Sunday, July 21, 2013

Columbia Grad school of Journalism here she comes. Celebrate, Salma Almer, a dear friend fufills her ambitions.

Salmer Amer in Tahrir Memento 

I met Salmer Almer three years ago. I was on my way for my final [ I did not know it at the time] training session with the state broadcaster, Nile Television.

Tarek, my host and instigator of the project had made significant gains in building trust four years since he first got me involved in one of the richest experiences, I have had.

One morning leaving my hotel for Nile TV, a taxi cab driver spoke to me in Arabic. I didn't understand I said. In English he then accused me of selling out my culture. But I am not Egyptian I replied.  No, he chided, suggesting what was happening was  unacceptable. You are Nubian.

 The conversation continued, turning from irritation to intrigue  captured on camera by my new friend Rob Montgmery, a clever clogs in newspaper design and all things multimedia.

Incidents like this and bumping into Salmer who became one of the Nile TV volunteers, she adds, by sheer chance, were carat gold memories.

 Salmer was, and is georgeous, but truthfully I mean this in a way that undermines how we evaluate aesthetics. We look at someone and make an opinion, a mild raise of the eyebrows and its connotations.

No, in training you're so blinded, everyone is an individual challenge to help them achieve their goal. Gorgeous though because anyone who knows Salmer must think her brain deserves to be, like so many other talent I have come across in Egypt, preserved in a museum. Though this rather unintentional macabre thought takes away from her personality, fleeting mind, enquiring attitude and her doggedness.

When I returned to Egypt, barely a month after its first uprising, to present at a summit, Salmer was on my list to call. I would do the presentation I said, no fee, if I could stay a day longer, otherwise it was in at 9.00 pm on a monday, present Tuesday at 10.a.m and catch the flight home at 3.p.m. 

I mean where is the fun in that!

They agreed and through Salmer and Ahmed Montasser a fabulous assistant and friend too, we had less than a day to make this film called Tahrir Memento.

It's a videojournalism - art film that reflects the thoughts of five people including Salmer influenced by Resnais's Hiroshima Mon Amour.

Thoughts guide our narrative. We all know and saw what happened during the uprising, but go deeper into the minds of people who can be seen thinking through their words and what we get is a meditative film, which I have shown around the world, more recently in Denmark to a training session with the country's leading photographers, cameramen and women and videojournalists.
Evolutionary Video with Salmer Almer

The film is part of my PhD thesis into new story forms from videojournalism. 

I last met Salmer in February, too briefly, but she looked great and was radiating from celebrating a year in a relationship. Her boyfriend must be feeling mixed emotions because of Salmer's new odyssey. 

Yesterday, on Facebook, I saw a short message from Salmer. It read:

Egypt. You've been wonderful to me and this is tougher than imaginable, but its time to hit the road, و يا ريت تنهنضي في غيابي — at Cairo Airport, Terminal 3. Egypt.

There then followed a flood of messages enquiring to know more, including me.

Viewmagazine London where are you going ????

Salmer replied:

Salma Amer I moved to ny for grad school, wish me luck! 
9 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3

I felt moved and in response rather than wishing her luck I wrote this to her.

You don't need luck. Columbia is in for a ride. If any of the profs. students really want to understand the intricacies of the Arab Spring, she's right on their doorstep. If they want to engage in a debate of new journalism that allows for personalisation without a loss of integrity or professionalism she's staring right at them. Gerlfriend what I'd like from you is to inject Egyptian, arab storytelling discourse into the debates. Remember in videojournalism and journalism too the West's hegemonic methods, as brilliant as they have proved to be, leave no room for counter dialects and dialogical debates particularly outside of the West's ideological thinking. Typical is this in the West we believe voxpops on the street serve some intellectual purpose to a report -- the woman/ man on the street's opinion. They would never dare of going into someone's home for a vox pop, but in the arab world, the dinner table, the patriach and matriach, children, extensive families interacting is a cultural milieu that underpins culture and meaningful comments.. Your aesthetics, cultural codes and new thinking is what is needed to rationalise and mobilise a new journalism, a new mode of understanding. That much was evident in that little film we made Tahrir Memento. Sarah's actions contributed to actions at large, but significant changes at home. The need for Naguib Mahfouz's and Nawal El Saadawi's of the 21st century is more pressing than ever, particularly in mastering the medium of a new language in video and videojournalism, There needs to be more film makers and journalists exploring Wadjda  . Go freakin get them gerl

And so that's that. All the same Good luck. InshaAllah to your family, friends and soul mate you've left behind physically. You leave a significant hole in the lives of people who know you, that much I am sure off, even though I have only known you for three years. Oh and that bit about the gorgeous mind and person, c'mon she's gorgeous looking too. That her friends  also  agree !

David Dunkley Gyimah is a former BBC, ABC News and Channel 4 News Journalist. He's worked in news since 1987 and travelled throughout the world teaching and training in videojournalism, which he and thirty other practitioners were trained in the UK in 1994. He is currently a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster and completing his PhD which examines the future of news within videojournalism. He is the recipient of a number of awards and publishes from his acclaimed magazine  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Touchcast. One touch and the world Youtube and Vimeo changed for ever

You touch, you broadcast. Video embeds in video. Tweet feeds sit on your video, but the tweet feed is still active. You move around your blog feed, pull up a picture from Pinterest. 

Your limitations are your imagination. Few apps are gathering apace as this is one is. The label game changer does not do it justice and if you don't believe me, one of the world's biggest publishers appears comfortably wrapping its colossal arms around it and the group.

Confidential conversation, so I can't tell you more. Except this...

A couple of months ago Charley reached out to me. I'm a bit fortunate, I guess because I'm a geek-art-borg, I get the odd wow "hello release". Not PR, but whadyathinkathis.

Things like the rotoheli cameras or Danfung Dennis' amazing Condition One.  which transforms the experience of watching linear cinema.  If you know anything about Abel Gance's 1922 Napolean which used Triptych, this builds on that.

Charley sent me something. Please don't show anyone, but have a look and tell us what you think?

Oh my good *&^%$$£ What the good *&^%$. I spluttered and said something like. OK what next?

Then the group said they were on the way to the UK. Charley and I had one of those, "we've-never met-before-but-we-share-the-same-interest" conversations.

How's Tuesday looking? Duhh! I'm in Denmark working with some of the coolest photographers on planet earth. Why do I use "cool" a lot.

Because, I might have had my fair share of thrills, but I still damn well get excited at sharing the stage with Bombay Flying Club @BombayFC or US Videojournalist Darren Durlach @DarrenDurlach and the good folk that is Videoplayground, Soren, Martin et al  And I guess if my kinder Masters students read this they might agree.

Ok I can't make the meeting, but I'm going to ping a friend who is the Global head of Digital at [Confidential] . Yes really reader, it wouldn't be fair if I gave you who he was. Maybe when he says I can, but that's business.

Peter, not his real name, got back in 5 mins and set up a meeting.  Independently, at the same time, they'd also made contact. I mean they're making all sorts of contacts, so mine was just one of those serendipity things.

Yesterday it sounds like they had "jolly good time" as suits looked on, cocked their heads to one side and it appears did what I did...&^%$$£ .

So that's Touchcast and it's available on iTunes. And no I'm not their PR, but I guess in that roundabout way when you see something cool, and you're told you can, you wanna shout about it.

For the last couple of years I have been lucky to sit as a juror on something called the RTS awards. The US equivalent is the EMMYs for news. I can't imagine any of the jurors not being impressed with touchcast used well by one of the TV programmes. And we haven't even spoken about E-learning.

So in a couple of weeks, I'm going to one of the conflict trouble spots. I have for a good while wanted to blend in hypervideo I spoke to the Economist about  and a new form of  journalism,  emerging from my PhD, which I reckon will be one of the biggest thing in comms in the unfolding years. No that's not me saying, but the people I have interviewed.

David's PhD research being turned into a film

We said that about videojournalism in 1994 too, but it took a while.  Hypervideo - this is a piece from The Economist  and a link to the cube - game theory journalism.

This is what people have to say.  Let me know when you start playing around with it :)

TouchCasters from edo segal on Vimeo.

David Dunkley Gyimah is a geek-videoborg !!! He's been a videojournalists for 20 years. Worked for traditional outfits like the BBC, ABC News and Commercial advertisers as a traditional producer going back to 1988, and  builds websites and makes videos. His PhD research completed looks at news, video and technology, and cognitive behaviour. He occasionally gets invited to talk to creative managers, such as the BBC. You can find out more from his site
Dear David, 
 We are currently organising BBC Worldwide’s annual Leadership Conference in October which is aimed at the top 150 senior leaders across the company.
We would like to invite you to speak at a session focusing on ‘Creativity and Innovation:  Creating the Winning Idea’ which currently has speakers including Innocent; Ten Alps and Bebo.  

With your fantastic experience in both old and new media and your insights into next generation TV both in the UK and US, you would be a valuable addition to the panel. 

About the Leadership GroupOur Leadership Group consists of around 150 of our senior staff from across our seven business areas: Global TV Sales, Global Channels, Content  & Production, Magazines, Digital Media, Home Entertainment and Children’s. They are a lively and talented group of people who would greatly enjoy the opportunity to hear you speak and we very much hope that you will find the event interesting too. 
Kind regards,xxxxxxxx| 
Head of Internal and Change Communications

If you liked this, you may like these





Friday, July 12, 2013

The new videojournalists changing the world - really this isn't a hoax

Firstly and swiftly, a disclaimer, I loath those PR messages and articles proclaiming primacy of knowledge. ..."Follow me, I am the best videojournalist in the world". We do videojournalism like no one else" . That videojournalist there is a numpty saying the same things I said".

Oh really and when did you hang out with me 24/7 since 1994 when I became a videojournalist?
Yes a respected videojournalist who thought he'd become the repository of all knowledge, having discovered videojournalism through the 5D, said I'd taken his idea.  Shrug your shoulders. I did.

So this post then is not a vainglorious attempt to grab your interest. The poster at the top is designed merely to catch your interest. Apologies if its worked. Everyone has their Warhol moment's but they're transient.

I work as a senior university lecturer for the University of Westminster. It's a fairly decent school for media coming 19th in the world according to the QS rankings. I tell my students the measure of you is to be better than what you think you can be, understanding you need everyone else.

Doesn't that threaten you, some students ask. Why? I reply. As trainers if we didn't set out to make those we're looking after, better than what we've tried, why are we trainers. Why would Ivan Lendl want to coach Andy Murray.

Incidentally, the top universities in the aforementioned rankings are: The university of Berkeley which came first, so if you're listening Berkeley - nod nod and in particularly to Richard Koci, (@koci)who over the years knowing him have developed a great deal of respect for his work. It was followed by University of Texas and Columbia.

Prelude - Back story to MIV
As a lecturer my job involves exchanging knowledge and I take it seriously and within an institution that respects and protects its brand. So what I am about to talk about in MIV should be taken in that spirit.

I have strong views on knowledge, but then again so do all university lecturers. But my approach stems from my ethnicity, cultural leanings and an abhorrence to elitism and ignorance.

Elitism in that state of mind that suggests you're better than others. You can be an elite, such as Dynamo, who without a shadow of a doubt is one of the most extraordinary magicians, you'll ever come across.

He levitates five feet of the ground in Brazil against the statue of Christ. Onlookers think he is the second coming. In Time Square he does the Neo thing in the Matrix and everyone phone starts to ring. He approaches a group of young basketball player and in his self effacing Bradford accent says "can I show you something". Cue. 20 seconds later, no edit. the boys look on aghast as he has squeezed their ball with minimum effort into an America football ball.

Yet Dynamo is the epitome of humbleness. The best athletes, dancers, creatives, videojournalists are aware that humility is a pre-requesite of who you are.

Today you're on top and might have clambered over your colleagues to get there, to realise tomorrow someone else's 15 minutes has come and that apple pie, you're not so much as having to eat it is being rammed into your face.

Ignorance, is the pretence you know, or the sheer ignorance that you don't know. Yes there are unknown unknowns. Poor Rumsey. His replicating of Jahori's philosophies, there are some things you know and some things you don't know you know, is  a well worked aphorism.

Rumsey, then Defence Secretary chose the wrong time to regale his audience of press people.

My ethnicity and cultural leanings power me. Black, grew up in Ghana until the end of high school. Returned to Britain to complete my studies. I chose Applied Chemistry. but when I graduated and wanted to become a journalist, it would have been easier to arrange tea with the Prime Minister.

Journalism, rightly so guards its values, but it invariably ignorantly and in elitist fashion, believes it must be the judge who can become a journalist and who can't. This may be axiomatic to some, but denying access to its operations because of colour, sex, creed is untenable.

The days of writing 300 letters might be behind me. The Internet has liberated the stranglehold the few had over the many. The institutions that once validated whether we could be considered journalists are no longer the abriters.

I read somewhere yesterday that Television still rules as the source of news, followed by the web. But the point is for how long.

If South Korea's market is anything to go by millions of people are successfully taking to personal television. And television has rebirthed but in new ways that takes advantage of our post-millennium behaviours.

This is then where I tell you about MIV. The concept has come from 6 years studying the media and literature to find out mine the intricate detail to make sense of. I am nearly there but in the process have recorded interviews from China, Cairo, Chicago, the UK, South Africa and many more places that paint a picture.

Here I need to be careful, but it excites me none the less. Somethings emerged from those interviews and in the process maps a future which is radically different to what we do at present. It all sounds mysterious, but for the moment, bare with me.

Robert Stam an eminent professor in film and media from New York says the place we are at the moment is much like the 1920s when anything was possible. And indeed that's where this research starts and makes its claim.

But what is MIV?  I'm about to post something on pretty soon.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Twitter and the lasting chaos theory. breaking news. Give twitter a miss

If you don’t like the chaos of breaking news, you should probably stay off Twitter

That's what the article from paid content was titled.  It's a good read, but here's my take on why news and you should really stop using twitter if you find it annoying for false information.

Interesting that we measure Twitter’s discursive impact by how it works within or around the periphery of news.
We’ve become so accustomed to the higher authority of this media form, that it’s a perennial yard stick.
But news had its own huge problems e.g. dwindling audiences circa 1980s before twitter and the social avalanche came.
I like the title of this “If you don’t like the chaos of breaking news, you should probably stay off Twitter” , because twitter never signed up to be a news service. If you want one of these policed by journalists, who are limited in number etc, you’d do well to subscribe to an agency.
Philosophy students will chuckle at all of this. Foucault’s discursive formations at play again.
Here an institution takes on a form and makes it its own. In ten years time a generation will think Twitter was built by journalists. Really !
What’s the evidence? Another discursive form videojournalism. Many think it was created by TV news broadcaster. It wasn’t. But Foucault turned in his grave again.
In 1994 when videojournalism was launched in the UK, it took at least ten years before the sniping stopped. Twitter, the CB Radio of teletext is only doing what it's designed to do.
We sentients attach conventional values and misplaced meanings, when perhaps we shouldn’t.

Monday, July 08, 2013

A third way to knowledge and media interpretation beyond Structuralism vs Post structuralism

David Dunkley Gyimah teaching videojournalism a the Chicago Sun Times
David Dunkley Gyimah talking to news executive at the Chicago Sun Times from a week of teaching videojournalism
There's what you want to do and that which you have no control over.

Our world is driven by both. On BBC Radio 4's Today programme Professor Susan Greenwood was pitted against Emily Bell,  director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.

The former argued a structuralist approach to technology. It's purpose must be determined as  Radio 4's tweet  states [BBC Radio 4 Today ‏@BBCr4today7mSusan Greenfield says: "We need to learn to harness technology. We can't sleepwalk into this and assume because it's new it's 100% good."

Emily Bell's approach was post structuralist. We use technology to create our own realities and we do it without necessary knowing, what we're doing.

As a videojournalist, a former BBC producer completing my PhD into news production, I know both sides of this argument and they are separated by pragmatism and theory.Yes ! That old hoary chestnut.

Our schism with knowledge is predicated on this, a state of play which emerged  from a necessary reboot  of academia placing a higher emphasis on theoreticians in the 1970s.

If you live in this matrix world of socially connected networks, you're inclined to ask what's the fuss?
In 2006 I interviewed Dan Gilmore in San Antonio, the start of my peripatetic career.  Gilmor's populist We this Media constructed is a sound rhetoric how technology was changing the way we connect. Why was this happening I asked Gilmor? His answer was pithy, "because it can".

As with many intellectual arguments, whether in politics,  BBC Radio 4, or the work, there is no right or wrong and the outcome is a matter of hermeneutics. Without structure , we blithely leave life and our businesses to chance.  Yet our history has demonstrated how chances has been responsible for our livelihood e.g. penicillin, the motor tyre, going shopping.

Every single social app you know of has a structural beginning which was inconsequential to the creators in so far as becoming a media beast. Facebook, Twitter, the telephone, camera have histories of intention. Yet co-opted by others in a non-structured way they find renewed meaning.

The discourse on radio provides a means to hear learned arguments from both sides. But the real winner is to be able to see through this and understand the interconnectedness of these positions.

If anything the next generation of academics may have to be steeped in both pragmatism and academia, bridge the divide between rhetoric and neo-sophism. Acknowledge more explicitly  there's what you want to do and that which you have no control over.

Then again, that would nto make for good combative radio.

David Dunkely Gyimah of is a former BBC  and Channel 4 News producer with media experience spanning 25 years. He's worked for Newsnight, ABC News and is an academic and filmmaker currently competing his PhD. He has presented at ONA, SXSW and Apple
To contact David email him at David (at) Viewmagazine (dot) TV

Saturday, July 06, 2013

How video journalism will be shaped by a future of journalism by Cinema

David Dunkely Gyimah of is a former BBC and Channel 4 News producer with media experience spanning 25 years. He is an academic and filmmaker currently competing his PhD. He has presented at ONA, SXSW and Apple. This article explores how one of the most prevalent forms of media making is up for grabs, but it will need a shift in our cultural thinking. 

It matters less whether its twitter, or Facebook, Tumblr or You Tube, important as they are because sharing comes after we have something to share in the first place.
What makes great content? An idea and then its execution.  Execution is how you go about creating and that itself is dependent on an array of influences.
Your approach comes from the environment you've grown up in, its cultures and what's in and out of vogue. The USA of the 1960s was a different creative environment to today. If you've grown up in China creative concepts, say in design our the polar opposite to western values. The West treats design as two dimensional, a space to be filled. Chinese through Origami see space as 3-dimensional and negative space as aesthetic.
It is no coincidence at all that middle class parents encouraged their siblings to go on gap years, take in the world, see new things, expand the horizon of their ideas. As a lecturer with international Masters students, I see it time and time again, how transformative entering a new society can be.
But creativity is also predicated on behaviour which is contradistinction to trends today. Creativity best comes from collaboration. The late Steve Jobs knew that, and any designer or great filmmaker recognises that too.
In an age of meism and self-aggrandisement, when we no longer wait on our peers to critique us, but believe in our own grandeur, we're prone to abandoning or not engaging with one of the most powerful assets we have as people.
We're social yes, but not as Twitter after thoughts. The idea though we're better of doing things ourselves is plainly flawed, though yes you could count individuals who have risen by their own will-power.
How Hollywood can teach us to communicate
David Dunkley  Gyimah
David Dunkley Gyimah
But sustainability is about a creative pursuit.
One industry second only to the US defence budget spend knows this all too well. They've developed a trillion dollar industry creating stories.
The manner in which they do this appears simple in the execution of an idea. Boy meets girl and they fall in love. The end.
But it's a complex matrix involving philosophies, creative thinkers, blaggers and knowledge that comes and decomposes. Yes it involves businesses too, but I'll park that to the side for the sake of this post.
Hollywood and other related international industries created cinema, stories that tap into our very psyche so that we respond in ways that are personal. We cry, laugh and get angry.
Great content comes not only from what's in the frame, which needs to be produced, but then how it plays out. Inside that rubric is the gem of cinema and its constantly mutating. Cinema is one of most dynamic non-systemised languages.
Cinema is different from the cinematic. The former is an internalised concept, the other is an add on. The story acquires a cinematic look because of the 5D you're using. It may induce the feeling of cinema, but not necessarily so.
Why ? Because the cinematic is dependent upon technology and related ideas to that technology. That 5D you have with its extreme shallow depth of field will be out of vogue in less than ten years time. It's happened before within the period of the 1930s to the 1950s and will do so again.
Cinema is deeper than that. It exists to be found, before the application of a recording device makes it available to others. Great directors see cinema, not as fictional entities but as symphonies of visual matter and sounds colliding in a doppler effect of the two-step.
Have you ever worked with an editor who tells you the cut needs three frames less? I have and there is a great scene in the making of Jaws where Spielberg marvels over his editor's choices of a couple of frames less to make the scene work.
Cinema's renewed zeal
For the last 6 intense years and tacitly 25 years within the media I have been working on this trying to explain cinema is a way that is exemplified through a number of essences.
That means how any content can acquire a sense of cinema and as things stand at the moment and its likely will be in the future cinema is the apotheosis visual and aural art. Note even Baudrillard's hyperreality could not escape the clutches of the framework that is cinema.
But why should this be important? Simply the power of cinema communicates ideas in ways that proven to be lasting. Yes, you still remember ET, or John Ford's Stage Coach and Ozu's Tokyo Story.  But do you remember yesterday's news? Or the CEO's speech? Or that lecture.
Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh puts it succinctly, cinema has nothing to do with the movies. It can be about movies, but not all movies are cinema. Just as when we say what we want are great stories, philosophers like Deluze might suggest you're referring to a specific visual and aural pattern.
Why does this matter even more? Because as video floods our social and private spaces, those who understand cinema, not necessarily theoretically, will produce artifacts that are eminently watchable and memorable.
The most shocking thing is this, many news managers will feel angered by this last comment. News, has a fixed and sustaining way of working. But in all likelihood,  traditional news structures while they'll be influential will not be able to guarantee audiences come to them.
Not with what lay ahead. If the web continues at its pace, the new cinephiles will usurp the constrained order of other forms.
Lest we forget, television came from cinema; video art from cinema; and documentaries from cinema. The last statement bears the scars of years of infighting over which came first. If you see cinema does that mean you're documenting it as well. If you're documenting are you making cinema. The two are not the same.
A firmer pedagogical understanding of how to match 21st century storytelling to the sub conscious lay in wait. It sounds like science fiction, but its here now and taking hold.
David is presently gearing up for training a new breed to cinema makers in Turkey. He's recently presented in Denmark to Journalists and photographers. This blog of his will soon migrate to a new home, together with a new website. You can find more of his work on his knight batten award winning site
David is available for talks and consultancies.
[contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Website' type='url'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]