All posts for Tag: documentary

You Have to be There: docSHIFT Summit

Don’t miss this boundary pushing conference featuring presentations by leading international innovators and forward-thinking producers. Uncover new business, creative, and technical strategies and inject a fresh perspective into your cross-platform documentaries.

Two full days of inspiration, information, networking, and debate! Promises to be the most exciting docSHIFT program yet.

Some Guest Speakers:

Matt Locke from Storythings
The former head of multi-platform commissioning at Channel 4, and former Head of Innovation at BBC’s New Media takes us to the new frontiers of immersive storytelling. More about Storythings.

Welcome to The Goggles!
Meet Michael Simons and Paul Shoebridge, AKA The Goggles: the Vancouver-based creative team behind Adbusters, and the internationally acclaimed interactive documentary Welcome to Pine Point.

Details

When: Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 9:00 AM – Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 6:00 PM (ET)
Where: NFB Mediatheque, 150 John Street 2nd Floor, Toronto, ON Canada
Register here: http://docshiftsummit.eventbrite.com/

Doc Talks: Presented by the NFB and Hot Docs!

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and the Hot Docs in Toronto announced participants for Doc Talks; a new free series of conversations with international directors.  In this first edition of Doc Talks, innovative and influential filmmakers will discuss the impact of documentaries on the real world in three separate hour long conversations detailed below.

DOCS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Can one film really change the world?
May 3, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Documentaries have a long tradition of being a catalyst for change. Meet three directors who have sought to create films that help pave the way for social transformation.

Featuring:

Terence Macartney-Filgate – Up Against the System, The Back-breaking Leaf
Shannon Walsh - H2Oil and St-Henri, the 26th of August
Lee Hirsch - The Bully Project

Moderator: Katerina Cizek – Director, HIGHRISE/Out My Window, Filmmaker-in-Residence.

DOCS MODIFYING MINDS

Do documentaries change the way we see our world?
May 4, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Constant access to information can lead us to think we know the whole story. But docs like Mighty Jerome (Charles Officer), Hot Coffee (Susan Saladoff) and You’ve Been Trumped (Anthony Baxter) take us deeper than the nightly news. Prepare to be surprised by stories you’ve never heard, and transformed by the ones you thought you knew.

Featuring:

Charles Officer - Mighty Jerome
Susan Saladoff - Hot Coffee
Anthony Baxter - You’ve Been Trumped

Moderator: Sarah Spring – Producer (Parabola Films), St-Henri, the 26th of August

DOCS FUELLING DEBATE

Documentary films: Igniting dispute or dialogue?
May 5, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Documentaries can be controversial; films such as Wiebo’s War (David York) and Blood in the Mobile (Frank Piasecki Poulsen) delve into religion, politics and ethical dilemmas. Attend this session and add your voice to a spirited debate on covering and creating controversy.

Featuring:

David York - Wiebo’s War
Frank Piasecki Poulsen - Blood in the Mobile

Moderator: Katerina Cizek – Director, HIGHRISE/Out My Window, Filmmaker-in-Residence.

For More Details…

Doc Talks – Docs Making A Difference (May 3): http://on.fb.me/ioOhqS
Doc Talks – Docs Modifying Minds (May 4): http://on.fb.me/iY5BsK
Doc Talks – Docs Fuelling Debate (May 5): http://on.fb.me/jcWMZV

PRESENTED BY THE NFB AND HOT DOCS in collaboration with the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.

Frontline Documentary

On January 12th 2010, violent earthquakes ripped through the earth’s crust 13 kilometres beneath southern Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, and millions more were displaced from their homes. Massive collapses took place across health care, transportation, and communications infrastructure systems. Within hours, this world ripped apart was descended upon by a sea of visitors from across the globe. Supplies and rescue personnel from the Dominican Republic arrived in Haiti alongside their equivalents from Iceland, China, Qatar, and Canada. One of the groups that arrived in Port-au-Prince on January 15th was made up of members of the Red Cross Field Assessment and Coordination Team (FACT).

The members of the Red Cross FACT Team had come to Haiti to manage and oversee logistics around the international disaster recovery. But they also brought with them a team of photographers and filmmakers, as well as a web content producer. The first group was intended to produce a three-part documentary for TVO on the challenges FACT faced in stabilizing the situation, and the second unit was dedicated to capturing additional individual and social stories for a set of interactive segments.

The documentary team attached to the FACT was capturing the chaos and upturned humanity of Haiti in the weeks following the earthquake for a project called Inside Disaster: Haiti – a densely populated and excellently designed multimedia information resource on the Haiti earthquake, and ongoing recovery efforts. Inside Disaster provides clean and understandable data on the history of humanitarian aid; media assets presenting objective views of the disaster; and interactive mini-documentaries exploring the experiences of survivors, journalists, and NGO workers.

This week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Inside Disaster’s Web Field Producer, Nicolas Jolliet. We discussed his involvement in the project, and his understanding of the relationship between innovation and the evolving media landscape.

Presently, Nico is spending his spare hours pioneering the integration of numerous robotic and sensing technologies into a tool he has (in collaboration with whole communities of independent filmmakers) been dreaming of for years. After relocating to a nearby park, he demonstrated his newest creation to me: a helicopter-mounted DSLR camera rig capable of lifting several kilograms of equipment to altitudes of thousands of feet. While the rotors spin too noisily to let him track the birds migrating through Toronto this time of year, his helicopter (I suppose it’s technically a hexicopter) will be an invaluable tool for documentary production. The tool provides high quality HD footage (check out a tropical demo video on YouTube) along GPS-routed paths, at a meaningfully human scale that has previously been difficult to negotiate in the field – higher than a dolly or third-story window, and lower than a helicopter. It’s easy to find more adaptations of technological tools for the frontlines of filmmaking in a blog post Nico published for Inside Disaster, before the earthquake in Haiti even determined the project’s setting.

I shot this video of Nico testing out his hexicopter in a Toronto park.

Many new documentary filmmaking technologies, from super-light camera rigs to DIY cranes and follow-focus units, have emerged out of lead-user communities. Eric von Hippel coined that term in 1986 in reference to groups of hobbyists doing a better job designing products than product designers. Some of the earliest innovations in 35mm adapters for HD camcorders came out of indie filmmaker messageboards and fora. Companies like Redrock and Zacuto quickly realized that a product category had emerged, and that they could make quite a bit of money selling premium versions of what the cutting-edge filmmakers had identified as offering a significant competitive advantage. The DSLR revolution in independent filmmaking is presently closing the loop – offering the look-and-feel of 35mm cinema at a relatively low price, with minimal hassle (depending on your preference for P mode over M). Nico built a mind-blowing customized collapsible crane and dolly system for a documentary he shot in the Amazon a few years ago, but apparently you can already buy one that’s lighter (if not on your wallet) from one of the big DSLR rig manufacturers. There’s a great interactive slideshow on the Inside Disaster site that explores some technology specifically adapted for disaster recovery, as well.

One of the most interesting things I learned about Inside Disaster from Nico was how the crew challenged themselves to compress documentary workflows into live journalistic timelines. To produce content for the Inside Disaster website and social media channels, Nico was working 24-hour shifts of concept development, travel, filming, editing, writing, compression, blogging, and transmission. While documentaries used to be associated with months or years of incubation prior to release, new expectations in an age of always-on media have condensed the equipment and responsibilities of entire film crews down into the hands (and backpacks) of a single operator. Nico claims that backgrounds in languages, musical performance and production, photography, writing, and filmmaking helped land him the job as Field Producer.

In a recent piece for Point of View magazine, Katie McKenna, the producer of Inside Disaster, noted that the project launched in two phases – one entirely dedicated to logistics and pre-positioning within social media networks, and another dedicated to storytelling from teams in Haiti with a long tail made up of resequenced content for branching online interactive experiences. But while open-sourcing the marketing and distribution is one way to embrace emerging toolkits in documentary production, open-sourcing the production and storytelling is something altogether different.

In the world of ethnographic research, everything exists within a cultural context. In isolated or marginalized communities, just getting a realistic research understanding of the landscape in which cultural values are situated can be a difficult task. Photovoice, a participatory research method pioneered in the late 1990’s by Caroline Wang and Mary Anne Burris, operates through the provision of cameras to these communities in hopes that the process of taking and analyzing pictures will stimulate the community to engage in critical dialogue around the opportunities and challenges it faces. In a way, photovoice represents an evolution of the documentary form in the direction of open-source ideation and production. Inside Disaster hails from a different lineage, but broke new ground in other ways relative to the social commons. All of the photos and footage that Nico transmitted each night from Haiti are available under Creative Commons licenses from Flickr and YouTube. While there is plenty of context from frontline journalism and documentary cinema surrounding the Inside Disaster content, open-source status is itself a significant challenge to the patterns and structures of mainstream media.

Discussing these topics in Nico’s Toronto studio, it was difficult not to let my mind wander to the feedback loops linking new innovations and the tools that support them. Guitars and mixing equipment undulate across one of Nico’s walls, and a fully realized robotics bay juts from the other. While inspecting his newest hexicopter prototype (comprised of firmware, structural elements, and sensors tweaked from upon the shoulders of thousands of collaborating un-experts online), I asked Nico how he would feel about me outing him as a closet engineer. He laughed, and told me that it’s not really about engineering, it’s about using new tools to reach new levels of quality in production values and accessibility. “It’s about creating a Steven Spielberg film from your backpack.”

This year, Inside Disaster provided the world with unmatched views of a human and natural disaster. In order to meld the traditions and techniques of journalism and storytelling with the realities of an always-on media landscape, Nicholas Jolliet and the production team of Inside Disaster brought new innovations not only to their vision for documentary storytelling, but also to the tools required to realize it.

Trevor Haldenby is a producer and photographer living in Toronto. He has attended Wilfrid Laurier University, Rhode Island School of Design, CFC Media Lab, and is presently completing a Master’s of Design in Strategic Foresight & Innovation at OCAD University.

Windows Home & International Edition

"Neighbourhood Watch" by Sean Yelland, courtesy of Ingram Gallery

Out My Window won the 2011 Interactive Emmy for Digital Non-Fiction, the inaugural IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling, and is available along with other HIGHRISE projects on the NFB’s site: http://highrise.nfb.ca/

For the past year I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with the National Film Board of Canada on the marketing of a project called Out My Window. Directed by Filmmaker in Residence Katerina Cizek, the project is one of the first to launch under the umbrella of the HIGHRISE program at the NFB; a multiyear and multimedia exploration into vertical living in the global suburbs. Out My Window is comprised of several 360º virtual environments representing highrise apartments in 13 cities around the world, and explores how people living in similar architectural structures around the world have customized their space in response to physical, psychological, social, and political factors.

Led by veteran production and coordination teams at the NFB, and brought to life through the creative input of dozens of artists and technicians around the world, Out My Window is a flagship production for the Film Board (an institution internationally renowned for its documentary content) and for Canada. The project advocates Canadian values around storytelling, equity, and diversity while meaningfully engaging with global audiences.

What drew me to the project was how it represented an attempt, sometimes explicit and sometimes emergent, to experiment using multiple systems at the foundation of documentary cinema, all at once: production technique, distribution strategy, and audience engagement. During the creation of Out My Window, all of these “tools” that support documentary projects were rounded up and brought in for analysis, and in many cases, reinvention.


The central interface of Out My Window seems elegantly simple: 360º panoramas of apartments in highrise towers all over the world, within which viewers can interact with objects, people, or views of the cities outside. Most of the people who I’ve shown the piece to over the last several months have remarked at how simple to understand and engaging the panoramic interface is. Asking those same people to explain how they might actually go about filming that 360º panoramic action shot tends to result in a bit of head-scratching.

The wizardry behind Out My Window’s innovative interface came out of a collaboration with the Dutch 360º camera company yellowBird (they also happen to have the best domain name ever: http://www.yellowbirdsdonthavewingsbuttheyflytomakeyouexperiencea3dreality.com). While Stanley Kubrick utilized an f/0.7 lens (allegedly machined for use in U2 spy-planes) to film his epic Barry Lyndon using natural light; and James Cameron developed the Pace/Cameron Fusion Camera System to bring the virtual world of Pandora to life in Avatar; it’s unusual for a group of filmmakers to reinvent the technology with which they capture their scene for a one-off project. But experiments in technology is a part of what Highrise is all about. Some of the content at the heart of Out My Window has already been adapted into a physical installation called StorySpace (in collaboration with the CFC Media Lab, of all institutions… I swear that I’m not part of any recursive linking conspiracy). The living panoramic visuals are probably the aspect of the project that most directly illustrates how its execution was dependent on innovative uses of new tools.

But for all of its benefits, access to new production technology certainly isn’t something to be assumed or taken for granted. Aside from the NFB’s working relationship with yellowBird, creative collaboration with freelance photographers from 13 cities was central to the production of Out My Window. Musicians that appear on the project’s soundtrack were also as much participants in the film’s creation as subjects for its cameras and microphones. I came to the project as a fan of digital storytelling interested in thinking about big issues, and I was welcomed aboard the team to help define strategies for engaging audiences new kinds of media experiences.

In the human research field, there has been an effort in play for decades to recast subjects as participants – it’s at the core of the evolution of modern research ethics. But to see the same shift occurring in documentary production – of subjects and audiences into active co-creators – is exciting. Last week, Kat Cizek posted to the Highrise blog about the interplay between technology and citizen journalism in the Los Angeles Riots of 1992.

A flurry of online activity emerged last month when Paleofuture posted part of a 1987 OMNI Magazine interview about the future of cinema with Roger Ebert. Most of the ruckus was due to the accuracy that seemed to be attached to some of Mr. Ebert’s forecasts about then-emerging revolutions in entertainment. One of his forecasts is particularly interesting, I think because it’s the one we most easily forget to remember as a huge leap – the sheer diversity of cinematic content we have access to, through the Internet (or even Netflix, Canadian content agreements be-damned). What Ebert was most excited about in terms of the digital cinema revolution ahead was how films would no longer only open in a handful of cities around the world. They would open everywhere, in homes and on the go, to roars of applause from Non-Angelinos everywhere. Out My Window is a decidedly international story, and it’s (appropriately) available, online and free-of-charge, to audiences equally scattered across the globe.

Of all the systematic “tools” that act as the foundations of documentary, the one presently under the most intense reinvention is actually the audience. Global audiences are great, but globally connected creative audiences are even better. Out My Window: PARTICIPATE, a side project to the original documentary, invites people from all over the world to contribute views and stories from out their windows to the experience; widening the net of contributors to the project, and ultimately resulting in a completely different viewer experience. Photos and stories submitted to the Flickr Participate pool are fed into an interface on the NFB’s site allowing visitors to interact with a tapestry of views on the world by window-framed image, keyword text, or landscape colour.

While Out My Window is highly innovative in terms of its experience and packaged form, its release also highlighted one of the key benefits of an adaptive online documentary: the option to respond to relevant “Black Swan Events” (an idea developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to reference high-impact events that are extremely difficult to predict with much accuracy) on the global stage. Participate has had a number of submissions inviting online viewers into the surging unrest in Alexandria earlier this year, as well as the resulting celebrations in Tahrir Square.

If you haven’t experienced Out My Window yet, I recommend you dim the lights, come to terms with your fear of heights, and get ready for a moving and deeply innovative interactive experience.

Thanks to Ingram Gallery for letting me show off some of Sean Yelland’s work (on display right now in a great show at 45 Avenue Road). Special thanks to Katerina Cizek, Gerry Flahive, and Sarah Arruda for entertaining my questions about cinema and/or the breadth of social media these past several months!

Trevor Haldenby is a producer and photographer living in Toronto. He has attended Wilfrid Laurier University, Rhode Island School of Design, CFC Media Lab, and is presently completing a Master’s of Design in Strategic Foresight & Innovation at OCAD University.

docSHIFT Institute: Documentary Proposals DUE MONDAY!

You haven’t forgotten about this, have you?

All Proposals are due after the weekend! December 6th!

Out My Window Nominated for IDFA Doc Lab Award

Congrats to NFB/Interactive and Gerry Flahive, Kat Cizek, Branden Batuhin, Heather Frise, and the hundreds of photographers and researchers that made HIGHRISE: Out My Window happen! You deserve this nod!

IDFA presents a new documentary award: the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling. The prize (Canon 5D Mark II camera, made available by Canon) is awarded to the DocLab project that uses digital technology in the most creative and effective way to tell a documentary story.

The award winner will be determined by an international jury consisting of Alexandre Brachet (Gaza-Sderot.com, Prison Valley 2009), Antoinette Hoes (Leylines) and Zach Wise (The New York Times).

Check out DocLab: the official new media program of IDFA, showcasing new forms of documentary storytelling, digital technology and media art.

The judging happens today! Best of luck, team!

KENK Makes Quill & Quire’s Book Of the Year 2010 Non-Fiction List

HUGE congratulations to Alex Jansen (Pop Sandbox) and his fabulous team for making Quill & Quire‘s Book of the Year List 2010 with their graphic novel KENK: A Graphic Portrait. (Check out the other top dogs who made the list.)

KENK: A Graphic Portrait
is a ground-breaking 304-page journalistic comic book detailing the life and times of Igor Kenk, “the world’s most prolific bicycle thief” (The New York Times and The Guardian). In summer 2008, Kenk was arrested and nearly 3,000 bicycles were seized in one of the biggest news stories of the year. Built from more than 30 hours of never-before-seen intimate footage taken over the year leading right up to his arrest, KENK is a thought-provoking and surprisingly funny portrait of an outsize neighbourhood figure and a city in flux.

DIVE INTO KENK HERE.

UPDATE! KENK’s on a roll! Check out Quill & Quire’s Covers of the Year 2010 List: www.quillandquire.com/blog/index.php/2010/11/25/books-of-the-year-2010-covers-of-the-year/5/

Stitch Media Strikes Again!

Hey Stitch. How hot are YOU!?

Leave it to CFC Media Lab Alumni Evan Jones, Victoria Ha, and Michael Schaus to knock your socks off!

Stitch Media‘s Moderation Town has been nominated as one of the Hottest Video Content of 2010 by nextMEDIA’s Digital Hot List. Stitch will be pitching the NSFW web series at NextMedia in Toronto at the end of November.

moderationtown.com
@moderationtown


This ‘living documentary’ scored the TSV Visionary Video Award:

An important, timely work that freshly illuminated historical, political and personal struggles and brought a brilliant combination of research and innovation into the process of reclaiming our history.

Note from the Jury, 2010 Reel Asian Film Festival

…Way to go, guys! HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND!

docSHIFT Institute Calls for Documentary Proposals

WANTED: Canada’s next award-winning digital documentary!

Do you have a digital documentary idea? One that can attract a large community, win critical success on the world stage, or innovate with a successful business or creative approach? The docSHIFT Institute will support up to four experienced creators with innovative digital documentary project ideas. selected participants will receive mentorship, professional consultation and some financial support to complete their project or create a prototype.

docSHIFT is presented in partnership with Ryerson University, Hot Docs, CFC Media Lab and the National Film Board.

www.doctoronto.ca/docshift-institute

Proposal Deets!

NEW DEADLINE! Monday, December 6th, 9am
CLICK HERE FOR THE APPLICATION FORM

ELIGIBILITY:

  • A strong digital documentary concept that has been well-researched and is clearly described.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

  • You have a proven track record of success either in documentary or interactive production.
  • You are open and willing to participate in a group learning and mentorship process as part of advancing your own project.

docSHIFT is made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation on behalf of the Ministry of Culture.

CFC Media Lab Alumnus Launches Interactive Docu-drama Ft. D-Day Vets

CFC Media Lab Alumnus Launches Interactive Docu-drama Ft. D-Day Vets:
In time for this year’s Remembrance Day, Storming Juno, interactive docu-drama featuring real life stories of Juno Beach D-Day Vets, was launched by Secret Location, Windup Filmworks and Shaw Media with History Television Canada*

The interactive web component of Storming Juno was created by Secret Location’s Executive Producer/Writer and CFC Media Lab Alumnus, James Milward.

Worth the click!

For the full ReelScreen article, visit: www.realscreen.com/articles/news/20101110/stormingjuno

*Storming Juno featured today on history.ca!

Doc Talks: Presented by the NFB and Hot Docs!

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and the Hot Docs in Toronto announced participants for Doc Talks; a new free series of conversations with international directors.  In this first edition of Doc Talks, innovative and influential filmmakers will discuss the impact of documentaries on the real world in three separate hour long conversations detailed […]

Frontline Documentary

On January 12th 2010, violent earthquakes ripped through the earth’s crust 13 kilometres beneath southern Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, and millions more were displaced from their homes. Massive collapses took place across health care, transportation, and communications infrastructure systems. Within hours, this world ripped apart was descended upon by a […]

Windows Home & International Edition

For the past year I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with the National Film Board of Canada on the marketing of a project called Out My Window. Directed by Filmmaker in Residence Katerina Cizek, the project is one of the first to launch under the umbrella of the HIGHRISE program at the NFB; a multiyear and multimedia exploration into vertical living in the global suburbs.

docSHIFT Institute: Documentary Proposals DUE MONDAY!

You haven’t forgotten about this, have you? All Proposals are due after the weekend! December 6th! Details Here… stabletalk.cfccreates.com/2010/11/18/docshift-institute-calls-for-documentary-proposals

Out My Window Nominated for IDFA Doc Lab Award

Congrats to NFB/Interactive and Gerry Flahive, Kat Cizek, Branden Batuhin, Heather Frise, and the hundreds of photographers and researchers that made HIGHRISE: Out My Window happen! You deserve this nod! IDFA presents a new documentary award: the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling. The prize (Canon 5D Mark II camera, made available by Canon) is […]

KENK Makes Quill & Quire’s Book Of the Year 2010 Non-Fiction List

HUGE congratulations to Alex Jansen (Pop Sandbox) and his fabulous team for making Quill & Quire‘s Book of the Year List 2010 with their graphic novel KENK: A Graphic Portrait. (Check out the other top dogs who made the list.) KENK: A Graphic Portrait is a ground-breaking 304-page journalistic comic book detailing the life and […]

Stitch Media Strikes Again!

Hey Stitch. How hot are YOU!? Leave it to CFC Media Lab Alumni Evan Jones, Victoria Ha, and Michael Schaus to knock your socks off! Stitch Media‘s Moderation Town has been nominated as one of the Hottest Video Content of 2010 by nextMEDIA’s Digital Hot List. Stitch will be pitching the NSFW web series at […]

docSHIFT Institute Calls for Documentary Proposals

WANTED: Canada’s next award-winning digital documentary! Do you have a digital documentary idea? One that can attract a large community, win critical success on the world stage, or innovate with a successful business or creative approach? The docSHIFT Institute will support up to four experienced creators with innovative digital documentary project ideas. selected participants will […]

CFC Media Lab Alumnus Launches Interactive Docu-drama Ft. D-Day Vets

CFC Media Lab Alumnus Launches Interactive Docu-drama Ft. D-Day Vets: In time for this year’s Remembrance Day, Storming Juno, interactive docu-drama featuring real life stories of Juno Beach D-Day Vets, was launched by Secret Location, Windup Filmworks and Shaw Media with History Television Canada* The interactive web component of Storming Juno was created by Secret […]

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