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May 18 2011


What we’re watching: musical fracking, award-winning photojournalism, and documentaries from Cannes

From a groovy explainer to a broken contortionist, here are some visual experiences worth a look.

My Water’s on Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song),” by David Holmes, Andrew Bean, Niel Bekker, Adam Sakellarides and Lisa Rucker from @Studio2oNYU in collaboration with ProPublica. The most entertaining (and catchy!) explainer we’ve seen in a long time. It recalls the clarity of 2008’s “The Crisis of Credit Visualized by Jonathan Jarvis.

The Amazing Amy,” by Espen Rasmussen, Finn Ryan, Terje Bringedal and Torsten Kjellstrand working with MediaStorm. A 56-year-old performer battered by the world invites viewers into her life – not a comfortable place to be.

Dogs in the News,” curated by The Boston Globe’s The Big Picture earlier this month. Dogs working, sometimes in surprising occupations. Not your everyday LOLdogs pics.

Symmetry,” a @madebyeverynone video produced by Brendan Lynch (via @koci). Not narrative, but a beautifully crafted conceptual video that can help beginners and pros alike ponder themes and echoes in visual storytelling. See the whole “Everynone” series for additional inspiration.

The Shrine Down the Hall,” by from The New York Times Magazine. Winner of the 2011 Ellie for News and Documentary Photography. Ashley Gilbertson’s photos (accompanied by Dexter Filkins’ essay) create a visual record of the forever empty bedrooms of grown children lost in war.

And from the Cannes Film Festival, we’ve gathered a few trailers for documentaries being screened this month. They include “Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told,” about India’s film industry; “Unlawful Killing,” a film on the death of Princess Diana underwritten by the family of Dodi Fayed; “Leadersheep,” the story of a decadelong battle between a group of French farmers and their government (trailer in French); and “At Night, They Dance,” a look at a family of belly dancers in Cairo.

March 05 2011

Sponsored post

February 08 2011


What we’re watching: two takes on documentary

Lately, we’ve been pondering the full range of documentary projects. From a storytelling standpoint, “Hell and Back Again” represents one end of the spectrum. The film, which won the documentary award at Sundance this year, tracks a soldier through combat, injury and back home to North Carolina. Watch the brief trailer and see a gallery of filmmaker Danfung Dennis’ powerful images from the movie.

A more experimental approach to delivering documentary, “HIGHRISE” is a multi-city, multi-year project recording “the human experience in global vertical suburbs.” Under the direction of documentarian Katerina Cizek, “HIGHRISE” uses layered images to recreate 360-degree views of participants’ living spaces, and offers audio of them talking about life in apartments and projects from Beruit to Phnom Penh and Chicago to Havana. Viewers can scroll through people or places, and click on rooms in a virtual highrise to find the apartment of a real person somewhere in the world. See the trailer or visit the site.

Even simple talking-head video posted by Amnesty International on the 25th anniversary of disgraced ruler Jean-Claude Duvalier’s 1986 flight from Haiti underlines the power of the human voice in storytelling. Since Duvalier recently returned home, it’s worth noting video’s instantaneous ability to remind viewers of just what life was like prior to his departure (via @PulitzerCenter).

And on the lighter (and interactive) side, “The Johnny Cash Project” is a crowdsourced tribute to the Man in Black – or, as the project’s site calls it, a “global collective art project.” Working within a framework of images and using a tool on the site, participants create their own portraits of Cash, which will eventually be included in a music video (via @MediaStorm).

An image from Danfung Dennis' "Hell and Back Again"

November 23 2010


Multiple language subtitles now available in the MediaStorm Player

We’ve been rolling out some updates to the MediaStorm Player, and one of the features we’re most excited about is the ability to show subtitles in multiple languages. The subtitles work both on our site and on the embedded version of our player.

English subtitles are available for all of our projects. Foreign translations are currently available for the following projects:

Undesired: Hindi and Spanish

Intended Consequences
: German

Black Market: German

Kingsley’s Crossing: Chinese

We’re often asked why some of our projects have forced subtitles, while others don’t. MediaStorm Producer Eric Maierson has put together a Guide to Using Subtitles that gives some insight into our thought process, and also some technical tips for creating those subtitles in Final Cut Pro.

We’re working on getting additional projects and languages online, and will be adding those as we get them finished. If you’re interested in volunteering to help us translate our projects into other languages, please let us know.


MediaStorm’s Guide to Using Subtitles

Sometimes the most difficult challenge regarding subtitles is deciding whether to use them or not.

Subtitles present obvious aesthetic challenges—from inevitably covering the most important part of an image to turning a visual experience into a written one. If at all possible, avoid them; the obvious exception being when someone speaks a language other than that of the intended audience. Then subtitles are essential.

So how do you know if you need English subtitles for someone speaking English? It’s often difficult for a producer to make this call. After listening to the same clips again and again, we learn a speaker’s cadence and nuances and they become clearer to us. Probably the best method to make this determination is to play your project for a group of people who haven’t seen it yet and see if they can understand the narration without subtitles.

With fresh ears, they’ll quickly let you know if they’re able to follow along. If there’s any confusion, use subtitles; the most captivating visuals are useless if your audience can’t understand what’s going on.

Here are some other subtitle guidelines you may find useful:

  • Keep all of your subtitles on the same video channel in Final Cut. No other graphic or video elements should be on that channel. Just subtitles. This will help your organization and make things much easier when you need to add a drop shadow, which I will discuss later.
  • Avoid fonts with serifs, particularly small ones. Serifs tend to fall apart when a project is compressed to smaller dimensions. MediaStorm’s style is to use 18pt Arial bold.
  • Drop shadows are imperative. They help separate the subtitle text from images and video. To see their importance, place a drop-shadow subtitle above complex imagery. Now turn the effect on and off. The difference is striking. We use the drop-shadow settings below in Final Cut:
  • When an image changes, so should the subtitle. Don’t let subtitles bleed over onto the next image, or you’ll create visual confusion as subtitles seemingly appear and disappear at random.
  • Keep subtitles to one line only. Avoid wrapping them onto a second line as this, too, will create confusion when subtitles jump between one and two lines of text.
  • If your subtitles do not fit on one line but your image remains the same, you’ll need to cut to a second subtitle. To do this, start the first subtitle when the image begins. Cut to the second subtitle approximately 10 frames before the next word is spoken. This way, you’ll retain the pacing of your narrator, and the drama of your project, by not revealing what’s said before you need to.
  • At the beginning of a new cut, if there’s a pause of more than a second before someone speaks, fade up the subtitle with an eight-frame dissolve. The dissolve should complete approximately 15 frames, or half a second, before the person speaks.
  • If you intend to broadcast your project, make sure your subtitles are broadcast-safe. To create broadcast-safe subtitles in Final Cut, from the top right pulldown menu in the Canvas window select Show Overlays Show and Show Title Safe. The title safe region is within the boundaries of the inner rectangle (when you are working in 16:9).
  • Make a subtitle template. Create one subtitle with the proper font, size, and drop shadow. Before using this as your template, though, turn off the drop shadow as it will cause extra rendering. Next, using option-drag, copy the subtitle block to its next location. Double-click the subtitle to load it into the Viewer window. Then, using your transcript, paste in the proper text.

    When you have added all your subtitles, turn on the drop shadows on your first clip. Select it, then use the keystroke command-C to copy.

    To paste the drop shadow on all the other subtitles, select the additional clips using the T tool. Then press option-V to paste the attributes. Select drop shadow from the pop-up window.

October 01 2010


MediaStorm launches Undesired by Walter Astrada

In India, all women must confront the cultural pressure to bear a son. The consequences of this preference is a disregard for the lives of women and girls. From birth until death they face a constant threat of violence.

Undesired tells the story of these women and girls.

This project was made possible with support from the Alexia Foundation.

September 07 2010


MediaStorm-Reuters collaboration recognized at 2010 FRANCE24-RFI Web Documentary Awards

The 2010 FRANCE24-RFI Web Documentary Award jury met last week in Perpignan, France at the 22nd International Photojournalism Festival, Visa pour l’Image, and gave special distinction recognition to Times of Crisis, an interactive Web site produced by Jassim Ahmad and Ayperi Karabuda of Reuters, in association with MediaStorm. The Executive Producer was Brian Storm.

Times of Crisis follows the success of Bearing Witness, which was the first collaboration between MediaStorm and Reuters in 2008.

August 19 2010


Brian Storm to give MediaStorm overview and screen projects at Visa pour l’Image

If you’re heading to Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, France this year, Brian Storm will be giving two multimedia presentations:

Multimedia Storytelling @ MediaStorm
Thursday, September 2, 2010, from 3-5 pm, at Palais des Congres
The digital age is giving photojournalists extraordinary new ways to report and distribute stories. We have a greater level of authorship and an unprecedented opportunity to reach a global audience. How can the long-form, in-depth visual storyteller satisfy both their journalistic and financial needs in this environment?

Join Brian Storm, Founder and Executive Producer of MediaStorm, to see how some of the top photojournalists have redefined their storytelling capabilities to include audio and video reporting and an eye toward publication in multiple media.

Multimedia Projects by MediaStorm
Friday, September 3, 2010, from 10-2pm, at Caserne Gallieni
Multiple projects will be screened. Walter Astrada’s project about violence against women in India will be shown for the first time at 11am and Walter will be there to answer questions. This project was made possible by The Alexia Foundation.

Safe travels to all attending the festival this year.

August 11 2010


MediaStorm welcomes Drew Jordan and AJ Maclean

MediaStorm welcomes interns Drew Jordan and AJ Maclean to our team. They will both be working with us this fall on some exciting multimedia and interactive design projects.

Drew Jordan is currently finishing his graduate project to fulfill a Master’s degree in multimedia at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Since completing his B.A. in Photography at Webster University, St. Louis, in 2005, he has worked across a wide spectrum of media environments. From producing design/multimedia projects for non-profit organizations around the country to working as a contributing photographer for several publications in New Zealand and Australia, his wunderlust has provided for a very rewarding freelance past. It also led to a stint as a goat herding cowboy in Australia.

With interests in editorial, photojournalistic, and design practices he does not aim to specialize in one but rather meld disciplines to enjoy several ways of storytelling as a whole. Some of his recent clients include Amnesty International, MTV Africa, and Randomhouse.

AJ Maclean is a producer, photographer and current Master’s candidate from Syracuse University in Photography and Multimedia. His particular interest is stories that deal with the fundamental connections and interactions we all have or seek to have with each other.

He is recently coming off of a fellowship with News21, a Carnegie and Knight Foundations educational journalism initiative. As one of 11 national fellows he produced multimedia related to an in-depth investigative project regarding transportation safety in the US.

Previously he has been published in USA Today, ESPN online and Maxim Magazine among several other publications. His experience comes from being a newspaper staff photographer outside of Washington D.C. and in southern Wisconsin where he also received his bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Information Technology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

July 28 2010


#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – multimedia kit list

Video journalism: MediaStorm offers the ultimate kit list for journalists working in multimedia, from cameras to memory cards. Tipster: Rachel McAthy. To submit a tip to Journalism.co.uk, use this link - we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

July 22 2010


MediaStorm Methodology Workshop to be held January 10-15, 2011

We will be holding a MediaStorm Methodology Workshop January 10-15, 2011, at our offices in Brooklyn, NY. This workshop is targeted specifically at educators looking to create curricula based on our approach, for organizational leaders tasked with creating and leading multimedia departments, and for professionals looking to start their own media company or integrate MediaStorm concepts into their organization.

Over this five-day course, attendees will participate in a collaborative, fast-paced, hands-on overview of what it takes to produce successful multimedia projects. They will work closely with MediaStorm producers and interactive designers to learn the essential elements of multimedia post-production, project organization and storytelling concepts.

There will be intensive business-oriented discussions as well, critiquing aspects of developing business models that support multimedia and interactive storytelling. Attendees will leave the workshop with an understanding of all the areas they need to create a comprehensive multimedia plan and to educate others on the approach.

If you are interested in attending the Workshop, please see the site for more information and application instructions. Application deadline is November 1, 2010. If you have any questions, please contact workshops@mediastorm.com.

June 08 2010


MediaStorm launches redesign and new projects

MediaStorm Launches Redesign
We’ve made it easier for you to find the information you need in our Publication, Client Services and Training Opportunities.

We hope you’ll take time to explore the site. A few highlights:

  • We added more functionality and content options to the home page.
  • We created a new video player with detailed information about each project.
  • We added full screen playback and higher quality video encodes.
  • Many of our projects are now available for embed on your websites and blogs.
  • Our projects can be filtered by type, client, and workshop.
  • Contributors, workshop participants, and staff now have dedicated pages.
  • We expanded our blog, store, awards, link to us and resource sections.

Airsick: An Industrial Devolution by Lucas Oleniuk

Created with 20,000 photographs and a haunting soundtrack, Airsick: An Industrial Devolution plays out like an unsettling dream. Toronto Star Photographer Lucas Oleniuk examines our addiction to fossil fuel — and its consequences.

Three Women by Eric Maierson

Three Women is a fictional film about women in pain, struggling to make sense of their lives. It is a series of stories reduced to their emotional essence.

MediaStorm Multimedia Workshops
Our next workshop will be held November 13-19, 2010. The application deadline is September 15, 2010.

The MediaStorm Multimedia Workshop is an intensive, hands-on educational experience in advanced multimedia storytelling, where participants work in a team to take a story from concept to publication-ready in a week.

Check out our past workshop stories, learn more about previous participants, or apply now.

Michele Asselin, participant in the March 2010 workshop, had this to say about her experience:

“On the first day of the MediaStorm workshop I understood how much was lacking in my work, by the last day I understood how much was possible. I never would have wanted to make this transition without their guidance and I have no doubt that I have learned from the best.”

May 22 2010


Jennifer Redfearn joins MediaStorm

jennifer-redfearnWe are excited to welcome multimedia producer Jennifer Redfearn to the MediaStorm team.

Jennifer is a director, producer, and writer. She has worked on programming for WGBH, WNET, the Discovery Networks, and independent productions. Most recently, she directed and produced Sun Come Up, an independent documentary about environmental refugees. It premiered at the Full Frame festival and is currently making its way around the U.S. and international festival circuit. Prior to this, she co-produced a science special – the final installment of an Emmy-nominated 20-year project for WGBH/NOVA, and she produced a medical series for Discovery. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Wellesley College and a Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. Her projects have been supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Chicken and Egg Pictures, NYSCA, and the Friends of Horticulture.

May 04 2010


Rick Gershon joins MediaStorm

rick_gershon_blogWe are excited to welcome multimedia producer Rick Gershon to the MediaStorm team.

For the last three years he has served as a multimedia photojournalist and staff photographer at Getty Images. Some of his clients include the Discovery Channel, History Channel, A&E, The Travel Channel, AOL.com, MediaStorm and MSNBC. His images of various news and political events have run in newspapers and news magazines around the world and he is currently a featured photographer with Reportage by Getty Images.

During his time at Getty he received numerous awards for his multimedia stories from both the National Press Photographers Association and Pictures of the Year, a Webby for Individual Documentary episode and a national Emmy nomination for New Approaches to Documentary Storytelling.

After graduating in August 2004 with a B.A. in photojournalism from the University of North Texas, he was named College Photographer of the Year and also received an Award of Excellence as Newspaper Photographer of the Year in the POYi competition.

In 2005, Rick joined the Dallas Morning News as a staff photographer where he was one of the first still photographers to take on learning the craft of video journalism. During his time at the Morning News Rick was named one of the top 25 up and coming photographers in America by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and was also a part of a Pulitzer Prize winning staff for the Morning News’ coverage of Hurricane Katrina.


Eric Maierson speaking at Ohio University, May 5th


MediaStorm producer Eric Maierson will be speaking about multimedia production at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio on Wednesday May 5th at 8:00 p.m.

The event will take place at Mitchell Auditorium, Seigfred Hall on the 5th floor.

The talk is free and open to the public.

If you’re in the neighborhood, come by and say hello.

March 23 2010


New MediaStorm Advanced Multimedia Workshop Projects Launched, Additional Workshop Dates Added

From March 6-12, 2010, we held our sixth MediaStorm Advanced Multimedia Reporting Workshop. Three teams of talented professionals, along with MediaStorm Producer Eric Maierson and guest producers Scott Anger and Rick Gershon, conceived, reported, and produced the following projects:

Take Care by Gillian Laub, Henrik Björnsson, Elena Ghanotakis, and Laura Varma
Virginia Gandee’s brilliant red hair and dozen tattoos belie the reality of this 22-year-old’s life. Inside her family’s Staten Island trailer her caregiving goes far beyond the love she has for her daughter.

Close to Home by Mary Beth Meehan, Michele Asselin and Maria Finitzo
Roxanne Pickering is a Brooklyn resident bound by family and economics to live near the Gowanus Canal, a polluted waterway recently declared an EPA superfund site.

Johnnie Footman: New York City’s 90-year-old Cabbie by Jan Johannessen and Charlotte Oestervang
Johnnie Footman, 90, may be the oldest cabbie in New York City. His age limits his time in the cab, but he remains young at heart carrying a cigar in his mouth, a fake spider around his neck, and a cap reading: “Old Dude made of Achey Breaky Parts.”

The MediaStorm Advanced Multimedia Reporting Workshops in New York City are intensive, hands-on educational experiences in advanced multimedia storytelling.

Over the course of a week, participants work in three-person teams, reporting and editing in collaboration with a seasoned multimedia professional to produce a multimedia project for distribution across multiple platforms.

We will be holding two more Advanced Multimedia Reporting Workshops in 2010:

  • Workshop Seven: July 17-23, 2010 – Application Deadline: Monday May 3, 2010
  • Workshop Eight: November 6-12, 2010 – Application Deadline: Monday September 13, 2010

Go here for additional information on the workshops, and to apply.

March 05 2010


Brian Storm to give keynote address at ASPP “Reinvention Weekend”

Boston2The American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP) and the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) invite you to Reinvent, Reimagine and Reinvigorate your career or your approach to the photography business at their “Reinvention Weekend” April 15th – 18th in Boston.

Keynote speaker, Brian Storm of MediaStorm, will join an incredible line up of speakers: Rick Smolan/Against All Odds, Ilise Benun of marketing-mentor.com, Allen Murabayashi of PhotoShelter, Caitlin Jewell of Silverscape, Nancy Andrews/Detroit Free Press, Lou Jones, Ian Ginsberg of VII Agency, Dane Howard of vuvox.com and others. Click on the links at www.aspp.com to read about our speakers and sessions.

The registration fees for this 3-day event is only $495 for ASPP and PACA members, and $590 for sister organizations. You can now register at the ASPP site.

A one-day Trade Show will be the kick-off event on Thursday 15th, and display tables are still available for $150. During Trade Show hours on Thursday, PACA is providing a demonstration of their newly launched pacaSearch. This mega meta-search engine is setting a new standard for stock image searching. The event will be open to the public too, so a great opportunity to showcase your products and services to a local audience as well as attendees. To register for the Trade Show, go here.

The Omni Parker House Hotel is in downtown Boston, and is offering us a special room rate of $199, from April 12 – 18. Click here to book your room at the hotel.

If you sign up for the Reinvention Weekend before March 15th you will be eligible for a drawing for a complimentary 12-month membership in ASPP (or extension of your existing membership). In addition, for all attendees, ADBASE will be raffling off an amazing annual regional subscription to ADBASE, with a value of $695.00. This raffle will take place on Friday morning, but you have to be present to win.

March 03 2010


MediaStorm welcomes Tim Matsui

20100213_TM_009.nefWe are excited to welcome Tim Matsui as a Spring 2010 intern.

Tim Matsui is a multimedia journalist whose recent work focuses on human trafficking. He is a past Blue Earth Alliance Project Photographer and a recipient of grants from the Open Society Institute, Fund for Investigative Journalism, and King County 4Culture. Tim earned a bachelors degree in journalism, with a minor in geology, from the University of Washington. He is the founder a 501(c)3 non profit using documentary multimedia to create dialog about the lasting effects of sexual violence. Tim co-founded the Travel and Outdoor Photographer’s Alliance and organized several state-of-the-industry panel discussions with leading photographers and editors. The World Affairs Council regularly invites him to speak with international visitors hosted by the US Department of State.

Tim will be spending the next couple of months in Brooklyn with MediaStorm, but is usually based in Seattle where he lives with his Brazilian sweetheart, Luciana, a six year-old boy skilled in the art of Lego battles and ninja moves, a princess of a cat, and a tail-less clown fish not named Nemo.

Interested in interning with us? MediaStorm accepts interns throughout the year, in multimedia production, design, motion graphics, and/or programming for web. The deadline for our fall 2010 Internship is June 15, 2010. See our site for more information.

February 03 2010


MediaStorm welcomes intern Megan Lange

Megan-LangeWe are excited to welcome Megan Lange as a Spring 2010 intern. She will be working with us for the next few months to produce some exciting projects we have coming down the pipeline.

Megan is a recent graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she obtained a B.A. in Photojournalism and Psychology. She also studied for a semester in London through the SUAbroad program with a concentration in photojournalism. Megan spent her summer in Uganda, documenting the conditions of the families left in the Tegotatoo IDP camp resulting from a 20-year civil war and producing a multimedia project for Every Child Ministries. She has interned with The Muskegon Chronicle, and externed with The Post-Standard.

Interested in interning with us? MediaStorm accepts interns throughout the year, in multimedia production, design, motion graphics, and/or programming for web. The deadline for our fall 2010 Internship is June 15, 2010. See our site for more information.

January 29 2010


ASPP “Reinvention Weekend” to be held April 15-18, 2010, in Boston, MA – Registration open now

Screen shot 2010-01-29 at 12.26.18 PMThe American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP) and the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) invite you to come to Boston for an exciting “Reinvention Weekend” April 15th – 18th. The entire conference is geared to Reinvent, Reimagine and Reinvigorate your career or your approach to the photography business.

The conference begins on Thursday April 15th with a one day trade show (tables still available), and then will continue with 2 days of great sessions. Brian Storm is the keynote speaker and will also join a panel to discuss thought-provoking insights into the new paradigms for our industry. Be inspired by thought leaders, story-tellers, and community service activists. Lend your voice to the critical discussions between the different segments of our industry. Learn from the experts how to use social media and web tools to enhance your business. Even receive free career make-over sessions.

Speakers will include Rick Smolan, Ilise Benun of marketing-mentor.com, Allen Murabayashi and Andrew Fingerman of PhotoShelter, Caitlin Jewell of Silverscape, Nancy Andrews of Detroit Free Press, Ian Ginsberg of VII Agency, Lou Jones and others. Program details are available at the ASPP site.

PACA is our conference partner in Boston. During Trade Show hours on Thursday, PACA is providing a demonstration of their newly launched pacaSearch. This mega meta-search engine is setting a new standard for stock image searching.

The registration fees for this 3-day event is only $495 for ASPP* and PACA members, and $590 for sister organizations. Registration is open, so mark your calendar and start making your plans to be there now! For sponsorship opportunities, contact cathy@aspp.com

The weekend will take place at the beautiful and historic Omni Parker House Hotel in downtown Boston. We have arranged a special room rate of $199 per night (not including taxes) for all Conference attendees from April 12 through April 18. Please visit their site for immediate online reservations. But hurry! The cut-off date for accepting reservations into our room block is Thursday, March 25, 2010.

For more information contact Cathy Sachs, Executive Director, ASPP.

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