The last few weeks have been taken up with the YES, NO vote in Scotland so I decided to see if the independent model within our own industry fits a similar criteria, in other words does independence lead to a better quality of programming.
I take the BBC as an example because it is run out of London and has many stations throughout the UK versus the smaller independent company profile in this case based in Scotland.
Lets start with news…The BBC have moved down the path of VJs which are self shooting reporters while the independent company like myself have a cameraman, sound man\assistant and reporter and come supplied with the latest technology. On health a safety alone the independent approach is far safer even in this case (below) we have a cameraman, reporter and assistant.
The independent approach within news offers a safer environment and in most cases a better end result because the person behind the camera is a professional camera person giving the client far greater confidence during the shoot.
On the other hand the BBC are “streamlining” their resources for daily news, cutting corners to the extent that health and safety is now being breeched in a daily basis…why ?
Video Journalists don’t have anyone looking out for them…safety in numbers…nor their equipment, they have to rely on a single bag of kit, camera and usually a lightweight tripod.
I as an example have spare mics, radio and shotgun, cables, lights, sturdy carbon fibre Miller tripod and usually a portable OLED Sony SDI monitor if I use an LED panel light I also have lighting sand bags for the legs, this level of kit cannot be afforded by a single operator.
Channel 4 news sent us up to the Scottish Labour Conference during March this year to get an interview with Chuka Umunna this was recorded in HD and output in SD to a satellite truck, I had to configure the camera via the menu to output SD, VJs do not work at this level of sophistication.
Right away the independent news scenario gives extra employment, better standard of filming and a safer environment to work in.
Ah but the broadcasters are all using XDCAM camcorders, Scottish Television have only recently replaced their (DVCPRO) with Sony PMW-400’s which are now being superseded this week with the new PXW-X500.
Scottish Television had their DVCPRO camcorders for just under 20 years, now some may say that was a testimony to Panasonic but it’s the broadcast mentality …run the kit into the ground, this attitude only leads to a poor end result with kit that soon becomes unreliable.
The indépendant freelance market replace their camcorders at least once every 2-3 years giving the client the best and most up to date reliable kit.
One last thorny topic I will cover is if you own your own kit you are ten times more likely to look after it and make sure everything it spot on the night before a shoot…like renting in general if the kits not yours you are far less likely to care about a camera if you have not had to spend 10K upwards to buy one…sad but true.
During the Commonwealth Games this year I noticed this newspaper journalist using an iPad to interview the Renick sisters but as you can plainly see its a very impersonal way to interview someone.
Newspapers are fighting to get content on their websites no matter how…send someone to a presser and come back with pics and a half baked interview, this is worst than a VJ, at least the VJ has had some training.
How could the independent media sector help the “no money” newspaper, by getting better video content for their web pages, we are set up to film, edit and upload.
Not one newspaper has ever approached me to enquire about video content yet we are the obvious first port of call they insist on making 3rd rate video footage and complain when no one spends time on their web space.
That’s just two examples of how independent producers excel in filming content for news but news is a small part of a big production marketplace but also proves the point that if you want quality rather than quantity the independent model is the better road to go down.
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