‘Fifty Shades of Red’ news report for RTE using the iPhone 6 Plus

Guest post by Philip Bromwell:

Last month I blogged here about how RTÉ, the national broadcaster of Ireland, has been exploring and experimenting with filming complete news packages on iPhones. I explained that I have now shot a number of reports this way – using 4S, 5S and 6 Plus models to do so. As a video journalist of thirteen years (shooting on a variety of DV cameras), I have really enjoyed the challenge of using a smartphone to produce broadcast-quality stories. And while I still use my Sony EX3 for most of my day-to-day shoots, I have found the iPhone experience to be liberating. My most recent report was this “and finally” story shot on an iPhone 6 Plus using the FiLMiC Pro app:

My earlier Newsshooter post generated some welcome discussion here and on social media which I’ll try to address now. It was pointed out by many that news (especially) can be filmed with any camera, although it is the ‘talent behind the lens’ which will determine how good it will look. I agree – at RTÉ mobile journalism (mojo) stories have to reach a quality bar for them to be broadcast. Out of focus, shaky or vertical video will definitely be frowned upon!

Of course, if smartphone footage is compelling enough, no newsdesk is going to worry about the quality. However I would argue that every journalist should at least know how to use their phone to get some decent shots. If a story breaks and they don’t have a camera crew at their disposal, they should know their way around “the camera in their pocket”. A case in point came before Christmas when the BBC used a journalist’s iPhone shots of the disruption at Heathrow Airport in the headlines and top slot for the flagship News at Ten bulletin.

Following my earlier post, another person commented that there would be “a lot of advantages and way more possibilities if you for example shoot with a C100 or the new FS7”. That may be so from a filming-perspective, but the reality is that I (and most journalists) don’t carry such pieces of kit. I do have an iPhone though – effectively the Swiss Army Knife of newsgathering – which allows me to shoot, edit and share/send footage from the field (if required). We also recently followed the lead of other news organisations around the world by using iPhones to stream footage from a massive demonstration in Dublin city centre. All of this is being done as part of a “mixed economy” in our newsroom, which allows for a range of ways of working as we seek to serve different audiences on multiple platforms .

I think this is the key reason why it makes sense to deploy smartphones. The demand for and consumption of video on mobile devices is on the up and up, so why not use mobile devices to deliver much more of that content? In the example story cited at the top of this article I also used the Storehouse and Steller iOS apps to do multimedia versions of the item that appeared on TV. After all, the content was already on my phone. All I (and others) are doing is demonstrating that quality levels can be maintained if you do things simply and well (not to mention with an open mind, a hint of ambition and some creativity)

Philip Bromwell (@philipbromwell) is a video and mobile journalist at RTE. RTE is hosting Mojo Con Ireland, the first international conference focusing on mobile journalism, in Dublin 27-28 March 2015.

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