Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Marshall Curry, Director of Street Fight, Photo/Hollyman c. 2006
As soon as I find time to edit the video I shot I will upload these reports from the IDA on:
Marshall Curry filmed, produced, wrote and cut his great epic doc Street Fight as a one person team, a terrific tale about the 32-year-old Rhodes Scholar/Yale Law School grad Cory Booker who ran for mayor of Newark. Marshall's quest to tell the story of one man's fight against an entenched political machine is especially relevant today. More on Marshall later...
And also more on the film making team of Dana Adam Shapiro, Jeff Mandel and Henry-Alex Rubin who brought us Murderball, a terrfic sports story about quad rugby, played by quadriplegics in armored wheelchairs.
Praise be to the International Documentary Association (IDA)
Thanks to IDA, AKA International Documentary Association and its Executive Director, Sandra Ruch, along with her capable team of volunteers, New Yorkers were treated to a day-long feast of documentary films yesterday at the DGA's elegant Florence Gould Theater at 57th Street. The Zulu have a word called " Indaba" that stands for a forum in which share ideas and collaborate. Sounds like DocuDay NYC. The Sundance Channel provided much-needed funding to make this all possible.
Over this next week I will be uploading some videos I shot at the fest during some Q&A sessions which Ruch conducted with film makers whose works have been nominated for Academy Awards. I will try to encode the audio track as MP3 files that you can play on your computer or download and listen to in your iPod on your way to work. Inshallah. God willing. And my time willing.
Join the IDA
If you are still reading this post you should join the IDA too , a wonderful community devoted to documentary film-makers. You get a magazine subscrition too.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Photo Courtesy www.normancorwin.com
Saturday, at the IDA's DocuDay New York I began thinking about the power of the well-spoken word after feasting on a great short, A Note of Triumph: the Golden Age of Norman Corwin. This must-see short by Eric Simmonson and Corinne Marrinan is a powerful profile of Corwin, often called radio's poet laureate, whose broadcast over CBS Radio on May 8, 1945 created a whole new genre for story telling. Says Ray Bradbury of Corwin, " He taught us then not only how to open our mouths but how to insert bright pebbles beneath our tongues so that eventually we might fire forth a sentence not only worth listening to but thinking about. "
This short has been nominated for an Academy award. You can download a ballot here what the Academy says is "the easiest way to make your predictions and keep track of the winners on event night. " With this official ballot in hand you can chomp on popcorn with friends and even make bets.
A Note of Triumph: the Golden Age of Norman Corwin
In the Oscar-nominated documentary short A Note of Triumph: the Golden Age of Norman Corwin, Studs Terkel talks about the first time he heard Norman Corwin read his "A Note of Triumph " on radio for CBS. It was a poetic ode to peace, broadcast with the end of World War II in Europe. Turkel says he was attending a dinner party when somebody said,
" Hey turn on the radio." With a flip of a switch , Corwin's resonant voice crackled into life with Hank Peters, a soldier, who says " I am dead of the mistakes of old men... Never were such questions asked of this day...What do we know now we didn't know then?"
Turkel says that on that long distant night, as guests heard Corwin's voice and great words, " Everything stopped--drinks in hand, suddenly everything stopped." Even though 58 years have passed since that night, and though Studs Terkel is now deaf, he says that " in my minds eye I can see it. "
Robert Altman lauds Corwin as this radio man who changed everything... launched a whole new medium...radio drama, with what Altman says is one of the " greatest poems of the 20th century". Righteous matter indeed. Corwin describes soldiers returning from World War II, wearing " a great chunk of rainbow around their helmets."
As such Corwin has much to teach all of us struggling to write scripts. He demomstrates the transcendent power of a few well-chosen words to incite the imagination via audio. It's about writing for the ear rather than for the written page.
You can read and hear this > NPR report This I Believe by Corwin, now 95 and follow his script as you head him read it aloud.
Here's another " bright pebble " by Corwin:
Among the things not to be neglected are the expressions that have been forthright and persistent in American history, expressions in which the common person is recognized; Walt Whitman's sense of the importance of the individual. He's got a poem in "Leaves of Grass," the sense of which is: the president is there in the White House for you, not you here for him. It's a poem that expresses the value and the almost sacred obligation to recognize, to give dignity to the individual. After all, nature does. Nature respects us. There are billions of people on this globe. Think of it. No two of them have the same thumbprint.
Will a new Corwin emerge as a pod-caster soon? I hope so.
This is the first of several posts on encoding video both on the Mac or PC for playing over the Internet. I encoded this clip for streaming over high bandwidth.In the next posting I will encode for a progressive download so you can view the clips and compare. I will also encode using Flip 4 Mac, the codec that allows a Mac user to encode for Windows Media Player.
I produced this story as a one person team on assignment for Nightline in 2000. I shot the story with a PD150, a wireless and shotgun Sennheiser mike. I wrote the script with the kind mentoring and assistance of former Nightline Executive Producer Tom Bettag. In Nightline's Washington studio I recorded the voiceover and worked with a talented Nightline editor as we crashed on this story.
...A Little Shoptalk. Tom Bettag, Ted Koppel
Ted Koppel and his longtime producer, Tom Bettag, left ABC's "Nightline" in November, not to retire, but to forge on mightily. Not long after Koppel departed, he became managing editor over Discovery Channel's news documentaries, with Bettag remaining at his side as executive producer. In a Broadcasting & Cable interview, Koppel On His Jump to Discovery, Ted Koppel talks about this next Big Leap Forward for the most talented duo in broadcast news.
Excerpted Ted Koppel Interview, Broadcasting and Cable
These folks are serious. While Tom Bettag and I are a couple of grueling greybeards who can probably afford to go off and retire, the rest of our team are not. They are being very generously compensated.
What are you going to get out of Discovery that you wouldn't get elsewhere?
An environment that is conducive to doing the kind of programming that we want to do. And a relationship with people of integrity and talent that is consistent with the kind of relationship Tom and I have had at Nightline over the years. The great joy of Nightline was, we could always do what we thought was important. The great joy of Discovery is that we can expand beyond even what we have done in the past.
The Power of a Cold Call
In fact, if you think " knowing someone" is the only way to get cross media assignments, here's a story to chew on. It was a "cold call" letter to Tom Bettag that set me out on my quest as a cross-media maven. I wrote a letter to Tom at Nightline. In it I expressed my interest to work with his team, as a " reforming" photographer who hoped to break in to TV news. I was then 40 something. Good luck you say.
Tom Leads to VNI...
This was before e-mail. Tom thoughtfully answered my letter on ABC letterhead that was typed. ( Those of you born after 1990 might refer to this archaic form of comunications a " hard copy.") In his reply Tom suggested that I contact Michael Rosenblum, who was then doing a start-up called VNI ( Video News International ). Michael believed that the next new thing was videojournalists equipped with Hi-8 video cameras, working as a one person team.
This is another long story I will delve into later... But to finish up on the Tom Bettag story. I did sign on to VNI and learned to write, shoot, report and track stories as a one person team.
...And then VNI Leads to The Digital Journalist...
Michael and his co-venture partner eventually sold VNI to the The New York Times. By that time I had graduated to shooting and producing stories on my own for CNN, WTN and CBS TeleNoticias. Shortly after, I founded The Digital Journalist along with my VNI colleague Dirck Halstead as partner.
After a story on our partnership appeared in Photo District News, Dirck told me he had trademarked our company name in his own and went off by himself. But that's fine. Come all ye. He's done a great job and built up The Digital Journalist as the go-to site for all involved in creating cross-media. He also conducts " Playtypus" workshops. I also hear he is an adjunct professor at University of Texas at Austin, the perfect venue for him to empower and incite the next generation of cross-media story tellers.
And back to Nightline. The Circle Comes Round
But to get to the end of the story. In 2000 I finally worked with Tom Bettag at Nightline. And it just goes to show you the power of a single cold-call, well-timed, thoughtful and properly executed without perstering. And my hat goes off with deepest gratitude to Michael Rosenblum as well who trained me to shoot video in the first place and write scripts. Two Pros
Proof of Lateral Thinking In Action
Only twenty mintes ago I began to write this post about encoding video and now find myself crafting a post instead that ends with an annecdote about the power of cold calls. What gives?
Check on my earlier post Big Bang Thinking and the earlier post on hyperlinks. No I'm not a Big Banger. Only in my dreams. But I certainly enjoy writing and thinking in a lateral manner although I also perform fine in the linear world.
Which is why I do cross-media.
How about you? Send us your thoughts to Send Comments To "Crossing Media"
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the George Washington Bridge by downloading this PDF file which I created JUST FOR YOU with one of the favorite photos I have taken. It's exclusively for my Crossing Media readers.
Calender folded in half after printing
And thanks to all of you for being so supportive during my first month online as a blogger. Your feedback has been great. Keep it coming!
After downloading the 8.5x 11 inch calender you can print it out at home on your inkjet printer. A heavier paper than usual is best. Rather than use expensive papers like Epson's I use instead HP's " Premium Brochure & Flyer paper, Matte. It's double sided and probably not archival. But what calender is archival? You can buy it at Staples.
So download my PDF calender.It's free and it's pretty too. It's a nine MB files so will take a little time to download.
Download Calender Don't be daunted by the horizontal stripes in the file after downloading. It seems to print out just fine.
Fold it in half vertically and you have an instant desktop reminder.
And thanks again. Your feedback has been fantastic.
In earlier post Western Union Stops Telegrams I wrote about a whole new passle of users out there some call "Smart Mobs" that communicate via their fingertips using text messaging technology. In my last post I introduced you to Ben, a college student who communicates with his buddies online via AOL's Instant Messenger. Along with 5 million others, Ben helped create a viral blizzard for the NBC video clip from Saturday Night Live called Lazy Sunday.
Reuters reports today that in Britain, Ben's peers have new disability, where Text Text Messaging Boom Leads to Digit Damage. There mobile text messaging has become so popular that " millions of users no suffer injuries to their thumbs and fingers because of their love of keeping in touch," reports Reuters on a recent survey conducted for Virgin Mobile.
Over 93.5 million text messages are sent every day but all this digit action has lead to an explosion in people reporting cases of repetitive strain injury (RSI).
Thirty-eight percent more people suffer from sore wrists and thumbs due to texting than five years ago and 3.8 million people now complain of text-related injuries every year.
The survey for Virgin Mobile found the texting phenomenon shows no sign of slowing. Over 12 percent of the population admit to sending 20 texts per day and 10 percent confess to sending up to 100 texts every day.
Charles Darwin studied biological adaptation in the Galapagos, where finches over generations on isolated islands developed different beaks to help them forage for food. Question from this scientifically challenged blogger....Will the fingers of the grandchildren of Smart Mobbers evolve as well?
That question leads me find an expert online to ask that question. Stay tuned for another N.I.C. ( Netizen In Cyber Space )posting.
In 2003, Howard Rheingold writes in his must-read book, Smart Mobs:
I learned that these teenagers and others in Japan who were staring at their mobile phones and twiddling the kepyboards with their thumbs were sending words and simple graphics to each other--messages like short e-mails that were delivered instantly but could be read at any time. When I looked into the technical underpinnngs of telephone texting, I found that these early texters were walking around with an always-on connection to the Internet in their hands. The tingling in my forebrain turned into a buzz. When you have a more persistent connection to the Internet, you have acess to a great deal more than a communication channel."
A 12-Step Program for Text Messagers?
One risk, for these text-enabled communicators, say some psychologists, is that it can make these peeps " uncomfortable with more intimate facto-face conversations." In fact these same professionals cite their worry about a new culture developing addicted to "excessive text messaging." Will future professional conferences for psychologists feature seminars on teatment for ETMD, ( Excessive Text Messaging Disorder) ?
World's Fastest Texter
Last year Scottish factory worker Craig Crosbie was crowned the world's fastest texter after he took just 48 seconds to type out the 160-character message: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human."
Whew. Try to type that yourself. It's daunting. Especially for me a hunt and peck typist. My mother told me in school not to learn toucgh typing or I would end up as a secretary.
Earlier in India a similar contest was held where Karan Sachdev, a second year student of Delhi University, was crowned Indian SMS king. He punched the same message as Crosbie in 66 seconds, in what The Times of India says was a " tough competition."
Music Fun Life conducted an online poll of its visitors, many of whom are avid text messengers. They asked: "Craig Crosbie as just crowned the world's fastest texter. He completed a complicated twenty-five word message in just forty-eight seconds. Is texting killing the art of conversation?"
44.44% said "yes" and 55.56% said " no."
What do you think?
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Lazy Sunday Taken Down
So NBC's lawyers prevailed as you can see from the notice above which I just lifted from YouTube to see if Lazy Sunday was available for free playing. It's obvious that NBC lawyers made the decision that protecting their content was more important than any viral buzz the clip had generated. It was a tough call to make for NBC I am sure.
But maybe are they shooting themselves in the foot? Would anybody actually pay $1.99 to view this clip?
So What Does Netizen Ben Think?
In yesterday's postWho's Ben The Netizen? I wrote that I would ask Ben Kreeger, a 19-year-old college student who I found in Googled Land, if he would pay $1.99 to download this video clip if it weren't available for free.
Ben did not have his e-mail address posted to the profile section of his blog. Instead he had an AOL Instant Messenger address. I left a comment on Ben's blog instead. I also asked if he objected to my writing about him in this blog. He said " no problem" and sent this informative reply last night:
As for your question, I don't think I'd be willing to pay for something like that. I'm a big fan of downloading
television shows through BitTorrent or IRC, or even recording them myself on my PC. If there's a show in the iTunes Music Store that's decent enough (The Office, Monk), and if I had a video iPod, I'd buy an episode for $2, sure. But I certainly wouldn't pay $2 for a short skit off SNL that's gonna be all over the internet already.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Ben Kreeger, age 19, has staked his spot in cyberspace with a blog. He was one among 5 million other Netizens that downloaded the Sturday Night Live" Lazy Sunday" video clip and posted it online. In my last post NBC Threatens Video Sharing Sites I wrote about the viral buzz NBC's " Lazy Video" clip received, as reported by Boingboing on Friday and the The New York Times today. NBC lawyers are threatening video sharing services where the clip is hosted, uploaded by users. NBC wants people to buy the clip at iTunes for $1.99 or play it only at NBC's web-site where they will be branded on the rump by the NBC peacock.
In my post I ask "But will Smart Mob users like benkreeger.blogspot.com pay to download video content when there's so much out there for free? Ben tells his fellow Netizens " I ripped this. It's at the address above...there's a link to it in a .zip file, in .mp4 format."
I found Ben in Googled Land. I'll ask him if he will pay to download content and tell you what I find. If he doesn't want to answer I'll take this post down.
Ben certainly sounds affable enough and he's cute too as you can see from his photo. Ben's Blogger profile has saved me a lot of work. Before I even contact Ben I have learned from his blog that Ben says he is a 19-year old college student. A Virgo, Ben says he's lovestruck, resilient, a photographer and music nut. He's writing his post while listening to the Rolling Stones, who he says, " Well, they're performing as best they can. Let's face it, they're aging poorly. "
He passed his microeconomics test with a score of (175/200) and says "I'm drinking less pop and coffee and whitening my teeth, because nobody likes a hideous smile (or a frown, for that matter)."
"Peace, love, and boredom. I'm out, " he tells us on his way to take a shower.
Underneath a lengthy New York Times headline , reporter John Biggs reports today that A Video Clip Goes Viral and a TV Network Wants to Be the Only One to Spread It. In a previous post I touched upon Smart Mobs, these groups of users that connect with each other on their own through email and instant messaging. The Forrester Group calls these emerging connections" Emotive Networks," which it defines as interconnected groups, "composed of individuals engaged in communication and support."
Some of us may prefer to forge our friendships in real time. But there's a whole new media-obsessed pack out there that thrives and communucates by passing along links to "cool" content. These connected buddies hang together in cyber-pace and can create a collective viral bllzzard overnight with just a few taps of their digits on the computer keyboard or phone pad and a cut and paste command.
You have heard about " talking drums" in Africa, used to spread the news? It works. I know. I have watched viral campaigns in action transmitted by drummers while I lived with the Dogon in Mali. Today's Smart Mobs don't use drums. Read my post about Western Union Stops Sending Telegrams: Text Message a Loved One Instead
Lazy Sunday Video Clip: 5 Million Views
"Lazy Sunday", a satiric rap video that stars Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg of "Saturday Night Live" was first broadcast by NBC on its website on Dec. 17, 2006. Since then a Smart Mob of netizens have watched this clip a total of five million times.
The clips is now hosted at YouTube.com one of the free video-sharing sites which posted the clip.
Most network chiefs would be thrilled to see their content promoted in such a viral fashion, building cool online chatter, notes Biggs in today's Times, "The online popularity of "Lazy Sunday" has been credited with reviving interest in "Saturday Night Live" at a time when it is in need of some buzz."
Opening Salvos: No Creative Commons Here
No Creative Commons here. The opening salvo has been fired . NBC lawyers have threatened You Tube with legal action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The company would rather sell the clip online at iTunes for $1.99 or post it for free viewing on its branded site.
Some may call this short sighted, for publicity like this can't be bought. Smart Mobs are quirky and highly selective. "VH1 and other television and movie producers were increasingly putting their own clips, trailers and music videos on YouTube in hopes of jump-starting their own viral phenomena," says Julie Supan, senior director of marketing for YouTube.
No Chump Change
Do the math. NBC has. $1.99 paid 5 million times can quickly add up. As I wrote before, that's no chump change.
But will Smart Mob users like Ben who has his own blog, pay to download video content when there's so much out there for free? Ben, 19 years old, tells his fellow Netizens " I ripped this. It's at the address above...there's a link to it in a .zip file, in .mp4 format."
Flowers and Chocolates From NBC for YouTube ?
Boing Boing Blog says that NBC "should be sending flowers and chocolates to YouTube, not nasty-grams from lawyers. The free video on the NBC site can only be played But only Windows users can access the video on NBC.com -- the site in general is kinda buggy for non-Windows users."
Copyright Troubles Ahead for User-Posted Content ?
The New York Times article continues,
Julie Summersgill, a spokeswoman for NBC Universal, said the company meant no ill will toward fan sites but wanted to protect its copyrights."We're taking a long and careful look at how to protect our content," she said.
YouTube and others in the new wave of video-sharing sites have so far managed to avoid major legal problems even though they often carry copyrighted material without permission.
"This is an example of the copyright troubles that are waiting for YouTube, Google Video and all the other video hosting services that rely on user-posted content,"said Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
So you thought that your child was difficult when faced with learning boring arithmetic tables? No, maybe they're not learning disabled, but like Alex the Parrot, more interested in learning what interests them most. In Alex's case it appears he prefers a piece of four cornered wood to answering researchers' questions.
If you're still reading this blog instead of tackling something boring at work here's another link to help you waste some more time. In another post I told you about the great audio collection of bird songs at the British Library. Now you can hear Alex, the chatty and sage African grey parrot, speak by clicking on the audio link at the bottom of the page at the British Library. Although only endowed with a walnut-sized brain, Alex has been trained by Dr. Irene Pepperberg at Brandeis University, who says he understands a numerical concept akin to zero -- an abstract notion that humans don't typically understand until age three or four. " Go below to read more on Alex and the power of the word " No" when spouted by a stubborn parrot.
Alex The Remarkable Parrot With A Mind of His Own
A remarkable case of avian vocal learning has occurred in a scientific laboratory in the U.S.A. It concerns a talking African grey parrot called Alex trained by Dr. Irene Pepperberg. To quote from Dr. Pepperberg's account, Alex "is able to participate in some forms of inter-species communication" (by which the author means she can converse with the bird!). Alex is capable of demonstrating more than simply the ability to imitate human speech patterns.
But what exactly can Alex do? The bird was trained to identify vocally certain objects by name, e.g. "key" and "paper". It was also taught to name certain colours such as "green" and "blue", and certain shapes with labels like "three corner" (easier to learn than triangle) in order to categorise objects with respect to colour and shape. It also learnt to recognise quantities of objects up to five and learnt the functional use of the word "no" as well as phrases such as "come here" and "wanna go". After five years it had been taught a functional repertoire of about 40 vocalisations.
Whenever he incorrectly identified an object, Alex was told "no ". After about 18 months of training, he began to use the word to his trainer when he appeared to wish not to be handled. Trainers then started to use the word "no" when refusing to relinquish an item desired by the parrot. Soon Alex would use the word "no". When refusing to identify a proffered object, he would say "no"; also when he had finished with his water, and when tossing an unwanted toy back at a trainer! The following is an excerpt transcribed from a tape and illustrating how the bird uses the word "no". It appears that Alex is using the word in order to refuse one task so that he can request a preferred item, a piece of four-cornered wood:
"No" is also employed to reject unacceptably small pieces of food, and to reject toys apparently too worn to be of interest. In many cases the refusals to identify or relinquish are accompanied by the turning of his head away from the trainer.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
So go to my web-site where you can see the show as a pod cast using Slide on the home page. Then click on the link above for Snow Struck Seaport to see the large Flash slideshow. Before leaving do click on this audio blog post below. Open a new window to play the slideshow as you listen to Hart Crane's words.
Audio Blog: Hart Crane's To Brooklyn Bridge
Here are photos I took this morning of my South Street neighborhood in the snow, keeping in mind Crane's line...
" Already snow submerges an iron bound year..."
On a previous post on audio blogging I read Hart Crane's poem "To Brooklyn Bridge" and pledged to illustrate it with photographs over this next few weeks. Click here to hear the poem.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Vlogging? No it's not the latest Winter sport at the Turin Olympics. It's video blogging. "V" for video and "blog" jammmed together to form a new word that is also the web's newest evolution. So far there almost 10,000 Vloggers out there. But how about the quality of the content? Well, for now kind of mediorcre on the whole. Remember Hemmingway's homily to the effect that giving someone a typewriter doesn't turn them into a writer?
But that will change. Remember Kevin Kostner building his baseball field amidst cornstalks in the movie " field of dreams?" He said " build a field they will come." And they did.
Click here to listen to this excellent Webmonkey Radio Podcast on Vlogging reported at Mac World.
This great Vlog, Rocket Boom, was brought to my attention in a newsletter on Internet marketing published by Ken McCarthy . To subscibe you can contact @ Ken McCarthy .
Vlogs: The Boom Heard Round the Internet:
According to McCarthy, Andrew Baron is behind the camera and Amanda Congdon, 24, is the host at RocketBoom. McCarthy says already 100,000 visitors click in each day to view this Vlog. Rocket Boom's studio? A living room in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where out-of-pocket costs top a dizzying $25/day. Today's story for instance is filed from Kenya by one of Rocketboom's " Field" correspondents, Ruud Elmendorp. It's an interview illustrated with B-Roll of a political folk artist, Joseph Bertiers, who works in Kenya, a fascinating "niche" story that sadly might never find its way to broadcast media.
In addition to shooting this clip, Elmendorp probably cut it as well and then compressed it for streaming. Rocket Book didn't have to spend thousands booking time on a " bird" (satellite) to transmit the clip back. It was probably sent by FTP by Elemdorp with a click or two of a mouse.
You can play these clips on your computer or on the latest i pod, Just remember to turn the sound down at work or your boss won't wonder why you have so much time on your hands.
That's certainly one of the ways futurists say online video content will go, providing niche content such as this. Humor helps too. After all most Net content is about "infotainment", not education. People have shorter attention spans online. So make it short and sweet and if you can throw in a chuckle or two...even better.
Undoubtedly the money will follow soon after for these pod-casters. If they don't get tsunnami-ed by the BIG Players. Already I-Tunes licenses video content for parters. $1 a pop to play a clip may seem like peanuts but those micro-payments add up quickly.
Prodigem: Personal Broadcasting Freedom?
Comgdon and Barton host ther VLOG at Prodigem whose home page states they use BitTorrent technology.
Intrigued? So am I. I don't have time to produce and edit daily video Vlogs but others will. Hmm.
Or maybe I do?
Thinking aloud here...How about doing a daily post on Sal, that gifted woodcarver at the South Street Seaport Museum? Maybe uploading daily reports as he shows paid subscribers how to carve a ship's nameboard? Promote them with a message at forums for woodcarving and classified ads in woodcarving journals.
Or how about a dog training Vlog?
Not. At least for now. Too busy with other work. But it is intoxicating, thinking of all the possibilities.
The photo to the right probably leads you to ask," Why are these two men laughing? " Well they just bumped into each other after leaving the stage of a press conference at a Dead Sea hotel in Jordan and I was able to grab it because I had a stabilized lens. You can read about the new generation of digital stabilized lenses in NY Times story. . I took this picture as an afterthought two years ago, while traveling as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's photographer in Jordan while he attended the Quartet negotiations, seeking with others to broker a "roadmap towards Middle East peace."
I rushed ahead of the SG at the end of the press conference in order to get in the motorcade that would leave without me. Before heading out the door I turned around quickly and snapped this photo at 800 ASA with my lens in AF and stabilized mode, I had no idea I had captured this moment until later.
Once in the motorcade whizzing back to Amman from the Dead Sea, at maybe 80 miles per hour, I decided to test the
" sports" ( horizontal panning ) stabilizer selection on my then new, 70-200 F. 2.8 lens. I had previously used it hand held to shoot meetings of the UN Security Council leading up to the war in Iraq, but never used the lens in action. So while we blazed down a highway with sirens blasting, I set my Canon 10D camera to follow focus mode ( sports mode) and chose some flags out on the highway for my test.
Back in Amman while editing and transmitting the pix I was stunned. Although the meetings with SG, Colin Powell and the " Quartet" that day in attempt to broker a Middle East peace had gone nowhere, at least my test photos of the flags were acceptably sharp.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Play Burn Baby Burn Panther Hot Sauce Video Story
So what are some Black Panthers doing today? Looks like some members are making hot sauce, no joke, their latest HOT ... VERY HOT new product. Burn Baby Burn Hot Sauce is being distributed by Everett and Jones Barbecue in San Francisco's East Bay, according to CBS5.com. Black Panther David Hillard and Fredrika Newton, widow of the former party leader, say their hot sauce is "going to have a label on this bottle that's going to explain the context of what we mean by Burn Baby Burn, and give people some education. " Their goal they say is not to make money but to target a whole new generation that may think that "Huey Newton is a cookie".
In a previous post on Rocketboom.com I wrote about the power of a Vlog to tell an interesting story to a niche audience. Here's an example with a video story I found while researching my last post. As an aside in my post on bird and audio content I asked " What are the Black Panthers doing today ?" After googling I found this great story. ( Sigh... already done) I didn't pay a cent to view the video because that is the biz model for now. But in the future, would I pay maybe 25 cents to view this report by a CBS affiliate? The text version would be the teaser. Probably. If it grabs my attention. And how will you grab my attention? By appealing to my "niche" interests.
But how do you bring people to your niche content like this video clip? Write provocative meta-tags for a clip like this including maybe " baby boomers, race relations, Hewey Newton, hot sauce, 1960's, revolution, armed revolt etc. and not only will NSA's search robots go crazy but Google's and Yahoo's as well. And if CBS5.com were charging 25 cents a play for this clip, with a teaser for free, they can count on collecting more than chump change over the long haul.
Hot sauce? You bet.
Publishing the content is in our own hands. Right now.
Making money doing so? Not yet. But it's coming.
Power to the people right on.
The British Library has a marvelous collection of sounds gathered in the field. What is interesting is that none of the sounds can be downloaded. They are streamed instead, using a pesky Real Media Player which stopped me dead in my tracks this morning as it forced me to download the latest Real Media Codec 3....which I thought I already had installed.
Birds Who Sing Too Much
Have you ever wanted to know what the song of a dotterel sounds like? Cheryl Tipp, of the British Library helped me hear one for the first time ever this morning on my couch in New York. Was it worth the wait? You bet. Not for the Real Media codec but to listen to the bird calls and roars of black panthers in the field. To paraphrase Melville's Ishmael, if it's ever a dull grey "November of your soul" just head for this site and listen to robins' dawn songs to get a lift.
In this truly transcendental cross-media moment you can also read all about young bird calls, bird calls as "deceitful mimicry" birds that " talk to themselves," and even about " bird to man communication" while you listen to the shrill and agitated cries of birds who perhaps " love too much."
If you want to get even into this Emmersonian moment open up another browser window ( or use Firefox) go to my post Hyperlinks and Lateral Story Telling where I wonder if hyperlinks, as in Hart Crane's poem " Forgetfulness" are " like a song that freed from beat and measure, wanders... like a bird that coasts the wind. " You can also read Hart Crane's avian-inspired poem in entirety here while listening to birds chirping on a Real Player pop-up window from the British Library site.
Or if you're still reading this blog instead of tackling something boring at work here's another link to help you waste some more time. Hear Birds Singing by clicking on the audio link at the bottom of the page at the British Library.
A Creative Commons License for Dotterels?
Of course the biz model here is " build a field they will come", with copyright registered in the name of The British Library, not the name of the amateurs who did this incredible recordings. You can listen, but you can't use these sounds. If I want to "use" the sounds I will have to pay for a license. Fair enough. The BL states that "The recordings on this site are for private listening only; copying, broadcasting or reproduction is prohibited". Am I reproducing by attaching this link? I will let you know later after I have asked the BL the same question later today.
Black Panthers Roaring
You can also listen to the sounds of bamboo rats, bare-faced tamarins, black panthers and other creatures here. No the black panther doesn't start singing " Power To the People". He roars. In fact that brings me to to the unrelated thought...where have all the Black Panthers gone? Go to my next post to find out.
The Wildlife Section of the British Library Sound Archive
Cheryl Tipps describes the British Library Sound Archives
I work for the Wildlife Section of the British Library Sound Archive and thought you might like to hear about our collection of wildlife sound recordings. We've existed since 1969 and currently have over 150,000 recordings of wildlife vocalisations and soundscapes, provided mainly by amateur recordists. You can find details of these recordings by visiting the BL website at www.bl.uk and following the links to the Sound Archive's online catalogue (click on catalogue, then Sound Archive). You can also find out more about the section by visiting our webpages at http://www.bl.uk/collections/sound-archive/wild.html. Around 400 recordings from around the world can be heard on our Listen to Nature pages, so please go and take a look!
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I took this photo in October during the last race of the season of the Manhattan Yacht Club as I stood in club's Zodiac rubber raft. The wind blew at 26 knots, gusting upward with sudden gale-force bursts. This snap is a solid and tangible demo for how well the stabilizing technology works. To take these pix I tethered myself with a line slung around my ample behind which was secured to the rubber raft's bow with a bowline. Like a dog at the end of a leash, I created a bosun's chair of sorts that gave me balance as we madly careened across New York harbor. I bounced right along, dipping and swaying, bracing my knees, sort of like Tai-Chi.
At this point you might well ask... " just what was she doing THERE?" I can't blame you. In fact I often ask myself that same question. It does get confusing.
But all of us " Cross Media" producers do have to wear many hats. Don't you? We have to be versatile and supple like bamboo. This day, however, I wasn't just wearing another different hat , but foul weather gear instead, in my role as official photographer for the Manhattan Sailing Club to which I belong. Everybody took a pounding that day but my camera kept ticking as we chopped across harbor swell, rushing to rescue the crew of this boat which looked as if would capsize. Luckily it righted itself.
I used Canon's 20D digital camera. Without the stabilizer on the Canon 70-200 f. 28 lens I never would have captured the shot. The photo was taken at 800 ASA with Canon's 70-200 f. 2.8 stabilized lens at 1/160 at F.14. I set the camera to shutter priority mode and wracked this zoom lens out to 200mm. I set the stabilizer to vertical mode to correct the up and down pitch of the boat.
Friday, February 03, 2006
As easy as one-two-three I just filed my first audio post. You can hear it here by clicking on this player. It's simply amazing for this newbie.. now old hand...audio blogger how simple it is to do.
If you want to begin audio blogging, all you need to do is set up a free account at www.blogger.com then go to Make Your Own Audio-Blog Posting. Then dial the phone number they provide and record your voice. Bingo. It's posted onto your blog with a simple tap of the #1 on your telephone keypad.
Over the next few weeks I will be taking photos to illustrate this Hart Crane poem called To Brookyn Bridge , and will post the pix here online in the digital domain. Likewise inspired by Crane's poetry was the photographer Walker Evans who photographed the Brooklyn Bridge, in the forties.
'A Span, a Cry, an Ecstasy'
"What bridge?" wrote Thomas Wolfe. "Great God, the only bridge of power, life and joy, the bridge that was a span, a cry, an ecstasy - that was America."
If so inspired by Crane's poetry and Wolfe's words, you want to read more poetry about the Brooklyn Bridge and factoids this site is highly useful, Brooklyn Bridge Trivia and Poetry.
WWGSHD? What Would Eugene Smith Have Done?
Eugene Smith is the father of photojournalism as we know it. But that's another long post sometime later. Today we are talking about lighting. The photo above was taken by Smith in the Congo of Dr. Albert Schweitzer at work late at night. It's a prime example of flash and burn lighting that anybody can apply using 8 megapixel cameras with a stabilized lens, or just a tripod and flash.
Photograph Stephenie Hollyman, Copyright 2006, All Rights Reserved
I took this photo above, after asking myself WWGSHD (What Would Gene Smith Have done?). With the ghost of Eugene Smith breathing over my shoulder, I lit this photo of a family mourning the impending loss of their child, who lay deep in a coma after contracting malaria.
This was taken in April while I traveled with WHO assistance as a solo journalist through Malawi, Cambodia and Tanzania, documenting malaria for my multimedia project "Fever Zone" . To do so, I shot both video and photography, a process that can be challenging at best. After arriving, for instance in a hospital, as in these two photographs, by the time I had introduced myself, adjusted audio levels, white balance etc. on my PD150 for audio , and then shot video, there was little time left to take photographs, much less perform like a compassionate human being
The emotional content on a two-month sojurn such as this one can be overwhelming. And documenting malaria visually is tough. In the words of Dr. Jeffrey Sachs it's a "silent tsunami", hard to depict. No marasmic victims like in famines. A child or adult in a coma simply looks as if sleeping...kind of like St. Exupery's Little Prince adage that " What is essential is invisible to the human eye."
I interviewed the doctor ( actually a clinician) responsible for treatment of this family's young child. By the time I had finished I was keenly aware it was time to move on. The doctor was in deep distress because he knew that this child's death could have been prevented if he had a an artemisin compound available, which he did not.
So I took one photo using available light of the doctor with the child. It lacked the visual drama that tells the story of a needless loss of life. So after sitting to chat with the family I suddenly realized that they were my "story". But how to make it visual? I flashed to Smith's masterful photo of Albert Schweitzer burning the midnight oil in Africa. Here the father of photo reportage , performed " flash and burn" in which he combined a time exposure ( the lamp) with flash bounced off a sheet on the floor to take a dramatic story of Schweitzer at work.
Following Smith's lead, I quickly popped out a Flexi-Fill reflector and placed it on a chair to right of the family. Bouncing the flash into the reflector I bracketed up and down on exposure as I flashed images, like playing piano scales. The time exposure helped create the fill light, as I burned in the room's ambiant light. Because the room was lit by flourescents I put a green gel in the Stoffen cap on my flash and set the whitebalance for flourescent,so that the family members in the back of the photo not lit by flash didn't turn green. The reflector created a quick and easy bank light effect. After looking in the viewfinder I saw had my shot, and left the family alone to mourn in privacy.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
After 145 years, Western Union has quietly stopped sending telegrams, reports Live Science via digg. Featured on the site Smart Mobs:
On the company's web site, if you click on "Telegrams" in the left-side navigation bar, you're taken to a page that ends a technological era with about as little fanfare as possible:
"Effective January 27, 2006, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a customer service representative."
Yes we all know about SMS technology and text messaging. In Mitch Kaplan's blog What's Next In Marketing he links to Text Messaging Shorthand Guide. Also, Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs; The Next Social Revolution is absolutely a " must read" if you are curious about text messaging (SMS) and its potential. In Japan, Scandanavia and elsewhere a whole new generation of youth now communicate via digits, not voice , thumbing and fingering messages to each other in shorthand code, creating "cooperative social contracts" , or networks, viral in nature.