by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Panpa Bulletin : June 2006
June 2006 PANPA BULLETIN | 29 TECHNOLOGY MATTERS StePhen QuInn the technology is there, but successful multi-media entrepreneurs need also need to have a good eye, writes Stephen Quinn Relatively cheap digital still and video cameras mean potentially any journal- ist can become a multi-media reporter. But the key is not the technology, but the brain and eye behind the camera. Take another look at my col- umn in August 2005, in which I reviewed a fine video camera, Panasonic's NV-GS400GN. The camera weighs only 800 grams (including the battery, strap and tape) and you can take stills suit- able for publication in a maga- zine or newspaper, saved on the memory stick. The three-chip technology (what you need for broadcast television) produces superb im- ages under all light conditions. The Panasonic retails for about $3,100 in Australia but you can buy it cheaper online, especially in the United States. Just make sure you buy the PAL version rather than the NTSC format for US television. America is also the best place to buy digital still cameras. Last year I paid $600 in Los Ange- les for a Nikon camera that was twice that price at duty free shops in Melbourne. This camera takes images of 7.1 mega-pixels, which means it is possible to produce poster size images and still retain image quality. It is educational to look at the development of photo-journal- ism to learn how we can work better today. When George East- man's company, Kodak, intro- duced film on a flexible roll in the late 1880s, it was a huge im- provement on single-image glass plates and lead to vast improve- ments in photo-journalism. The camera Kodak introduced in 1888 meant people could take 100 pictures on a single roll. It also meant almost anyone could take pictures. This 'democratisation of photography' was the start of our becoming a visually-oriented society. The consequences can be seen on billboards, online, television and in the evolution of multi-media journalism. We are seeing a similar 'democ- ratization' of journalism with the arrival of blogs and participatory journalism (see my March and April columns this year). Some historians have labelled the 1930s the 'birth' of the era of modern photojournalism. Advances at the time included flexible gelatinous film for news work, flash bulbs that synchro- nised with the shutter of the cam- era -- meaning it was possible to capture sports action shots -- and transmission of pictures over the networks of news agencies. The most portentous change for journalism occurred in the 1980s when Nikon, Sony and Canon perfected digital still cam- eras. In 1988 USA Today pub- lished pictures from that year's presidential nominating conven- tions, and soon photo-journal- ists in other countries were using new film-less cameras. Those first digital cameras cost tens of thousands of dollars and had relatively low resolution. Sig- nificant improvements occurred in the late 1990s and by the be- ginning of the 21st century most newspapers around the western world had moved into digital photography. The technology is available. What about the necessary skills? To understand how best to do multi-media and make good use of images, study how a graphic novel or comic book is organised. They are effectively examples of a storyboarding technique for planning multi-media produc- tions. Ken Burns is one of the world's finest documentary film mak- ers. His documentary about the American Civil War is one of the best pieces of television I have yet seen. He uses historical im- ages yet manages to make them appear alive. Apple's iPhoto soft- ware, free with any Macintosh, acknowledges his achievements by naming one of the software's image improvement techniques after Burns. Budding multi-media journal- ists should watch any Burns doc- umentary to appreciate how to use pictures to tell a story. Multi- media may be in its infancy, but producers can learn much from the past. Multi-media stories usually evolve in a linear fashion, but can use spatial techniques to high- light key moments or informa- tion. We are limited in the number of photos we can use in print because space is always a pre- mium. This forces us to crop tightly. Only a few outstand- ing images usually make it into print. It is a different story online or in multi-media journal- ism. Still photographers who shoot video for web sites or who work in multi-media need to get into the habit of shooting transitions. Televi- sion people call these cuta- ways. They allow us to com- press action and deal with odd changes in direction or time. Ethical issues need to be reinforced in the high-speed world of digital cameras. It is not possible to do effec- tive ethics at the speed of a shutter, so ethical processes need to be considered before journalists get their hands on cameras. In the digital world, the eye and brain be- hind the camera are more important than ever, which emphasises the importance of effective training. Putting multi-media in the picture To understand how best to do multi-media and make good use of images, study how a graphic novel or comic book is organised. Budding multi-media journalists should watch any Burns documentary to appreciate how to use pictures to tell a story. Multi-media may be in its infancy, but producers can learn much from the past.