Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

“At the edge of the world 150 million people live at the mercy of nature”

Posted in International Development, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on October 1, 2009

We are just weeks away from one of the most important meetings – arguably – in the history of man kind.

The COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December is, if you believe the people who made the excellent Age of Stupid, our last chance to get a universal deal to cut carbon emissions.

Or we’re stuffed.

And it seems multimedia reporting is going to play an important part in showing us how our lifestyles affect those around us, and the politicians why half measures and compromises are not enough. Video & Photo Journalists have already proved adept at getting into difficult places and shedding light on climate change catastrophy not deemed catastrophic enough to warrant 2 minutes on the evening news.

Just think of China’s Growing Sands, Powering a Nation, and Waterlife for examples.

Expect some important reporting before and after Copenhagen. British multimedia producers David White and Ben Chesterton at Duckrabbit have just returned from a month trip to Bangladesh. And today the Bombay Flying Club have unveiled a trailer for a web documentary to be released in November. It too tells the story of Bangladesh, a place “at the edge of the world where 150 million people live at the mercy of nature.

The trailer is stylish and emotive as you’d expect from the BFC, but perhaps a little slow paced. But I’ll be back to watch it.

Good storytelling is now becoming as important as it’s ever been. Apart from anything else, the mass migration of  150 million people is not something I want to be around to see.

Learn from the best

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on May 20, 2009

A brief, simple blog from multimedia producers Duckrabbit has stuck with me this week.

As well as highlighting amazing inspirational pieces of work (not to mention producing a fair few themselves), they’re also not afraid to highlight the less than good.

A frank post: “CNN should fire the producer of this audio slideshow” shows us a piece about a rehabilitation centre for children in Aghanistan, and shows us whats wrong with it.

In particular:

The point about a still photo is that your eye explores it. When you put too much motion into a slideshow you’re removing the viewers ability to pause and reflect, to explore.

Slow pans on a big screen look great … but at the small size the images are reduced to on our computer screens the panning looks as rough as a dogs dinner that even the dog refuses to eat.

This is an incredibly important point about the still photograph and its place in the audio slideshow,  and one I’ve never thought about before. (You only have to watch an audio slideshow I did from Basra to see similar seasick movements).

So these guys know what they’re talking about.

And now there’s a chance to learn from the best: with a weekend training event in Bristol, UK in July. Click here for all the details.

I had high hopes of going myself (gawd knows my photography needs some help) but sadly a prior arrangement (and a shortage of cash) keeps me out of the race.

Which means there’s one more place for you!