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July 27 2012

15:35

Phone-ography…

A paradigm (para-dime) is typical pattern or model of something.

One of the paradigms of visual storytelling has been a certain type of camera. For years these cameras were the domain of professionals…large, extremely expensive, totally amazing pieces of technology. It took big bucks to get one and you made big bucks if you had not only the technical knowledge but the aesthetic sense and storytelling ability to use one.

Then…the paradigm shifted in the early 2000s. The big boys still made big bucks with big gear…but suddenly there was a new class of camera…halfway between the little consumer cams and the big professional guns. The pro-sumer camcorder. It had many of the nifty features of the pro cams, such as good glass and three chips and professional audio inputs. Manual controls. Good stuff all around, although noticeably not really up to pro standards.

And these little baby-cams began to gain in popularity as more and more people began to use them for an audience who demanded more and more video. The digital explosion send shock waves across the planet with the better quality cameras and affordable non-linear editing programs brought a new technology into the hands of the citizenry.

Another paradigm shift is going on right now and we see it every day and don’t even think about it. Cell phones began sprouting up in the 1990s…then morphed into phones that could take pretty lousy still shots…then not-so-bad stills. Then by leaps and bounds these little wonders turned into do-it-all mobile devices. Talk. Text. Surf the ‘Net. Shoot stills – and video. Not just plain ole video and stills, but high def stuff.

And they are taking over. Some years back when I began this blog I did a posting on Dinosaurs Fighting or Survival. Times had changed and if the pros who shot news (both still and video) didn’t change with them, they were out a job.

But back then the pros were either flocking over to the new technology or resisting mightily. It was a treat to their way of life – what they knew and could do.

Then technology ramped up its game and the gear got so good that the definition of “professional” took on a whole new meaning as more and more folks acquired the new smaller cameras. It quickly became apparent that the size of the lens and the heft of the camera had little to do with the ability to communicate. What mattered (and still very much matters) is a sense of aesthetics and storytelling. AND knowing how to make the gear you are working with work with you to tell the most powerful story possible.

But even the pro-sumer cameras (and many consumer cams too) had the familiar look to them. Lens in front, kinda boxy and rectangular. LCD on the side. It still looked like a real camcorder.

Enter the new mobile devices…thin, flat and less than the size of the palm of your hand. No optical zoom and minimal digital zoom. A new style of shooting and storytelling came with these new devices.

No longer able to pull in a far-away shot, you now had to zoom with your feet (or arms) to get in closer. The camera is no longer part of your body (hold it close to keep it steady…tripod it, cradle it). The camera is now an extension of your arm…your hand. In order to get a variety of shots you really need to get intimate with your subject. As in, arms-length close. Or closer.

And the storytelling end has had to change too. Rather than full-blown packages (including interviews, variety of shots, lotsa b-roll) stories are simpler. One long shot of an event such as a parade or riot. An interview covered with b-roll of an event or meeting. Impressions rather than full explanation. These “impressions” are often paired on the Internet with text and more information, which together tell a full story. The audience can choose to view the video and get the background from the other resources available or just read the information or just view the video to get a sense of what happened.

I doubt very much that mobile devices are going to take over the visual storytelling world any more than consumer or prosumer camcorders took over from professional gear. What they do is open up an entirely new way and new possibilities in visual storytelling to even more storytellers.

Yeah – it’s nice to belong to an exclusive club. Been there. Done that. But the new wave of stories coming at us will open our eyes and the world even more. And can that be a bad thing?

Transparency: Co-author Larry Nance and I have been discussing how to include all levels of gear in our pending textbook,The Basics of Videojournalism. He is a big proponent of technology and not only keeping up with the latest, but staying on the cresting wave as it thunders across the ocean. So expect full inclusion of not only prosumer and consumer and DSLR…but also mobile devices in the book.


February 20 2011

16:22

A Canon Still Camera is a "Game Changer" for Video Journalism, the AP's Kevin Roach

WASHINGTON -- Increasing numbers of film makers and videographers are using a "still" camera to create video images of extraordinary quality. 

The camera which is getting the most use is the Canon, EOS 5D Mark II, which sells for around $2500.

The camera is widely used by Associated Press photographers who are increasingly using it to shoot video segments.   In this interview with Kevin Roach, the AP's VP for Broadcast News, says that the deployment of the Canon camera has been a "game changer."

In our clip, we have inserted a number of AP clips shot with the Canon.

While the camera creates extraordinary images, there are drawbacks for use as news gathering tool.  The camera has limited sound functionality.  While the video files look amazing they are quite large, meaning memory cards need to swapped out frequently.

We interviewed Roach at the AP's Washington bureau.

Recently, Vimeo hosted an Canon HD video contest where you can find some extraordinary work on display. We have embedded the the final "collaborative" film below.

Andy Plesser

 

 

The Story Beyond the Still - All Chapters - FINAL COLLABORATIVE FILM from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

January 28 2011

22:07

NBC News Digital Chief: Video News Consumption is Bigger Than Ever

Powered by a "billion" cameras, coupled with new devices for viewing, more consumers are watching video news than ever before, says Mark Lukasiewicz, NBC News VP for Specials and Digital.

In this interview with Beet.TV, Lukasiewicz explains how NBC is soliciting and vetting consumer generated content and creating new forms of "story telling" with the NBC News staff. 

The use of user generated video has been essential for news organizations in reporting the uprising in Egypt. We've pasted below the latest dispatch by NBC News reporter Richard Engel. 

Lukasiewicz will be a panelist at the Beet.TV Online Video Journalism Summit on Tuesday at the Washington Post.  We will stream the event live from 9-11:30 ET.

Andy Plesser 

 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

October 05 2010

14:26

BlackBerry, Qualcomm in $10 Million Round for Facial Recognition Firm

Viewdle, the facial recognition company with its origins in the Soviet military, has closed a $10 million funding round  with the the BlackBerry VC fund and Qualcomm, David Kaplan at paidContent reports on the deal this morning.

In July, I interviewed John Albright, co-managing partner of the BlackBerry fund and its investment in Viewdle.  He explains how the Viewdle technology will be integrated into handsets from several manufacturers next year.  

When we reported the investment in July, the amount of the investment and other participants on the round were not disclosed.

I interviewed him at the paidContent mobile conference in Manhattan.

Andy Plesser

June 07 2010

02:34

Meet Verizon Wireless Spokesperson John Johnson, A Viral Video Sensation with 500K Views

With half a million views in four days, John H. Johnson, a communications exec. for Verizon Wireless has become a Web video celeb for uttering these 10 words on camera: Verizon has "no plans to carry the iPhone in the immediate future."

By chance, I ran into John on Tuesday afternoon at the opening of the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference at the Terranea resort near LA.

I had interviewed him at last year's D and figured we should sit down for a follow-up. 

I asked him about the much speculated support of Apple devices by Verizon and he offered a definitive response, the first time the company had commented on the record on the subject.  

Later that night on stage, Apple CEO Steve Jobs declined to comment on potential new carriers for the Apple iPad or iPhone in the U.S., beyond AT&T. 

For weeks,  many industry observers have speculated that Apple would announce Verizon support for a new generation iPhone at tomorrow's big developer conference.

The timing of my little scoop was perfect.

I published the four-minute video on Beet.TV on Wednesday at about 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.  Almost immediately it went up on Techmeme and it took off from there.

Many sites and blogs linked to the story and used the embed including the Huffington Post, CNET, Silicon Alley Insider, the Examiner, Gizmodo, MacRumors, 9-5 Mac, Venture Beat, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and hundreds of mentions on Facebook and Twitter. 

For little Beet.TV, this is by far our biggest hit. 

As of  Sunday night at 10:00, we have had over 500,000 video views served by Blip.tv, our primary service provider.  Most of our 1900 videos get under 1,000 views.  We've had a few hits, but nothing of this magnitude.  It's been thrilling watching the numbers continue to rise.

We are proud of this scoop.  It was good luck to connect with John by chance.  And, i was extremely fortunate to be on the scene, to have press credentials to cover this extraordinary event.  So many great interviews from the the conference published and many more to come.

Production Note: I shot the interview on my $650 Canon Vixia and sent the tape via UPS overnight to my editor Joe Bonacci in our New York newsroom.  He edited on FinalCut and put the video up on Blip.tv.  Nice bonus for our current sponsor YuMe whose in-stream ads travel with the embedded video.

Please see the tally of views on the Blip.tv dashboard pasted below.  This from 6/6 at 10:00 ET:

Verizon.blip

Andy Plesser, Managing Editor 

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