A few weeks ago I was in Cornwall strolling sunkissed beaches, chasing after two excitable children and eating LOTS of ice cream. And with clear blue skies every day, it was pretty glorious and a very welcome break from the daily grind. But I still had my next MA assignment in the back of my mind… (wondering about the last assignment? I passed, yay!)
During my week-long hols on the Cornish coast, I took a step back from Facebook, my usual social weapon of choice for personal endeavours, instead plumping for Instagram – showcasing my holiday highs with a series of photos and videos shorts. And they had to be good ones, I wanted to hone my skills.
I’m pretty much decided that the focus of this next module, production labs, will be on mobile journalism. The details have yet to be ironed out but I consider myself a storyteller in my personal and professional lives and a mobile phone comes with me in both.
So, I spent more time than usual trying to capture holiday moments on my mobile phone. I thought about composition, set some pictures up, captured some spontaneous stuff and did a spot of video editing using iMovie when the kids went to bed. Simple stuff, mostly hyperlapse or slow-mo edits, a few cuts and a few transitions.
I wonder, if in taking time to produce a good picture, I was in anyway compromising the memory-making process. Would memories be stronger if I didn’t have a phone in hand, would the images I captured be more authentic if not so thought out? What is more important, the image or the moment-in-time memory? Or is it the ability to capture one without compromising the other?
I learned some stuff
I actually think both are important. I will always have the memories, they create themselves by the nature of being a family and doing family things on a family holiday. Capturing them on camera is part of the memory-making process and taking good photos just means I have a better recording of that particular memory. And I’m really pleased with my shots, and my mini videos. And because I set myself this challenge as soon as we set foot in Cornwall, I was on the look-out for pictures opportunities from the off. I’m not a fan of parents constantly glued to their phones when with the kids so I whipped it out for photos and videos only, editing, cropping and loading to channels took place when the kids weren’t around.
And I did learn a few things… Not least that Cornish wifi is a bit iffy. I learned that fading into a video from black results in a black video on Instagram rather than an opening image of the action (see below). This looks pants. I learned that I need to remember to film in landscape – I always do this at work because I tend to use a tripod and mobile clip so have to, but for some reason, casual in-the-moment recording is always in portrait and I need to remember to stop that. A great video of a ‘bury grandad in the sand’ memory would have been much better in landscape.
Capturing the content is the easy part though, stories and opportunities present themselves and the tools, technologies and a bit of skill help to hone those stories in whatever format is chosen. It’s what comes next that takes the time, which matters less in a personal context but very much so in a professional one.
The other week I shot some video to do with the ExoMars Mission mid-cruise check-out. Getting the story and footage was simple, editing too, but the hosting, loading, formatting, meta data, multiple image cropping, hyper linking, reworking for social channels, hash tagging, scheduling, publishing part takes a lot longer.
Quality versus efficiency?
And is all this crafting of content worth the extra effort? Or is mobile journalism in its truest sense, shooting something and publishing straight to social media – raw, authentic, and more efficient way? Where does the need for quick turnaround trump a polished, more professional piece of content? Does it need to be great or good enough?
These are some of the things I hope to explore in my current MA module – and I need to get a wriggle on, the clock is ticking!