This is something I have been planning for over a year – and it finally came the time to do something about it.
What I am talking about is DocImages – multimedia production. Sounds kind of formal, somehow very official,doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t – and it’s actually a very simple concept.
Very briefly: I got tired of waiting that there would be a decent journalistic production house in this country, providing a platform for high quality multimedia.
More than once I have had my work turned down with the explanation “it does not fit into our publishing platform”.
I have waited now for several years now for these platforms to catch up . But as Terry Heaton (quote) said in the Digital Journalist some issues back, it is hard, if not impossible to do, as technology advances in fast and very unpredictable ways. So to make things a bit easier for everybody, I decided to create one myself.
A Multimedia Platform
I had two major motivations for doing this. Firstly, I wanted to create a platform I could place multimedia into and provide that platform – with a customized interface – for the clients interested in my work. The only thing client does (technically) need is a website which links to the DocImages server, which hosts the content. The content can be custom tailored to each client to ensure visual congruence with their own site.
Also, I have been approached more than once by colleagues asking if I could teach/show them how I do certain things. But in addition to teaching (which I do already), I decided that I’d provide a service/ an option that I’d do the part these colleagues either do not master or do not have time for – be it recording or audio in general, graphics, video, storyboarding, edit, or whatever goes into multimedia design. Share the process, help where help is needed – simply, be the producer.
That does NOT exclude teaching this, but there is quite a lot which goes into producing a decent multimedia and the learning curve has been quite long (and still continuing…). Also, producing professional level multimedia is just lots of work – and it would be stupid not to share that burden.
I needed a pilot project. In September I happened to see another photographer’s images of the Keimola Racing circuit on his site. I thought the subject was facinating, I was not aware that the legendary place still existed – 30 years after it was closed down. I remember being a little kid – under ten years old – and watching on a black and white TV something called “Interserie” racing… the name Leo Kinnunen was burned in my mind… and that was like forty years ago.
I could have easily stolen the idea, gone and reshot the images, but that is not my style, I just don’t do that. I sent him (Mikko Erva, photographer) an email – and as they say, the rest is history. Clicking this link or the image shows you what we came up with together. It is in Finnish, but the extended caption is bilingual.
The process of creating this is explained in my earlier post – and also in the multimedia itself – so I won’t get more into it here. The idea was not to produce a comprehensive account on the place but more of creating an artistic, visual fragment, a multimedia window into the history – as well as we could.
It was also the first time I ever worked with somebody else’s images and in collaboration with somebody – an experience I have wanted to do for some time now. But more on that subject later.
Second Motivation: Academic meets the real world
I take my teaching very seriously. Too seriously, considering the amount of hours I have. And thus another reason for creating DocImages was trying to create a natural path from the academic world to the real world. My students presently work hard (at least I hope they do… ;-)) to produce a linear multimedia as an academic assignment… and then what? They should continue, start creating content which would have real journalistic value, something they could sell, advance their budding careers with – but they are lacking a publishing platform. I’m sure they would – even more than I do – get the excuse “very interesting yeah, but sorry, it does not fit our system…”
So, I thought, I provide them at least with an option of teaming up and trying to create something together, something original which would – at least eventually – draw the attention of major media organizations in this country.
I talk about my students, but naturally, my thinking extends to colleagues and friends interested in this line of work as well. Presently I am working with two other photographers on four different stories.
But, let me be very clear on two points: first, the idea is NOT to take an easy way out and use material created in class as such and try to cash in with that. University is one thing, the real world is something else. Second, this is NOT the way to make easy money, there is no real market for this right now. So all the work done now is almost certainly purely for portfolio, self-promotion, education and R&D -purposes.
But, I am confident that things do change in this respect – and it could be faster than anticipated. If you have read my blog earlier you know how I think about this.
As one says in English: I have seen the writing on the wall…