Terence Ang's Blog

Terence Ang male Former Supervising Editor for HWM, HardwareZone.com & GameAxis

Terence Ang used to be the Supervising Editor for the New Media division in Singapore, where he worked with the editorial teams behind HardwareZone.com and HWM the magazine. In that role, he looked at ways the teams in Singapore can collaborate with the Editors in Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Terence is currently the Product Manager but contributes to the blog section whenever he can (or finds something interesting to talk about).

The Quiet Filmmaker: Accessible Creativity with DSLRs & Hybrids

Just last week, I finished putting together a 13-minute documentary from an autumn trip I made to Japan. The documentary, which was made freely available on YouTube, was basically shot in three separate locations, all tourist establishments that're accessible to the public.

What made putting together the documentary such a pleasurable experience is that ability to go into an environment equipped with your DSLR (or hybrid camera), and filming several sequences that some would say, is near equivalent to what you would normally see in broadcast-quality or cable TV documentaries.

It is true what some people say -- you can create magical moments equipped with the right amount of imagination, passion and tools. And with the advent of new tools like 3D interchangeable lenses or the recent news that Nikon's submitted a patent-pending application for lenses with both automatic and manual zoom functions, it wouldn't be surprising to anyone if the quality and presentation of user-generated video content online will eventually match or surpass broadcast-level video content.


What this means is that we're in an in-between phase right now -- meaning that if you walk into an establishment with just a DSLR, it's assumed you're there to take photos. This general assumption will somehow change eventually, just not right now.

Normally, if you enter a tourist establishment with say a professional broadcast-level camcorder, lights, tripods and boom mic, you'd have to go through the time-consuming hassle of getting permits, explaining what you're shooting, preparing a script and so on -- even if it's not for profit. With just a DSLR, good mic and the right amount of luck, you can probably achieve some level of quality with the content you produce. The difference of course, is that even with your production, you cannot profit from it, as you still need the right permissions. The intent may be the same, but the equipment you hold in your hand determines how hassle-free the process will be.

As more people start picking up their DSLRs/hybrids and start making professional-level productions, viral video networks like YouTube and Vimeo might just give documentary networks like National Geographic and Discovery something to think about (at least from the level of eyeballs, viral distribution and value-added user-created information).

For example, a travel viewer might gain some insights into the climate, culture and cuisine of a particular location from a broadcast-level documentary (and be wowed by cool computer-generated effects, a beautiful and charming host and interactive cut-aways), but a user-generated documentary, if done right, can include additional information like travel instructions, entrance fee prices, best time of the year to visit, and additional tidbit of information that a broadcast-level documentary may choose to omit or regard as unnecessary. There was one video I made of a fireworks sequence in Niigata which was nearly 2.5 minutes long (something, for better or worse, you wouldn't expect to find in a broadcast-level documentary). Do a search for "japanese fireworks" on YouTube and you'll get full-length 8- to 10-minute videos in high-definition.

Once these are pooled into a crowd-source-able manner with appropriate tags and indexing, it wouldn't be long before we use these videos as a pre-planning guide prior to making our trips. Perhaps even help set our expectations if we should make the trip or not based on echoes of ground sentiment.

If you have a story to tell in documentary form, and you want to do it purely because you want to share it for free, pick up your DSLR/hybrid and go produce your documentary. For now at least, filming at public establishments is still permissible and hassle-free. Just ensure the production can last the test of time, gives insight and information, and most important of all, withstand the short attention spans of today's social network viewers, who are generally spoiled with choice when it comes to online videos.






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