Saturday, February 27, 2010

YouTube Contest: Last Chance to Enter! (Here Are the Criteria -- and 6 More Video Tips)

Hurry! The first round of YouTube's Project: Report contest ends tomorrow (Sunday). Upload your three-minute video (about a day in the life of someone who's making a positive impact on their community), and you could win a $10,000 grant to pursue videojournalism internationally.

We've previously shared YouTube's video tips for producing your video, here and here.

Now we've got another half dozen doses of advice about media management, story building, editing techniques, compression, audience building, promoting your video, and incorporating print journalism techniques into your video reporting.

Each short video features an accomplished professional videojournalist. So whether or not you choose to enter the contest, you're bound to glean some useful instruction here:

Project Report Production Tip #9: Media Management
(Whitney Shefte, Washington Post videojournalist)


Project Report Production Tip #10: Story Building
(Pierre Kattar, former Washington Post videojournalist)


Project Report Production Tip #11: Editing Techniques
(Robin Bell, Bell Visuals production company)


Project Report Production Tip #12: Compression
(Michael Rickley, Azimuth Media video producer)


Project Report Production Tip #13: Increasing Your Audience
(Mark Stanley, New Media Strategist, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting)


Project Report Production Tip #14: Print to Video Journalism
(Jason Motlagh, Pulitzer Center international multimedia journalist)


CRITERIA: What makes a great videojournalism story?

If you decide to enter, be sure to read the rules. And even videojournalists who don't enter would do well to heed the judging criteria below (which, not coincidentally, is remarkably similar to the checklist we use to select video stories to showcase on KobreGuide to the Web's Best Videojournalism).

# Is the story topic interesting and compelling?
# Was the story reported from an original and unique perspective?
# How thorough was the reporting?
# Did the Entrant have an engaging storytelling style?
# How well did the Entrant technically execute the video? (i.e. the use of camera, sound, lighting, and editing)
# What was the overall impression?

Good luck!





Friday, February 26, 2010

The Art of Finding Good Sources (Plural!)

Cision is a global PR institution that recently conducted a U.S. survey to figure out where reporters and editors are getting their information these days -- especially now that there are fewer journalists and an overabundance of data to sort through and verify.

It probably comes as no surprise that they are coming to depend on the immediacy and ease of using online social media sources for research.

According to a report synopsis by Jack Loechner on his Center for Media Research blog:

Among the journalists surveyed, 89% said they turn to blogs for story research, 65% to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and 52% to microblogging services such as Twitter. The survey also found that 61% use Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia. Most journalists said that social media were important (15%) or somewhat important (40%) for reporting and producing the stories they wrote.

The groups placing the highest levels of importance on social media for reporting and producing stories were journalists who spend most of their professional time writing for Websites . Those at Newspapers and Magazines reported this less often. The differences between Magazine journalists and Website journalists is statistically significant.

While the results demonstrate the fast growth of social media as a well-used source of information for mainstream journalists, the survey also made it clear that reporters and editors are acutely aware of the need to verify information they get from social media.

84% said social media sources were "slightly less" or "much less" reliable than traditional media; 49% say social media suffers from "lack of fact checking, verification and reporting standards."
One Source Does Not a Story Make

Without denigrating the validity of Cision's presumptive conclusion -- that journalists therefore need assistance more than ever from professional PR specialists -- let's also not forget that journalists are duty-bound to garner info and quotes the old-fashioned way, by banging on doors and wearing out shoe leather, even if metaphorically.

Though the survey didn't specifically address broadcast or video journalism, we must say that we see way too many video stories that depend solely on one source. These would never pass muster as text stories, and any reputable editor would kick them back to the lazy reporter. Videojournalists should always look for opposing viewpoints, or at least alternative perspectives. One simple rule of thumb is, "Let's hear from the people above, below, and around the central character." Who affects him, and who does he affect?

So if your story is about a teacher, let's hear from students and parents, the school principal, alumni, other teachers. In addition to seeing what others have to say, let's unobtrusively watch the protagonist interacting with other sources -- in their own environment, with natural sound. Showing, and not just telling, makes stories not just more credible but also more memorable.

Think of the movies and novels you enjoy, and how boring and meaningless they would be if each one was about only one character. The same holds true for videojournalism. Multiple perspectives and meaningful interactions are key to successful nonfiction storytelling. One source is not enough.

Complete survey results: 2009 Social Media & Online Usage Study

(Tip of the cyberhat to Deborah Potter's Advancing the Story blog.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tom Kennedy's Evolution as a Visual Journalist

Tom Kennedy consults on, speaks about, and trains others in visual journalism. He was managing editor for multimedia at The Washington Post and, before that, director of photography for National Geographic magazine. He has created, directed, and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes, EMMY, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow awards.

Kennedy is currently the Resident Professional at the University of Miami School of Communication’s Knight Center for International Media. He recently gave a 95-minute talk there on "The Evolution of a Visual Journalist," imparting professional lessons he's learned along his celebrated path.

This semester, Kennedy is "working with visual journalism graduate students to create an innovative website that will evaluate the State of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals in seven Asian and African cities... His project will become part of the Center’s current anchor project: Our City. As a component of the project, graduate students from the visual journalism program at the University of Miami will work with faculty and students at journalism institutions in Africa and Asia creating local stories about global issues like poverty, environmental sustainability, HIV AIDS, maternal health and primary education."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2 More Video Tips for YouTube's Contest

The first round of YouTube's Project: Report competition ends Sunday. We've already shared their first six video tips for producing your entry, if you're inclined to pursue one of the $10,000 prize grants to work on an international videojournalism project.

You'll need to make a three-minute video that documents "a single day in the life of a compelling person that you think the world should know about, and showcase how that person is making a positive impact in his/her community."

Here are two more tips -- on "audio" and "crowdsourcing" -- that might prove helpful whether or not your decide to enter the contest.

More Project: Report info here .

Monday, February 22, 2010

How the Platypus Can Change Your Life

An open letter to photojournalists and videojournalists from publisher Dirck Halstead:

In the late Nineties I knew I needed a lifeboat in a hurry.

After 29 years of trotting the globe for Time magazine, I could see that the photojournalism I had known was sinking. Budgets that today would be unimaginable were being slashed, not just at Time but at all the other magazines and the movie studios that I had worked for.

If you are a photojournalist today, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Fortunately for me, a guy named Michael Rosenblum came along with his radical prediction that the new Hi8 video would revolutionize TV. I helped him get his idea funded, and Video News International was born. VNI was later bought by The New York Times and eventually faded away, but from this dream, the Platypus Workshops emerged.

In the first workshop, at the University of Oklahoma, four Pulitzer Prize winners were among its students.

Now after 37 workshops, it is hard not to find a leader in photojournalism that has not attended one. Among them are David Turley, Peter Turnley, Kim Komenich, Don Doll, Gail Mooney, David Leeson and Kimberly Acquaro, who was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005.

Many have become leaders in the industry and have won countless awards.

This year, the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for documentary went to Tim Hetherington, a 1999 Platypus graduate, for his feature film about a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan, "Restrepo." Since attending the Platypus workshop, Hetherington has also won three World Press Photo Awards, in 2000, 2002 and 2007.

The most common remark made by graduates is "this workshop changed my life."

We still have a few places left in our Las Vegas workshop that starts April 2nd, but if you want to learn a new skill, which can transform your own life, you need to register now. Invest in yourself. Invest in your future.
More Platypus info here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

KobreGuide Award Winners Announced for Best Videojournalism of 2009

After sorting through hundreds of excellent finalists, we're happy to announce the winners of the first annual KobreGuide Awards for Best Videojournalism for 2009 -- in 28 categories.

Grand prize goes to New York Times videojournalist Erik Olsen (pictured), who we're delighted to anoint "Videojournalist of the Year." The impressive quantity and quality of his work serves as a beacon to his professional colleagues and to videojournalism students around the globe.

As you can readily tell from Olsen's videos, which are frequently selected for inclusion on, they represent excellent video technique, excellent journalism, and excellent storytelling. He has covered stories from Alaska to Haiti, and has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to tackle both serious issues and lighthearted fare.

Olsen has been a New York Times videojournalist since 2005. He helps select others' online videos to showcase on the Times' invaluable Lens blog every Friday. Previously he served as an off-air producer at ABC News, where he developed several of the first Web-only video shows for a major news organization. He contributed a feature article, "From TV News Shooter to One-Man-Band VJ," to the special videojournalism edition of, which was guest-edited by the KobreGuide staff.

Olsen's prize is one week's lodging in a charming village in Provence, France, where he says he has yet to visit -- so we look forward to seeing visual documentation of his vacation there!

KobreGuide Awards recipients represent a diverse array of journalism Websites, including the Los Angeles Times, Time magazine, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, St. Petersburg Times, Kansas City Star, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Reading Eagle, and Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Here are some of the top prizes, below. A complete list of the winning videos can be accessed on :


Erik Olsen
(New York Times)


Molly's Run
(Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A 52-year-old woman takes on the 131-mile Badwater Ultramarathon through Death Valley in 125-degree heat -- "the world's toughest footrace."
Video by Justin Yurkanin


Fallout: Brookhaven
Survivors from an H-bomb test are sent back to radioactive Rondelap island to be used as guinea pigs for research. A 9-part investigative series.
Produced by Thomas Maier and John Paraskevas


Battle of the Blonds
(Los Angeles Times)
Two Marilyn Monroe impersonators compete for attention on Hollywood Boulevard.
Photography and Audio by Mel Melcon


Heartwrenching stories of Appalachian women who are struggling to escape from tragic lives of poverty, domestic violence and substance abuse.
Video by Yanina Manolova


Living Galapagos
(UNC-Chapel Hill)
Student-produced collection of multimedia stories explores the balance between man and nature in the Galapagos Islands. (UNC-Chapel Hill)
Executive Producer: Pat Davison
Multimedia Project by UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Journalism & Mass Communication:


Letters from Iwo Jima
(New York Times)
WWII vet Frank Hobbs seized an envelope from a fallen Japanese soldier and returned its contents to the man's daughters ... 65 years later.
By Erik Olsen & Lizette Alvarez


Nicholas D. Kristof
(New York Times)


Joel Stein


A complete list of 2009 KobreGuide Award winners can be found here:

Congratulations to all winners.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

6 Video Production Tips from YouTube

As we previously noted, YouTube's Project: Report competition, in partnership with the Pulitzer Center, is underway. The assignment: "Document a single day in the life of a compelling person that you think the world should know about and showcase how that person is making a positive impact in his/her community." In less than three minutes.

First-round deadline: Feb. 28. Grand prize: a $10,000 grant to work on an international videojournalism project.

Meanwhile, the Project has issued a series of short videos that offer production tips. Each one is not especially dense with info, but anyone who shoots video can probably glean a few helpful lessons from these:

Production Tip #1: Backpack Journalism

Production Tip #2: Camera Setup

Production Tip #3: Lighting

Production Tip #4: Composing the Interview

Production Tip #5: Shooting B-Roll

Production Tip #6: Conducting the Interview

What the Pulitzer Center is Looking For:

Contest info:

Monday, February 15, 2010

HBO Documentary: 'Reporter' Nicholas Kristof Takes Us to Congo. Can He Make Us Care?

HBO is airing a documentary about one of our favorite videojournalists this Thursday (2/18, 9:30 p.m.). It's called "Reporter" and it's about the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning Nicholas Kristof. You get to see him in action as he mentors two American proteges on a 2007 perilous and heart-wrenching reporting trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) -- a wartorn country whose ongoing tragedies he has aggressively documented for years.

The documentary follows them to Congo's villages, refugee camps, and dangerous jungle hideouts for Tutsi leaders who have imported their violent form of warlord justice from Rwanda.

Kristof famously focuses on stories of individual victims as a means of shining a light on -- and calling international attention to -- the unfathomable 5.4 million Congolese who have been killed in the past decade, and to the suffering of countless more Africans who have been raped, tortured, orphaned and uprooted.

"Reporter" was made by Eric Daniel Metzgar, a Brooklyn-based filmmaker with two previous documentaries under his belt. Writes Kristof: "It conveys the texture of the kind of reporting I often do." It also incorporates commentary from his professional colleagues and admirers.

"Nick knows that statistics deaden his readers' interest and compassion. So to get the world to care, he goes in search of individuals whose stories will reflect the country's desperate crisis and mobilize readers worldwide. He journeys through ravaged villages and displacement camps, and makes a harrowing visit to Congo's reigning rebel warlord, General Nkunda, at his jungle hideout."

Metzgar appeared on PBS Now last Friday to discuss "Reporter," in an engaging interview with host David Brancaccio, "Caring About Congo."

Listen for the fascinating discussion of the morally ambiguous role of journalist as intervener in individual catastrophic situations, with footage of a particular scenario that raises significant ethical questions.

Even with the recent outpouring of support for earthquake victims in Haiti, Americans' attention span for global crises is usually very short. But is there a way to keep American audiences from tuning out important global issues of violence, poverty, and catastrophe far beyond their backyards?
Kristof also brings news of his bestseller, "Half the Sky," co-authored with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, on his 'On the Ground' blog:

Sheryl and I taped an evening called Half the Sky Live, in honor of International Women’s Day, and it will air in theaters around the US and Canada on March 4. You can find a local theater at The show includes an amazing new song by India Arie; the premier of a short film about an Ethiopian girl named Woinshet who is in our book, and a brief panel discussion with various eminences...

Nicholas Kristof's 'On the Ground' blog

"Reporter" Website

"Reporter" trailer

"Reporter" HBO info

More HBO documentaries

Nicholas Kristof on

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wired to Publish iPad Magazine

We're relieved to be in good company when we called the iPad a "game changer" for print journalism.

We've been among those forecasting that the addition of touchscreen visual journalism -- especially video -- is going to compel people to fork over a few bucks, either for each issue or for an extended subscription. That's partly because audiences are already in the habit of buying apps with the push of a button, even as they've lost their desire to purchase publications on newsstands and magazine racks.

As we've been predicting all along, iTunes will do for print what it did for music. Smart publishers will get on board early.

One such publisher that has vindicated our vision is Conde Nast, whose upscale titles include Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and GQ (which already publishes iPhone/iPod Touch app versions of its issues).

First out of the chute for iPad conversion is, appropriately, their premiere tech title, Wired. Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson announced at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference on Friday that the publication would be releasing its content for the iPad by summer.

Anderson said the iPad allows periodicals for the first time to do digital content with all of the same values and artistic range that are the hallmark of print magazines. Wired Creative Director Scott Dadich worked with Jeremy Clark from Adobe (pictured) over the last six months to design the Wired iPad Magazine. [Ed. note: Couldn't they have displayed a more optimistic headline?]

Readers can sift through the contents horizontally and when they find an article they want to read, touch and drag their finger on the first page vertically to browse through the pages up and down. They can also turn the device horizontally to take advantage of the automatically-rotating display to view two pages side by side like a magazine and zoom out to see thumbnails of the content all at once.
Naturally, the best part, from our perspective, will be the inclusion of video. Touch a photo of a product being reviewed, and you'll get a video report about it -- a feature that will be especially enticing to advertisers.

And of course another big advantage over print is that the portable digital version can be offered for a fraction of the subscription price, which runs as high as $70/year for overseas addresses.

More info here.

Valentine Video Treats

First Grade Valentines

Directed by Lauren Fleishman & Yoni Brook (

We Are the World / Haiti (2010)

We Are the World / Africa (1985)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Webinar: What Multimedia Tools Do I Need?

One of the most frequently asked questions by journalists and news organizations that are looking to launch, develop or expand their ability to produce video and audio-slideshows is, "What equipment do I need?"

The Poynter Institute is offering a one-hour live online Webinar to address that issue: "Multimedia Tools: Your 2010 Shopping List."

Get the latest on digital equipment plus accessories and apps that will polish the quality of your work and improve your production time. In addition to learning about the latest equipment, you'll learn how to get the most out of the tools you already have. Interactivity editor Ellyn Angelotti will guide you as you buy high-end equipment, look for better ways to transfer files and improve the way you gather media on your mobile devices.
Topics covered:

* How to select a camera based your needs and budget
* How to get better audio and video from your SLR camera
* New accessories that will improve the quality of your video, photographs or audio
* Gear that will help you record professional-quality media from your mobile device

Angelotti will answer questions in a live chat at following the Webinar.

Time: Feb. 18, 2 p.m. ET
Cost: $24.95

For those who can't attend the live Webinar, it will be archived online soon after the live session, and available to all who register.


Other News University courses:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

5 Tips for Making Better Video Stories

Documentary filmmaker Robb Montgomery (right), who produces video workshops around the world, offers "5 tips for making better video reports" on his blog.

Here's the gist of the tutorial:

1. Beg, borrow or rent a better microphone.

2. Lock your camera down.

3. Maintain eye contact with interview subjects.

4. Film for sequences.

5. Study the classic arc of storytelling.

For details, go here.

What Does a NY Times VJ Do?

Here's an illuminating first-person behind-the-scenes look at being a New York Times videojournalist, by Brent McDonald (right).

Reporter. Camera operator. Sound technician. Lighting technician. Writer. Narrator. Editor. Those aren’t seven jobs. They’re one. Mine. Oh, yes, I also carry up to 100 pounds of gear. (That’s right: add Sherpa to the job description.) I’m a VJ; a video journalist.

Today, The New York Times has nearly a dozen full-time video journalists and an expanding network of freelancers producing stories from all over the world, for every section of the newspaper and Web site. We don’t have beats. Our basic role is to provide a visual and emotional lens into stories, from sports profiles to investigative exposés. The journalists in our group have contributed to work that has won a Peabody Award, an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award and a Pulitzer Prize.

And yet, when I tell people I’m a VJ, I still often get the same questions I did when I started four years ago. (1) What? The Times makes video? (2) What does that mean, exactly? The answer to the first question is self-evident. The best way to answer the second is to describe some stories I’ve worked on recently...
Read the rest here.

(Photo by Nicholas D. Kristof/NYTimes)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Haitian Film Students Saw

Cine Institute in Jacmel, Haiti began as a film festival, offering hundreds of films from around the world free of charge to local audiences. It evolved into a full-service film school, offering Haitian youth training and production support for making documentaries, commercials, and feature films. Its educational mission was to empower the country's students with creative, technical and business skills that could nourish local media, provide jobs, and spur economic growth.

Then came the earthquake.

You've seen the images. You've seen the footage, on TV newscasts and online video reports. All by international journalists who descended on the devastated island.

Now see the videos that local film students shot, and uploaded to Vimeo.

Here's a sample:

Stories of Heroes

And here's a Grit TV video story about those Cine Institute students:

More Cine Institute Haiti coverage here.

Cine Institute film fest's YouTube Channel here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Google's Storytelling Ad: Here Are 6 More

Lots of theories circulating about why Google's Super Bowl ad ("Parisian Love") was such a smash hit.

We think its charm and popularity can be summed up in one word.


Look how cleverly it hooks and rivets you with its suspenseful, fast-paced narrative. A character, a quest, an obstacle, a climax, a satisfying resolution.

All in less than a minute.

Lesson for videojournalists: look for the natural dramatic arc as you shoot and edit your non-fiction narratives. It's what will make them memorable.

Now here's a treat: six more similarly structured short storytelling videos, courtesy of Google's "Search Stories" channel on YouTube. Enjoy!

Out of Office

Mad to Live

High School




Monday, February 8, 2010

5-Star iPhone App: 'This American Life'

True, you can hear each weekly episode of Ira Glass's This American Life on the radio, or subscribe to its podcasts, for free. And if you want to hear past episodes, going all the way back to its launch in 1995, you need look (or listen) no further than its online archives -- also free.

So we've never fully understood why folks would pay 99 cents per episode to download them on iTunes -- though we certainly wouldn't begrudge the esteemed public radio program any well deserved income. The economics of purchasing what you could just as easily procure for free makes no sense, but the sentiment we can certainly understand.

But now there's a new five-star 'This American Life' iPhone/iPod Touch app that makes sense both financially and pragmatically.

You get all the episodes (past, present and future) with lots of bonus goodies, for a one-time flat rate of only $2.99, or the price of only three individual episodes on iTunes. Yes, that's still more than "free," but when you see what a nifty portable package this is, you'll realize it's the bargain of the century. Heck, it's almost worth buying an iPhone just to get this app!

Now you can listen not only while you're driving, but when you're taking a stroll or working out or... But that's not why we're plugging it here.

We watch a lot of videojournalism stories to find the creme de la creme for What we find, over and over, is that there are many that represent good video technique and journalism principles, but that they are deficient in their storytelling qualities. They may be decent reports, but that's what TV newscasts are for.

By contrast, videojournalism features beg for a central character and a dramatic arc -- not just soundbites and B-roll. That starts with fashioning story ideas that go beyond showing up and shooting an event. And it entails conducting interviews that compel subjects to relate a narrative, not just answer questions.

In radio, Studio 360's Kurt Andersen, Fresh Air's Terry Gross, and This American Life's Ira Glass lead the pack as masterful interviewers. Videojournalists would do well to listen carefully and learn from their example. (Fresh Air and Studio 360 can also be heard on their respective Websites and via free podcasts.) But This American Life goes beyond interviews and crafts non-fiction dramas -- with engaging protagonists (and antagonists), rising action, conflict, suspense, climax, resolution, and a moral.

So plunk down three bucks and treat yourself to hundreds of hours of invaluable tutelage from the master himself. But don't take our word for it. Let Ira explain it all for you:

Among the many "extras" you'll enjoy: audio of Ira Glass interviewing Terry Gross (and vice versa). "Nervewracking!"

Haiti Photos: Creating Art Out of Horror

Dirck Halstead's Digital Journalist is down but not out. After Canon withdrew financial sponsorship, it looked as though the online magazine would have to pull the plug after more than a decade of covering photojournalism, and that the December/January issue might have been its last.

The staff is still searching for corporate funding -- and accepting financial contributions from readers via its homepage Paypal button. But it has forged ahead with its February/March issue, now online with photographic coverage of the Haiti earthquake by Damon Winter of The New York Times and Shaul Schwarz of Reportage/Getty Images.

"We chose to profile their work because not only have they produced memorable images," writes Halstead, "but in a way they have created art out of horror."

Our executive editor, Ron Steinman, takes issue with those who object to seeing the many shocking images from Haiti in print and on Web sites. Also from Ron, a Q&A session with freelance American TV cameraman Tim Cothren, who was working in Haiti for the German TV channel N24.

Jim Hubbard, who has been one of the leading advocates of teaching children to take photographs of their environment – "participant photography" – writes that there is no better time than now, nor place than Haiti, to provide citizens with cameras in order for them to document the rebuilding of their shattered country.

E-Bits Editor Beverly Spicer scoured television broadcast and online media to get a comprehensive take on events in Haiti. She presents multiple links to photo galleries, video and news reports.
And there's lots more, including an update on the publication's highly regarded 2010 Platypus Workshops for DSLR Video Journalism, Multimedia and Filmmaking.

"This year, we are switching to the Canon 7D DSLR," notes Halstead. "This camera is a breakthrough for filmic video."

There is only a week left to register for the Las Vegas workshop, April 2–11, at the Flamingo Hotel. It precedes the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Expo, April 12–15, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, which videojournalists are advised to attend.

Other upcoming Platypus Workshops:

Prague, Czech Republic: July 9–18.

Rockport, Maine: July 25–August 3.

Workshop info here.

The Digital Journalist here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

We Watched 33.2 Billion Online Videos in Dec.

American online video viewing continues to surge in popularity. December 2009 data from the comScore Video Metrix service shows that nearly 178 million U.S. Internet users watched online video during the month. A record 33.2 billion videos were viewed during the month.

The top outlet by far is YouTube/Google, with 13.2 billion video views.

Hulu ranked second with more than 1 billion videos viewed, an all-time high for the property, and representing 3.0 percent market share. Microsoft Sites ranked third with 561 million (1.7 percent), followed by Fox Interactive Media with 551 million (1.7 percent) and Yahoo! Sites with 539 million (1.6 percent).

Nearly 178 million viewers watched an average of 187 videos per viewer during the month of December. Google Sites (YouTube) attracted 135.8 million unique viewers during the month (97.5 videos per viewer), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 59.8 million viewers (9.0 videos per viewer) and Fox Interactive Media with 56.8 million viewers (9.7 videos per viewer). The average Hulu viewer watched 22.9 videos during the month, representing another all-time high for the property.
This certainly bodes well for purveyors of videojournalism who were once worried that people wouldn't sit still long enough to enjoy videos on their computer screens.

Read more here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

ASMP Studies Leap to Video & Offers Seminars

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) recently formed a Study Group, chaired by Gail Mooney, to explore how members have embraced video. Their report is illuminating and exhaustive -- a must-read for any visual journalist who intends to start or hang on to a career in the years ahead.

ASMP is also hosting a series of affordable seminars throughout the U.S. for photographers making the leap to video. (Scroll down for course info below.)

Video has become much more prevalent in visual communications as electronic publishing continues to replace traditional print media. The increased availability and low cost of broadband has enabled and created a huge demand for video. At the same time, there is a convergence of our tools as “hybrid” cameras are capable of shooting both stills and video.

As head of the Motion/Video Study Group, [Gail Mooney] spoke at length with fourteen ASMP members who have integrated video into their businesses. A list of questions pertaining to all aspects of video was sent to these study group participants.
The results are organized into the following categories, all well worth your attention:

* General Observations
* Getting Started
* Roles
* General Business Issues
* Rights & Licensing
* Technical Issues
* Insurance


Here is information pertaining to ASMP's upcoming Video Seminars:

Should I Be Thinking About Video?

Gail Mooney will discuss the increased demand for video and how to identify potential opportunities for you. What tools do you need? How do you change your thinking from still to motion? What are the business models for video production?

Seminar topics:
* Markets for video
* Tips for shooting motion
* How to get good audio
* How to shoot great interviews
* Camera gear suggestions
* Editing hardware and software suggestions
* Business of video production — how not to be just a content provider
* Common mistakes photographers make and how to avoid them

More info here.


The Art and Commerce of Multimedia

Adding audio to still images can turn a simple web gallery into a much more powerful storytelling tool. The demand for such presentations is growing and presents photographers with new opportunities for those who are willing to expand their skill set. Paula Lerner will discuss how to make this transition and what you need to know to get there.

Seminar Topics
* Being a good storyteller
* The power of adding audio to your stills
* What is good audio and how to get it
* Equipment you will need
* Tips on capturing and editing for multimedia
* The business side of multimedia

More info here.


Multimedia and Video: New Opportunities for the Still Photographer

Is video or multimedia an option for your business? How do you get started? How steep is the learning curve? Paula Lerner and Gail Mooney, two accomplished still photographers, are expanding their markets and the reach of their work through the use of multimedia and video. Come learn how photographers can apply their skills to these new outlets. Lerner and Mooney will share their work; discuss the basics of each medium, the critical nature of good audio and careful lighting. This is a four-hour seminar.

Seminar Topics:
* Technology is changing how our clients communicate
* An introduction to multimedia
* An introduction to video
* Capture considerations for both mediums
* The importance of good audio
* The importance of good lighting
* Equipment considerations
* Making the business side work

More info here.

Oscars: Best Documentary Features and Shorts

When the Academy Award nominations were announced yesterday, understandably all the attention went to "Avatar" and the movies (and movie stars) that draw big crowds at theaters.

So we're here to shine some kleig lights on two notable but underappreciated categories, Documentary Feature and Documentary Short Subject, which you won't read much about elsewhere.

Documentary (Feature)

* “Burma VJ” Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
* “The Cove” Nominees to be determined
* “Food, Inc.” Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
* “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
* “Which Way Home” Rebecca Cammisa

Documentary (Short Subject)

* “China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province” Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
* “The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner” Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
* “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
* “Music by Prudence” Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
* “Rabbit à la Berlin” Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra

How many have you seen?

We'll devote a future blog item to the Feature category. Today let's take a look at the Shorts.

Though the subject matter and themes are eclectic, perhaps it will shed some light on what kinds of big topics are being tackled in major non-fiction film projects that actually get produced and distributed in the U.S.

If you've seen any of these nominees, it's probably been on HBO, where most of them have already aired, and the rest are now likely to. Remarkably, at least one originated with an HBO exec, who assigned it to the filmmakers.

"China's Unnatural Disaster"

In the aftermath of the massive earthquake that rocked this central region of China, several communities are in mourning for the children they lost.

Read full synopsis here.

Read a Q&A interview with directors Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill here.

Here's the trailer:

"The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant"

On Dec. 23, 2008, the General Motors assembly plant in Moraine, Ohio shut its doors, leaving 2,700 employees without jobs. But GM wasn't just a car company; it was the lifeblood of the community.

Read full synopsis here.

Read Q&A with directors Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert here:

Here's the trailer:

"Music by Prudence"

Zimbabwean singer songwriter Prudence Mabhena, 21, was born severely disabled into a society where disabilities carry the taint of witchcraft; she is more likely to spend her life hidden away in a tiny hut than on a stage in the center of a city. Her story is the story of many of the disabled kids of Africa, a story of abandonment and abuse. But Prudence and her seven young band members, all disabled, have managed to overcome stereotypes and inspire the same people who once saw them as a curse.

It is directed by Roger Ross Williams , a veteran TV news producer who has worked for all the major networks.

HBO Documentary Films picked up "Music by Prudence" for distribution, and will probably air it soon.

"Rabbit à la Berlin"

It's an important lesson of history that a system of order intended to produce one result will often give birth to something entirely unexpected. So it was with the Berlin Wall, which was, in fact, two separate walls, one on the east and one on the west with a 120-kilometre strip of land between them. The enclosed patch was unintentionally converted into a kind of rabbit reserve as the walls encircled the lush green meadows of Potsdamer Platz and cut its wild rabbit population off from both escape and predators. For 28 years, the strip of earth enclosed between the two walls was their safest of enclaves. But then one day the walls came down and the rabbits were suddenly freed from a restrictive system, albeit one to which they had become accustomed. Told in the style of a nature documentary, with a captivatingly dreamy tone and a tongue-in-cheek nod to the story's allegorical tale of a totalitarian system, "Rabbit à la Berlin" provides a fascinating history lesson told through the eyes of animals. interview with director Bartek Konopka here.

"The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner"

This documentary shows how the former Washington state governor led the campaign on behalf of the state’s Death with Dignity Act, which allows assisted suicide.

Director Daniel Junge is the creative director of the Denver-based production company Just Media.

The film doesn't yet have a Website or a trailer, and it won't have its first public screenings until later this month in New York. It has been picked up by HBO, and though no air date has been set, its Oscar nomination is likely to expedite its scheduling.

If you live near Los Angeles, here's some good news:
The Academy celebrates the work of the nominated filmmakers in the Documentary Short Subject and Feature categories with the first annual “Docs!” night. The program will include film clips from each of the nominated documentaries in both categories, and a panel discussion with each group of nominees.

Tickets: $5
Wednesday, March 3, 7:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA

Info here

The 82nd Academy Awards ceremony will be televised on March 7th, 5pm PT, 8pm ET.

Travis Fox's Camera Geek Alert

What equipment do the pros use? Ask award-winning, globe-hopping videojournalist Travis Fox.

"After a week and testing, here's what I invented as my 7D setup, complete with the inevitable duct tape!"

Travis, looks mighty impressive, but we're officially introducing you to Jeff Rhode's J-Rod Video Accessory Mounting System.* See what he can customize for ya, without the duct tape!

(*Disclaimer: KobreGuide advertiser)

YouTube 'Project: Report' Returns. Win $10,000

The Pulitzer Center is awarding five $10,000 grants to work on an international videojournalism project.
YouTube presents Project: Report 2010, a journalism contest for non-professional, aspiring journalists to tell the stories that might not otherwise be covered by the media, and to share those stories with the world.

This year, Project: Report will consist of two rounds of competition held over the next three months. In each round, contestants will be given a reporting assignment to complete. After the first round, 10 finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges at the Pulitzer Center. Each finalist will receive a Sony VAIO notebook and a Sony HD video camera and proceed to the second and final round, where they will compete for five $10,000 travel fellowships to work with the Pulitzer Center on an international reporting project.

All five winners will also receive invitations to Washington, D.C., for a public screening of their work and the chance to participate in a special workshop with Pulitzer Center journalists. Arturo Perez, Jr., the winner of the first edition of Project: Report, traveled to Jerusalem and worked with the Pulitzer Center to produce a story on dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis.

Here's the assignment for Round 1 of Project: Report 2010:

Document a single day in the life of a compelling person the world should meet and showcase how that person is making a positive impact in his or her community. All videos must be three minutes or less, and submitted in English, or with English subtitles. Submissions will be open through February 28, 2010.

Even if you do not participate in or advance past Round 1, you may still complete the assignment for Round 2, though you will not be eligible for the grand prize. YouTube and the Pulitzer Center hope to highlight and bring an audience to as many of your stories as possible.

Here are some tips, in the video below, regarding what kinds of stories and formats the Pulitzer Center is looking for. It's worth a look even if you're not planning to enter, since it sums up the essence of most high-quality videojournalism -- a narrative story about an engaging character whose circumstance emblemizes and illuminates a bigger problem or situation that impacts us all.

See which videos we selected for inclusion on KobreGuide's YouTube: Project Report Channel last year.