Last week, I found myself at The Oval, in London.
As an American, I had no idea what "The Oval" was, but as soon as I told the taxi driver he knew. "Cricket!" he said.
For me, "cricket" goes with Jiminy, but as anyone in the UK knows, The Oval, now known as The Kia Oval, thanks to commercial sponsorship, is an international cricket ground in Kennington, London. Cricket the game, not the insect.
I was at The Oval to teach the staff of The Cricketer Magazine to shoot video on their iPhones.
The Cricketer is a monthly English cricket magazine, founded in 1921 by Sir Pelham Walker, the ex-England captain turned writer. It's a print publication, and has been for more than 90 years.
But we don't live in a world of print anymore; we live in a world of screens. The average American (and the average European) now spends more than 8.5 hours a day staring at screens -- from smartphones to tablets to computers to TV. That means that screen-watching is now our number one activity -- surpassing even sleep.
And screens are very good at one thing, and that is video. Screens demand video. Every publisher of newspapers and magazines (and books for that matter), now understand that they must take their content online if they are going to get a readership. And that means moving their content to screens. And so those screens demand video -- or at least some video.
But where are newspapers and magazines going to get their video? They could hire professional producers and crews, but at the cost that most production companies charge, they would be out of business in a few months. Producing content for print -- for magazines and newspapers has traditionally been a fairly easy process: Here's the pencil, there's the door. See you at 5.
As magazines and newspapers move to screens and video, how are they going to produce the volumes and quality of video they are going to need without going broke?
That is why I have come to The Oval.
Pretty much everyone today carries an iPhone or a smartphone -- at least, all of the writers at The Cricketer do. And while most media companies might think of smart phones as places where people can read a magazine or a newspaper or watch TV, they are also very small, yet very powerful video production studios -- in your pocket.
An iPhone has an HD video camera that gets quite good pictures. You can also easily download a simple video editing app like iMovie for next to nothing. Add to that a camera enhancement software like FiLMiC Pro and you have an incredibly powerful too for creating broadcast quality video at almost no cost and with very little effort.
You can teach anyone to make a pretty good video in a few days. What you can't teach them is a lifetime of journalistic experience -- in cricket or anything else. That's what makes the notion of empowering print reporters with the tools to make video (like iPhones) so interesting and so filled with potential.
Also, we have found that print reporters, instead of feeling burdened with a "second job" actually find that using their iPhones as small video "tape recorders" helps their print work at the same time. When they go back to the office to write their stories, they have taken very good digital notes with their iPhones.
This is all about re-thinking what video is and the process by which it is made. Sure, if you are going to hire a cameraman, sound man, lighting person, director and producer, it is going to take forever and cost a fortune. But in a world in which the web demands a constant flow of new video content, no one can afford to do this -- nor should they.
The technology for cheap and simple and very high-quality video production is now in everyone's hands (or pockets) right now. What is necessary is to rethink the process whereby the video is created. If you can do that, and if you can put those tools in the hands of people who already know what they are talking about, then you have an incredibly powerful tool for cricket videos -- or anything else.
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