaps, than when Malcom Gladwell published Tipping Point.

Because we're conscious of what to look for. Our ontology of ideas seek newer sources, whilst the fundamentals reside within the philosophers, old, post modern and contemporary. History is nothing if not one big cheat.

In Leonard Shlain's Art and Physics we learn the bizarre coincidences of natures important finds, not first through the scientists, but artists - those who dared to dream, and often mocked at first.

The application of new technology, a mix of the fundamentals, and many of our own socio- political behaviours is a strong formulae for the supernova of creative sparks we've come to acknowledge of late.

So what now? Business needs to bed those ideas down. The underground that became traditional c.f. google and yahoo are themselves at risk from a new generation of geeks and cool hunters - that's just the way it is.

Darwin. In 2009 his ideas will be combed over even more as we celebrate his 200th birthdate.

2009, the year of change and paradoxically steadiness.

Obama's factor will be unquestionable. In times of strife, we are at our most creative. It's when the cretins rule that the creatives seek a way to be seen.

But Obama has to steady the seas of uncertainty; the environment, global warming, finance ,will, may, call on creative ideas - many of which may be old ones, dusted off from 2000. Process and Production again.

But Obama may also turn out to be the traditionalist. His stride as much in the new camp as that of the unnew.

2009 will be a year of collectives, newer ones, emulsifying ideas which ask questions about change and innovation. 2009 will for me be about back to the future. The ideas we seek, a quality of life, a quality of thought, a quality of ramblings with roots one severed, rediscovered.

C'mon 2009.
temperers [1] - someone who tempers

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bravo BBC Today Programme

We all have our tales for recounting our meetings with celebrities.

One fine afternoon, some years back, my agent, yes those were the days, rang me up to appear at a Warehouse in South London.

There it would transpire a number of young black professional had gathered for what was to be a photo shoot and article for the Evening Standard.

There was little other that connected the people gathered.

Small talk ensured, but truthfully it was a played-down theatrical performance in the peacock syndrome. Not purposefully from the writers, fashion designers, journalists and musicians, but instigated by the newspaper.

The photo shoot was ten young black men and women supposedly going places and the photographer and Evening Standard journalist needed everyone to be at their most upright proclaiming the great things they had done.

On the far side of the lineup was my first glimpse of a true celeb, and a rare one. Tall elegant, not saying much, almost slightly irritated, it wasn't difficult to ignore her.

She had just broken through the conservative league of writing a novel that was monumental in many ways.

This was true talent, which is not to say the others were not, but what this writer would go on to achieve is testimony of the chatter back then and now.

When I picked up the Evening Standard afterwards, that one quote - a sort of phrase that is murmured but dare not speak itself, screamed.

"It'll be progress when black people don't have to necessarily gather to show what they've achieved" - or something thereabouts.
Zadie Smith - author White Teeth.

BBC's Guest Editor
Today, the BBC's flagship news and current affairs programme that imprints on the day's digest of news was given over to Zadie Smith to edit - a typical run of guest editors for the festive season.

And what a superb collection of reports and packages she chose.

A discussion on avant garde writing, classism in comedy, a deeply provocative report from Libera, which played more to quiet gonzoism than traditional reportage, and then a one-on-one with the Today Presenter Evan Davies where she queried whether Obama's style of politics differed for different races and cultures.

If you're interested in the germination of thought-bombs, the stuff of "blink", "Wisdom of Crowds", then I'd advise you spend sometime listening back on the programme.

I was particularly interested in the ideas surrounding 21st Century avant garde, and as Ms Smith put it, if there exist a movement that challenges traditional writings?

It's a question you could apply to modern journalism and one I constantly ask. As a side step, why do we still refer to is as journalism, when the objects we write for are no longer exclusively journals.

Hari Kunzru, another superb writer [I have a video interview of him somewhere] argued against the romanticism of the avant garde in favour of a vanguard.

The relevance of this can't be emphasised enough and dovetailed nicely into Zadie Smith's panoramic radio report, as well as a her observation of US President-elect Obama's "sweet potato pie" oratory. [ New Yorker article by Mark Danner]

Explanation: In electronic story telling, modern reportage, contemporary web story telling, is there a new discourse we (non traditionalists) can either tap into or spawn.

In the 80s this was evident in the music industry. For whatever culturally popular modernist programmes did like Top of the Pops, there was always a Guy called Gerald or Tricky.

Zadie's poetically authored, yet disturbing piece, from Liberia, in which she deliberately became part of the report, veers off to Hunter Thompson's Gonzoism, but for a completely different form - radio.

The BBC's already does this to an extent with "From our own Correspondents', but Zadie's story illustrated how the feelings, mannerism, demeanour, the ability to feel shit, guilty, impassioned could seep into a report without taking away the grand message.

It's quite deconstructive, and if anything floats towards the discursiveness of a facet of blog writing. Whilst traditional broadcast reportage, for instance at the BBC, is proud to proclaim its objectivity and impartialness, their blog has become the outlet for the story, about the story.

Over the last few years this level of reportage is becoming common place, which begs the question, what lurks behind ?

The underground by its very nature is that, often misunderstood, not universally accepted, but part of a quiet brew, which potentially could become the zeitgeist.

The many backroom experiments performed by millions, the non-conformists, is the spark plug for ideas of the future.

Zadie's report about Liberia, was as much a report about Zadie; a report within a report.

Perhaps it could only be pulled off by those adept at seducing us with their skill for words, but it works all the same and has a place to be studied or experimented with with the new vanguards.

Here for Zadie's ideas she contributed to the programme

Friday, December 26, 2008

Viewmagazine video journalism meets online design

Following, a series of front covers from and charting online design starting with above,'s first cover.

I art directed this shot, taken on a Canon Eos50, of Anita Asante, one of the UK's foremost footballers.'s raison detre is to report popular stories that rarely see the light, and Anita and Women's football was indicative of this.

Before that in 2001 the site UnitedProductions, Viewmag's precursor hosted this.

In 2004, the menu evolved into a series of animated images which triggered a series of sound files and video. A theme I'll be returning to in 2009.

The quad face design was an opportunity to feature around 200 of the video pages on Viewmagazine, including
  • an incredible operation in Ghana to rebuild a young boy's face
  • and the new intelligence officers following a graduate recruitment drive in langley -an interview with former CIA chief James Woolsey takes on the ubiquitous newspaper colour - white. The top band is a strip of 950 by 200. The screen window on the right reveals more of the sites menu. But the symmetry of the site is lost.

A meeting at the BBC between members of the Online News Association (london). The BBC announces its first trials of embedded video.

I'm standing in the corridor when this shot is taken. Prince Charles meets Jay-z. Five minutes later I found myself with one of my students standing within arm's distance of Jay-z.

She wanted to know what to ask him. I told her. But frankly I couldn't, doh, think of a one-on-one myself. Sometimes it just isn't the moment.

One of the attributes of online design which will increasingly become a feature for TV display is the televisual look. All the content appears above the fold, because frankly there isn't one.

The three screen grabs come from a new site I designed for the Arts. Unfortunately it's built exclusively in Flash- a mistake I made with, which was rebuilt with xhtml with allowances for SEO.

Series of front pages. Top:
  • Arsenal's Anita Asante, now a firm fixture with England's football squad
  • Top Right, Hedonism on Greece's Falaraki - where young Brits flock to lose their virginity.
  • Bottom right, Brix2Bronx - a group of young Londoners gear up for a trip to the Bronx

A film, BBC Radio story, flash -multimedia, Director Multimedia, blog, photomontage, and story in a magazine. Whatever happened to director? Flash killed it off and CDs/ DVDs are no longer de rigeur for exlcusive multimedia. Use DVD pro instead.

IM6 - integrated multimedia 6 ways lets me strip a story and devise a number of ways of producing. This shot of me 50m below the Dardanelles is one I won't forget in a hurry. Couple of minutes later I get hit by a current which sends me tumbling into unexploded ordianates.

Then I run out of air...

Eartha Kitt - An interviewer reflects on viewmagazine

I never thought she would take up the offer, but when the tannoy at BBC Radio went off, saying "David your guest, Eartha Kitt was here", I can't tell you how nervous I was.

What would she be like? Here was a strong, seen-it-all woman.

Born in Cotton fields to a family who would both give her up; her father, the son of a Slave Master, her mum a slave.

But that's not the lingering thought I had as I went to reception to greet her. It was her body of work, the cabaret cum night club singer, most famously that smouldering belgian-chocolate voice.

Eartha Kitt was the seductress, the cat woman literally, that takes no interviewer a prisoner, particularly if you ask the "wrong" question.

I'd interviewed other woman much like her:
  • from South Africa, the Madonna of Africa Brenda Fassie.
  • Diva Grace Jones
  • Fabulous author Thulani Davis, "1959"
But like most celebrities, what mood would she be in?

Her publicist urged against issues on race, and definitely no getting her to do the cat sound.

As interviews go, this was one of my most memorable. Eartha was warm, charming, and delightful.

As I walked her back to her car, she looped her hand through my arm and continued to converse about "race and politics".

I only met her briefly, but like many of her fans, I too muttered: OMG Eartha Kitt - how sad.

You can hear a 4 min segment of the interview on he front page of

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Viewmagazine - David postits - end of year

First day out in a long while. Really should be twittering this. In an Apple store in Kingston, Surrey looking at the macbook pros. Nice!

Just walked into Waterstones book store and picked up Blink, Tippin Point and Wisdom of Crowds.

That's my Christmas read done.

Picked up the jury notes for the Royal Television Awards. There's a meeting in Jan. Meanwhile in Berlin, they've started their judging for the International Video Journalism Awards.

Actually we're doing it online. I have started casting my votes and comments on a range of films.

Yesterday, pitched up at Uni/ Varsity. Paul, one of my colleagues on lecturing in "Principles of Journalism" pitched too. We were going through the marking regime for the 40 plus International Masters students.

Some good stuff. Some more to get through. And then second semester modules to dust off and get ready. Next year we're going hyper multimedia.

Trying to work out finances et al for getting to Miami for the Wemedia Game Changer event and then looking at my Phd Module got a couple of 3000 word essays to hand in on research.

Probably the best news to end the year, well, if getting rid of my cold is one of them, is a publishing deal from one of the big US publishers.

You know what these few days off.... actually I can't wait.

I'm going to go cold turkey on blogging etc. so Happy hols, a merry Christmas and may your new year be more special than the last good one.

Now how do I resist getting out of the Apple store without spending... arrghh!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Is television killing the Arts? A Videojournalism Report

Is television killing the Arts and what could the Arts do to sustain its reach to audiences via a televisual media?

A special video journalism report on

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ultralow budget films pointless

In a headline that won't curry favour with budding film makers, Stage Screen and Radio (SSR), the magazine for the British Media Union BECTU reports making a film under $75,000 dollars is pointless.

A conclusion it may well have drawn from the film council's report.

SSR reports that "a useful survey" of low and micro budge films by the UK Film Council proposed about 100 films get made each year in the UK of which 75 are made with private funds.

More importantly 80 never get cinema play and around 50 barely make it onto DVD.

Many of the workers attached to these films work on deferred payment, in fact 60 or so. This means the crew are not paid and will probably not be - a crime says BECTU's under the national minimum wage.

Some observations by the UK film Counci's survey downloaded from the site
  • The web is still not being used as a distribution or play out medium for film makers
  • Low budget encourages innovation and the emergence of new talent.
  • It exploits a new wave of distribution opportunities based on the long tail phenomenon.
  • "A not uncommon assumption amongst interviewees was that low and micro-budget films provided opportunities for filmmakers from a wide range of backgrounds to gain experience of feature filmmaking. It was hard to find much positive evidence to back this assumption up, at least as a widespread phenomenon". - direct lift from report
The reasons for the surge in low costs, which should be of interest to video journalists across newspapers and independent sites is the reduced entry point.

A parrallel could be drawn with the number of people now making video, some purely for the fun of it, which may never draw sizeable audiences; others who need the audiences to justify the capital outlay.

And the numbers will indeed get more competitive as new generations of digi film makers and the likes find equipment and skill easier to attain.

The point? You can cut it many ways, but here's a few. It's obvious there will always be winners and losers:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Websites say as much about you as the content

Put another way it's all in the packaging. I got a ping from this site here CrazyLeaf Design Blog, which lists some very lush sites.

Many of them are professional web site developers, but deserve oggling at.

Can such aesthetics be transferred to the state of journalism? This is not a simple style over substance debate.

The last few years have been rich for the online journalism industry and there's more than enough proof that says a well presented website can have the same trust value as the first 15 seconds your job interviewer uses to size you up.

Googling "uk best journalism sites" I came across a post from media pundit Roy Greenslade: US websites expose lack of British innovation.

Citing a number of US examples, such as TalkingPointsMemo that combines strong journalism and crowd sourcing, Greenslade comments:
"In Britain, sadly, there is no innovation on the scale of these many US-based examples. We are, as so often, way behind America in such matters. We are still wedded to centralised mass media, clinging on to models created in the 19th century."
While Greenslade acknowledges some advantages the US have over the Brits, for example US journalism is more geared to the regions, the point is there's innovation to be had online.

Where's the Innovation
In 2005, posed a similar question to me about innovation and the US and UK in an article "site for sore eyes".

Here's a section:
How do you think the journalism industry in the UK compares with the US?

In any society people will resist change because it takes them out of their comfort zone. In comparison to the US, the UK has a limited number of broadcasters and newspapers so there is less diversity in content and personnel. Combined with our sometimes parochial outlook that means we're more resistant to change, but it is happening.

At some point, journalism is going to be overcome by technologists. In the US there's a bigger playing field - probably more venture capital and a can-do attitude.

I really look forward to ten years down the line when this industry will be so different - shaken up by bloggers and massive niche communities online.
It's generally difficult to generalise, but you'll be hard pressed not to find a voice of dissent amongst UK online Journos when it comes to British online innovation.

That doesn't necessarily mean there's a crisis, and yes there's outstanding talent aplenty here. Otherwise you can always invoke the "Grass is Greener on the Other side" excuse.

Ask the odd US journalist and they may well look to the UK for inspiration.

So what is it?

Is the Scotsman, that veritable title's online revamp which attracted more than enough opprobrium: Scotman's website and embarrassing flop, a glitch or symptom of the tensions between creativity and business?

I came to know its former editor Stewart Kirkpatrick from ONA meetings so putting a face to his blog in which he warned his bosses of their dire new website, resonated.

I posted my first site in 1995. It looked like it needed a dandruff shampoo. But we were all experimenting back then.

This film from my colleague in the same year shows what the Guardian, Times and Telegraph were doing.

And the designers in us are still experimenting.

It's just a shame somehow rightly or wrongly we fail to trumpet our own innovations and that of independent voices such as, which does it's own sterling job reporting what's happening this side of the big pond.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Newsnight Soldier's superb film

scene from Newsnight film, former corporal who suffered injuries from sniper fire

It's my old haunt, Newsnight, so I watch a fair share of the programmes in the week.

Yesterday's item called "Soldiers" was a superb piece of VT. Why men and women sign up to fight and the sacrifices they make underscored the programme.

Produced by Warwick Harrington and Jonathan Bell, it mixed classic black and white photography with strong narrative VT of three subjects back from the war.

The producers humanised the story: one well cut man who got into the paras, a woman who worked in classified, and a soldier who was snipered taking out a part of his face

What separated this piece from many others was the three's candour that even for veteran and seen-it-all presenter Jeremy Paxman, you could see he was moved. I worked on Newsnight in 1990, and produced/researched for Jeremy a couple of times.

I emailed the two producers soon after the programme and got a response; something I rarely do, but it deserved praise.

For many reasons, and not just because its good television it's worth watching; the tone is measured and there is a strong multimedia aesthetic to it.

Here's the link

Since writing this post yesterday I have watched the film again and credit must also be given to Julie Ritson and Frank Consandine - camera people.

The studio segment at the tail end of the feature with Jeremy interviewing, I count three cameras. One almost fully trained on Jeremy, one on tracks more or less for the interviewees and another one on legs also meant for the interviewees.

It's a seamless production and makes me wonder whether the producers didn't have a multicamera director orchestrating an "as-live" edit.

Otherwise and in any case you still have to hand it to the picture editors Philip Clarkson and Anthony Shelmerdine.

This was a big production:sourcing the interviews, background pics, clearing with MOD, individual VT days with interviews at home and in cases at work, the finale with Jeremy, and possible some drop in shots.

But it was all made to look manageable.

A masterclass in packaging.

Will 2009 be any easier on traditional media?

In the summer of 2005 Leonard D Witt, the Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair in Communication at Kennesaw State University, held a prescient international conference in San Antonio.

The title:
Wake Up Call Can Trust and Quality Save Journalism?

The programme attracted some of the heaviest hitters in the business, whose names, though synonymous with the digital social renaissance back then amongst new media types, are today more common place.

It may not have seemed obvious at the time, but the public's flagellation over the news industry was opening up and news execs were now ready to tell the board: "Hey Bob this sales decline is no glitch".

Blogs were about to go critical mass, Flash would finally embrace video and video journallism would be adopted by the UK's first newspaper group, the Hull Daily Mail - a scheme I would be asked to look at.

After 6 or thereabout months online with, Guardian Journalist Jemima Kiss, then the news editor of posted this piece, Wake up Call for Magazines and this, Online Journalism News - a
site for sore eyes, that would come to the attention of Prof Witts.

Somewhere in July I got a call too.

media gathering
The conference lived up to all expectations and to hear in person some of the figures whose work I had admired for a while was the icing.

Dan Gillmor,
Neil Chase, Jay Rosen, Clyde Bentley, Craig Newmark, Charles Lewis and Chris Nolan were just a few of the headliners on the programme.

It also marked the beginning of me using my video journalism reporting skills introspectively on the new digital industry.

In any one year working as a staff Video journalists I'd roll of near 500 reports. Most of those covered a wide range of subjects, but few looked at the media itself.

Around 2000 the emphasis changed with a raft of magazine articles for the likes of Sony, The Producers, Creation Magazine, and Blue Print.

Writing for The Producer Magazine 2001, the role of video journalists reporting 9/11 was critical

New Media itself was undergoing its own revision. Some of the best innovative and educational publications e.g. The Production Show, Video Age, The Video Mag, were either defunct or being repackaged.

New Media was not so new any longer , it was rich and packagable as digital - ones and zeros.

The speakers, self effacing, spoke on camera, my old skool VX 1000, about what was wrong and how the future would shape up. The report itself included a prototype deep link from one video to another, and embedded video within an article.

Dan Gillmor's view:"It's happening because it can". Craig Newmark was looking for greater news variations, and Clyde Bentley likened the public's apathy to traditional media as a tiff that would resolve itself.

None of the aforementioned will be disappointed. But the broader question those years on is has the Trust returned and equally important are we passed the period of innovation?

Is it over yet?
The consensus from newspaper publishers is this new stuff is bedding down, the digital after shocks are there for all to see: twitter, video, google maps and the rest.

This hasn't staved of the depreciating trend. In the news at the moment is the Chicago Tribune, which filed for bankruptcy last week.

I too had a friend who was one of the early casualties. Now almost 15,000 employers are going through something none of them deserves.

Trust may be harder to quantify and a round up paper is therefore due from Prof Witts, but in terms of innovations, I don't think we're in any ways out of the trees yet.

Interestingly, there's a chasm opening up again between journalism and geekdom; they've come together albeit in limited fashion to help each other.

But if you broadly ask journalism experts, this is it, we're plateauing. It's the long road ahead. In business terms the seven year cycle.

If you ask the techs, the last few years have been the warm up act. The tools and code are toddlers waiting to grow up.

It's something the head of BBC Interactive at the time Richard Deverill said to us in 2004.

Back then working with a broadcaster, we assembled some of the best creative brains in the university and under the guise of News Futures, looked at social sites, moblogging, geospatial interactivity and where they would go.
"The students predict that the mobile phone will become an increasingly essential tool for journalists, with moblogging replacing digital video footage and blogging on increasingly sophisticated content management systems.

Students were encouraged to be imaginative but also realistic, said Mr Gyimah, presenting practical ideas and tools for journalists to explore in the next few years. But the push towards new technology, particularly take up of mobile services, will be mostly consumer-led." More BBC Hears the Future of News
So the question is will 2009 be any easier on traditional media?

The economic downturn will drive its own disruptive course. But will it lead to us digital beings becoming more innovative or will we simply batten down the hatchets.

Truth is this scenario in micro ways has played itself out and it'll take a brave Canute figure to claim it's over; the disruption and innovation is done.

In any case that's what I'll be looking at producing with a series of short films in the future.

Meantime posting real soon on the front cover of here's that report from San Antonio: Wake Up Call Can Trust and Quality Save Journalism?

What do you think?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fela Kuti, the great musician, and some

Last of the deviations, but the thing with colds is you can't sleep, so I have been restlessly pottering around the house, just.

Opened up this suitcase..urgghhh!

Filled with reel to reels.

I spoke yesterday of getting more audio files on

Well I'll start to bring some in, that actually I had on a while ago and must have jettisoned the idea.

So teeing up now is one of the last UK interviews with a giant of world music, Fela Kuti.

He is mad bonkers, but we love him. Fela passed away a couple of years after this interview, but he remains a colossal and huge influence.

Here he talks about Afro-beat being a con, how he and his 26 wives took over a squat and how he would rub government officials in Nigeria the wrong way by buying a merc and desecrating it.

Mercs were the preferred government vehicles.

Couple of more of the audios include an interview with Quincy Jones

television - we decide - yeah!

A celebrated Wall Street trader is arrested over an alleged monumental $50bn fraud. Whilst Vauxhall are are offering staff a sabbatical with 30% wage cuts.

However what will they be talking about in the press tomorrow?

The BBC's decision to wring one more week out its competition, Strictly Come Dancing, given that its main rival, The X-Factor completed its run this weekend.


Whilst TV execs like to visibly show you the audience are in control, this cuts across that message.

The decision to go into the next week and pick up all the viewers suffering from the X-Factors withdrawal, will not have been missed even on an 8 year old.

Yes it's a game show, but it's pride and figures to justify the spend that's at stake. Xfactor claims it had 8 million people vote in.

That's probably 8 million viewers then. 8 million viewers that the BBC will be hoping for next week.

Lets hope they can get Beyonce whilst they're at it.

International video journalism 2009

For 15 years I have belonged to Chatham House, whose US equivalent is the Council for Foreign Relations.

I have had a good share of international stories but haven't been as active as I'd like to be recently in producing original stories.

Next year I hope that'll change.

I have got a couple of police stories planned and would dearly like to return to a report I made earlier looking at intel and young people.

You can see the trailer on the front page of, as well as short piece working with the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, there's an interesting pdf on Chatham House putting into prespective Ghana's elections.

The off agenda election
Ghana has been presided over by President Kufuor, nicknamed The Gentle Giant, for the last 8 years.

This present election has been nail bitingly close.

Kufuor's man Nana Akufo-Addo picked up 49.13% of the vote, whilst his rival John Atta Mills supported by Ghana's previous president Jerry Rawlings took 47.92% of the vote.

According to the electoral commission, reported on the BBC, because neither broke through 50% this means a run-off on the 28 December.

The significance of Ghana's election passing off peacefully cannot be down played. Particularly as it's used its patriarchal status to shape its own image abroad.

Kuffuor has played a huge role in African business and democracy

I'm wondering if there are any Vjs who could point us to their reportage.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Film making - a downside

Film making isn't so much a job but a passion. You've got to want to make them because the hoops you have to jump through are huge.

Listening back to the recordings of film maker Asif Kapidia, two things struck me.

Firstly, and I had some understanding of this through a friend, if making your first film is herculean, making your second is near impossible.

And then Asif was asked a question, one of those rare questions that you really shouldn't ask a film maker?

"If this is your second movie in the space of 6 years how do you make a living?"

His response: You learn to leave frugally. You get paid a lump sum and then you learn to live in those means. Frightening really when you think about it.

You've really got to want to make films.

aarrrgghh bloody cold

I really shouldn't be up.

That strange metallic taste in the mouth, which means anything you try and eat comes across as paper mache.

Ever so often, you cough so hard you think your small intestines will make an appearance. And then when the cough takes a lull, here comes the mother of all sneezes.

The tissues near the wastebasket show home much you suck at basketball. And you find yourself sleeping upright otherwise here comes the coughing fit.

The paracetamols aren't working and the last time I counted that was 8 in 24 hours - the limit which comes with a severe warning.

Yes it's that time of the year. I was so looking forward to visiting one of my mentors - who broke me into Radio

It's not just that I look like something the cat dragged in, but if you even look at me, you'll probably catch my cold.

Monday, last day with the internationals, hopefully it would have cleared up by then. Aaaaaaarrghh bloody cold.

Radio or TV - I choose you

It's a fair bet that if you ask quite a few media types who've worked across both genre, which one they like better, they'll opt for radio.

It's no fuss, immediate and well, works the imagination. Truth I'm in that category as well

But whilst TV and the likes of VJ receive dollops of attention, you'll hardly hear about the pluses of radio unless that is it's packaged as podcasts, which seem to get as much mention now as a triceratop.

There's no denying though that radio packages ( term given to radio reports) have a ready market, with the thousands of commuters listening to their ipods in the morning.

Trouble is radio packaging from podcasters can often be an exercise in self indulgence.

I still think there's something in the IM6 approach, which means stripping media 6 ways and the best example of that is the diving expedition to Gallipoli, which I posted about earlier here.

But what if say on I could reflect the big topic of the day, which is another way for saying package my news agenda.

And what if I could find a way of posting to my site via a proxy using xml. That way then the news report could be a current as a twitter post.

Now how do I go about building this?

Friday, December 12, 2008

BBC jobs - Musical Chairs stalled

Sometimes the pithy messages can be the most powerful.

Recapping a previous post.

A BBC bod tells us yesterday that there's a 3 year freeze on hiring at the corporation - and that this is the first year.

The implications are significant.

The BBC has often acted as a clearing house; a sort of jobs musical chairs where people leave, others are promoted and new jobs need filling at the bottom.

I often thought whether its possible to create an alternative BBC by dint of the number of people who leave. That would be fascinating.

But the real concern must lie with trainees and new grads. We've been here before in the boom bust cycle, but this time I can see hiring execs becoming more discerning.

A freeze is a freeze, but if you're blindingly good, you'll find a way. What's the figure again?

20000 grads per year wanting to do media and only 2000 jobs recycling.

There's work to be done on the ranch.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Game Changers Guest Post: David Dunkley Gyimah

Early November Beth Laing, from Wemedia, asked the finalists at the 2009 Game Changers Awards to write about their projects, what they’ve learned along the way and what’s next. This is the essay I submitted.

We Tell Stories

We tell stories. Everything we do is about stories. From the young child skipping home from school, the mother navigating a hard day’s work, James Joyce’s epic Ulysses to the shortest passage in the bible: Jesus wept. It’s story telling.

We tell stories across different media: Designers through space, image and text; artists through bold or subtle gestures of paint, sculptures, digital ones and zeros; dancers through the contours of their bodies, and today’s journalists, through an emerging basket of digital goods.

The stories we tell are shaped by their medium, Marshall McLuhan said as much in his medium is the message. Critic Andre Bazin extolled the language of Cinema and Muhammad Ali across a throng of Harvard students regaled us with “Me, we.” – the shortest poem there is. Rest of the article here

Camera tests for VJs at some point? Thanks Cliff

Blogger bluprojekt said...

Hi David - Check out the Zacuto's Great Camera Shootout '08 video - a very eye opening video on the differences in image quality and round table discussion on what determines the equipment to be used - thought you might appreciate the video given the nature of the title of this blog posting.


Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist
bluprojekt | solo video journalist blog

8:54 PM GMT

Blogger David of said...

Cliff that's an awesome find. Whilst I agree with their assertion about the test being for film and doc makers, I'd say it's going to be of huge interest to VJs looking at long format.

The A1 holds steady for its price and range coupled with a lexus lens adapter.

But as VJ matures, and the audience becomes more discerning watch for the winners.

Reasonaby sized cameras that allow for DOF ( depth of fields), richer saturated colour palettes.

The response I got from Asif Kapedia was equally interesting.

I can see issues ahead for VJism, where a film scores high online and wants to make it to a bigger screen, so yes your find, this video, flags up a very important debate.

2:06 PM GMT

BBC shares I-player and other technology

This is huge - an announcement within the BBC minutes ago, reported here by the Guardian of the BBC's move to share its technology and digital knowledge.

I met and spoke to the BBC's Eric Huggers, soon after he joined from Microsoft. He's since been made appointed Director, BBC Future Media and Technology.

One of the questions that Erik was considering two years ago was where the I-player, just before its lannch, could go.

It has undoubtedly been a huge success. Given what we're seeing is version I, the future's looking good to score more digital points with its next iterations.

Making that available, though I'm unsure it will be a white label for off the shelf purchase, should give other broadcasters a leg in.

I'd hope the BBC gives preference to smaller outfits serving significant niche and minority interests.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

video journalism - learning from the film experts

I have just recorded an audience with Asif Kapadia who shot to fame with his film Warriors.

I wanted to know how well the language of cinema translates to video and I got an interesting answer, which I'll post tomorrow.

New Journalism from outside journalism

Yugo P setting standards in visual design and story telling continues to amaze.

In the 90s/2000, a number of designers blazed the most incredible trail in the use of an app called Flash.

They were the new journalists. Story tellers for a completely new medium where: what, where, why, when and how was supported by interactivity, play and spatialness as opposed to a temporal linearity.

Such was their talent, that they achieved rock star like status and came to be referred to in a number of publications as the Masters of Flash.

I purchased a number of the books, some better than others, but was spell bound by their work, many of which have served as inspirations for my own, even if admittedly I don't have their skill set.

They included the likes of:
  • Todd Purgason; Acoustic
  • Eric Jordan; System
  • Brendan Dawes; React
  • Hillman Curtis
  • Yugo Nakamura; Nervous
  • Joel Baumann, Tomato Interactive
  • Joshua Davis; Chaos
Coded journalism
Yugo P whom I began to write about in a loose connection to journalism in 2000 does things in action scripting ( the code language for Flash) that's simply breath taking.

If the Open Source made the expression "code is beautiful" de rigeur, Yugo P makes it look like Angelina Jolie.

It's easy to look at his work as a non designer/ journalists and question what you're looking at and its validity in story telling.

Two things:
  • The design is the story, the arrangement and flow of information has a strong aesthetic and emotional draw and is thought provoking.
  • The functionality for a story about taxes, people et al may be found wanting here, but here's where we attempt to extract the DNA thread to incorporate into our work flow.
Designers got this web thing way before the journos did and have continued to open new and exciting discourses and when the two have come together, we've had some interesting new creations.

For instance, contemporary multimedia, which breaks free from the rigid definition of multimodal offerings of sound, video and text on a page. This is fusion, a new language; sometimes, many times, in which we simply won't get it.

I once remember standing in the National Gallery transfixed by this painting.

It was Perseus fighting Phineus and his companions by Luca Giordano- October 18, 1634 - January 12 1705. Much later when I saw the modern Rashamon Vantage point, I chuckled. Multimedia, multi-angled story telling from history.

But this and coded story telling, as Adrian Holavaty has demonstrated in his way is still a vastly untapped area:

Design Journalism
Take for instance Yugo P's Monocraft work from 2001. It's sublime and opens up so many avenues in navigation, and navigation becoming the story - a trail back to the origins of a news story and how its developed

There has since been a site like this, but like most things in the early stages was ahead of its time; not enough critical mass.

This model sliced with an elastic movement that responds to mouse movements has a deep playful quality to it. And play, art and functionality is at the heart of some of Yugo's work.

And then there's:
The challenge and it's a beautiful one is for us to continue to look cross discipline and draw from others and one of the riches area to mine is where code, art, design meets video journalism.

In 1999 one of the seminal pieces to mesmerise the design world was 9 months, a designers journey as his wife was due to give birth.

Nothing like it had been seen in this way.

That and many others inspired ( Rosalind and me) for an idea called The Family. Here, video journalism meets photography, code and design. That was 1999/2000.

There have been a great many works since then, brilliant works, highlighted on sites like multimedia shooter and Media Storm. But I'm certain Brian Storm and Richard koci Hernandez would agree we've still got a way to go, and it's an interesting time.

New Journalism from outside journalism, finally. For this week Yugo P's work will become even more popular having been made a Global Game Changer.

And that inspire me even further.

David Dunkley Gyimah was cited for an honourable mention by Wemedia, which awarded Yugo P Game Changer award, "for elevating narrative, multi-media journalism through tireless experiments that push multi-media on a wide range of topics to a higher standard on a wide range of topics".

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Response to Wemedia Game Changers - David Dunkley Gyimah

Excellent choices for the winners of the WeMedia Game Changers.

ZeFrank and Yugo Nakamura I have known about since when. Here's an article for the Brit design mag Blue Print featuring mention on Yugo P from the Masters of Flash series. Yugo's work was simply mesmerising the first time and still is.

You simply have to go and see their work. If you think Flash is an app for streaming video, the two give the primary perspective.

About five years ago YugoP exhibited with all the other Masters of Flash e.g. Hillman Curtis, Joshua Davies at London's contemporary design theatre.

It was breathless stuff.

Twitter and the John S and James L. Knight Foundation need no introductions and have simply been transformative in many ways for others to benefit.

Social Vibe has been a relatively new one for me to come across, but no less awesome in its impact.

The term game changer for such an instution like Wemedia is profound and just to be in the company of the above has been seriously humbling and fun.

I have been chugging along in my own process, so it's been undeniably an interesting journey, which truthfully has looked to originals like zefrank, Media Storm, Yugop and Frank Knight Founation for my inspiration.

And for all the people who said kind words, your beers in the post :-D

We Media game changers announced

This from Beth, Wemedia.

Thank you for participating in the first We Media Game Changers Awards and for being a finalist. We had an impressive group of organizations and people and projects and I have enjoyed learning more about your projects via essay and other communications.

First, we will be formally announcing the winners today but I wanted to give you all a preview of the list as well as the press release. Secondly, I want to renew the invitation to you all to come to We Media Miami Feb. 24-26, 2009 with complimentary registration. You can use the promotion code WM-FIN to register. If you have questions or want to discuss further just let me know. For details and to register visit


Recipients include digital storytellers, social networking activists, mobile media pioneers and a foundation focused on journalism.

RESTON, VA - Online media star ZeFrank, mobile texting service Twitter, David Plouffe, the Obama campaign mastermind, Japanese digital designer Yugo Nakamura and Kenyan mobile alert service Ushahidi are among nine winners of the We Media Game Changers Awards to be presented at the We Media Miami conference in February.

The other award winners are: The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Innocentive's crowdsourcing for the science crowd, Humana's Freewheelin' and social network Socialvibe.

You can learn more about the winners and their achievements at:

The winners will be celebrated and featured speakers at the We Media Miami conference, Feb. 24-26, 2009, where their stories will become the content of the conference. Register for the conference at:

The awards recognize people, projects, ideas and organizations leading change and inspiring a better world through media. Specific recognitions include:

Key trend: the end of apathy
Twitter is recognized for changing the real-time communication game.
Innocentive for taking Web 2.0 to the marketplace.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for changing its own approach and everyone else's by shifting it's money to media innovation and the information needs of communities.
Ushahidi for redefining the ability of people to quickly communicate vital information for action.
Freewheelin for demonstrating that the Internet is not just something on your screen and challenging the fundamental assumption that health insurance is only for after-the-fact care by steping into preventative and holistic health.

Key trend: society's new storytellers
ZeFrank, essential contemporary culture, proves that a new type and scale of engagement and entertainment is possible.
Yugo Nakamura, designer of Design and the Elastic Mind, for exploring non-traditional forms of storytelling through interactive systems in digital and networked environments.
David Plouffe, for the mobilization of millions with a methodical media campaign that utilized the Internet, cell phones and personal communication devices as never before.

Community Award
Key trend: social networking gets serious
SocialVibe for unleashing the power of distributed advertising on personal media.

An international panel of pioneers from media, technology, business, social activism and blogging judged nominees for the awards, and the We Media Community award, for Socialvibe, was selected by the public through online voting.

The awards highlight achievements through exceptional story-telling, novel business models, significant social impact, innovative design and powerful visions of media for the connected culture.

The awards are organized and administered by iFOCOS, the media think tank and futures lab that organizes the We Media conferences and global membership community.

The We Media conference also features a media venture startup gallery and an early stage media venture startup competition with up to $50,000 in seed capital awarded to winners.

Register for the conference at:

About We Media
The We Media conferences, community and awards are organized by iFOCOS, a media think tank and futures lab founded in 2006 by media visionairies Andrew Nachison and Dale Peskin. They help anyone create, operate and sustain ventures in a media-centric culture powered by everyone. We Media programs function as a marketplace of ideas and actions for business and social innovators. They connect individuals and organizations from across industries who believe the power of media, communication and human ingenuity should be applied to innovate in business and to make the world better through media. More about We Media at:

In addition to the winners listed above we have a group of Honorable Mentions that will also be part of the We Media program.

Honorable mention:
(Key trend: Advancing journalism in the digital age)
Witness’ The Hub for creating a platform for global rights media and action. A You Tube for people who care about the world.
Akron Beacon Journal for showing there is still an important role to be played by the so-called mainstream media at the community level. Its American Dream project applies the best of civic journalism in familiar, low-tech formats for print, the Web, and video.
Off the Bus for enhancing the coverage of the presidential election through a national network of citizen journalists.
David Dunkley Gimayah for elevating narrative, multi-media journalism through tireless experiments that push multi-media on a wide range of topics to a higher standard on a wide range of topics.
MediaStorm for creating a new, digital platform for high quality journalism: a multi-media production studio for storytelling wrapped by great design, photography and aesthetics.
Born in September for demonstrating the Power of One, using personal media to make a global difference.
NPR for creating technology that opens content to public use, putting it in the hands of citizens to do with it as they see fit.
Footnote’s The Wall for bringing personal stories to physical spaces, in this case tributes to each of the 58,000 names on the Vietnams Veterans Memorial.
Pulitzer Center for showing media practitioners how to evolve their work across multiple platforms and multiple formats to engage with wide audiences.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Thank you,


Journalism jobs - 2009 recesionary woes

Recessionary times and how Brit youth were dealing with it - Tx BBC TV

Much is spoken about the hard times ahead.

Notwithstanding the econ crisis which is really yet to truly bleed in next year, publishers and broadcaster are already bloody nosed from the disruption of journalism's business model.

It's difficult to think of a way out.

In the 90s and the characteristic cycle of boom and bust, jam today, gone tomorrow, you could more or less read the signs and make contingencies knowing somehow there would be a recovery to recent levels ahead.

Many youngsters, irrespective of their profession, in the 90s moved countries. Falaraki was a favoured destination for casuals, whilst the European continent and the US became a one way ticket for grads.

It really was a case of supply and demand.

Recession 92
Here featured in The Brain Drain for BBC TV, my piece to camera/ stand up goes:
"People have been worrying about the brain drain for years, the cream of British youth leaving the country in search of new opportunities, but with the current recession is itreally a matter for concern ?"
These were pre-Net, digital days. Tom [post here] and Englishman who now works for one of Russia top broadcasters advocates moving East for those caught up in the Economic whirlwind.

Yesterday, I spoke of the tale of two friends. It is a young person's game. Everyone want's it free. And even when the economy recovers there's no cheer.

One of our British National newspapers pays out $135 million a year for paper cost alone. It's ad revenue had dropped from $120,000 for a full page US to $37,000 US.

CNet's daily vid, below puts a voice and face to the woes. There's no hiding. What's the true value of journalism?

And when it does pick itself up from the floor, will it have been transformed to take on these various challenges, business model n' all?

Or will it be much of the same, bracing itself unguarded for the next financial onslaught?

Emily Bell from the Guardian saw the formation of Trusts as a model, though she could also see problems with this.

I'd be up for more conferences looking to tackle the elephant in the room. How do you stay afloat and make money to pay wages.

Monday, December 08, 2008

TV's instructions to Vjism

Front cover of Viewmagazine.TV, Through the Eyes of Child.

Showing is Veronique then 13, who today will be 28. You don't need to have worked in TV, I say but you can borrow from its language.

I'll write more on this this week.

Tale of two differing era journalists - digital vs traditionalist

He was respected in television, working for one of the most respected programme makers in the UK.

The other equally ambitious has started his tentative journey into broadcasting with a big bang.

It is the tale of two journalists, digital versus traditionalists and today presents the most starkly differing paths in which both now plough.

Today I heard from both acquaintances - one of them someone I have been mentoring

He young working as an intern is now a researcher for one of the biggest brand names in global broadcasting. Someone who's name is synonymous with world class.

And by all accounts talking to my mentoree on the phone, he's made his own personal brand quite something in the few weeks in tele. For in the short time as a researcher he's pulled in some heavyweights to the programme such as Kofi Annan.

When I just finished speaking to him, he'd just come from his employer's office, who'd offered to write him a reference, if he needed it.

"If he's willing to say something on tape so you can stick on your site that would do", I said.

The New Rules
Rule 101: When looking for a new job do it from a position of power, when you're working and on a high.

Rule 201: In today's climate it's far better to build a one page site and email a prospective employer with a 3 para letter and link to your work. Keep it very short.

Showreels and letters don't really work as well and cold calling, whilst bril, can sometimes leave you hanging.

Email, then follow it up. This is something I tell my Masters students all the while

Rule 301: don't expect to hear back from your source the first time. Email again later and then again.

Trad journalists
After twenty plus successful careers in broadcasting my other acquaintance I heard from today is retraining in social care. But in the meantime as I learned today he's cabbing.

It's giving him he says the flexibility to work his own hours.

There is nothing wrong with being a minicab driver. It is a much in need profession for many people who need to get around.

But I suppose it's not something you have in mind, after winning media awards.

I understand the thin line that divides broadcasting ( something you enjoy doing- it's not really a job) and anything else ( where you realise the strain).

We've all been there and will continue to tread these two finely separated paths.

For the fact is media/ broadcasting was mooted as a young person's game in the 90s. Today it is nothing less than a young person's world; the pay, the hours and the rewards.

But I can't finish without this news. Forty years of working for one of the world's most formidable news agencies, Peter who took compulsory redundacy has found a job as a lecturer. Never say never.