Multimedia Production: DocImages

Multimedia Production: DocImages

www.docimages.fi

Everybody reading this blog in the past knows where I stand when it comes to our future: I am strongly of the opinion that paper as a medium for daily news will slowly fade out (actually, not so slowly…) and the future is elsewhere.

Let me just refer you to my last post — and leave it to that. Everything discussed there is actually just a reflection of this struc­tural change. Everything which is happening is just symptom of this — and as with any fatal disease, symptoms tend to get very, very painful.

Instead of just sucking it up and biting it together, trying survive in an ever narrowing, soon extinct market, signing more and more copyright restricting contracts, dropping your already low fees even lower… maybe one should do something about it? Be creative and constructive — and build for the future?

DocImages

About year and a half ago I formed a company called DocImages. The under­lying idea was simple: to promote multi­media production and to create a platform for the young talent to showcase their work in our country. Distribute that work. Offer education beyond the basics of creating a simple linear slideshows and build a creative environment and network of people who would like to push this further, learn multi­media to the level it should have in our daily media.

Daily media which in the future — it should be obvious by now — will not be printed on a physical page and delivered to your mailbox.

With a friend and a colleague (and a former student of mine couple of years back) Tatu Blomqvist, who is presently writing his master’s thesis on linear multi­media narrative and working on his own projects in Glasgow, we started planning on this for real couple of months ago. And what you see on our site now is the first version of this work.

What do we do?

Very simple: we do multi­media. Whatever that means: linear and non-linear. Consisting of photo­graphy, video, audio, panoramic images, text, info graphics — you name it. On commission and sometimes on spec, sometimes just to learn new things. Many of the examples on the site are actually done this way: “well, I wonder how would one do.…” and then you go and figure it out.

I have been teaching multi­media now for four years in the University of Tampere (and starting this year also in TaiK and Lahden Muotoi­luis­ti­tuutti — a joint project) and it has bothered me that there is no real path for anybody who is interested in this to pursue it further. For Tatu it’s been the same — he’s been teaching the basics of linear multi­media in Tampere now for two years — but to finish off his MSc he had to leave for UK to get some further guidance.

Multi­media in the daily media practically does not exist in Finland — and the couple of places where it does, it leaves a lot to hope for. So the young aspiring talent I have had the honor of teaching every year really have no place to go after they learn the basics.

That’s where we come in, trying to offer some solution to this dilemma. What we do is eventually intended for (commercial) publication — i.e. it is for sale. Yes, as I said, we are totally aware that presently there really is no market for this in Finland — but if you think our media scene is in “a quiet, tranquil state of status quo…” — then you have not been paying attention lately. So think again.

Seriously: take an iPad into your hand and try to envision the media as you would like to see it in say five years time. You think it’ll be 500 characters of text and one single image taken with a cell phone? That will be enough? Seriously?

And: if it is, we are not part of. We don’t want to be part of it.

We teach each other inside our own team. In the future we might do that outside as well (i.e. offer commercially available workshops). We focus heavily on visual story­telling in all possible forms — including forms which might not exist yet. We try to work keeping all the doors open platformwise: i.e. everything we do will take e.g. iPad into consi­de­ration but not be limited to that device only.

Which in practice means that everything we do we try to do in HTML5 and keep the content adaptive and responsive. Very much like you see our website operating (try scaling it very narrow so you see how it looks on e.g. iPhone).

Who are “we”?

I used the word “team” above. When I mentioned DocImages in class this past fall in Tampere I almost immediately was approached by two students. We talked about it and agreed that I would — as a learning and workflow experiment — produce a version of their academic final work for the annual POY (Vuoden Lehtikuva) -multi­media contest.

We set to work — majority of which was accomplished around Xmas and the New Year while I was working in Germany and Austria in the Vierschanzen­tournee.

As a colla­bo­rative process it was probably the most educa­tional and rewarding an experience I have ever had. Seriously: three of us in different parts of the world, talking over FB twice a day at least, comparing versions, editing… Totally amazing. Going crazy with internet connec­tions not working fast enough (both of these two multi­media have three different video versions/formats) — deadline approaching, me getting stuck in a snowstorm in the Austrian alps… But most impor­tantly, the colla­bo­ration together , brains­torming, exchanging ideas… the whole process of creating something together. Totally awesome, I’m sure we all agree on that one.

Arttu Muukkonen’s work is a story of a organic farmer Juuso Joona, who is taking care of his family farm in Joutseno, Finland.

In class we have a pretty strict rule that everything has to fit within 2 minutes. It’s cruel, but pedago­gically very justified. In this version Arttu had a little bit more room to play with the narrative as well as audio elements — and the result ( — and I know I am the wrong person to say this) is truly great. I did the web coding and some bells and whistles… but it is really Arttu’s visual narrative which is so capti­vating. The meticulous eye for details.

Sabrina Bqain’s work is about a circus family and their daily lives. Very small, poignant… and simply beautiful. Again — yes, I know I am the wrong person to say this but I truly love it. She approached me sometime in the fall for advice as she wanted to know where our profession was going… what she would be doing when she graduated with a fresh MSc in Photo­jour­nalism. I had no answer — I still don’t — but I think we are finding the route together now. She shows great potential as a photo­grapher — yes, there are things to learn, but so are there for all of us.

I really try to make a point that this is “we” — because one thing I have learned during the past couple of years is that powerful multi­media is definitely a team effort. You can do it alone — I’ve done it dozens of times — but I’d say the results are always superior, when there are other people contri­buting. And it’s much more fun to do, that’s something I have learned now as producer.

If you look around on our site, many pieces of work are mine alone, however. This is the result of me experi­menting with different types and forms of non-linear story­telling — typically when the client has not really even deter­mined what they want (that’s a polite way of saying “not knowing what they want… ), basically giving you a brief of “well… do some of that your funky multi­media stuff”. This was the case for the Vancouver Olympics, for instance, where I produced a series of multi­media for ALMA-Media.

Or sometimes it has been just a simple case of having an idea “This would be cool, it should be done… now how do I accomplish it?” — such as the Pentti Koskinen multi­media. I did it to honor his retros­pective exhibition now in the fall — and this piece will be expanded to c. 10–15 other photo­graphy legends, if we manage to pull the financing together to continue it.

Other people

Goes without saying that if you have done this as long as I have you are pretty well-connected. Thus “the team” consists not only of the four people mentioned by name and showcased presently on the site. There are people in the background, working in journalism , photo­graphy and documentary filmmaking who are already involved in some projects to come — but it would not be correct to start dropping names here. We are already working with several new projects — I perso­nally have two projects which are under way. And naturally we welcome new people with new ideas who would like to take this to the next level with us.

We are doing a workshop on FCX in couple of weeks time — and learning, learning, learning… The amount of computer programs one has to have in the “multi­media toolbox” is pretty extensive, but we have a pretty good hang of it. And software is just one part of it — as everyone who has ever heard me talking about this knows :-) . And as we are several people we can distribute the respon­si­bi­lities a bit (such one person is more into native HTML5 and another person into iPad publishing thru InDesign — or somebody is more at ease with WP and somebody else more with Drupal).

Should everything go as planned, Tatu will be joining Duckrabbit (UK) for multi­media workshop later this year and I am doing the same with MediaStorm in New York. We are very much interested in the same themes (human rights, environment, general fairness, immaterial things, degrowth, media and the future of photo­jour­nalism…) so I am sure we manage to cook up some funky projects together.

Not forgetting naturally commis­sioned work — which as you notice in my case is very much focused on sports. I am already assigned to do e.g. London Olympics, so I am sure we have something to show from there.

Conclusion

Steve Jobs said something almost exactly two years ago (January 10th 2010) when Apple launched the iPad and it has been haunting me ever since:

Those people who can stand at the inter­section of the humanities and science, the liberal arts and technology — that inter­section — are the people who can change the world.’”

We strongly believe that it is that inter­section where we want to be.

2 Replies to “Multimedia Production: DocImages”

  1. maybe you have heard of this already, but i thought posting this anyway,
    as it is somewhat related to your opinion on printed media:

    other than that: let’s see whether or not finland will wake up, and realize, that you’re right. ;)

    1. Thanks Jan -

      no, I had not seen that before. As much as I usually stay away from videos longer that 3 min, I watched this one immediately thru.
      He makes total sense. And very robust a test: spend 18 000 on adver­tising and get like 2000 back in total revenue in the classic model. Duh? And yet, people don’t seem to get this…

      Thanks for sharing.

      K

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