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I just asked Colin from 1000heads when I saw him at the Oxford Tuttle to see if I could get a loan camera because they had run the HG10 trial that I was part of before and I knew it worked well for me as a combination video and stills camera.
For this gig, it helped me enormously that I knew my way around the camera already. And it works beautifully, it’s light but robust and to
demonstrate the quality as a stills camera, that pic above of Obama is at the full extent of the zoom, without a tripod.
As a video camera, I thought that I’d be mostly zipping around with my flip for interviews and using the HG10 for stuff that needed to be higher quality especially with zoom. It turned out that pretty much all the video I shot was with the HG10. This is because switching from video to still and back again is so simple so I just wandered around with one camera.
It meant that I had to be a bit more ballsy to stand up at the front with the big camera boys and a couple of times in briefings I was told that I couldn’t video and had to point out I was just taking stills. Minor hassles given what outputs I was able to get.
I could have done with some time to mess around with the colour balance for the video – a lot of it looks more washed out when processed than it did on the viewfinder – but of course I’d left it to the last minute to get it. I’ve blogged everything I shot, I think, but it’s all here if you want to compare and contrast. Make sure you check out the HD versions.
Also I should have remembered that I’ve switched over entirely to Ubuntu since I last used it and I had a moment of panic when I thought that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to get the AVCHD files transcoded without some serious linux-wrangling. As it was I wasn’t able to find the solution until after I’d left the Excel, but Handbrake is a great DVD-ripper and general transcoder (also available for Mac OSX & Windows, I believe) and once I’d had a little fiddle to get the settings right (using the FFMPEG codec rather than h.264 was the main thing for me), I just set up a big batch process to pump out .mp4′s
Big thanks to Canon and to Colin & Donna at 1000heads for facilitating the process – now what do I have to do to get to keep this baby?
I chatted with lots of people about my involvement with G20Voice and the G20 summit last week, but a few of them happened to be journalists who ended up quoting me in their pieces.
Rory Cellan-Jones on the BBC dot.life blog was looking for the angle on how social media can be used to organise protest as well as report news:
Also among them is Lloyd Davis, a British social media consultant who told me that 25 years ago he’d stood on picket lines during the miners’ strike but was now a little old for that kind of thing. “They might say we’ve all been ‘captured’,” he told me, “but I’m interested in the issues here, and how we can organise our way through this recession or depression.”
Mr Davis and his fellow bloggers have had security clearance so that they can get into the Excel centre and attend the press conferences, which means there could be an alternative view of events from that provided by the mainstream media.
Laura Oliver on journalism.co.uk asked me more generally what we thought we were doing, of course I told her I haven’t a clue:
Yet while coverage has been opened up beyond traditional news organisations and platforms, the independence of reports from NGOs and other interested parties must be considered, Lloyd Davis, who is involved with both the G20 Voice project and the Reuters events.
“How do people like me get to report on thinks like this without getting some help from somebody – including technically?” he tells Journalism.co.uk
“I have been lent an iPod Touch, lent a camera by Canon to do some photographs and video – this enriches what I’m going to produce but in a political environment like this, there’s a question of patronage and sponsorship.”
There is an opportunity however to find new things to say other than the mainstream media, who ‘will already have got an idea of what the story is’, says Davis.
“I think there’s a gap to be filled in the middle that’s not mainstream media and the people on the streets. There are people being brought in to for some kind of semi-social thing,” he says.
“I have to admit we don’t really know what we’re doing. As usual as bloggers we’re jumping in and seeing what we can do.”
Then Lisa Devaney chatted wiith me on home turf at the Tuttle club and reported on her BrandRepublic blog and caught me rambling about what it all meant:
I saw Lloyd today following his exciting experience being part of G20Voice and got to hear his thoughts:
“What gets me is trying to understand what $1 trillion dollars really is, and how it will make a difference in our everyday lives. There is also a huge gap between the content of what was discussed in the communiqué planning, and how this information translates to ordinary people. The people at the top aren’t very good at communicating what the ideas mean to the rest of us and I think we need layers of communication to push through the concepts and better understand the complexity of what is happening. I don’t understand it all, and that leaves me, and others, to have to trust our leaders. But do we and can we trust these leaders? What also struck me is that here was a gathering of great leaders from 20 of the world’s leading economic powers, and not too long ago we were all in a tense situation of possibly killing each other. It is really important that we are at a point in history they were able to sit down and talk to each other about the economy.”
I decided that much of the time, the most value I could add would be to give you a feel for what it’s like in the press room, on that floor that you, watching at home, could see behind any TV presenter reporting live from the summit.
Of course, the press room itself is “behind the scenes” of the summit itself. The 22 leaders and their delegations were off in the Red Zone working out the detail of what was agreed and published. Only occasionally would red-lanyarded people wander into the press & TV area to be ambushed by crowds of bored journalists eager for a story. But what I’m sure you saw most of was well-crafted, polished presentations of those moments and the pieces to camera on the TV stage.
So I’ve three bits of video that show you what’s going on from another angle.
First, here’s Simon Berry getting ready to talk to Bob Geldof. We’d spotted Bob talking to our colleague Todd Lucier and Nick Booth had encouraged Simon to go round and talk to him too and show him the idea of colalife. Nick filmed the real substance of the exchange here but my clip tries to show that even when the people filming and being filmed are fellow bloggers, there’s some further enrichment to come from seeing how it was set up.
Sticking with Geldof, I captured a little of him being interviewed (by someone in the studio) for Channel 4 News (I think). He’s a great performer, as I noted when I saw him at Innovation Edge and you see here the point at which the feed goes live to him and he launches into his spiel. I think it’s good to see what’s going on right next to the camera – can anyone find a clip from C4 to compare with this?
Even when we were in the briefings with Brown and then Obama, pretty much the same pictures were being taken throughout – the great man, at the podium – I was as guilty of that as anyone. So finally, if you watched the Gordon Brown press conference on the telly, you’d have seen a few flashbulbs going off. This is what it looked like from the floor where I was kneeling next to the press photographers.
Sunball and Joe are two of the DFID Youth Reporters, a group of young people who are part of a mentoring programme to help them bring a youth perspective to debates about “poverty, climate change, growth, stability and jobs”
My experience of them both was that they combined a startlingly deep knowledge of current affairs with the determination of the young to call the previous generation out on the mistakes that we have made so that together we can all put the world right.
They were a great reminder, if one were needed, that I’m too much of a grumpy old man most of the time.
[disclosure: DFID are a client of mine, I have advised their web team on using social media to get information quickly out of crisis areas. I'm not involved with the Youth Reporters scheme.]
I also asked Tom why people should care about what goes on at the summit and he explains the importance of what the bloggers were doing to help us all make sense of the high-level economic stuff from our own perspectives.
Tom is one of the earliest adopters of online social tools among national politicians and he uses them to complement the doorstep manner that makes him a popular local MP. I remember hearing about his early blogging through Tim Ireland in 2004. He’s matured well with the rest of us – he’s a top choice to follow on twitter, skillfully navigating the line between speaking as just another tweeter and speaking as an MP and Government Minister.
Tom sat with us on the G20 Voice desk all day, even when he was in danger of being crushed by the hack-pack when Bob Geldof passed by.
Todd was one of my fellow bloggers with G20 Voice. He’s a passionate Canadian nominated to be in London for climatecafe.org and he explains here just why it was so important that a bunch of bloggers were given accreditation to come along to the summit.
I only found out during the day that Todd is also a fellow seesmic-er. If I’d known and thought about it beforehand perhaps we could have done something together to get people talking on seesmic. I’m writing a post about the lessons we learned – one of them is how to get the bloggers to know each other better and ready to work together better before going into the event. It’s hard.
The video may need some fiddling with – I’ve not been used to using such a flash camera of late and the HD from the Canon HG10 I was loaned might still need compressing down a bit.
There’s simultaneously nothing going on here and loads of stuff going on. The bloggers desks have been visited by Bob Geldof and Douglas Alexander. The first of those brought the biggest crowd – you can tell when anything’s happening here in the hall because there’s a crowd of photographers gathered round it and a bunch of TV cameramen walking on your desk trying to get a better shot.
I realised last night, thanks to Nick Booth, that the thing to do here is to focus on what I’m interested in. I’m going to try and get some interviews this afternoon about leadership and the real meaning of this sort of event. And I’m thinking a lot about the difference between what we’re doing and what the folk who followed the “Broadcast” sign above are up to.
In the meantime, you can of course see me on twitter, I’m popping up photos on flickr and I’ve got one bit of video on blip.tv but am struggling as I forgot that since I last used a Canon HG10 I switched to Linux… so the high quality video may take some time.
So I expect mainstream media to lead on soap opera stuff between Brown, Obama and Sarkozy.
I expect many people to lead on the sorts of things being talked about here by Oxfam – a rescue & financial stimulus package for poorer countries.
I’m interested in how social media is actually being used to open up the conversation – you may have seen a reference to me in Rory Cellan-Jones’s post yesterday and it’s the middle bit that is interesting, how “ordinary people” who aren’t directly involved in the summit and who aren’t interested in throwing bricks at bankers can take part in the important decisions that are being made at the moment. I’m not suggesting that we can be a direct line between you and the Prime Minister or Mr President but can we be more of a two-way medium? Can we, should we, how should we be doing more than either being a reporter or being a lobbyist?
Keeping thinking and talking and listening here.
I’m very grateful to be asked to report from the London Summit on Thursday as part of the G20Voice team. I’m one of 50 international bloggers invited to take part. As usual with events involving high profile government figures, the details of what will happen, when and where are still sketchy but basically we have the same accreditation as mainstream journalists.
So what will we be doing? Well there’s a briefing day on Wednesday when we’ll be getting to know each other better. I think the main value we can add as bloggers is that we can work together, riff off each other, help each other to fact-check and amplify each other’s posts.
There’s a limit to how much value there is in live blogging & tweeting everything that happens. You can only get so immediate. Beating everyone else by a matter of seconds isn’t going to be much use. We’re also not clear the level of internet access we’ll have either through the mobile networks or wifi so although I should be able in theory to qik and audioboo (thanks to bestbeforetv who are loaning me an iphone for the summit) I won’t know until the day the extent to which I’ll be able to do that in real-time and interact with people on the outside quickly and easily.
I’ll have my laptop, N95, iPhone, Edirol for audio, Flip for video.
But there will likely also be lots of people writing about the same stuff. Any press, TV and radio people are likely to be going for the same stories, although perhaps with slightly different angles. So the challenge is to find the stories that are interesting but not likely to be reported elsewhere. I shall also be looking at the events from the perspective of “leadership 2.0″ – are there any signs that the attitudes of these leaders has changed, to what extent are they really talking about issues from the viewpoint of ordinary people?
Anything else you’d like to see me doing? (oi! keep it clean.)