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Archive for March, 2009

videojournalism

Consider what a screen is and what it takes to run one and you’ll
realize most of us are not ready for the way they’re going to invade
our lives.

When  I talk about screens, I’m not just talking about the glass and pixels on
your current monitor.

Screens are on i Phones, electronic billboards and car dashboards. As they
make their way into our lives we need to change them as much as they might
change us.

Youtube says it receives 10 hours of content uploaded every minute. We are
becoming a video saturated society and this amount of content is sure to keep
growing testing the already too narrow band width of the digital infrastructure
in the US.

The technology is here but in the US, the largest consumer of broadband, we’re
not supporting it well.

Bandwidth and South Korea

According to Wired, Seoul South Korea is the “bandwidth capital of the world.”

Wired said that about one half the households in South Korea have broadband
The percentage is much smaller in the United States.

The U.S. infrastructure is lagging.

Research done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development
shows that the US is well behind countries like Japan
and Korea in terms of faster connections and broadband penetration.

The US is likely to become a nation of screen breakers not screen watchers if
we cant do more to address connection speed. No one likes to watch stuttering
video.

What is a Screen

Put the connection technology aside.

I think we haven’t thought enough about what a screen is.
We assume that watching a screen has to be a passive experience.

Why?

If we’re becoming a nation of screen watchers why can’t the screens appear
everywhere as I believe they will eventually.

Well be taking them with us. On the train, into the shower, wherever.
And we’ll be reacting to the content they provide.

Active Screen Watching

David Dunkley Gyimah’s vlog butterfly is an example of a more
active screen use, screens are facilitating a discussion.

If we’re becoming a screen society than it is essential that we stop
thinking of screens the way we have for 50 years.

Michael Rosenblum spoke to Radio Free Europe this month where
he described how the web is changing the linear world of broadcasting.

According to Rosenblum broadcasters have lived in a world where they
make the product, i.e. the half hour show, the hour documentary, and
the audience watches.

This model is changing with the web. Audiences can make their own choices
and I think the screens we use need to reflect this more.

Portability and Interactivity

If the web makes possible for people to get the content they want when
they want it then isn’t it reasonable to assume that people might not want
to watch at their desks or in their living rooms.

A fisherman might find the local weather report more useful on the lake
than from his armchair.

Many commuters have more time for a 2 to 3 minute video on thier 40 minute
train ride than they do the rest of their day.

But, most importantly,  screens need to begin facilitating interactivity.

They need to be tactile allowing users to navigate links and quickly get at the
information they want.

I know a lot of this is already happening but I just don’t think that we can remind
ourselves enough.

If the content on the web is changing, and if were going to spend more time looking
at screens than we do sleeping, then we need to rethink the way we support and use them.

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screenworld

There’s a lot to consider if we are becoming what Michael
Rosenblum calls a Screenworld.

I don’t think we’re ready.

As Rosenblum points out, we are becoming a world of people that stare at
screens all day around 8.5 hours a day.

Let’s consider this. I don’t think we’re ready because, at least
in the United States, our technology is outdated.

Screens require bandwidth and much of the developed world doesn’t
have it.

Also, the way we think about screens needs updating.

More on this tomorrow.


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sc4b6007

Education needs to emphasize skills over tools in a new video landscape
which follows what Michael Rosenblum is calling “Gresham’s Law of Media.”

Rosenblum, a video evangelist and early video journalist is advising media
companies all over the world on how to use video. He spent March 23rd and 24th
talking to The Guardian.

Seeing a new media landscape through Sir Thomas Gresham’s idea that “bad
money drives out good” changes the core of journalism.

Gresham believed that consumers who can choose between two currencies will
hoard the one they perceive to be more valuable and trade in the other. Rosenblum
thinks that because online news is immediate and flexible, “perceived as cheaper, hence
more rapidly traded.”

“One is more likely to post an online article than clip and mail the very same article
from the NY Times.” Rosenblum wrote in a Novmeber 25, 2008 blog post.

Trending Downwards

Cheaper technologies dominate.

Experienced digital film makers like Anthony Artis, know how to make the
cheaper technologies work for them. For Artis, video was not just an option
but an opportunity.

As a film student New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Artis started
shooting in video because it was cheaper and enabled him to learn film making.

In a March 25th webinar with producers of TurnHere Internet Video, Artis
described his mistakes shooting conventional film as “much more expensive than
[he] could afford.”

He felt it made sense to shoot video because unlike film, he could see the results
instantly and if the shoot wasn’t what he wanted he could re-shoot on the spot.

Immediacy Breeds New Tools

Rosenblum believes that in the new media world, where what’s cheap and
immediate thrives, students need to have an up to date knowledge of the
new technologies.

Cliff Etzel thinks the same. Formerly a photojournalist, Etzel is a web
designer and self-described “nuts and bolts videographer.”

“Anyone who doesn’t understand WordPress is gonna get dropped
by the waysdie,” Etzel said.

Blogging, understanding tags and how google works are skills that
journalists need according to Etzel. He is also telling all his website
clients to maintain the blogs he sets up for them and look at how
google picks up their posts.

Etzel also thinks that the cheaper technologies present oppotunities
for video journalists. “There are no more gatekeepers ” Etzel said.
“Television is no longer the only medium to distribute content.”

From Print to Screen

Not long ago Rosenblum spoke to Radio Free Europe and told them
that the 21st century is no longer a world of print but a world of video.

With the opportunity to shoot with small HDV cameras, edit the footage
from a laptop and distribute the finished piece online, Rosenblum argues
that anyone with an idea can produce.

“We are going to undergo a democratization of this incredibly powerful
medium,” he said.

As video becomes more prevalent, understanding the medium’s visual language
is essential, a language independent from text.

In a media world that is no longer just about the printed word or the distribution
of video through broadcast television, there is a lot left to learn.

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Skillset

webinar

I’ve been grappling with what the new skill set will
be for a web 2.0 journalist but don’t have any definitive
answers.

David Dunkley Gyimah has a good direction.

IM6 and the notion that video does not stand alone
but part of a multi-dimensional layout is a good way,
at least for me, to begin thinking about it.

Media working together has been a foundation of my
journalism career. For a long time words and text working
together in the form of a photographic essay along with a
written story.

Think of Eugene Smith. He shot photographs for the layout.
Each picture made a point and moved the story forward.

Motion  in a Story

How can video do this?

That is how does video pic up where text ends. How does it move
the story forward?

Other things to consider are Paul Bradshaw’s news diamond, a
deeper look at the medium of online, not just a multi-dimaensional
layout.

There’s definitely a place for still images  high on the diamond.

Maybe video is the diamond’s top. A short five second message
encapsulating what’s known on a given story.

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KeyVideo may be emerging as a type of communication on the
web now but its language is still developing.

I don’t think anyone can say what the language is, we only
ever seem to have hints.

The indications come from our approach to shooting and
the edit.

Consider an what journalists like David Gyimah and Robb
Montgomery
are doing with video.

Video on the web is not about television content migrating
to the web. Web video is different.

Their Own Voices

In February, David interviewed Tom Kennedy, the former Managing
Editor for Multimedia at the washingtonpost.com.

Tom said videojournalism is “an opportunity to tell people
stories in their own words and in their own voices,” an approach
not far from 35 mm photojournalism.

This kind of video is not about directing, but, as Tom said,
close observation of a story’s principle characters.

It’s an approach evident in Claudio Von Planta’s
work as well.

Where dores it go from here? Who knows, but an
approach which is an extension of what still photojournalism
has been doing is a strong start.

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