The Revolution Will Be Televised

kinnon —  November 5, 2005 — 2 Comments

Pixelated flashes of white lit up the background behind the reporter. The sound of artillery like distorted thunder. The reporters words not quite in sync with his lip movement – yet we were live, in the very moment of the Afghanistan action.

SatphonevideoThe satellite video phone was seen as a huge advancement in technology only four years ago as we experienced CNN’s coverage from Kabul. It was all about getting the story – we didn’t care that we were seeing low frame rate, poor quality, pixelated video.

Cell-Phone-Video-4ComVu has launched a network to provide that level of “broadcast quality” to anyone with a Windows Mobile 5 cell phone with video. Citizen Journalists can stream their stories from their cell phones. Viewers from anywhere in the world can watch these stories – as they happen. (Assuming the CJ has access to a 3G, WiFi or GPRS network.)

Most of us saw the impact of cell phone stills immediately after the London Bombings earlier this year. The ComVu network would have allowed us to see the aftermath of the bombings as live video. Digital Producer, in their ComVu story sites one Southern Californian news wag as saying, “There goes the news van again.” Indeed!

Rapidly improving compression software and smaller and better quality cameras will quickly improve images to a level where they will approach “broadcast quality.” Which now only seems to mean that which people are willing to watch on their sets.

In an apparent example of cognitive dissonance, it’s interesting that as we move towards HDTV, we find that people will enthusiastically watch good stories told with postage stamp-sized moving images. Just look at the excitement over video on the new iPods. Compare the quality of an HDTV picture with 2 million pixels to the under 100,000 pixel size of the iPod video. People are happy and excited about watching motion images on their PDA sized devices.

In a world with 100s of millions of potential CJs, it’s the stories that will grab the viewers – whether told with a $30/month cell phone or a $100,000 HDTV camera. The revolution is being televised.

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

2 responses to The Revolution Will Be Televised

  1. Yes and no.

    Yes, people are willing to watch limited content on small resolution. No, they are not willing to watch it low quality for an extended period of time.

    For your church readers, the potential “danger” is that they’ll take the “postage size video is OK” comment and run with it and crank out lousy quality in their “latest outreach” of video only to find people won’t care one bit about it unless the content is good and the quality is good when it comes to extended play times.

    I’m all about using the right tool for the right job and don’t mean to come across as a quality snob. But my experience is that many people think that they can be the exception to the rule when, statistically speaking, they can’t. And when we’re talking about churches, this is all too often the reality.

    Just chiming in…

  2. Anthony,
    Thanks for the comment. As important as quality might be, the story is still king. CNN, Fox et al delivered hundreds of hours of Iraq and Afghanistan footage via satellite phone video – and we were captivated by it. Regarding your church comment; I’ve seen church material shot with the best gear available and it is still… what was that word that Paul used for his credentials in Phillipians 3:8 often mis-translated as rubbish.

    A great story on mediocre gear will trump a rotten story told with HDTV equipment any day of the week. And to put it in perspective, I begin pre-production on my first two High Def productions tomorrow.


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