Why mobile journalism for news, business and NGOs makes sense

I often get asked why so many broadcasters, newspapers, NGOs and businesses want mobile journalism training. The actual answer is that there are a number of reasons, but you can boil them down to a few core trends. These trends are converging to make it a no-brainer to get your entire team trained up to create high-quality video and multi-media content on their phones.

I put together this short video below to explain why mobile journalism is now a MUST.

Let me know your thoughts by tweeting me @markeganvideo

or email me mark.egan@purplebridgemedia.tv

Mark Egan

How video editing on smartphones and tablets has gone pro

Sometimes you see something and in that moment you realise the game has changed. That is what happened to me at the Mojocon conference in Dublin recently. Besides all the excellent speakers, there was a room full of exhibitors showing the latest apps and accessories.  A whole industry has sprung up aimed at people who create content using smartphones and tablets.  Among them were two tables showing video editing apps, one for iOS devices and the other for Android.

First I went to the Luma Touch stand. Here I found out that their video editing app Pinnacle Studio Pro will soon get a major update. It will be able to do some really high-end video editing using at least 3 video layers. It will also integrate with Luma Touch’s ability to manipulate your footage to do some grading of the colours, exposure and so on.  In short, you will soon have the ability to do so much on your iPhone or iPad, it may not be necessary to download onto a computer to do a complicated edit.  Up until now it was possible to edit on your phone or iPad, but it was pretty simple compared to what something like Final Cut Pro can do.  That is now changing and with the arrival of the iPad Pro, editing video on mobile is becoming a really attractive workflow option.  Check out this video to see what I mean:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you use an Android device you might be feeling left out.  Seeing as there are so many Android devices, the fragmentation of the market has caused problems for app developers. Worry not. Kinemaster has really stepped up to create a fantastic editing app.  You will need a decent Android phone(see their specifications when you download it), but you can do two video tracks, plenty of adjustments to picture and sound…..and now you can even key your greenscreen within the app.  This is great for content creators who want to shoot a video on their phone against a small greenscreen and change out the background.  In the past, this would be seen as high-end editing requiring a PC.  Check out this demo of the chroma key function:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So in summary, editing on phones and tablets is getting really advanced. That means you can shoot HD or 4k quality video on your phone and edit it on the same device. Editing on a mobile device is no longer seen as something for amateurs or emergency situations.  The future of video editing in is swiping and hand gestures, not clicks of mouses.  I have been editing on phones for a number of years now, but what I saw at Mojocon has shown me that it is now becoming a real competitor to editing on my laptop. That is great news for anyone who wants to make video quickly and simply.

Tweet me at @markeganvideo to agree, disagree, insult or connect with me. 😉

 

3 Trends from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

Every year thousands of people descend on Barcelona to see what is new in the world of mobile.  In the past, that meant rows of smartphones and tablets….and not much else.  In 2016, Mobile World Congress looks different.  The reason is that “mobile” now means more than just phones.  So here are three trends shaping “mobile” for the next few years:

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  1. Virtual Reality – It is not just Facebook that is excited about 360 degree VR video. Stand after stand had some kind of headset, allowing businessmen from all of the world to look ridiculous as they jerk their heads around to whatever they are watching.  What does this mean? Virtual Reality is not yet mainstream, but it will be soon. Already devices like the Ricoh Theta S are making it affordable to put 360 degree video on Facebook and Youtube.  The headsets take it to the next level, immersing the viewer in the experience.  The challenge for journalists, marketers and content creators, is to make something compelling to watch.

2. 5G – If you think your current wireless internet speed is pretty good, imagine what it would be like if it was 100 times faster!  That is what 5G promises to deliver. It is only four years away and promises to shake up how quickly we can upload and download.  Remember when watching a video online suddenly became possible through faster speeds?  5G will change our habits even more than that did.

3. IOT – After four days of hearing it repeatedly, I actually started to get annoyed by the term IOT.  It stands for “internet of things”.  That means that it won’t just be mobile devices and computers that connect to the internet. Increasingly cars, machinery, household appliances and wearable technology will all be connected.  It means we will get data we could never access before.  We can then track pretty much anything from how well a machine is running and throw information onto car windscreens and motorcycle crash helmets.  It is all very cool stuff, but you do wonder if privacy will become an even bigger problem, when everything is connected to the internet.

So those are the three things that stood out for me. These three will change how we make and access content in the future, so I plan to keep any eye on all three trends.

Tweet me at: @markeganvideo

 

 

Shooting on iPhones or iPads – Upcoming training course

We are offering a two-day course on shooting and editing on iPhones and iPads for Media and Marketing professionals.   You will learn how to get the best out of your mobile device, what shots to get, how to record good audio and what makes a video look professional and engaging.

It will be in London on 13 and 14 July 2015.  Places are limited so if you want training in shooting video on your iPhone or iPad please sign up now. Click here for details

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http://www.eventbrite.com/e/shoot-and-edit-video-on-iphonesipads-for-media-and-marketing-professionals-tickets-17223597243

Why making video is now a basic “must-have” skill

If there is one thing I have learned in my time in the media industry, it’s that if you do not update your skills consistently, your days are numbered.   For those who do not think EVERYONE needs to learn video skills, this is a wake-up call.   There was a time when broadcasters had typing pools.  Specialist typists would work on typewriters so that programmes could have scripts and any other written documents they needed.  Can you imagine a newsroom today that would accept a journalist who could not even type their own script?  Typing is now a baseline skill that everyone is expected to have.

More recently, when I did a stint as a young journalist at BBC Greater London Radio, there was someone who would edit the radio packages, much like a television editor.  Even by that stage in the mid-1990s, this was becoming rare.  Like the typing, a radio reporter who cannot edit their own pieces is not likely to survive very long in today’s industry.  Editing audio has become a baseline skill too.

video cameraNow we are in a period where video is booming.  300 hours of video is uploaded to Youtube every minute. Shooting and editing video has lost its mystique because more and more people know how to do it.  It is also getting easier with smartphone cameras and software apps.  Every year I work on a BBC project called School Report.  I work with schoolchildren around the UK to help them make news reports.  What is really telling is that as each year goes on, the quality of what they are producing is improving.  It is rare to find any child now who has not shot and edited a video to some degree.

What does this all mean?  As each year passes, the generation that enters the media industry is more and more comfortable with shooting and editing video.  This means like typing and audio editing, it is becoming a baseline skill that EVERYONE  is expected to have.  It amazes me that so many journalists, PR professionals and NGO staff do not have basic video creation skills.  It has never been easier and it has never been more important to share your message with video.  So whether you are a media professional or trying to promote a business or a cause, not having video skills is fast becoming an untenable situation.

The challenge for those of us who make a living out of video is to keep our skills relevant. With new devices and platforms, content is looking and sounding different. Snapchat Discover  has attracted the likes of SKY News, showing multi-media stories in a vertical mobile-friendly way.  There are also devices like the Occulus Rift  which takes viewers into a world of virtual reality.  It goes on and on. 

Nothing stands still.  Video is now a baseline skill.  Those who do not master it are already being left behind. Now we must learn how to tell stories in new ways on new platforms, using whatever new tools come along. 

Mark Egan

@markeganvideo

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7 Things I learned at Mojocon 2015

There is a tipping point at which a movement really takes off.  The Mojocon 2015 conference in Dublin felt like just such a pivotal moment.  Hosted by RTE,  it brought together mobile journalists, filmmakers and media professionals from around the globe.  Here are just 7 things that struck me in the two days I was at Mojocon.

1. It’s not just about iPhones

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(Neill Barham, Filmic Pro)

One big scoop from Mojocon was an announcement by Neill Barham, the man behind the Filmic Pro App. He said they were testing an Android equivalent of the app which gives users a professional level of control over the camera on their mobile device.  There are plenty of quality android smartphone cameras, but the apps used to be the weak link.  With improved apps Android devices will become increasingly attractive to those who previously only considered iPhones.  There were also Windows phones in evidence in Dublin, so the mojo movement is clearly not just about iPhones.

 

2. Media Management, dull but important

Broadcasters have traditionally had big, expensive server systems where they can upload footage, label it and retrieve it later on for reuse.  Now, with almost every business, NGO and newspaper creating video content, they need to start looking at media management solutions that go beyond a stack of unlabelled hard drives on a shelf.  One of the exhibitors, Axle, demonstrated a solution that is being used by Universities, charities and sports clubs.  Media management might not be a thrilling topic, but as we create more video content, it will have a part to play in the mobile journalism movement.

 

 3. RTE is leading the way 

RTE mobile journalist, Philip Bromwell, told us that RTE has broadcast around 50 pieces shot on mobile devices.  While other broadcasters have dipped their toe in the water with mobile, RTE do not see it as a gimmick.  With Innovation Lead, Glen Mulcahy, also the man behind Mojocon, it is safe to say RTE is among those leading the field in both commitment and great quality video content.

 

4. Multi-camera and live streaming are the next big things

Perhaps the most under-used aspect of mobile is the ability to vision mix between multiple devices.  Switcher Studio showed how advanced multi-camera shoots are now possible for a fraction of the price of conventional vision mixers. This leads nicely onto live streaming.  Harriet Hadfield from Sky News talked about how she can go live in 90 seconds using her iPhone and Dejero.  Mojocon also coincided with the release of Periscope, which must have played havoc on the venue wifi.  Whether it is for broadcast or social media, live streaming will definitely play an even bigger role in mobile journalism in the future.

 5. It is a global movement

It is easy to work in a bubble, especially when what you are doing is new and innovative.  That is why it was so refreshing to meet people from all corners of the earth who are passionate about creating content on their mobile devices.  While some countries were better represented than others, this is clearly now a global movement.

6. Citizen Journalism and mobile are a perfect match 

We heard about Ebola doctors recording their stories on iPod Touch devices, and projects from India to Australia.  The barrier to entry for citizen journalism has fallen away with the growth of mobile devices. Michael Rosenblum, the video journalism guru, said effectively everyone with a smartphone is now a journalist.  While this is not strictly true by the dictionary definition of journalism, the developments I heard about in citizen journalism were very exciting.

7. The makes of accessories are not short of passion

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(Shoulderpod inventor Enrique Frisancho)

Whether it is the Padcaster or the Shoulderpod, we rely on great accessories to create quality content using mobile devices.  What fascinated me was how the creators of those devices were so keen to help the content creators.  They have a shared passion for what is possible with mobile, which is impressive.  There is now a healthy industry developing in accessories for phones and tablets, which bodes very well for the future.

Naturally I cannot distil two packed days into seven points, but these are some of the things that stood out for me.  If I had to summarise it in a sentence it would be this.  Mobile Journalism is still in its infancy…but it is growing up fast.

Mark Egan

 

Mojocon – How mobile journalism has come of age

In late March delegates will come from around the world to attend MojoCon in Dublin.  It is billed as the first international conference focusing on mobile journalism, mobile filmmaking and mobile photography.  Glen Mulcahy from Irish Broadcaster RTE has been the driving force behind it and its timing could not be better.  MojoCon marks what you could say is the “coming of age” of mobile journalism.  Journalists have been using their mobile devices to create content for a few years, but it is now really becoming an integral part of news-gathering for a number of reasons:

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1. Better devices

The early smartphones may have blown us away at the time, but they were very limited in so many ways.  The memory was small, the cameras were not fantastic and the processing power struggled with certain tasks.  Compare that to the last 12 months and it’s almost unrecognisable.  We have smartphones shooting 4k video, containing huge memories or expandable memory.  Overall they are just much more powerful devices.  This means they are being taken more seriously as “proper kit” for journalists.

2. Better apps

Having a good device is only half the battle.  It is the apps that really bring it to life.  I train journalists how to create content on smartphones for the likes of the Eurovision Academy and various broadcasters.  When I compare video editing options we had from even two years ago with today, there is a vast improvement. On iMovie I can have two video tracks and a number of options that did not exist even a year ago(although 25 frames per second export would be very welcome).  There are grading apps, camera apps along with audio, photo and live reporting apps.  The ability to report live from anywhere with an internet connection is  something we could only dream about a few years ago.  Many of these app creators will be at the event in Dublin. (Just check out this video about photography apps)

3.  Better accessories

Whether you are recording audio, video or taking photos, the accessories can turn your mobile device into a very professional recording tool.   A whole industry has now developed around this and they are reacting quickly to bring better and better equipment to market.  A good light, microphone or tripod can do wonders for the quality of content being gathered.  (See Glen Mulcahy’s blog for the accessories mobile journalists are using)

4. Better use of social media

Let’s face it. It was not long ago that most news organisations viewed social media as an annoyance and some chore that was a distraction from doing real work.  Some still feel that way, but the ability to quickly create a steady stream of content for social media is now vital, especially if you want to reach younger audiences.  I own a lot of expensive video equipment. I won’t say how much in case any local robbers are reading this.  What I will say is that none of it is any use to me if I need to quickly tweet, record a vine or Instagram video or post on any social media platform.  This is where the mobile device really shines.  It is connected, has the social media apps you need and is always in your pocket or bag.

When you combine all of these factors you get an exponential improvement in what mobile journalism can offer.  Some of the leaders in the field you might want to look up are:

Philip Bromwell, RTE

Neil Augenstein,  WTOP

Nick Garnett, BBC 

So getting filmmakers, photographers and industry leaders in one place is very timely.  It can spark ideas, build relationships and share expertise.  If this is what we can create in 2015 with mobile devices, with a combined effort, just imagine what things will look like in 2020.

Mark Egan

mark.egan@purplebridgemedia.tv

@markeganvideo

 

How a CNN cameraman broke the most basic rule of smartphone video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week CNN cameraman, Harvey Hogan, shot a video designed to compare an iPhone 6 camera with his normal broadcast news camera. Well, I say “designed to compare”, but let’s face it, if you were a cameraman would you be too keen to make the iPhone look good? I train journalists and media professionals to get the best results from shooting on their smartphones and this video was a missed opportunity to do a real comparison. I do not think this CNN cameraman really wanted to show the iPhone’s camera at its best. In fact, Harvey chose pretty much the worst case scenario for a small sensor smartphone camera to do his “test”….in the dark at Piccadilly Circus in London.

 Though not content with this advantage, Harvey broke the most basic rule of using a smartphone camera…..he appears to shoot in automatic mode! He takes full manual control of his camera which cost thousands of pounds, but apparently leaves the smartphone in automatic (unless he used manual really badly?). This pretty much makes the whole “comparison” a waste of time.

It’s like comparing two cars (maybe Mini and Maserati) , one controlled by a top driver, while in the other car you just lift the handbrake and push it down the hill without a driver. Not really a like-for-like comparison is it? 

If you are shooting with a smartphone you ideally want to take control and lock these three functions:

1. FOCUS – Your picture may look slightly “soft” or completely out of focus if you do not tell the camera what to focus on. You can press the screen to lock the focus box on the native app.  If you don’t, the camera may focus on the background instead of your subject.

2. EXPOSURE – In automatic mode your camera will guess how bright to make the shot. Any dark spots or bright lights will completely confuse it (such things are common in places like…umm…Piccadilly Circus). On IOS 8 you now have an additional exposure control in the native camera app.  

3. WHITE BALANCE – If you have seen a flame change between orange and blue in colour, you will understand that light can be different temperatures, or colours. That is why some home videos look orange or blue. If you white balance, you tell your camera what white looks like in this light, and it will then figure out how all the colours should look. This is easily done in apps like ProCamera 8 or Filmic Pro which will soon update following IOS 8. 

So in this “comparison” the iPhone seems to have been purposely put in its most difficult situation and left in auto while the big camera has its focus, exposure and white balance set deliberately. I am not saying a camera of many thousands of Pounds has no differences when compared to a smartphone, but this video seems designed to make the iPhone look bad.

With vaguely decent light and someone who is trained to use camera apps, the video footage you can get out of an iPhone or other smartphones is much better than Harvey would like you to believe. Also, you do not shoot in exactly the same way with a smartphone as you do with an big camera.

For instance, RTE in Ireland have been innovative in this space. Check out this video by Philip Bromwell. I wonder how many viewers realised it was shot entirely on an iPhone 5S? See if you can spot the shot the big camera cannot get.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harvey could also have compared his news camera with one of the 4K Android smartphones(that’s about 4 times the quality of HD so not sure if it is what Harvey calls a Mini or a Maserati)….but perhaps his Final Cut Pro 7 edit software would have struggled with the 4k footage.

Every camera has its strengths and weaknesses. Smartphones are no different, but if you use them properly you can get excellent results…..just don’t shoot in automatic in the dark.

Mark Egan

Mobile Journalism Trainer

Follow me on twitter at @markeganvideo

Or email mark.egan@purplebridgemedia.tv to contact or insult me

Mobile Journalism Examples

When it comes to mobile journalism, we must remember that the iPhone is a tool, not an end in itself. You can do everything from high-end broadcast video, right through to simple social media videos. Here are some examples of how journalists around the world are using iPhones.

Al Jazeera’s “People and Power” programme aired an entire documentary shot on smartphones. Syria is a difficult place to operate as a journalist, so they used an iPhone so they could blend in.
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2012/03/201231213549186607.html

SKY News managed to cover flooding in a challenging location, because the journalist was able to shoot and edit video on his iPhone, before feeding it back.

RTE in Ireland has been very progressive in getting staff trained in mobile journalism. Glen Mulcahy has led the innovation, and the results have been pretty impressive.

NPO in the Netherlands has been using iPhones for religious coverage.  In this video Chrissie Algera shot a promotional piece for a radio programme which was looking for the most spiritual place in the Netherlands. It was shot on an iPhone and edited with the app Lumify. http://www.spirit24.nl/#!player/share/program:44594559/group:37200368

SKY News has really innovated with the use of iPhones for live reporting. In this example, Harriet Hadfield is able to broadcast live from Geneva Airport

So those are just a few examples of how people are using iPhone journalism.  There are so many uses of video now, from social media, to web content right through to conventional broadcast programming.  The iPhone is a versatile tool that can be used across a wide range of content.

 

Mobile journalism training – Why every journalist needs it

On a lovely summer’s day in Geneva, I saw up close the power of mobile journalism. I was training a number of journalists across Europe in how to shoot video for news on their iPhones. We were at the Eurovision Academy at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and I had just sent the participants out on their first filming exercise.

Without warning a freak storm swept through Geneva. Trees were blown over onto cars and for a few minutes it was like we were in some kind of tropical hurricane. Naturally, all the journalists had their iPhones ready and started filming. It was over as quickly as it started, but it was dramatic.

Being from various broadcasters across Europe, the participants fed their iPhone video footage back to their newsrooms. Many of them are used to filming with big,expensive cameras or having a camera operator film for them. Any discussions about the merit of learning to shoot quality video on the iPhone went away. By the end of the day the trainees footage had been on 5 national broadcasters. Everyone could see that the best camera in any situation is the camera you have on you.

Newsrooms have dozens of journalists walking around with an amazing tool that can gather video, audio and photographs. It can feed them back to base and can be used for live radio or tv reporting.

It amazes me that so many journalists do not know how to shoot quality video using the HD camera in their smartphones. It is also surprising how many big broadcasters do not have a clear workflow for what a journalist does to feed material in a break news situation.

A few years ago it would cost a fortune to shoot video and edit video in the field and feed it back. I am glad many journalists are mastering how to gather with their smartphones, I just think EVERY journalist should be able to shoot and edit video content in case they are ever in the right place at the right time.

To sign up to the news Eurovision Academy course on shooting for news on the iPhone, click here:

http://www3.ebu.ch/en/academy/2014/09/shooting-news-with-iphone