Friday, April 30, 2010

VideoJournalism's film making Sony & Panosonic pro choice - David Dunkley Gyimah's tale

The explosion in videojournalism and equipment is one of the most exciting features 0f the last five years.

Some of you may know my work in using small DV cams and even though this has allowed for a range of video projects, there is still something to be said about using pro cameras.

I appreciate this may be out of reach on your pocket, but I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about my background and how as a videojournalist using pro cameras has been significant in my understanding of cinematography in broadcasting and filmmaking.

The top shot is from 2002 when I was hired by World Heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis to shoot his fight: Lennox Lewis Vs. Tyson, one of the most anticipated fights of the decade.

Here I am at base camp in the Poconno Mountains, before setting off to Memphis at the Pryamid Arena to to cover the fight.

This was a really nice camera. It's been a while so I may be wrong but I believe it's the Sony HVR-S270U which which is around $5000. It's quite light but with a good centre of gravity and interchangeable lens which you could play around with e.g. Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar Zoom Lens, 12x f = 4.4-52.8mm, f = 32-384mm at 16:9 mode, f = 39.5-47.4mm (4:3 mode)

Now what's significant about the use of a camera like this is that journalists learning video journalism would rarely work with a pro camera, which had a larger range of ND filters and other accessories to improve the picture quality.

Many journalists were more likely to start their careers with DV cams.

This is one of my favourite cameras - the Digi beta 970P It's top of the range and cost then about £50,000. I uses this on several shoots but all always hired them.

Here I am shooting a feature for Channel 4 News in South Africa in 1999.

These are some of its features:
  • amazing high quality pic with a compression ratio of around 2.1
  • Good weighted centre of gravity
  • It shot 625/25P progressive mode and 625/50i interlaced mode
  • Good sound at 20 bit resolution
You'll notice it has a Matte box at the front of the lens which allowed me to use different filters.

I think that is a hugely important point, because I am altering the look of what I'm recording at source. If you've ever graded your films you'll know what I mean.

Using different filters allowed me to imprint a colour-code to the image I perceived.

In one of the shots that I'm hoping to find and post I've altered between deep red filters and harsh colours in trouble spots in the townships - all through filters.

Here, you can just about see the camera on my left.

This shot really illustrates the structure of the camera.

And finally another shot as a videojournalist using a Panasonic in Paris - the aftermath of the Death of Princess Di, 1997 reporting from France, Champs Elysee.

I remeber this shoot well. I got some pretty strange stairs doing a stand-up by myself in the middle of a busy shopping lane.

Now why is this in some way interesting? It's interesting because of the difference between DV cams, pro cams and the new brill kid on the block the Canon 5D II.

I think something really interesting is happening here in the videojournalists firmament, in who comes from a journalism background and those that come from a picture background.

It' not so clear cut because there will be always be overlaps but I think you'll find that
a lot of photographers looking to video are opting for the Canon, while pro journalists are gravitating towards the camcorders.

I don't use a Canon 5D Mk II just yet, as so far my body muscle memory still likes the phantom hold for the Camcorder. It's a matter of ergonomics: the way its held, its feel and the assets I get from the camera.

One of the my training partners at the Press Association who has one says it's more geared towards the doc because of difficulties in pulling focus.

That's an issue whose pros have been sold to outweigh the cons. You try filming on the fly with a 50mm lens at 1.2 - great shallow depths but difficult to control on the fly, unless you push your f-stop higher and shoot deep-focus, but even then.

Hollywood had an answer for these, the focus puller.

A couple of years back a Sony exec was adamant that the small cameras would never feature interchangeable lens. I'll post that vid as well when I locate it.

Well, my guess though is that there's a real fight erupting behind the scenes and it will only be a matter of time before the small DVcams make way for lens changes.

Otherwise video cameras may well lose the intiative in much the same way Hoover did to the Dyson.

And that will be exciting. At the moment I work with an adaptor on my JVC GY100 with a prime lens, which gives me OK enough quality, (though better than the vx1000) but no where near the same picture size as the pro cameras I used.

That said if you are a videojournalist, I'm pretty much camera agnostic. But if you can, I do recommend getting your hands on a pro camera and getting the feel and sense of what it does, which will let you appreciate more where you are with the small accessible gear.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The video pitch gets more intensive - video freelancing

"This is to confirm that I have known David Dunkley Gyimah for 10 years as a journalist of exceptional talent and innovation and I would have no hesitation in recommending him. .....He regular pitches ideas, several of which have developed into interesting and watchable news stories. David is not only a creative talent but is a team player who puts his shoulder to the wheel when required".
Guy Kerr, Managing Editor Channel 4 News, 2002
More of reference here

Seems I had something in television. I'll call it over exuberance.

However refluxing an earlier post last year on pitching, with everybody a video maker, the art of pitching will increasingly play a vital role in earning a living.

Pitching to who? Well, given the number of platforms aggregating video in an agency-brokerage format, it could be any number of outlets, not necessarily traditional broadcasters.

So here goes. I'm basing this post on my experience in broadcasting from when I first joined the BBC in 1997 , 1987 but more specifically at Channel 4 News and BBC WS where I regularly freelanced.

Firstly it has to be said pitching an idea can't be divorced from the you.

At a visit to the stock market in the late 80s, when considering a career in the city, we were asked to trade imaginary stocks. We almost all failed: "too cautious" was the Managing Directors advice. There's a reason we go for East End boys, he said to our bewilderment.

The Pitch is the message, how you tell it determines whether you'll get the sale or not.

Hollywood vernacular has refined this process: Taken: it's Bourne-like. This short hand instills the appropriate message.

For the doc/feature maker, pitching to commissioners, it can be a long arduous round of meetings and is often not separated from whether you're:

  • part of the club
  • have a history of programme making.

Otherwise in the pitching exercise we undertake it follows protocols and outcomes you're likely to encounter in commissioning circles.

A rough idea of pitching
1. If you've sent in a one pager about your idea. Stick to that idea, adding a little bit more detail, but DO NOT deviate from your initial idea.

2. If you've submitted an idea; refine it, refine it and refine again. ( practice your elevator pitch. If after 10 seconds your commissioner is lost, you're climbing a slippery mountain. Cut out the waffle

3. Your commissioner wants a story that is populist, but with its own unique subjects/angle, say updated for modern times. Think audience and where it will show in broadcast channel terms.

4. In all likelihood the idea you're pitching will have been done before in some way. PLEASE research the net. Don't think you're the first person doing something on drug addiction.

5. Get to the point: who your central character or characters are; why its interesting; where the conflict is (though don't use the word conflict) and how it might get resolved.

6. Convince the person why you can make it. If you've never done espionage in your life. DO NOT pitch about tracking criminal gangs. Firstly you don't have the contacts. Secondly for your safety we'd never allow.

7. Dress for it. Look the part.

8. Have all your papers prepped. One for you and how many others for commissioners. DO NOT say, "Oh I thought I sent you one already". Commissioners trade lots of papers, and may have lost yours. So coming in with a new batch gets them of the hook and shows you're prepared.

9. Leave time for questions and have some idea what they will be.

Pitcher: I'm looking at prostitution........
Commissioner: so where will you find these prostitutes

10. Know the ecosystem of the idea e.g. Prostitution - social.. The society against prostitution. ..and some of the obvious research. Have you looked up the national stats office on this?

And finally, testing on a critical friend: Pitch to a friend under near conditions and ask for harsh feedback.


From an earlier post in 1999

There's a scene in Black Hawk Down where a nerdy Ewan Macgregor's character explains to a bewildered superior about how the taste of coffee is all in the grind. He's not wrong!

But it had me thinking at the art of story telling Videojournalism, or otherwise and that it's all in the pitch.

As the number of videojournalists explodes, they'll come a time when just as a features editor may commission a writer, it's likely they'll set out their stall for videojournalists to offer stories.

Channel 4's news film fund already does that, not discriminating against full crews or Videojournalists, in so far as the story is right.

And you don't get to the story, without the pitch.

Last week I had the task of listening and reviewing 24 of our Masters students. A post is not the forum to discuss how they fared, but they will know the emphasis we place on this.

Pitching is an art form, and differs across genres, but the basic principle is the same.

In roughly 10 seconds you're going to tell a story that's going to light your listener's fire. In 10 seconds you're going to paint a vivid picture of what could be. In 10 seconds you're going to create an illusion powerful enough for your listener to buy more time from you.

"Uhum tell me more"

Working at Channel 4 News as this recommendation from the Managing Director in 1999 illustrates gave me the chance to observe a facet of pitching and also often refine and make my own.

In fact such is the art of pitching, that I have considered it a chapter in a forthcoming book for a US publisher which is gradually taking shape.

There are two yardsticks that measure the value of a pitch. What is it? And why should I care?

In other words, if you're planning on going for an interview for a media job, chances are you've listened to your potential employer's output and found something to offer that suits their style.

Furthermore, it's got to be a story, which in all likelihood your listener has either not heard before, or you have a unique way of saying it.

Remember it's a pitch, not an exposition of your ability to hold and dispense of a great deal of facts.

And all great stories involve a person or persons you have or will get access to rather than a big themed issue.

And if you're really up to speed you'll spend endless hours sometimes rehearsing it. TV is all about creative ideas and those that know how to speak in that mimetic fashion of experienced pitchers have a career ahead of them.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Speech to text

Summer has officially arrived in the UK. There are birds chattering away as if they'd just awoken.

A makeshift team of footballers bludgeon each other on the pitch that underlooks where I live.

And then as only the Brits would do the sun worshippers are out in force.

Me, I'm stuck in my office devising a book chapter, new research and questionnaires I need to send out, and thinking about any number of presentations I need to produce in the next couple of weeks.

But the real revelation this Saturday is my new toy. In fact it's nothing of the sort.

For the post you are reading is being written without me touching a type pad. After weeks of searching, I have finally come by the device that will make my workload easier.

It's called dictate a voice-to-text system in which as I roam around my room speaking on a wireless mike it translates what you're reading.

Saving Time

To say this has cut down on the enormous amount of time it would have taken me to write, sullen by the lack of motivation hopping from one thing to another is an understatement.

In fact I'm beginning to think why anyone should want to type copious notes documents or e-mails ever again.

Occasionally the programme gets a wrong it wrong. And I have to issue a command for it to delete the word.

But most of the time it's a mixture of surreal meets wonderment as I watch the words unfold on the screen. Text-to-speech program have come a long way.

The big difference is you have to learn how to speak in the written form, as well as in intelligible sentences, rather than streams of consciousness.

Relearning how to Speak.

In many ways I'm relying on the previous skill as an on-screen reporter when I only had a couple of minutes to devise a stand-up or piece to camera.

Apart from that I found what helps is to surround myself with things that prompt me to write in a particular way.

That said, I still have to go back on this, proof, re think like a writer, and insert paragraph breaks and collect correct the odd spelling.

But that's nothing compared to my aching fingers after a marathon write.

It's taken me as long to write this as I have spoken it and as I look outside its as if time has stood still; the footballers are still there, as are sun seekers and the birds are still giving it wellie.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A videojournalism era stirs at the Front LIne Club

To a videojournalist, the title of this post sounds absurd; videojournalism has gone past stirring, it is a full force in the armament of journalism, but I'd say it still is a neologism.

You can test this theory by walking out onto the street and asking the next three people what they think of videojournalists? Then ask the same question about television journalists.

One group needs little explanation.

So it was that yesterday, one of the UK's most foreword thinking journalism think tanks, The Front Line Club planted a huge step in the sand for videojournalism - an era is awaiting to stir.

The Front Line for my US friends, in many ways, reminds me of the time I was sitting in the National Press Club in Washington DC equally in awe of its surroundings.

David reporting from the Batten Awards,
National Press Club, Washington DC. Here for report

Many attributes may separate Front Line and the the deeply revered National Press Club: time in business, patronage of presidents or prime ministers that have graced the club, even prestige some might say, alarmed anyone dare compare anything to the US' august institution.

But to those that know the brand "Front Line " and it's not the comparisons per se I seek to draw attention to but the intent, this truly is something to deeply admire.

Praverna and Vaughan Smith (founder), backed by a pro media/events team, have built a club with a unstinting steadfastness to independent journalism.

Among its many strengths, one of them is its ability to walk the dichotomous thick grey line between traditional and contemporary journalism with aplomb.

Yesterday it demonstrated that drawing a crowd of 50 or so from a 100 people (almost the event's room limit) who'd expressed an interest to to engage in the new new thing videojournalism.

The Front Line Club's videojournalism era

There's a lot I could talk about from the night, not least the films that were shown and short talks. For that attendees should doff their hat to organiser Patrick Smith

Producer and director Daniel Bogado previewed a documentary on neighbourhood police and gangs in South Africa, made with David Matthews, commissioned by Current TV (UK).

It was an extraordinary clip of a drug dealer justifying why, having emerged from prison with no job provided for him by the government, he had very right to to sell drugs on the street.

For original cinematography, freelance film-maker Cameron Robertson, who regularly contributes to showed how mounting a camera on a nightclub bouncer gives a strong unmediated point- of-view filming. More please.

Vaughan provided the opening, accompanied with a short talk about his time spent in Afghanistan, and how having slipped his minder, he came away with a number of films that bring you, the viewer, Cappaesque closer to the action.

With each round that whizzed by, I could hear myself swearing. Vaughan, no stranger to that course of journalism, few dare to tread, was now telling us in his own words and voice, what it was like on the front line.

This was unheard off. I know that well because as a freelance producer/videojournalist at Channel 4 News, my film I made from South Africa was reedited using Stephen Smith ( now at Newsnight) as the narrator

The message for us attending and you, a videojournalist, was in spite of our differences and own motives, the Front Line Club could and would serve as an agency to push the ideals of independent, freelance videojournalism.

It's an act we should welcome and enact upon with passionate embracing arms.

Videojournalism - a different film

David elected to a show a film from his site that addresses evolving areas that mashup interdisciplines, yet still constitute videojournalism.

I showed a short film as well. Thank you to the many people who said they liked it and excuse my ruse for showing, joking about my fraudulent motives: the opportunity to research the work of other videojournalists as part of my PhD.

But the key moment for me, and I'll cherish it was when a gentleman in the audience after the showing said "he didn't understand it (the short)".

I further explained to him later, from an earlier qualification that the film's context played as part of an event at the Southbank made for a cinema screen. I'm not sure he was anymore convinced but I was thankful for the question.

Undoubtedly not everyone will agree with what you, we, do, but the challenge is to attempt to help people understand. Not always, as it's your prerogative, and some people are beyond negotiating. I'm not saying this was the point here.

But we are entering a bottleneck phase.

Think about it. 15 years ago, a few people said the web would one day change the way we do business. I know that much as this rare video from 1995 illustrates, which I intro.

10 years ago, a burgeoning web log said as much. The professional journalists harrumphed.

5 years ago, video and social networks made a bold claim.

Videojournalism is but one in this long list which awaits its day.

David Dunkley Gyimah has been a journalist since 1986 working for the BBC (Newsnight), Channel 4 News and ABC News ( South Africa) and is now an academic

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Presidential Videojournalism- Don't throw the baby out with bathwater

Presidential Videojournalist. President Obama shows his shooting skills, but is he shooting stills or video? Picture WhiteHouse, Pete Souza See here for David's 100 Day Obama video played at the Southbank Centre to an original live score by composer Shirley Thompsom
You're a would-be videojournalist. You're researching a course and you're at a loss at
  • What to look for?
  • What outfit to choose?
You're now in possession of the most amazing piece of shooting kit - a stills camera that shoots film and you have a bit more time on your hands than the US president. So options?
  • Do you go on a course to jump start your solo shooting career?
  • Do you go it alone?
When you open the directory for videojournalism outfits, there's the university and as many short course videojournalism training outfits leaving you a trite bewildered. They offer different epistemologies as those who have done short courses and proceeded to Unis or vice versa will testify. Not least the length of study. Consider this, a thought I'd like to stake in this piece, a sort of iambic pentameter. "Da de dam du dum, dum. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water".
"online video part of 'the new journalism'? - original article 2005 on by Jemima Kiss. Here for the rest There are now two schools of journalism. In one, the journalist must be accredited and trained. In the new school, we have bloggers, mobloggers and latter-day gonzo. You can attract a large international audience through blogging or podcasting, so a generation of storytellers may well bypass traditional routes of education and the mainstream if they don't feel the industry is relevant to them any more. "
Television is your answer Professor Leonard Witt, talking about Trust in the media from his 2005 Conference in San Antonio. You can see the film I made on this on their site. Trust is an issue I'll come back to later. Many of us may chasten television, I did and ocassionally still do, for the manner in which it tells stories. But this semiotic exists for a reason. Its use dependent on its medium. There are horses for courses. It's not the art of television journalism that is at fault as you pursue your new love. There are the most brilliant TV practitioners that ply their trade or have left extraordinary legacies for us to be informed e.g. Murrow, Jennings ( I met as an ABC news producer in 1994 in South Africa and was just awe struck), Bradley, & Wheeler, It is its application by those no longer turned on by its creativity and the extraordinary association and connectivity with the audience that has reason to make you feel frustrated. How many times as a journalism students have you screamed at the television reporter proclaiming you could do better, because a pun was not necessary or the reporter dominates disproportionately the message of the report.. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Da de dum, da de dum Television journalism was and is a necessary lingua franca and just as Latin begot common parlance e.g. Catalan English, French, Italian, so will generations ahead proficient in a paradigmal shift in visual factual literary story telling, be thankful to this form. Which begs the question for you right now. You've decided to go on a short course. It's cheaper and provides a quick rush to build your confidence. What do you look for in the background of the trainers?
A still David reporting for ITV's "London Tonight", circa 1998, from David's book and PhD study in which using phenomenology he shows how his background working for the likes of Newsnight, Channel 4 News, dotcom new media companies, Designer, Commercial Promo maker has informed his notion of visual grammar.
Television, yes, to impart to you an understanding of the foundations, but then something else, hopefully, an illustrative vision on how to push the form. In learning about about composition today we still go back to the origin e.g. Caravagio et al. Yet to break the rules, you need to understand them and many of the rules, we call "rules" are in fact guidelines, there to be broken by the innovator e.g. 180 degree. Mind you my thinking comes with a footnote. In years to come again when we've turned over, we'll likely not teach television in videojournalism, just as you don't teach radio writing for TV journalism. Or or taking form for for, you would not teach creative storytelling in novel form for print journalism So back to Videojo how do you know your trainers will be able to place you in this new space?
  • Simply ask them.
  • look at their body of work. Bill Gentile has thirty years shooting in the field; he gets to teach me, yah! Rosenblum needs no introduction.
Be wary of abject recommendations. I spoke about this presenting at the World Newspaper Forum, last year. I once knew someone who approached scores of people for that cred letter. He eventually found one, and guess what pride of place it went. Front page. A caveat though, as in any profession, there are some people who are autodiadactists or combine conventional education with a penchant to keep rethinking. I can think of a few like this, but would not want to embarrass just yet. They possess that "kwa" to push you beyond the boundaries of your comfort, which is what you need. "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. dada de dum da de" Teaching is a selfless act to others and a mirror reflection of ones self. That's contestable you might think as you're paying for the time to be taught, but the philosophy of teaching is not simply saying, this is a good film and this is how to carry a camera, but a psychological process leading to critical thinking and analysis, that enable you to be able to make your own judgement. Why is a chair, this chair beautiful to look at and how can what I know about this chair be transferred to how I might build my website? The answers lay within us all. The frame work is what teaching, building on knowledge, imbibing different socio-cultural indexes and pedagogical explorations, is all about. Whatever videojournalism is, and I have my own convictions littered through out the history of this blog and articles I have been writing or contributing to since 1994, it transcends all that which came before it. It has to in many ways otherwise is fraudulent of packaging itself as the new new thing. Pic. David reporting from Africa on its first cross production between two African states using videojournalism: Ghana and South Africa ( 1997) David is in Slovenia, Cairo and Chonquin in the coming months lecturing in "training the trainers" for professional TV execs and University Professors

Monday, April 12, 2010

How anyone can make Video - Master class lecture

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

Can anyone make a film? A good film?

I believe so, because it's a language and languages can be learned.

Michael Rosenblum, (my friend and tutor 16 years ago) arguably the most influential videojournalism evangelist in the world believes so fundamentally.

Recently he got me :) to make this video for one of the many illustrious clients he works with. ( See video below)

So our Master class at the University of Westminster will explore traditional and new themes of video making, and it really doesn't matter what level you're at, because this should be as entertaining as hopefully rewarding in prepping you for your careers.

Riz Khan, could be feeding into our lecture. Link here to earlier post.

I'll be pulling some early finds from my PhD study which surprised me and I'd like it to open us up to the new e.g. the IPad and films and make it as interactive as possible.

So I hope bring in a number of interviewees specifically for this lecture either live or pre-recorded e.g. Riz Khan, who is a huge digital film buff.

So see you back at Lectures and to Albert Gachiri for sparking the idea this possible.

Below is a post from an earlier write up on this event.

Jay-Z and Prince Charles sharing a joke at the University of Westminster, Harrow Campus, 2006. Yes the biggest rap star was in the TV- film studios. Link here to previous posts on IPad design.

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.

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

David making a video for his friend and former tutor Michael Rosenblum for

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday, April 09, 2010

Behind the scenes with Riz Khan - Al Jazeera

Riz Khan was in town so I popped by to catch up with him; he's normally based in Washington, and see how his show is put together. I'll post that at a latter date.

But the interview with him was pretty funny, talking about some of the people who call him up to be on the show.

One thing that's not so known about Riz is he's a digerati - the consummate digi aficionado. He's show One on One with a number of celebrities, involves a three camera shoot using Sony ZXs.

And he's an avid photographer with a D7

I still recall a TDB ( till day break) we did in early 2000 when he'd made a film on the Haj and it needed to be on the BBC World Service the next day.

I'm a bit gutted. Riz is interviewing Annie Lennox tomorrow and asked if I'd like to come and sit in. Grrrr I have a previous engagement.

Anyhow's how The Riz Khan show is made and interviews shortly :)

Frame grabs from my JVC GY100 video camera

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Columbia's joint engineering cum journalism degree - great

Columbia's joint engineering cum journalism degree - sounds like something way over due. Below is a link to Wired Magazine's article. I left the link native - my own creative commons attribute.

Now then, whilst I applaud this: I'm a chemistry/maths grad myself, I'm looking forward to seeing institutions that go a step further in inter disciplinary skills.

There's an aspect of journalism which could do with more rigour from an earlier standpoint and that is developing cross discipline analytical and enquiry skills, that includes a constructivism approach.

But Columbia's computer journalism programme is a great step in the digi-ecology. It won't surprise you how many journos balk at CSS or actions scripting.

For the model journalist in the area of journalism meets computers google Adrian Holavaty.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Art directing videojournalism for IPad

At SXSW last year I presented "the film is not enough". The presentation was meant to capture the notion that the video is just part of the aesthetic ecosystem.

So here's a more elaborate illustration.

Theses are web pages that I art-directed for the very first that would go onto win the Batten Awards. The year is 2005

If it looks like something now designed for the IPad, that should not be suprising. I took magazine design as my template, but wanted to activate video/audio etc when you rolled over an image.

Art directed videojournalism
Now the Ipad is built for that, so I'm loking forward to now pushing at the edges, this time with the Ipad in mind and how videojournalism will work.

You can find the original here without its front cover. Simply click the images and you'll go right to the page.

To see how I incorporated the idea into the CSS versions I designed. This page here gives a good account. The video is buried behind the image.

Among the articles in the first one. Jay-z atending one of our music sessions. I'm standing in front of the photographer

Exclusive pics of Bob Marley, the future of Cinema and Ozwald Boateng Fashion Icon

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Who inspires you?

Who inspires me? These screen grabs come from a short video of my research colleagues. Truly inspiring. The aesthetic is in the narrative.

For video go to, where they're talking about:
  1. the creation of life from computers
  2. sending 3d animate objects reprintable down the web
  3. collaborative next generation social network
  4. and how you can get more creative by modifying the space you occupy.

Friday, April 02, 2010

How do Blacks, Asians & Ethnics find jobs in UK Broadcast industry

Despite a digital broadcast revolution Blacks, Asians and Ethnic minorities (BMEs) still struggle to find a job in UK broadcast journalism.

David Dunkley Gyimah reports from ITN’s hosting of the Cultural Diversity Network – designed to solve the problem.

A shorter version of this article is published at

It is the British broadcasting industry's hypertrophic scar, visible only if you truly want to see it: How Do You Solve A Problem with BMEs finding jobs?

When a phrase morphs into a three letter acronym you know it has political status, yet decades on since this "Solve A Problem" first needed attention, ten if you count the CDN's (Cultural Diversity Network) existence, Black Minority Ethnics still have reason to feel hard done by.

One by one in the basement of ITN they strafed the floor with questions to four panellists from the BBC, ITN, SKY and Channel 4. If the mark of a good journalist is to be dogged, readily posing open difficult questions, the panellists had their fill of journalists to choose from.

Each delegate could have held court for longer burnishing personal testimonies and follow-ups questions such as "Can you tell me what you do on a daily basis?” had the chair Sir Trevor McDonald not chivvied proceedings along.

The reflexive accounts from senior black and Asians in the industry: Chuck Nwosu, assistant editor, BBC News; Vivek Sharma, programmes editor, Sky News and Samira Ahmed, presenter, Channel 4 News, via a short film set the evening’s agenda.

Black and Asian figures
This was followed by ITN's managing Editor, Robin Elias providing snap shot figures of industry employment in England:

* In England the population percentage of BMEs is 12.8%

* In London this is 29%

* In London BME editorial staff accounted for 10% of the workforce

* On Screen staff made up 14%

* Off screen staff and editorial managers (decision makers) came in at 8%

Elias acknowledged there was work to be done.

In the 80s broadcasting countenanced a triple whammy, but judging from the shards of glass on the floor and editorial meetings looking less like an OBN Club, women groups have reaped a much better hard fought campaign than minorities and disability groups.

In the 90s before the era of the CDN and feeling the need to do something colleagues and I formed a collective, which with the assistance of the Freedom Forum staged events well attended by broadcasters.

We posed the same questions. Today, a new more savvy generation within the milieu of digital broadcasting wants answers.

Two hours is hardly adequate to resolve deep issues, and while “Gis-a job”, seems more than straightforward, a more inclusive transparent strategy between both groups should be under scored.

But a forum of this kind is necessary. It gives the panellist a realistic sense of the depth of feeling.

Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne and Sky’s Executive Producer Kate McAndrew intimated fresh strategies.

For delegates it puts flesh on this abstractism, "the media", and the pushy ones will no doubt have done their career prospects no harm getting in the face of the likes of Tim Singleton, head of foreign news from ITN and Craig Oliver deputy head of BBC Multimedia from the BBC - an opportunity to be cherry-picked.

This last point is a favoured long-standing modus operandi. Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy mentioned how he’d been guided by a senior exec. I have Tim Gardam then Editor of Newsnight and Janet Street Porter for kick starting my TV journalism career in 1990.

CDN Today

Today’s CDN lives in a digital space that could generate a reciprocity of creative methodologies e.g. crowd sourcing and in the bricks and mortar world accessible ideas exhaustively enacted by the indefatigable Janice Turner at BECTU’s “Move on Up” events.

Delegates are guaranteed a sortie of face-to-face contact with potential employers over the course of the day.

It’s time for bolder creative solutions said BBC journalist Barney Choudhury. And more robust research is needed because blink and you would have missed the logic of causality that evening which makes for uncomfortable telling and listening.

Broadcasting’s revolving employment door, the result of job-hopping, internal promotions and redundancies has slowed down. The debilitating economy has further damaged the hinges. Every one's staying put.

And that puts more pressure on entrants. Jim Latham, the secretary of the BJTC, the journalism accrediting body represented by broadcasters and academics gave this stat breakdown.

In 2009 with 58 accredited courses almost exclusively in universities around 3500 students were interested in journalism, 1000 of these will emerge from post grad and grad programmes of which 350 are black and Asians.

Says Jim:

“There are big problems in broadcasting which have to be dealt with by essential programmes of in-house education and training. The casual offence caused by complete ignorance of interests, beliefs, what makes ethnic communities tick isn’t god enough”.

As a senior lecturer in Journalism and council member of the BJTC I too see this at the sharp end. Couple of years ago I asked the question in a short on digital diversity at the ICA, recognising the many tiers opening up in the digital world where minorities were becoming marginalised in the main.

I have a duty of care to all students. I do also where possible try and mentor black and Asian would-be journalists, and there have been happy outcomes.

Creative Ideas

At the Southbank Centre I’m looking forward to working with artists in residents SE1 United (predominately black youngsters) alongside acclaimed British filmmaker Penny Woolcock behind Mischief Night, and recently 1 Day - an uncompromising film of the Birmingham’s Grime scene on making dv films.

My friend and fellow artist Lemn Sissay tells me when Tennessee production Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was on its way to London, they were desperate to work with black technicians – another story in itself.

But clearly in these digital revolutionary times and richer variants of journalism and storytelling, it’s disheartening not to be seeing wider more apt gains started by so many, so long ago.

The will appears to be there. Certainly, the tools exist in twitter (twitter clouds); blogs and videojournalism to further lift the campaign. And the job market will pick up again. So Just how do you solve a problem of BMEs finding jobs?


David was a former broadcast journalist who started his career in 1987 and worked for Channel 4 News, Newsnight and ABC News and is now a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster in journalism and artist in resident at the Southbank Centre. He is currently researching videojournalism and news innovation as part of a PhD and was a juror for the RTS broadcast innovation awards.