The World is Changing, and Smartphones Provide a New Visual Grammar to Record It

by Hugh Brownstone2 Comments

No snark or affiliate links on this story, the first in what we expect to be a series about the increasing role of smartphones in news gathering and social change.

We chose NOT to post a story back on August 13th about a CNN reporter being accosted while reporting with a smartphone on the Tianjin blast, because we felt it really was about the wrong thing: a western reporter using technology from a remote part of China and being jostled, rather than the tragedy and its victims.

We weren’t going to post this story about a Swiss TV journalist covering the Syrian refugee crisis with a smartphone for the same reason: technology is not the issue.

But in the end we are a digital filmmaking web site.

We’ve decided to post both without any further comment on the tech other than to repeat what I wrote in another brief note about the Syrian refugee crisis: we can now see things the way we couldn’t 75 years ago — and now that we can, we cannot and should not look away.

Put differently: smartphones now combine image quality and a form factor in a unique way. It no longer makes sense to think of them as limited so much as providing a new visual grammar that is profound in what it can communicate.

Maybe the revolution IS being televised.

iPhone Report for Swiss TV, from Hungarian Border

Via Vimeo Description:

On 25th August 2015 I arrived at the border between Serbia and Hungary. At this time, virtually no other international media were there. Moreover, no live standup positions were available. Therefore, I shot two standups with my iPhone 6+. And sent them back to Switzerland via local 3G-network. Moreover, I started to film the situation at the border, and the refugees coming from Serbia into Hungary. The next day, I did more pieces to camera, and edited this report on my iPhone. Overvoice was done in extremely hot rental car, on a field near the old railway track in Röszke. Only riot scenes from refugee camp were inserted later in Swiss newsroom.

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


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