DSLRnewsshooter's Matt Allard and Dan Chung file reports from the Japan Tsunami zone

Both Matt and myself have been covering the tragic events surrounding the Tsunami in Japan. I have left Japan now but Matt is still there and headed back into the disaster zone to do more reports. I’m sure both of us will talk more about what it was like later on, but for now the story is the priority.

This is Matt’s report for Al Jazeera.

This is my short montage in which I try to convey a sense of what it is like to actually be there.

Aftermath – The Japanese Tsunami from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

The videos and stills I did for the Guardian can be seen here.


Posted on March 15th, 2011 by admin | Category: Journalism |

9 responses to "DSLRnewsshooter's Matt Allard and Dan Chung file reports from the Japan Tsunami zone"

  1. nfunk59 Says:
    March 16th, 2011 at 3:04 am

    Nice film Dan but if I may…. do we really need the ‘haunting’ music. I think the lines are becoming distinctly blurred between real life and a feature film. I’ve been concerned by your strapline for a while – “Making the real world look as good as cinema” I think this latest film edges over into uncomfortable territory. Wondering if anybody else feels the same?

  2. thewtb Says:
    March 16th, 2011 at 5:50 am

    @Geoff, why is it edging into uncomfortable territory? It’s not real life to feature film, it’s a transition from boring news video to news documentary. Dan’s video above (more so than the Guardian one – which has a dialogue from a survivor interview) is montage, a small vignette, perhaps, of the tragedy in Japan.

    I don’t understand the controversy around this video.

  3. x0n0x Says:
    March 16th, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I’m with Geoff on this, I worry that by making news reportage look cinematic, we detract from the reality of the situation. We’re used to seeing horrifying events in films, by making reporting look similar, we trivialise the subject matter.

    Why would we want to add music and alter our perception of events, and why would we use slow pans to make the footage more interesting? The use of VDSLR’s allows us to film in the most difficult situations, but spending time making things look slick? instead of helping the people involved? this seems sad.

    For story telling (like the Mongolian racing) these cinematic tricks help to tell a tale, but when we’re dealing with such horrific events, I don’t feel it’s appropriate.

  4. nfunk59 Says:
    March 16th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I’ve worked a lot with charities and the new DSLR footage has sparked some debate. After the Haiti film here : was shown to the charity Board members I understand many of the comments were along the lines of ‘doesn’t it look great’ and ‘fantastic pictures’. Not exactly the response it was supposed to evoke. It became about the technology rather than the issues.

    To address a point made by thewtb, I didn’t say it was controversial. I was suggesting that perhaps we need I to be more thoughtful about certain styles of filmmaking. Interestingly Dan’s category tag for this film is ‘journalism’. I’m not sure this is a ‘journalistic’ piece?


  5. ealfredo Says:
    March 16th, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    They are not slow pans, they are tracking shots and they are waaaaay over done. Like transitions, these shots should be used very sparingly.

  6. Goldstein Says:
    March 17th, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Dan the piece you made is beautiful. It’s hard to say word “beautiful” when matters like these are the issue. But what I mean is that it is beautifully made.

    It touches me much more so than a normal news coverage. The sad Music fits perfectly. I have to say that piece touched me more than other pieces I so.

    Yes, it’s cinematic look, but what’s wrong about that? If anything it’s more moving, interesting and probably keeping the viewer engaged. Everybody knows this is FOR REAL, so no one seeing this will think it’s a “movie” or something like that. So that’s not to be worried about.

    When Dan says : “Making the real world as good as cinema”. It means just that. He doesn’t mean “making the world a cinema”. It just means more like : “making it look as engaging, interesting and moving as cinema”

    And I think Dan did a great job here. I have seen some coverage of the disaster before, but it’s funny this actually moved me the most.

    But I guess at the end of the day it’s a matter of preference and I can totally understand what some others are saying, both are legitimate point of views.

  7. davidc7 Says:
    March 17th, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Dan came into the MA International Multimedia Journalism course in Beijing yesterday to give the students a first hand account of his time in Japan, and discuss this particular piece. We made a podcast of his talk, and this is available at You can read the precis to see where he talks about this video and download the podcast to listen to his thoughts.

  8. Mark Dobson Says:
    March 19th, 2011 at 3:03 am

    This film by Dan has really got people talking. It’s just part of his coverage of the situation, more conventional news reports by him can be viewed on the Guardian website. They are excellent as are the series of photographs also published by the paper.

    The film on this page was not published in its present form. It was re-edited by the Guardian before it was published.

    Laurence Topham the editor/producer at the Guardian who re-cut the film has posted his reasoning as to why he thought the film needed to be altered on vimeo.

    I myself found the treatment quite disturbing. To add the sheen of production techniques over shots of people searching for and removing dead bodies just felt inappropriate. Slider type tracking shots are already overused within the HDDSLR filmmaking community and to see them being used in this context felt very strange to me.

    And to almost totally strip out the ambient sound and replace it with synthesised music also felt out of place.

    So add the slider shots together with the music and you are in the territory of music video. And this style juxtaposed with the devastating subject matter is what I find disturbing.

    But there are definitely two sides to this debate. A lot of people on Vimeo were deeply touched by this film.

  9. nfunk59 Says:
    March 19th, 2011 at 3:54 am

    Is this debate about the result of photographers becoming filmmakers ‘overnight’. I trained in video and then trained in photography. The disciplines are (or maybe that should be ‘were’) very different. The new capabilities of DLRS make us all filmmakers but not all have had specific video training. (And I’m not talking about a weekend course).

    I’d love to hear what Dan has to say as I must add this is not about slagging anybody off.

    It could be a case of ‘we have the tools we’re gonna use them’ The result is that inappropriate tools are (over) used in inappropriate ways?

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