Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Videojournalism - the drama


Editor: so you one of those VJs?
Senior Editor: what!
Editor: VJs!
Senior Editor: DJs?
Editor: VJ, VJ, short for videojournalism
Senior Editor: V-O-D-O-O J-O-U-R-N-A-L-I-S-M What's that?
Young guy: Hey Ol Man It's video journalism. Not Vodoo, Not Vagner spelt with a "W", Not venerable. VIDEO. But I guess you're too past it to know we stopped using film in the 80s.
Everyone looks stunned.
***n it. I'm not going to get job now so I might as well speak my mind.
Trouble with you guys is you see a guy with a camera and think cheap. You'd balk at the idea of seeing Velázquez hold his own brush. Or that it takes two people to drive a car: one on the gear lever while the other shouts "move away". We've moved on. But I guess you still think Citizen journalism is some one's dyslexia for Citizen Kane.
Stop. Look out of the window and watch. We're now in colour. Video. Video. One person and a camera Phut! ( Shakes his head)
Door shuts
Senior Editor and Editor: What a strange man!
Senior Editor: So who's next outside?
Editor: Some guy with typewriter sowed to his head. Calls it blogging!
Senior Editor and Editor: Ahhhhhhhh

Series tweetish 1 here Does he get a vest

Monday, March 29, 2010

TV going videojournalism

David's back in the Mid East this month helping state broadcasters with plans and logistics to set up videojournalism in their newsroom

In many ways television news is as close to videojournalism as football is to field hockey. Both sports I love by the way, which have a ball at the centre of play.

That's why any announcement about television going videojournalism creates such a fuss. As a former network television producer, I get the arguments.

Yet I also know where videojournalism, IMVJ or cineVJ as I call it can play a huge part and I'm looking forward to what results the PhD research I'm involved in yields.

I have been practicing and writing about it in trade magazines since 1994. These screen grabs below come from a 2001 edition of the magazine "Producers". I'll provide a link for you to download later in the week.

Videojournalism's sole gain is not necessarily its soloism, though it's a strong feature. One of its true zeitgeist is enabling the practitioner to perceive what works where and how to accomplish it.

Think of it as the mechanic who has a good grasp of a cross range of cars. My local mechanic knows cars like the back of his hand; he builds them and also races them.

So its with great excitement - finally the point of this post - that I'm back in the Mid East this month working with a state broadcasters on maximising videojournalism in their newsroom.

And believe me it's not just a news gathering, more cameras to spare, exercise.

David writing in The Producers about a new world order in 2001. Videojournalism is tool agnostic. In the rh shot I'm shooting with a digibeta 700.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How anyone can make a good film - aesthetic videojournalism

Re:sounding motion was a short film made to complement the performance of a group of dancers and musicians shown on the big cinema screen of the Royal Festival Hall on Friday 26th, March 2010

The aestheticization of videojournalism is not a new phenomena.

It is shrouded in past iterations of different forms; just the word videojournalism may be somewhat novel in its acceptance of such a standard. No one ever calls a news item aesthetic !

But what does it mean?

Certainly not style over substance or otherwise a vainglorious attempt to dress mutton up as lamb but a distillation, to communicate as efficaciously as possible maximising the impact of what's said or envisioned.

You may end up playing the above video more than once; your behaviour, influenced by the affect of an aesthetic. The frame choice, mood, experience - all part of a complex interactive mesh.

Master Class
I aim to deliver a Master Class lecture at the University of Westminster for Masters students very soon (courtesy of Albert Gachiri).

Here, the focus is to illustrate, via an interactive forum, my own background as a practicing videojournalist/ artist in residence and findings from my PhD research how aesthetic videojournalism is crucial to our solo ability to tell more informed stories.

That is more informed stories of the same stories, taking into account the variables that allow us to enrich those moments.

The other notion I posit is how the very essence of "the story" in itself requires further interrogation in an age when the idea of story teller is no longer univocal. The concept of video-hyperlinking unravels ownership.

On page 44 of The Documentary Handbook (2009), under "Flying Solo", documentary maker, lecturer and author Peter Lee-Wright writes:

" His ( David Dunkley Gyimah) conception of videojournalism stands in stark contrast to the newspapers and broadcaster who see VJs as a cheap alternative to crews and traditional working practices"....

"While the experts trash around in uncertainty, it is a good time for the innovators to show their stuff...from the core investigative issues of public interest and accountability to the new forms of storytelling that Gyimah champions" (pg47)

If you're on the Masters programme (print pathway or broadcasting) reading this, then I hope to stage it after the Easter break and if you're allow me to say this, I believe it will benefit anyone with an eye to video or visuals of some sort. Details to be posted soon.

More on videojournalism here circa updated from 2005

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Preview - Multicamera Solo VJ shoot

Sorry. I'm up to my eyeballs with work. But here's something I have almost completed which you can see here - Preview - Multicamera Solo VideoJournalism shoot.

The 3min film showcases Sound Moves - 8 young talented dancers meet 8 young musicians at the Southbank Centre.

The score isnt the one playing on the day Friday 26th at the Royal Festival Hall where this short will be screened. Requires a few more tweeks.

I used four different camera set ups JVC, Sony, Canon, and Flip with blocking techniques to capture straight off. No, I wasn't being extravagant.

Multicamera VJ
Each gives its own aesthetic. I did this on international shoots working in television, but it was truly pricey working just two.

On shoots such as Chicago, I'm directing myself ( see running shot). I tend to conceals cameras in vantage points to get what I'm after.

Shots in this film are heavily saturated and "crushed" - all for a reason. I'll write this up more comprehensively sometime but now its back to McQuails Mass Communication Theory.

Friday, March 19, 2010

ITV hosts Diversity in UK Newsrooms

Post will be going up on

Thursday, March 18, 2010

ITV hosts Diversity in UK Newsrooms

Twenty odd something years since I clutched hold to the dream of being a broadcaster, the arguments for inclusion into the industry, diversity in UK Newsrooms, has not dimmed.

Is it about time broadcasters were brutally honest admitting there's little chance of solving this problem, or that they need more time and resources?

Tomorrow David Dunkley Gyimah, a former Channel 4 News freelance producer reports on how the industry is damned each way and that the solutions lie in a system not yet invented.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Revolutionise the form to be functional

Three events are running concurrently on my laptop and desk mac.

Each morning is a sprint, a brain dump of alpha wave thoughts to writing up chapters for research; form following function.

Some of the data is coming in, but it will be a series of ground hog days, which I must accept will drive me to watch birds flying an marvel how they do that.

I was at a China knowledge bank meeting earlier this week and shared my woes with Technology expert, the Guardian's Dr Aleks Krotoski whom chimed PhD, "oh yeah" ; hers she admitted still fresh in her mind. "Take time off when you finish", she advised.

My chapter on interviews for book has just been submitted for first drafts, slowly methodically they're taking shape.

The extreme difference, the writing style is utterly different and so I sit at my desk and look for the plug that says: "fluid and accessible" before hard wiring it into the base of my head. The Matrix, Oh yeah, t'is true. Form must follow function.

I'm midway into completing a film, which is one of my most ambitious in videojournalism as I can now push the form into enquiry mode, rather than the aesthetics of journalism which insist we close the argument.

The videojournalism shoot
The videojournalism shoot involved four cameras simultaneously fixed with different set ups. I know what I'm looking for, it's not superfluous.

Using After Effects, the front end animates around a visual theme not unlike that seen in Heroes. My vision is firm, but I have a second shoot for the flashforward sequence to work.

Meanwhile, a cold bead of sweat gathers on my forehead: I have a load of marking soon, Online and TV.

But if I'm really excited, it is the prospect articulated by the director of Southbank this week and the plans shaping up for next years epoch Festival of Britain.

To say its huge is an understatement, but I have so many ideas to feed in, that I have been scribbling furiously on train journeys in between Baudrillard and the next project, Cairo and China.

Time to get something to eat. Have I reached the stage when I must diarise that as well. Perhaps not, it has little do with form, however much to do with how I function

Monday, March 08, 2010

How tos.. film and pull off the big interviews - Videojournalism

One of my many interviews. This one with the former head of the CIA, James R Woolsey, which took place in Washington DC.

It forms a series of "how tos?", including interviewing Nelson Mandela at a Press Conference, to the great an late Eartha Kitt and turning the tables on my old friend Riz Khan. The how to exposes tricks and tips through out my career and some great flaws.

I was once mortified after my equipment failed me interviewing Sir Douglas Hurd, a high ranking Tory and then member of the Conservative government.

So I'm disappearing from these pages for a while as I have a number of deadlines. Admittedly I can't help the occasional quick blog, but all my writing and time is going into two big exercises.

Did I tell you I actually like making videos? I have got a couple more to produce, including a TED like interview featuring some of the most amazing thinkers I have come across e.g. Zann Gill, a former NASA personnel, is building the next social network as part of a study for her thesis.

Bruce Damer, another NASA person, is attempting to create life from nothing other than a computer simulation. They and others truly inspire me.

Inspiring people
But alas there are only 19 hours in a day, which starts at 6 a.m and concludes at 1 p.m. I have posted some new vids on including an interview with the fantastic Brian Storm founder of MediaStorm, whose work is mind-inducingly trail blazing.

I'm rebuilding parts of my site from html to css etc. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to seeing what our International Masters students are doing. They should be online with their new ventures.

I'll post a link for you to see the fruits of the six weeks labour with Flash, Css, Photoshop - and more importantly understanding the semiotics of online

Having watched "Hurt Locker" I was going to change the interface of to show how to replicate the DVDs titles. I might do, but truthfully I'm up against time.

Still if you're a videojournalist or an outfit I'd love to hear from you.

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit

Friday, March 05, 2010

Journalism's deja vu why... the past matters

David as a freelance World Service radio journalist in Cape Town settlement in 1992

I'm peering through the window; the fans of my hard drives are now audible - an irritant, almost.

And I have now seen fit to turn of the other two monitors, three will do fine for the moment. Yes I am a screen geek, but that's for another day to banter.

Journalism's deja vu and why the past matters is a reflective thought from building up a list of to dos for a study, which is also the making of a film I'm investing quite some time in.

It goes back to 1987 as seen through my eyes, an interpretive approach to the changing media. Oh how the past really matters, as I popped open a Hi8 (obscure thing) to watch on its designated player and rolled tape from the settlements of Khayelitsha.

For once, now we might truly recognise there is no grand scheme, no jewels of utter profound thought - though there are shards of occasional brilliance - in manufacturing media.

The year of 1987. Thatcherism. And how desperately I wanted to work in broadcasting. I'm black, a chemistry undergrad transitioning and haven't the foggiest how I might soon transmorgificate myself from post studentism to broadcast professional.

I wrote a piece for our student newspaper, a heated debate at the university about the emergence of AIDS from Africa discovered in Reese Monkeys. Yep!

Black is important. In 1987 colour was heavily politicized, student affairs was akin to a class struggle.

Later in 1992 when I landed in South Africa and was summarily invited onto prime time radio, you could forgive the host for asking the number of blacks who worked in broadcasting.

I digress.

Journalism back story
Reflection! What was once so, those distant times, why do they matter? Because journalism thought it never had it so good, short term views ran the course, the beneficiaries of the so-called professionals arbitrating on our behalf, became a self interest.

The past matters for context.
Over the years any number of outfits have changed, shed past ways, looked to the future, shed some more past ways and then made pronouncements about how right now they are in the here and now.

We heard it on the news again this week with the BBC's new policy javelin spearing two hitherto stations, you've probably never heard of. Martin Sorrell, the Stan Lee of advertising says we're (advertising) back. You can wheel the patient out of the critical room.

How prescient of Oliver Stone to resurrect Gecko. There's a looming irony.

Never mind hindsight, but its worth asking and firmly if you're privy to the change business. We all are as consumers, so how really different will the future be? For one thing our views of truth, Walter Benjamin suggests, which is shaped by institutions, by any account has not gone the way of the recession.

There is disquiet over the Tories intended fisticuffs with broadcasting should they toe poke the election. It looks too much like Murdoch's manifesto says the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland

.."the BBC has decided its best strategy for self-preservation is to suffer a little pain now to avoid a lot of pain later".
There is a sense we might be slow walking, not into old ways - that's not possible - but parallels of ways we've co opted that reference those ways.

Goldsmith University's research unveiled early last year that the Internet hasn't significantly altered the structure of journalism seems true to a large point.

Plutocracy rules. Old money, old ideas buy power. Witness the non dom tax debacle of Lord Ashcroft and traditional media tail spinning. Their news is our news.

We've sniffed a bit of lax in the system, but it's only a bit and apart from the odd subject agendas are made in corporate boardrooms.

All Change
And journalism, well it still hasn't fully recovered, question is when it does will it be the one of old or a new one in place - hardly a topic to debate really?

So why does my longitudinal study and the forsaken tapes I have kept from my first broadcast to recently running around Beirut training matter?

Well context Watson, context! Will comparisons with the past truly show how earth-moving this flux has been? Is the change we're witnessing a symptom of Darwinism - evolving - rather than a revolution?

To academics who chew the cud of words such lengthy studies are boringly necessary, because they often reveal not som much the changes made, but what was missed and truly could have been monumental.

Like I said, the next pronouncement you hear from your favourite media will be telling you how they've now got it so right, journalistically, in employment (don't mention the CDN), and socially.

You'll find out whether that's the case in another ten years time.