Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


I dispare at the nonsense going on behind the scenes at the BBC…producing a training video on how to use an iPhone for major news work is just cheap and nasty television.


Only the other day I was dropping off my father to witness a live BBC Scotland interview with John Swinney who was absolutely jaundiced due to a very poor white balance. We have BI coloured LED lighting BBC…USE THEM !

To watch jello vision via a person off the street is one thing but to get so called “professional” footage shot on an iPhone is taking television standards down the preverbal pan hole.


Why do companies like JVC, Sony, Panasonic and Canon bother to product WiFi enabled camcorders if you are just going to ignore the technology and use iPhone crud.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

8 thoughts on “The future of BBC News…Just when you thought it could not get any worse

  1. Absolutely ridiculous.

    Is it that viewers no longer care or is this about budgets?

    In the music business, it seems to me some of the singing could be described as “ranting with instruments playing in the background”

    I remember an interview with Isaac Perlman where he was asked about the difference between classical and modern music – his response was “our hits last a lot longer”

    HDW : Firstly the bean counters have their claws into production, secondly the BBC has been slipping down this slope for a while, it’s no longer an institution that production companies look up to, as a small company we adhere to far greater production values than the BBC have to offer these days. VJs and semi domestic cameras were just the start.

  2. So it’s come to this. Not surprising in light of cutbacks everywhere. Newspaper reporters expected to shoot video as well as photos, gather information and write the story. This is rather surprising coming from BBC. That said, with a smartphone, you’ve always got your kit in your pocket for spot news in a pinch. The iPhone video of US Airways Flight 1549 going down in the Hudson River in January 2009 comes to mind. But to replace kit and crew – rubbish. It seems to be more about the bottom line. Doing more with less. And yes, quality will suffer.

  3. Digital stills and video have NEVER been cheaper to produce and publish widely on an instantaneous, international scale.

    This is not about the bottom line (don’t fall for it) it’s about control of the message. We are a visual society – now more than ever. Still and video crafted by seasoned, dedicated professionals, have changed the course of wars, regimes, politics and social injustice.

    Take the professional out of creating these visuals and you can control the message to the masses.

    Just a thought.

  4. Let’s look at the bigger picture… the idea of this isn’t to replace news teams.. the idea is that if everyone at the BBC has an iphone and an idea how to shoot with it, news can be filmed in an instant… they might be right there at a big news story.. they don’t have to wait for the camera truck to arrive. I don’t give a monkeys about white balance when i’m watching a news report.. who cares? I want the news… i want it fast and i want it with as little editing between the event and me as possible.. and this is the solution. Stop worrying about your job, this is the future and as long as you shoot better than most, you will always find work. No more turn up and shoot dull shoulder mount pictures of stuff… it’s time to prove your worth.

    It’s no better than a 1990s music exec moaning about mp3s… get over it. It’s here. Deal with it.

    HDW : Sean firstly I don’t accept swearing so don’t use it again….secondly the John Swinney interview was not fast acting news or in a danger zone it was sloppy production values from the cameraman to the producer.
    I do care about how a shot looks the BBC don’t buy PMW-500 camcorders with colour viewfinders to give me the paying public crap way off balanced shots.
    No one is worrying about their jobs so I can’t see where that comes from…the future of television news should be one of excellence and to achieve the best from your equipment at all times, whats the point in HD, colour VF’s and solid state if you can’t use it properly. There has been standards set in stone from day one for filming everything from news to drama, slackers have been allowed to enter the broadcast domain and it’s appalling that it is allowed to continue.
    As I said in the blog if the iPhone footage comes from joe public and is of interest we tolerate the wobbly vision and poor sound but as I have said before WiFi camcorders now exist that exceed iPhone quality and should be used by the one part of production that can afford them more than most…TV News !

  5. But you said crap? Anyway… i wasn’t talking about ‘your’ job…just cameraman jobs in general… You’re still not seeing the big picture Phil. 99.9% of TV viewers don’t know what white balance is, nor do they care.. if it’s possible to have good pictures, then great, but ok pictures are fine if there’s been a time issue. Wifi Camcorders do not fit in your pocket. This is about having a camera ready to go at all times… hence – your iphone. If it’s your phone, you will always have it… so that’s the back-up weapon of choice when there’s no news team around. If we were talking natural history or drama, i’d understand, but they both look better than ever these days…almost on par with cinema.

    You can always watch Sky news if the BBC get on your nerves… none of it is compulsory.

    Just to shed some light on where i’m coming from:

    I spent 20 years as sound engineer… working with the very best recording equipment and world class training and worked on many big records. Then some bright spark decided that mp3 was more convenient than CD or going towards even better quality like 96kHz recordings… i was a bit stunned that people were making records in their bedrooms on laptops and releasing them on incredibly compressed mp3 files. But… do you know what? 99.9% of the public can’t hear anything wrong with mp3s. So… because they are so convenient – they took off… and took over.

    There’s no point me whinging about it… if it’s only sound engineers that can hear the shocking loss of quality, what does it matter??

    It’s the same.

    Not one of my non-film industry friends ever notices poor white balance or even shaky shots unless they are really really bad…

    HDW : Crap is not a swear word “F” is…You are right the public don’t notice a bad WB, my father was none the wiser but thats not the point, standards in broadcast TV have dropped and its up to the minority of us “in the know” to point this out, you ask Alastair Chapman the next time you meet him about poor technical standards in television.

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