A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged video journalism

Buzzfeed is restructuring by splitting into entertainment and news divisions. CEO Jonah Peretti makes an interesting point:

Having a single ‘video department’ in 2016 makes about as much sense as having a ‘mobile department.’ Instead of organizing around a format or technology, we will organize our work to take full advantage of many formats and technologies.”

Video has become so prevalent in both news and entertainment, and developed so many different forms, that a single video department makes little sense any more. The language and techniques used to produce reporting dn explainer videos are very different from short comedy, or cooking clips.

In fact, it makes as little sense as having a “writing department”.

[via Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair]

Here’s another example of a serious documentary being shot on an iPhone:

The thing that baffles me about this – or, at least, which isn’t made clear in the video – is why, once you go to the hassle of shooting with huge cinema lenses, would you add to your hassle by using an iPhone as your capture device, rather than an actual video camera?

There’s clearly more to this story than explained here.

Anyway, here’s the full documentary for your enjoyment:

[via MacStories]

Vertical video

Maybe I am finally getting old, but this change depresses me:

According to several app makers and media companies, many of the world’s video consumers don’t seem to think vertical videos are wrong — in fact, a lot of us prefer them. There is a simple explanation for the dawning preference. According to the venture capitalist Mary Meeker, we now collectively spend about 30 percent of our screen time with devices that are best held vertically, like smartphones and tablets. That time spent is growing quickly, and on tall screens, vertical videos simply look and work better than those shot “correctly.”

Yes, vertical video maybe actually be in the ascendency.

One last time, let’s enjoy this before it becomes irrelevant:

Interesting [announcement from Quartz editor Kevin Delaney, explaining why the business site is about to get serious about video:

We’re now entering into video production, with a small team of experienced digital video journalists experimenting ambitiously with new formats, techniques, and distribution.

That final word – distribution – is key. That suggests that Quartz will be pushing its video onto Facebook and YouTube as much as trying to drag people to the site to watch it. And they’re not just thinking about computer and mobile use, either:

[…] the over-the-top video disruption means unprecedented opportunities for upstart media players to distribute their content to users’ television sets and computers.

Pays for plays

The question, of course, is monetisation. Delaney explicitly says that the video production team won’t have to worry about that at first:

We’re liberating them for an initial period from ad inventory requirements and preconceptions about what they produce should look like.

However, they do have a revenue agenda:

We believe that respecting our users and their time means not placing 15- or 30-second pre-rolls in front of videos. We’d prefer to do the hard work of tackling the creative and business challenges of inventing non-preroll forms of sponsorship that maximize both user satisfaction and revenue.

In other words: “Go away, experiment, and when you figure out what works, we’ll figure out how to monetise it.”

It’s a good approach – I’ve seen some terrible video produced simply because there was money on the table from advertisers that needed video inventory. This way the product will lead the revenue.

iPhone shooting video

Years ago, I was obsessed with the fact that journalists focus on kit quality over content quality when it comes to doing multimedia work. Nothing I’ve done in the last couple of years has suggested to me that this has become any better as an issue. The quality you can get out of your mobile phone is astonishing compared to what mid-range dedicated cameras were doing a decade ago. Concentrate on doing great work with your phone, and upgrade when you hit its limitations.

And when I say “concentrate”, think about how you can do better work with it.

Here’s a wonderful example from Apple of what the iPhone can achieve when used cleverly:

What’s even more interesting is that there’s a behind the scenes video showing how it was all done:

Now there’s some serious kit in there – some of it to allow it all to be shot in one day, yet directed by one guy (Jake Scott – the son of Ridley Scott, who directed the first ever Mac ad, fact fans). But the majority of it is just dedicated to helping keep the phone more steady – or to allow it to move more smoothly. You can get a bunch of the way there with just a Glif and a GorillaPod. But there’s also hand-holding, but thoughtful, two-handed hand-holding.

For a touch more inspiration, they’ve also done a behind the scenes on a Burberry fashion show captured with an iPhone 5s:

Stop worrying about the kit. It’s all about the content quality.

That was quite a week – only three working days, marking to finish, four separate lectures or workshops and a whole day’s filming. No wonder I haven’t been posting.

Now, about that filming. Several years back, as still cameras started doing better and better video, I was tracking the trend eagerly, as part of my remit in my old job of looking at what tools our journalists should be using.

On Tuesday, I found myself being filmed for much of the day – and this is what the cameras looked like:

Frit's cameras at RealMac Software

I mentioned this to Frit and she said that a significant proportion of serious film-makers she knows are now using DSLRs for their shooting rather than “proper” video cameras.

Convergence is a fascinating thing. Coupling this with the thoughts on the rise of the networked camera – or camera phone – and the fall of the standalone camera, you do wonder if we’re going to end up with just two major categories of camera in use for the vast majority of people: the phone, and the serious DSLR/CSC with video capabilities…

Instagram Video

Two things:

  1. Don’t read any more posts with headlines like this one – because nobody really knows yet
  2. Get out there, experiment with it and find your own uses for it.

Here’s why:

Social media tools like this take a long time to find their footing and become useful. Facebook existed for years without the news feed that we now think is the heart of the service. Instagram started off as a game called Burbn. Twitter’s hashtags, @replies and retweets? All ideas created by the users and initially resisted by Twitter itself. Nobody knows exactly what a new tool will become in its early stages – least of all the people creating the service.

Look at Twitter’s similar video service Vine: it’s been out for five months, and only now are interesting uses of it beginning to emerge. Look at the work my friends at Brilliant Noise are doing with Vine, for example. That comes from experimenting with an open mind, not reading click-bait posts in the first few days.

Lumia 920

I have in my possession, for the time being, a Nokia Lumia 920, courtesy of some work I’m doing for Brilliant Noise. It’s a robust, elegant phone, with an interesting OS, and some excellent optics. It’s been interesting pushing myself our of my iPhone comfort zone and trying something different for a while. 

One thing I really wanted to do was push its photographic and video capabilities a little. While I was out walking my daughter over the weekend, I grabbed some footage around Shoreham Beach, just to see how the camera performs in video mode. One nice touch that Windows Phone 8 offers is the ability to automatically upload any videos you shoot to SkyDrive, without any manual intervention. That makes my notion reporting workflow pretty simple – both photos and videos are set to upload directly to SkyDrive when the phone’s on WiFi. I have the SkyDrive app on my Mac, so within a few minutes of walking in the front door, I had the files on my computer. I imported them straight into iMovie, and edited them together “as is”, with no exposure changed. I applied a little stabilisation, as it was a cold day and my hand was shaking, but otherwise you’re seeing the footage straight out of the phone:

Lumia 920 Test from Adam Tinworth on Vimeo.