Monthly Archives: June 2009

Fun with phones

Last week we made a video for the BBC website comparing the two hot new phones – the latest iPhone and the Nokia N97. It was the latest in a series of web videos we’ve made about new gadgets, the first and most successful example being a comparison of the original iPhone with the Nokia N95. On that occasion, Darren Waters had the iPhone, while I used the N95.

This time, with Darren away, I went solo, showing off both phones. So here’s the result:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "iPhone 3GS v Nokia N97", posted with vodpod

So how was this done? Well it was mainly down to the creative efforts of two people – cameraman Neil Drake and producer Jonathan Sumberg. (Though, as I keep telling Jonathan, it was all my idea.) First, we found a photographic studio in the basement of TV Centre with a simple white background. Then Neil set up a locked off shot, and got me to record one set of links on one side of the shot with the iPhone, then another set with the N97 on the other side.

Then came the really difficult part – the edit. Jonatahan spent a whole day – while trying to produce a piece I made about the Digital Britain report – fiddling with Final Cut Express to merge the two shots together and produce a coherent whole. I shouted at him a bit while he was distracted from his main task, but I have to admit that he did a pretty smart job, considering it was his first edit for broadcast – or at least for the web. Here’s a grab from the edit:

Phones Final Cut

The piece got a lot of views online and we were quite pleased with it it. Then 36 hours later, when I was on a ferry to the Isle of Wight for another story, I took a call from the Ten O Clock News. Could I do a piece for that night about the battle of the smartphones? After a bit of head-scratching we managed to cobble something together, using the beginning and end of the smartphone video, plus some material shot on the Isle of Wight ferry. Including this piece to camera, filmed on an iPhone 3GS.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "PTC on iPhone", posted with vodpod

So what’s interesting about all this? Well this is the kind of video which would not have been made 5 years ago, because the treatment would have been seen as too wacky and the subject too obscure for a mainstream bulletin. But now we can try out slightly off-beam idas online – and then, if they fly, get them on to mass-audience bulletins.

The Chinese Umbrella Trick – great web video

We spend a lot of time at the moment at the BBC talking about what does and doesn’t work as web video. There’s general agreement that the standard video package – what you would normally see on the main TV news bulletins – isn’t usually ideally suited to the web. It aims to tell the general viewer the basics of a story, whereas we think the web visitor is probably looking for something more.

This piece from James Reynolds, the BBC’s man in Beijing, looks to me exactly what works best on the web. He’s not trying to tell the whole Tiananmen Square story – just illustrating what happens when a Western correspondent tries to get into the square right now. It’s both informative and amusing – and it plays to the strengths of TV, telling a story with pictures.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "The Chinese Umbrella Trick", posted with vodpod