Why you should be a video blogger (and a video to show you how to do it)

These days, technology is everywhere. The potential to communicate, connect and collaborate with others is higher than ever. It is the technological and information revolution that has fuelled the rise of citizen journalism, where all over the world people are using increasingly sophisticated devices to capture moments and events that would otherwise go unseen. The most basic and primitive mobile phone now is likely to come with a in-built camera and/or even a video camera. And so now the masses have access to this technology which was once a preserve of the few. This means that it is not necessary for a camera man or reporter to be present whilst the volcano erupts, because there is probably someone there already holding their phone, filming away.

Citizen journalism means that information otherwise unobtainable or at that time inaccessible by professional media outfits can be produced easily by those who are there to experience it. When the Russian authorities closed off the inside of the Domodedovo airport after it was bombed, passengers who were there to watch the carnage unfold got everything on film which was then reproduced by many media organisations keen to show the world what they could not show themselves. (see here: Fox News uses mobile footage of Domodedovo airport bombing)

Online video journalism, or video blogging, can be a great way to communicate with communities. If you’re interested in Vlogging, you can easily connect with communities by producing material. You could interview local figures, film local events, or make community profiles. So next time you see something that catches your eye, why not film it?

Here’s how to do it…

1) Grab your camera phone or borrow a friends (or you could use a camera with a filming facility, or even a video camera if you have one)

2) You could either plan what you want to film, or you might see something spontaneously and decide to get filming!

3) Use a USB uploader to transfer the film from your camera phone to a computer. When you plug it in a box should pop up asking you what you want to do – choose ‘open folder’. If it doesn’t pop up, find it under ‘external devices’ in your ‘My Computer’ (PC) or under ‘devices’ in your finder window (Mac). Once you’ve open the folder, choose the footage you want to upload. Save it somewhere on your computer.

4) Now you can upload the video to somewhere on the internet – you can of course edit your footage if you like but most citizen journalism isn’t edited that much. You can upload your video to a blog if you have one, or you can upload it popular video sharing websites such as YouTube. You can see this video on YouTube at How to make a video for online journalism

Natasha Malcolm-Brown


Canon 5D- ushering in a new era of online video

By H.W.

Since the creation of YouTube in 2005, online video has become one of the most powerful multimedia tools in the world. But what started as something that merely allowed people to put up their own amateur videos and share them with friends, has evolved and developed over the past 6 years. The capability to upload videos in higher quality, all the way up to 72op HD, which was brought in 2008, has attracted professional film-makers and video artists to post their work on the site.

Dan Chung has been at the forefront of the new online video revolution. He started out at a photographer for the Derby Evening Telegraph, then went on to Reuters, and now is one of the Guardian’s top photo journalists.

Notice the use of the word “photo” journalist. Dan Chung was not a film maker by profession, but it was the advent of new camera technology that made him decide to try his hand at video rather than just stills photography.

The Canon 5D range of cameras, which were the first cameras to allow people to shoot high definition film on photographic cameras, have caused a blurring of the distinction between traditional photography and video.

Have a look at this incredible film that Dan Chung made for the 60th anniversary for the People’s Republic of China:

The unique style of this video comes from the fact that  Ching used a Canon Eos5DmkI instead of a traditional HD video camera. The film that he has shot actually looks like a moving photograph, rather than a film. This comes not only from the fact that the Canon 5D allows the photographer far more flexibility over the settings than a dedicated video camera, but also because the quality of the lens is far superior. Dan Chung has used the same techniques that a photographer would, in terms of composition, framing, exposure settings, etc and applied them to film.

The evolution of online video is happening at a staggering pace. But it is not just the quantity of video that we are seeing being uploaded online, but the QUALITY, that is beginning to make all the difference.

Has the internet opened the door for the satire of television?

Satire has existed for as long as journalism, and it has always been quick to make it’s presence felt in any new media. Print has always been the obvious medium of choice for satirists due to its’s relatively low running cost but television has been a territory smaller groups have consistently struggled to reach.

TV hasn’t been spared from parody entirely – satirists like Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker have built careers on deconstructing and mocking the self-importance of TV reporters – but the medium is still nowhere near as widely accessible.

Even in the early years of the internet TV remained a medium that the satirists couldn’t touch. The lack of streaming technology and slow download speeds meant that any video content was still difficult for the audience to access. The Net had created a marketplace where satire publications could reach a global audience, but they were still bound to the medium of the written word.

A major change to this trend came in 2007 when The Onion, one of the best known satirical organisations launched The Onion News Network – a send up of the 24 hour TV news format. Since then the online video content for the site has expanded significantly to cover a range of TV news and current affairs styles such as sports news, discussion shows and ‘light news’ morning programs. Poking fun at the conventions and conceits of TV news the ONN videos have proven massively popular. In November 2007 the website claimed to receive over one million downloads per week making them among the most successful providers of made-for-online-video-content at the time.

Clearly, not every organisation is going to have the start-up capital to produce videos of such high quality or the man power to produce them as often. But the fact that after three years The Onion hasn’t stopped expanding its streamed video content goes to show that there is clearly an audience for this kind of material through the online video medium.

The hard news producers may have been the first to lay claim to online video but the satirists haven’t been far behind. And given the success that The Onion have seen so far, it seems that TV newscasters are going to be as ripe for parody at the hands of the public as their cousins in print have ever been.

By Alan O’Doherty

Goliath is Back: 4oD versus the BBC for the title of Video On Demand Champion

It’s a classic case of David meets Goliath but in the digital age. This time the big dog bites back, leaving the rest trailing behind.

So without further ado, let the battle commence…

As a devout viewer of Channel 4 for the past 22 years, I quickly caught on to the idea of being able to watch television programmes when they weren’t on television. Thus, when Channel 4 on Demand (4oD) opened its web-based doors in November of 2006, I was already camped outside propped up on a deck chair enjoying a ham sandwich ready for an invite inside. At first, I was asked for ID and subsequently rejected – oh the nostalgia of only being allowed 4oD access if you were a member of Channel 4. I even remember being asked to pay once I had gained entry, you know, to see special material. This option didn’t particularly tickle my fancy however, so I declined. But once I signed-up, I was in, and to my genuine belief, I was there to stay.

At first I tried to keep it quiet, on the down low, hush hush. Because here I was, in what felt like rather a state of privilege – I was getting to see exclusively Channel 4 content as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. Whilst others still tried to catch the latest Eastenders or Coronation street fidgeting in the cold, I was lounging at home with my feet up watching the latest Peep Show episode, and when I felt like it, the complete series of Nigel Slater broadcast nearly 10 years ago in ‘98. I could even pop to the kitchen for a cuppa, just keeping the programme on pause.

Yup – life as a viewer was pretty sweet until late 2007…when BBC iPlayer was firmly launched…

But who noticed the launch? I mean, really?! People by this stage were revelling in the apparently endless 4oD collection that was growing by the day, both with old and archive material. And by this time, over 100 million visitors had watched 4oD. No no, it wasn’t until iPlayer’s re-vamp in the summer of 2008 that it gained any real attention. And even then, the Beeb could only offer a 7-day catch-up, whereas 4’s programmes were there for always. Faith restored. For the meantime.

Slowly and surely though, things started changing – iPlayer continued to grow, as did 4oD, but in a different way. A better way.

Soon, the Black Books series wasn’t available on 4oD…Well-known films started to disappear…Advertisement breaks started springing up out of nowhere, like toadstools on a perfectly preened lawn.

Simultaneously, the Beeb quickly caught on to the fact they have thousands of hours of archive footage at their disposal, buried away in the depths of television history. They were soon shown the light.

And as all this was happening and both 4oD and iPlayer gained their following, ITV got a little lonely. Soon they became hungry for a piece of the pie. Sadly though, it looks like they’ll remain hungry for a long time yet. The ITV Player is completely littered with advertisement breaks, to the point that viewing a simple half-hour show is a frustratingly laborious task. ‘Celebrity Juice’ for instance, has FOUR ad breaks for its half-hour show – with not just one of a few seconds, but FIVE 30 second-long clips. Not to mention the incredibly exacerbating slow speed of the site; you feel as though you should be awarded a medal for Audience Commitment by the time it loads. The sporadic pop-out window, too, is another spit in the face.

Then there is Demand 5. Yes, that’s right, Channel 5’s Video On Demand service. What is that you ask? Exactly. Let’s not dwell on it, but simply conclude that it has never been viewed by yourself, your family, or any of your immediate associates. BT Vision gave up on it in October of last year, so we can too.

Now, back to the betrayal.

These days, Alfa Romeos are more reliable than 4oD, and iPlayer sort of just makes sense: It’s not just one channel’s programmes up for grabs; You’ve got BBC HD now, as well as BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News, BBC Parliament, BBC Alba, CBBC BBC and CBEEBIES BBC. In iPlayer, there are no annoying Pop-ups, if there are ads, they’re far and few between and the overall streaming service seems faster. You can also download programmes onto your hard drive and keep them forever and ever, and now almost every programme can be enjoyed in High Definition!

Courtesy of Worldtvpc

As the latest statistics reveal, viewer figures for iPlayer DOUBLED from 60m to 120m a month between 09/10! And that was a year ago.

No more Peep Show for me!

Sorry 4oD, but unless you pull your technical socks up, you’re going to end up like Myspace – full of creepy old men pretending they’re cool.