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
(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
(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.