From Truprint to Facebook

Up until the 1990s, passing round a Truprint envelope full of 6″ x 4″ photographic prints was the norm; nowadays we publish our own online and ‘Like’ our friends’ photos on Facebook. Increasingly, that’s how we pass round our snapshots.

This is a great moment to capture that change in the way we share our personal photos.

From Snapshots to Social Media – The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography” is a new book by Risto Sarvas and David Frohlich from University of Surrey. David has a fascinating history in Digital Storytelling as the pioneer of Audio Photography and one of the people behind the StoryBank digital storytelling sharing project in India.

The book tracks the snapshot from darkroom to home printer and, although it’s more of an academic read than a light and general guide, it should make a great addition to the book collection of anyone interested in home photography.

From Snapshots to Social Media - The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography
From Snapshots to Social Media - The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography

Digital Storytelling Influencers – an update

I posted this list of influential digital storytelling practitioners, projects and analysts earlier this year, and asked the question ‘who’s missing from this list of 43 digital storytelling influencers?’.

The latest (not final) list on the right hand side of every page in this blog takes on board some of the suggestions sent and comments people made. It’s still quite a personal list so I haven’t added every single suggestion; and not everyone suggested had a natural site to link to. So the 43 has grown now to a 52-card deck of cards. Thanks to Jon, Nicole, Fred, Clodagh and Sarah for their suggestions.

Video Nation – final screening

Last night was a poignant one. Even before I was involved with digital storytelling, I’ve been a fan of BBC Video Nation. I first became aware of it when I saw an job ad in the early 1990s announcing that the BBC Community Programmes Unit was recruiting people to develop uses for the Hi8 analogue camcorders that had heralded the introduction of near-broadcast-quality consumer video cameras. The fruits of that project, founded by Mandy Rose and Chris Mohr, were five to ten-minute video shorts scheduled before Newsnight on BBC 2 TV.

Last night I went to London’s ICA Cinema for the final screening of Video Nation Network’s Turn Back Time – The High Street community films. Along with other projects, Video Nation is coming to an end, as part of the BBC’s Putting Quality First strategy.

Rosemary Richards, VN’s editor Interactive and Outreach hosted the night well and the films were a delight. it’s just so refreshing to hear new voices who speak from experience and knowledge about subjects.

I met many of the films’ authors and some – like Karl Stewart, head of Shaftsbury Rd school in Leicester had travelled from far for the screening. Karl had brought two young school students with him and they were very proud seeing their film on the West-End cinema screen.

I also met some of the Video Nation team, from past and present: Outi Vellacott, who went on to work with Hi8Us and Mark Dunford on a pan-European digital storytelling project; Alyson Fielding, who came to work at BBC Wales for a time, while Snowdonia Farmhouse and other major productions were being made.

I’m sorry Video Nation’s coming to an end. It marks the end of a major long-running collaboration between the BBC and its audiences. And for some of its collaborators – who pay their License Fee but don’t watch, listen or read much BBC content at all – working with Video Nation was a rare point of contact that they valued with the BBC. So there’s one example of Video Nation’s priceless legacy.

The secret of COW’s success – six lessons.

Half a million views across TV and online – I wrote about COW in my last post and, since then, I’ve been pondering: how come it did so well?

When I think about what made this film so successful, I’d say:

– the people who originated, developed and delivered the idea were the very people the film was aimed at. Lesson 1: consult and collaborate with your target audience

– it was a surprising subject which hadn’t had much coverage. Lesson 2: be fresh

– no punches were pulled in portraying the crash, so people who saw the film talked about it afterward. Lesson 3: be memorable

– the producer/director Peter befitted from many years of experience in the social action / public service field and he has strong interpersonal skills. Lesson 4: the key talent counts – that’s you.

– the ‘point’ of the film can be shown and grasped in one hard-hitting 30 second sequence. Lesson 5: build out from the point by adapting press-release and news story writing skills when making a fact-based short like this

– great title: COW. Lesson 6: choose a good title

That’s just half a dozen; if you want to add more, feel free to use the Comments.

How to get your short film seen by 500 million

When Newport University film studies lecturer and social action broadcast specialist Peter Watkins-Hughes went to Tredegar Comprehensive School students with an idea for a short film about teenage drink driving they said: “It’s not drunk driving that’s the biggest problem; it’s texting while driving”.

Peter didn’t have much of a budget, so he asked Gwent Police for help. They gave advice, use of their helicopter, their vehicles and their officers as ‘extras’.

When the film was shot and edited, Peter put it on You Tube so he could send a link to BBC commissioners. Within a week, the film had had 50 views. It then rose to 200. Then Peter had a call from a student: “It’s up to 500”
Peter: “Great, 500 hits is OK”
Student: “No, not 500 – it’s had 500 _thousand_ views!”

The video had gone viral. Soon 4m YouTube views had been clocked.

It was being shown in schools and colleges in north America. News networks like CBS were showing clips and it Oprah showed it on her programme. And, by adding estimates of those TV audiences, that’s how Peter worked out that half a billion people had seen part of his film COW.