Posts Tagged ‘multimedia’

Multimedia is not a Panacea

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Today’s post contains a discussion on why multimedia is not likely to save the commercial photography industry and what may.

In a previous post, I wrote about the 70,000 or so advertising agency people who are out of work and do not know what to do. Many are spending buckets of energy to get jobs similar to those they left and have discovered those jobs no longer exist. So if that affects you or someone you know, it is time to take different actions.

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Change everything, except your passions.

Voltaire

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The use of the term art medium is , to say the least. misleading,

for it is the artist that creates a work of art not the medium.

It is the artist in photography that gives form to content by a distillation of

ideas, thought, experience, insight, and understanding.

Edward Steichen

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Multimedia is not a Panacea

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Photographers frequently ask me what I think of the multimedia market?

Some photography pundits emphasize multimedia as being the savior of the commercial photography business. Photographers are encouraged to get into the multimedia markets.

Multimedia is not a market. It is a medium in the same ways that the Internet, magazines, newspapers, movies, poor old television, etc. are media. Media are ‘devices’ for disseminating information, culture, news, entertainment, sales messages, and much more.

Multimedia has been around for at least forty years. It simply means using two or more combinations of media to tell a story. When I first entered the business, the technology consisted of nothing more than racks of carousel projectors, dissolve units programmed with tape, some footage, a script, a narrator, live actors, a script, perhaps some live entertainers or speakers. The applications were for sales meetings, new product introductions, motivation, public relations, etc.

As a young producer/director I was responsible for new business, client contact, proposal writing, sussing out a story, hiring scriptwriters, still photographers, cameramen, editors, choreographers, recording studios, sound engineering, and an array of other technicians. The producer/director was the orchestrator. Being a producer/director opened the door for me to the advertising world.

It is not enough to learn multimedia technology. In fact, it is probably mandatory. However, if a photographer is only a technician, s/he will be competing with thousands of people who have already entered the field and the tens of thousands about to arrive believing it is a panacea. The competition will be keen. It is unknown how much work will be available. Technical expertise is important but it is only part of the picture.

Those who will offer multimedia assignments, include art buyers and others who assign still photography and those learning new media themselves .Television commercials, sales meetings, trainings, in-store promos, etc. may be media or applications themselves. I believe a large part of the market will come from corporate direct.

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Multimedia Requires Storytelling

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Still photographers need to learn a very different way of storytelling. They need to learn how to direct and to produce multimedia. They need to think sequentially. According to Albert Maysles one of the greatest and most original American documentarians, “A documentarian finds stories where none seemed to exist.”

My concern is that so many still photographers believe they ‘should’ learn multimedia as a survival action rather than having heard the calling.

Vision is a calling. A calling is an inner urge or a strong impulse, a passion, some believe a calling may be divinely inspired. How will the world be a different place as a result of your visit on the planet? What is your calling? What is it that you feel the urge and passion to bring into being no matter what?

Do you have a natural marked innate urge for artistic accomplishment? That is a definition of talent. Talent and calling must be present to sustain a career as a professional artist.

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Some Storytelling Essentials

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The graphic novel as a model for multimedia storytelling

The following excerpt is from Will Eisner’s classic book Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative

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Will Eisner 1946

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The telling of a story lies deep in the social behavior of human groups — ancient and modern. Stories are used to teach behavior with the community, to discuss morals and values, or to satisfy curiosity. They dramatize social relations and the problems of living, convey ideas or act our fantasies. The telling of a story requires skill.

In primitive times, the teller of stories in a clan or tribe served as entertainer, teacher and historian. Storytelling preserved knowledge by passing it from generation to generation. This mission has continued into modern times. The storyteller must first have something to tell, and then must be able to master the tools to relay it.

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The Story Itself Abides

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…A story is the narration of a sequence of events deliberately arranged for telling. It is kind of like reporting an event except that the storyteller controls the events. All stories have a structure. A story has a beginning, an end,and a thread of events laid upon a framework that holds it together. Whether the medium is text, film, comics, or any combination of these elements, the skeleton is the same. The style and manner of its telling may be influenced by the medium, but the story itself abides.

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Basic Principles of Storytelling

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…A story may begin as an abstraction. At this point, it is still a lot of thoughts, memories, fantasies, ideas, floating around in one’s head waiting for it to find structure. It becomes a story when told in an arranged and purposeful order. The basic principles of narration are the same whether told orally or visually or both.

The story form is a vehicle for conveying information in an easily absorbed manner. It can relate very abstract ideas, or unfamiliar analogous use of familiar forms of phenomena.

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A Good Place to Begin: Tell Your Own Story

Themata

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How Your Earliest Childhood Memory May Forecast a Life Theme

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I am a reader of autobiographies, journals and letters between people who interest me. I recognized a phenomenon while reading the Letters of Georgia O’Keefe. There she described her earliest childhood memory. She recalled being kept in her dark bedroom before the age of two. Her mother would bring her outdoors on sunny days and place her on a patchwork quilt. Young O’Keefe remembered the great joy of watching the ways the light changed the colors of the quilt. This triggered something in me and I ran to my library and started pulling books off the shelf.

I found an interview with Mike Tyson. He said, “The first thing I remember is being a naughty little boy of two. My father threw me into my crib. I pulled the arms and legs off all of my dolls. It was orgasmic.”

Next I found a letter by young Albert Einstein to a colleague. He wrote about his earliest childhood memory. Albert had no clear memory of his father before the age of five. He caught some childhood disease. His father took the day off from work and spent the entire day with him. Father Einstein brought his son a compass. They spent the day trying to figure out why the needle always pointed in the same direction.

O’Keefe, Einstein, and Tyson remembered incidents which forecast their life themes. Since then, I have found dozens of examples.Hundreds of my clients

I recall my own memories. I see a corner of a room in a house I moved from just before I turned two. There was a Victorian painted porcelain light switch on the school green painted wall. I saw a table which held a Tiffany lamp and an upright telephone. The interpretation was fast. My life is about communications and turning on lights. My early childhood memory confirmed my life purpose. I am a compassionate teacher who helps others turn on the lights.

What is your earliest childhood memory and how does it forecast your life theme? How might you turn your life adventure into a multimedia presentation?

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Watch Examples from a Variety of Non-Fiction Storytellers (Each Image is a Link)

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Capturing Reality A National Film Board of Canada presentation of brief interviews with 33 documentarians

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An Interview with Albert Maysles

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Salesman – a 1968 documentary classic by Albert and David Maysles (Here is 9 minute segment)

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Help Gail Mooney and her Daughter Erin Kelly Open Your Eyes 2010

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Stavit Allweis’ Photographic Novel in Progress was funded through Kickstarter