Thursday, December 30, 2010

RIP Kodachrome, 1935-2010

The last rolls of Kodachrome, the most revered film for color slides for the past 75 years, are being developed today at Dwayne's Photo, a small family business in Parsons, Kansas. Then the last Kodachrome processing machine will be shut down and sold for scrap, rendered obsolete by digital technology.

[SEE PREVIOUS KOBRECHANNEL posts for related info, images and links:

* Last Roll of Kodachrome
* Mama, They Took Our Kodachrome Away]

Read the New York Times' on-location report,"For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas."

Eastman Kodak gave the last roll of Kodachrome to Steve McCurry, the noted National Geographic photojournalist. He shot the last three frames of that roll in Parsons before dropping it off at Dwayne’s, and you can see them on the Times' Lens blog, "A Color-Saturated Sun Sets on Kodachrome."

It's the end of an era, and judging from the myriad readers' comments, on the Times Website and elsewhere, many will miss the film's legendary rich colors ... while others happily prefer the relative ease and convenience (not to mention instant certainty) of digital shooting.

Don't miss the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's excellent short video, The Last Roll of Kodachrome, as featured on KobreGuide. In a story within a story, photographer Robert Cohen describes how he dug a final roll of expired Kodachrome 200 out of the back of his freezer, carefully and lovingly shot 36 frames at the colorful Missouri State Fair… and then drove the film hundreds of miles to Parsons, Kansas to have it developed. All the while he was not sure how, or if, any of the images would turn out – a reminder of life in pre-digital camera days. The story cleverly combines beautiful images and a folksy storyline complete with suspense and a climactic payoff.

[UPDATE: Here's the Los Angeles Times' elegy, "Goodbye Kodachrome," with a reproduction of a 1936 May Company ad that included the paper's first mention of the film. "A 100-foot roll of 16mm Kodachrome film, regular price of $9, was on sale for $6.98. After adjusting for inflation, the 1936 sales price would be $107 today." There's also a reprint of a 1938 "Camera Corner" column about the film, its first editorial mention in the paper.]

For those of you who have used Kodachrome, please share with us your thoughts about its demise. Nostalgic for "the greens of summer" -- or is all the world a sunny day with digital?

(Photo by Steve Hebert / New York Times)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Newspapers Upload More Video Than TV Broadcasters

Here's the best news of the year... so far.

Newspapers have surpassed TV broadcasters in the number of online video uploads and total minutes streamed.

Now we're not saying that all those videos are any good. Most, alas, are dreadful. Or nothing more than raw footage of local high school teams.

But it's significant that newpapers are growing to appreciate the irrefutable allure of video as part of the journalism storytelling mix.

All the juicy details are in a report that has nothing to do with newspapers vs. broadcast video. Instead, it's a white paper about "Peak Video Engagement By Days of the Week and Times of Day" -- i.e. when we watch video -- jointly commissioned by Brightcove (the most ubiquitous videoplayer platform for media companies) and TubeMogul (an online video analytics platform used by advertisers).

Their third-quarter report divulges these fascinating discoveries:
• Newspapers saw significant growth in the number of titles uploaded (51% growth) and surpassed broadcasters in total minutes streamed for the first time this quarter. This is an interesting development, and suggests that newspapers are rapidly adopting and producing video content for what was once a print business. This data also bears out the distinct differences in the content between the two verticals: broadcasters have fewer but longer titles, while newspapers are producing many more, but shorter titles on a more regular basis.

• Online media properties (which includes pure-play Web properties and blogs) also had a strong growth quarter in player loads (127% growth) and titles uploaded (23% growth), suggesting that video adoption and production activity is on the rise across the growing media category.

• Newspapers have surpassed broadcasters in the total minutes streamed this quarter, with 313 million minutes streamed, compared to 290 million for broadcasters. This is an interesting turning point because while broadcasters tend to have longer-form content, newspapers lead the group in sheer number of titles uploaded. It’s likely that spikes in news video production coincided with large events of the quarter, including continued coverage of the World Cup that finished up in July, and of the mid-term elections in the US.

• Q3 saw a significant increase in titles uploaded for newspapers, with a quarter to quarter growth of 51%, and a 110% growth compared to the same quarter last year. Newspapers lead the number of titles uploaded for media companies with 482,000 titles uploaded in the quarter.

• This quarter, we also saw significant growth (23% since last quarter) in title uploads from the online media category, which has now surpassed broadcast uploads, a first this quarter. This represents a 188% increase in video uploads year over year for online media.
The future of videojournalism is here. Now for our collective New Years resolution, let's work on allocating more resources towards improving the quality of those video stories, so we can attract more eyeballs to them. That in turn will woo advertising revenue, which can then be reinvested in further improving those videos, leading to a big happy upward spiral for everyone.

Oh, and if you're still wondering about when folks watch video, here is the report's conclusion: Wednesday is the most popular day for total video views, but people spend more minutes watching videos on weekends (including Friday). So lots of shorter videos mid-week; fewer but longer videos during the weekend. As for optimal times of day for viewing video: "Magazines peaked during working hours, while newspapers had more steady engagement into the evening hours. And, as expected, broadcasters total daily views peaked during traditional 'prime time' hours from 6-11PM, mirroring their television counterparts."

Read the full report here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Newspaper Wins DuPont Broadcast Award

What's remarkable about the 13 recipients of this year's Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for national broadcast journalism is that, amidst the usual alphabet-soup suspects (ABC, CBS, PBS, BBC, NPR), we find the Las Vegas Sun.

Videojournalism stories on the Websites of print newspapers (such as the Detroit Free Press) have started winning Emmy Awards, which were previously bestowed only upon TV productions. But this is the first time that the prestigious DuPont award has gone to a print newspaper -- in this case, for "Bottoming Out," an online multimedia package about gambling addiction.

(Needless to say, the video was originally showcased on KobreGuide to the Web's Best Videojournalism at the time of publication.)

The cornerstone of the three-part package is a video self-portrait by Tony McDew, who documented his own Las Vegas casino slot machine addiction with the hope of helping others, and in the process ended up quitting gambling himself.

The series is strengthened by a powerful video diary following one man’s descent into gambling addiction with strong interactive engagement. The Las Vegas Sun explored problem gambling three ways — through the experiences of an addict; by examining what happens inside the brain of an addict; and by considering the role of slot machine designs in feeding gambling addictions. The web site also provides support and resources to help gambling addicts.
Part 1: Tony's Story
The pull of a drug, a push to the brink

Part 2: The Physiology
Illness theory gaining ground for gambling addiction

Part 3: The Machines
Could the game be partly to blame for addiction?


* Las Vegas Sun's award-winning multimedia package on gambling addiction.

* Las Vegas Sun story about DuPont Award

* "Bottoming Out" on KobreGuide

* 2011 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award Winners

Monday, December 27, 2010

Videojournalism Opportunity in Detroit

One of our favorite newspapers is hiring a staff photographer. Nowadays, because their work will appear not just in print, but also on the Web and mobile platforms, that also means videographer.

In fact, a glance at their help-wanted ad is testimonial to how many disparate skills visual journalists must master these days:
The Emmy Award-winning Photography & Video department at the Detroit Free Press seeks a Staff Photographer to shoot and produce video, multimedia and photographic content....


* Strong news judgment and writing skills with emphasis on script writing and news production
* Ability to juggle multiple stories, multiple platforms and multiple media
* Superior video editing skills in Final Cut Pro - a fluency in Avid is OK
* Computer and audio/video equipment proficiency
* Creative approach to social media and alternative video production methods
* Ability to work well with others
* Strong ethics in news gathering and editing

We’re seeking candidates from all visual news organization backgrounds – whether that would be TV, a newspaper or a Web site.
To see samples of the illustrious staff's high-quality work, visit the Detroit Free Press channel on KobreGuide. The lucky candidate who lands this cherished slot will be in excellent company. For more info, and to apply, go here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Animated News to the Rescue? No!

What fresh hell is this?

Animated news stories?

The new savior of journalism?

Just because the Taiwanese company Next Media Animation has attracted a lot of eyeballs by turning news stories into cartoons doesn't mean it's journalism.

Movies "based on true stories" are still fictionalized re-imaginings of real events -- and not to be confused with the real thing.

Triply true for these over-the-top Asian renderings of real people in fantasy scenarios.

Despite what this video (below) and accompanying story imply, just because these are situations that weren't captured by cameras or videocameras does not forgive the bizarre distortions of reality under the guise of "news."

Next Media Animation first gained notoriety in the U.S. by animating the supposed scuffle between Tiger Woods and his wife. It depicted her bashing in his car with a golf club -- an incident which both say never happened.

It's gotten much worse since then, with truly cartoonish vignettes of characters ranging from Lindsay Lohan in the slammer to Julian Assange in the sack. To call them journalistically unreliable and unbalanced would be a massive understatement.

This is a black eye for visual journalism. When it comes to depicting truth, and not what Stephen Colbert sarcastically dubbed "truthiness," there is no substitute for cameras and videocameras. Animated news? We're not buying it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How Boston Pizza Affects a Brazilian Farm Town

"From Brazil to Beacon Hill" demonstrates how a video can help illuminate a complex story -- in this case, about a complicated relationship between a Boston pizza empire and the tiny South American farm town of Marilac that helped build it.

It's a story of negative unintended consequences, involving illegal immigration, workers' rights, and allegedly corrupt business practices -- produced by Dina Rudick for the Boston Globe.

According to the video, entrepreneur Jordan Tobins (pictured) built and expanded the successful Upper Crust pizza chain on the backs of radically underpaid immigrant laborers. What makes the story remarkable is that about 80 of these men came from an impoverished rural town in Brazil, which also benefited from the arrangement. The men would plan to work hard in the U.S. for five to seven years, to make enough money to bring back to their families, and use it to build their own homes and businesses back in Marilac.

In short, the Brazilians paved the road to their dreams through Boston, making pizzas at 17 locations, and delivering them on bicycles, working up to 90 hours a week. The fly in the ointment was that, after 10 years, some of the Brazilians complained of being exploited, overworked, and undercompensated, with former employees suing for money they claimed they earned but never received.

The six-minute video takes us to both locations -- Boston and Brazil -- to tell the story of a mutually dependent relationship that happened to be illegal, but worked to everyone's advantage ... until workers claimed that management overstepped the bounds of fairness.

After this video was published online, the Boston Globe followed up with a report that the Upper Crust "is coming under scrutiny by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office for potential violations of the state’s minimum-wage and other workplace laws," and is also being examined by the Department of Labor, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

We are reminded of a similarly themed video story about illegal immigrants working in the U.S., in a situation where everyone benefited, until legal action doubly impacted their original and adopted hometowns. In this case, one of the largest immigration raids in U.S. history devastated the economy of a tiny town in Iowa and two small villages in Guatemala. Frontline's "A Tale of Two Villages" details how the arrest and deportation of 400 undocumented workers at a Postville, Iowa meatplant had horrifying repercussions on two continents.

"A Tale of Two Villages" is showcased on KobreGuide to the Web's Best Videojournalism.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Can Your Documentary Change the World?

If you're in the Los Angeles area, check out a panel discussion presented by the International Documentary Association: "Can Your Documentary Really Change the World?"


* How can you make sure that your documentary has the greatest possible impact?
* What kinds of outreach and marketing campaigns are the most effective?
* How can you best partner with non-profits to get your message out?
* What do funders and broadcasters expect from documentary filmmakers?
* What's the best way to build a successful social action campaign?


* Jennifer Arnold, Director, A SMALL ACT
* Robert Kenner, Director, FOOD, INC.
* Cara Mertes, Director, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program
* Dennis Palmieri, Director of Communications, ITVS
* Sara Hutchison (moderator), IDA Board of Directors

It's Monday, December 20, 7-9pm, at The Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax, with audience Q&A and wine reception to follow. Tickets are $15 for IDA members, $20 for non-members.

The event is part of the IDA's Doc U series of educational seminars and workshops for aspiring and experienced documentary filmmakers. "Taught by artists and industry experts, participants receive vital training and insight on various topics including fundraising, distribution, licensing, marketing, and business tactics."

Info and tix at .

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WikiRebels: The Documentary

Here is a rough cut of an hour-long in-depth documentary, in four parts, produced by Sweden's SVT network, that gives the WikiLeaks story a different dimension than all the written and video pieces we have seen so far.

From summer 2010 until now, Swedish Television has been following the secretive media network WikiLeaks and its enigmatic Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange.

Reporters Jesper Huor and Bosse Lindquist have traveled to key countries where WikiLeaks operates, interviewing top members, such as Assange, new spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, as well as people like Daniel Domscheit-Berg who now is starting his own version -

Where is the secretive organization heading? Stronger than ever, or broken by the US? Who is Assange: champion of freedom, spy or rapist? What are his objectives? What are the consequences for the internet?
Cyberhat tip to Online Journalism Blog, which notes: "It covers quite a bit of the history of the organisation, the lessons it learned and the partnerships it made along the way – all of which provide valuable insights for any student of journalism as a practice or a cultural form, not to mention a more complex understanding than most coverage of the current situation provides."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One Video is Worth 120,000 Bits of Data

Hans Rosling teaches global health. He knows how to make numbers interesting. Raw data, he realizes, is not enough -- he needs to "show it in ways that people enjoy and understand."

For a BBC segment, The Joy of Stats, he does that by animating data in real space -- a remarkably engaging and effective use of video that goes beyond what is possible in words alone.

Edward Tufte would be proud.

In trying to explain 200 years of development in 200 countries -- using 120,000 separate bits of data -- he creates a 3D animated chart, with an X-axis for wealth (income per person) and a Y-axis for health (life expectancy). Each colored data point represents a country (with the size of each circle representing that country's population). So we can watch as clusters of countries move from poor and sick to rich and healthy between 1810 and 2010. In five minutes.

And look what we learn -- visually. Initially Western countries get healthier faster, while Third World countries lag behind. Asian countries start to play catch-up in the 1950s, and become emerging economies in the 1970s.

There are still huge disparities between the worst-off (Congo) and best-off (Luxembourg), but the gap is closing, and overall, most countries have improved immeasurably over the past two centuries, migrating to the "healthy/wealthy" corner of the graph.

However, seeing this progress is infinitely more impactful than reading about it.

Can you think of creative ways to use data visually to make your video stories clearer and more compelling?

(Tip of the cyberhat to Society of Professional Journalists blog, "Journalism and the World.")

Thursday, December 9, 2010

AIDS and the Elderly

AARP Bulletin produced this online video story, Standing Up to Stigma, in honor of last week's 22nd anniversary of World AIDS Day. It's about a septuagenarian stigmatized by perceptions of AIDS and HIV, even (especially?) among the elderly.

Robert Franke (pictured), 77, is a retired college provost and former minister who moved from Michigan to Arkansas last year to be closer to his daughter.

However, an upscale assisted living facility there ousted him after one night because he has HIV, resulting in a discrimination lawsuit -- and ultimately an undisclosed settlement.

Katja Heinemann's video is part of her longterm project on HIV and aging, called "The Graying of AIDS," which you can see on her portfolio Website, . She says that projections indicate that by 2015, half the HIV-infected population of the U.S. will be over 50 years old.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

First Platypus Workshop for 2011

Dirck Halstead's next Platypus Workshop for videojournalism will be held February 13-19, 2011 at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX.

"The only thing you need to supply is your own DSLR capable of shooting HD video. We also recommend you get a Zacuto finder for the camera as well as a hard drive."

You will learn how to use your DSLR, along with tips and tricks to make it an incredible tool for you in editorial, corporate and filmmaking settings. We will teach you field sound recording, cinematic storytelling, the use of lenses, tripods, multimedia applications, and Apple's latest Final Cut Pro editing software.
Since its inception in 1999, over 300 photojournalists have been trained in multimedia at the Platypus program.

Our graduates have gone on to do television documentaries, Web videos, especially for newspapers, and even films. One of our graduates was a nominee for an Oscar in 2006, and the 2010 winner of the Sundance Film Festival Documentary Award for his film Restrepo was Platypus graduate Tim Hetherington.
You can attend the workshop as a shooter or as a producer, to collaboratively create the class exercises and a final 3–5 minute documentary or news story.

The cost of the workshop is $1795. NPPA and ASMP members are eligible for a 10% discount.

Register at the Precision Camera & Video website - or at (512)467-7676 Ext. 360.

For more info, email Dirck Halstead at dhalstead [at] mac[dot]com

Friday, December 3, 2010

NPPA Advanced Storytelling Workshop

Take advantage of early-registration discounts and sign up now for NPPA's Advanced Storytelling Workshop

The week-long program (April 10-15, 2011) at Texas State University (San Marcos, TX) is designed for experienced television and newspaper photographers, reporters, and video journalists – "anyone who tells stories with moving pictures, sound, and words."

During the week, you will develop story ideas, research, report, shoot, edit and produce complete packages.

Everyone’s a participant. To maximize the participant-to-teacher ratio, enrollment is limited to 35. We pick up where the NewsVideo Workshop in Oklahoma leaves off.
You can see videos by previous students here.

Registration info is here.

Alexia Photojournalism Award Deadlines Announced

The Alexia Foundation has announced the deadlines for its 22nd annual photojournalism grant competition.

The professional grant proposals and accompanying photographic portfolio are due January 18, 2011 (5pm ET), and the student deadline is February 1, 2011(5pm ET).

Contest administrator Tom Kennedy says:

"The Alexia Foundation promotes the power of photojournalism to give voice to social injustice, to respect history lest we forget it, and to understand cultural difference as our strength — not our weakness. Through grants and scholarships, The Alexia Foundation supports photographers as agents for change.

"It is not a portfolio competition. The grants are awarded to a photojournalist who can further cultural understanding and world peace by conceiving and writing a concise, focused, and meaningful story proposal, and who can demonstrate the ability to visually execute that story with compelling images...."


Rules (Professional category)

Rules (Student category)

NPPA report

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Kobre Videojournalism Consortium

We've applied for a Knight News Challenge grant to help subsidize our plan to create the Kobre Videojournalism Consortium.

We're inviting your input -- please take a look at our proposal here -- and take a minute to rate it and comment on it.

(To her horror, one of our colleagues accidentally hit the "one star" rating, when she meant to click "five stars" -- so we need some positive ratings to offset that!)

No, it's not a popularity contest, but obviously enthusiastic endorsements can't hurt.

And of course we welcome your feedback.

The idea, in a nutshell, is to create a consortium of top media outlets that would share ideas and resources to produce topnotch videojournalism that could be distributed to all members (to pump up audience and advertising revenue) and also licensed/syndicated to non-members for additional revenue.

Here are some of the advantages.

Lots of newspapers are producing original video stories of universal appeal whose audience potentially lies outside its own distribution area. This would give a newspaper in Detroit, for example, an opportunity to have its best work seen in Seattle, San Diego, and St. Petersburg. Bigger distribution, bigger ad dollars. AND the reciprocal opportunity for Detroit citizens to see high-quality video stories produced by newspapers in other cities, that they would not ordinarily see.

Further, we would initiate and generate original video story ideas that we would then assign to, and invite input from, partners and affiliates. This would give local context to national stories, and national context to local stories. Think of how news wire services, or TV/radio news networks, operate -- with participation from member organizations. So far, nobody has attempted this with videojournalism.

It would create a network of top videojournalists throught the nation (and eventually the world) who are either affiliated with major media outlets or cream-of-the-crop freelancers (sorry, no "citizen journalists"!). Instead of having to rely on the traditional "one-man band" approach to videojournalism -- where newspaper staffers are expected to be able to excel at a disparate variety of skill sets (interviewing, shooting, editing, etc.), we could count on specialists.

There's lots more to the proposal -- including the development of a standardized videoplayer, with the most technologically advanced functionality, that would fit all content management systems and platforms. (This has been a stumbling block to enabling media organizations from showcasing each other's work -- and we believe we are in an ideal position to solve this problem.)

Others have successfully formed loose affiliations of freelance videojournalists, notably VJ Movement and DuckRabbit.

What we're proposing is an affiliation of major media organizations, who are in a position to partner and share in the creation and distribution of original nonfiction video stories, and profit from the additional revenue that would create.

The beauty of this scheme is that, for very little additional effort, major media institutions stand to gain in the quantity and quality of videojournalism -- and, by broadening their audience both within their distribution area and beyond their geographic borders, fatten their coffers in the process.

Having published KobreGuide to the Web's Best Videojournalism since 2008, and consulting with the leading videojournalists during that time -- both at the managerial level and in the field -- we are singularly in the best position to put this plan into action.

What do you think? Let us know! If you have trouble with this link, then go to, click the READ & COMMENT tab, and enter KOBRE in the search field.

We eagerly await your feedback.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2 New MediaStorm Workshop Videos

Take a look at these two results of the recent eighth MediaStorm Multimedia Workshop.
They're both video profiles. Mr. Blues introduces us to an upscale Harlem barkeep and the neighborhood changes he and his institution have endured and surmounted. Running with Scissors takes us inside the life of a hairdresser who makes housecalls, and is confronting midlife health and emotional issues.

Samuel Hargress Jr. is the owner of Paris Blues bar in Harlem, New York. The bar attracts a cast of characters that could have come from Cheers, Harlem-style. While witnessing dramatic changes in the neighborhood, Sam created a timeless place where regulars dance in their godfather hats, snakeskin leather shoes, and 1940’s styled zoot suits.
See Mr. Blues here.

Hairstylist Brian Machon has been practicing his craft for over 20 years and has close relationships with his clients. When he narrowly escaped a heart attack, questions surrounding his life, and his real family, were raised.
See Running with Scissors here.

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

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

MediaStorm will hold three Multimedia Workshops in 2011:

* March 5-11, 2011 – Application Deadline: Friday, January 7, 2011
* July 23-29, 2011 – Application Deadline: Friday, May 27, 2011
* November 12-18, 2011 – Application Deadline: Friday, September 16, 2011

For additional info, and to apply, go here.