An early copy left project I setup while at undercurrents
Ruff cuts MPG1 Video CD-ROM
The project is complemtery to the VHS news video; it entails putting lots of roughly edited news shorts and good video clips on to a computer playerbal CD-ROM.
The CD’s can be freely copied and given away
The CD’s can be sold by us and the video producers to raise production costs.
They could be used for campaigning fundraising.
This is a radical alt-media project using existing simple, universal and very cheap technology. The common CD ROM, entwined with the international video standard MPG, and the web standard HTML.
Easy to edit
Basic editing is much easier now. Once you have an editing laptop it becomes second nature to do a ruff edit of any story you cover.
Of course making something that people will really watch is a little more time consuming and difficult. This project isn’t aiming to be whatchabel in the traditional way. It’s more for the people who were at the action or as a video resource. Also a means of communicating the fact that things you don’t see on tely are going on. People can get one of the actions they were on and of course will also get video of lots of other actions… It’s a stepping stone for people to create more polished and finished pieces for the undercurrents news video.
It’s a great distribution tool for an indymedia vagabond with a laptop with a CD burner and a DV camera. Get a long contacts list, a round the world ticket, shoot stories as you go and create and sell CD’s to finances the whole shebang, in the process nurturing the alt-media distribution network.
Copy-left and funding
The CD’s would be copyleft, that is, free to reproduce not-for-profit in whatever form. Anyone could create copies and give them away… If they sold them for profit this would break the copyleft agreement, unless they had a fund raising agreement. The outcome of this would be that the CD’s would be free to activists, who would get off the behinds and copy the CD’s (for free) for there friends and campains.
Sell the video CD’s for say:
We would agree to the selling of the CD’s in most circumstances
As a fund raser for a good course or project.
If the individual or organization produced one of the video slots on the CD.
With a funding sharing licenses
The project becomes sustainable to all concerned because the CD’s can be sold by both the producers and contributors with certain limitations.
Free to give away
The CD’s are of course free for anyone to produces and give away.
The producer of each video segment (or for each 5 min) automatically has the right to create and sell £100 ponds worth of CD’s. After this they can sell CD’s on the normal fund sharing bases.
The CD’s can be sold by people who have an agreement with ruff cuts, this will be on a funding sharing bases with 1/3 going to Ruff cuts and 2/3 of the sale prices going to the fundraising organization. This would be around £1.50 for a £5 sale and £3 for a £10 sale.
Notes on funding
The “free” contributor sales are limited to stop abuse of the system, with out some limit an enterprising capitalist, who made one piece, could make seruse money out of other people’s work. Why have money coming into the center? After working all my life in the alternative I am very awear that projects tend to disintegrate if the is not a strong focus to what they are doing. For this project to work well we need a sustainable core to the project, from both an infrastructure point of view and the people working on the project.
Sustainability need to cover the cost of the technology, Laptop, DV deck, Camera, tapes and Blank CD’s. The replacement cost of the laptop or Camera is around £1500… they will brake or get stolen. Thus need a cersurten level of funding not only to subsist but also to cover replacement cost of expensive equipment. For the project to have a strong core it needs to be abeal to provide the people working on it with a resnebal subsistence’s wage, which they would augment threw what ever other projects they were involved in.
Out reach persion
Video activist training
At the core of this project is not only the means of distribution, but a strong commitment to training as a means of creating content to distribute. If the project managed to create excess funding, that is it makes a profit this would be plowed back into firstly video activist training. This would also be a process of re-distributing the core funding to the producers, as the obverse choice to run the video training would be the very dispersed and embed in there communities producers of the ruff cuts video them self. And secondly to fund outreach screenings to the wider community.
Ruff cuts is both a process and a distribution technology that needs to be imbedded in the full breapth of the alt-media and wider globalization moment. Should be a joint project with indymedia? As a means of getting new video stories, fundraising and sharing distribution. But all the problems of working with a disorganization!
The basic Ruff Cuts MPG1 CD-ROM can be complemented by the higher quality MPG2 SVCD standard which allows around 40 minits of “DVD” quality video on a standard CD, this would allow more established video activist groups to distribution of more polished full length documenetrys threw the copy-left network.
The advantages of the Video CD over VHS:
Copying time CD takes around 10 minutes, VHS 1 hour
Similar quality of video
Can fit over 1 hour of video on a CD
Can be instantly edited, rearranged, dubbed or subtitled
Small to carry and cheap to post.
Will play on very widely availably low-speck computers
Will play on any computer platform, Mac, PC, UNIX etc.
Very cheap to mass-produce.
Making them one off with CD-R’s takes about 10 min and costs around 50p with label and cover
Commercially printing them makes them cheap anufe to give away 25p or less.
Sexy – cool image of video CD
Could be distributed threw more traditional outlets? Given away on magazine covers?
Advantages of the project for Undercurrents Archive (optional but worthwhile)
The undercurrents archive is both a wonderful resores for video activist film makers and a place were the ethical mainstream can get access images and voices from “our” point of view. The archive manages to servie and pay one meager wage threw these sales. The ruff cuts encoding of the MPG1 would bring much new footage coming threw the archive, which if the original producer agreed could be placed in the archive. This would be good both from a historical point of view; it would preserve the history of this alternative movement and from a finatial point of view of the producer and the archive if the video was used in more mainstream ethical productions. The CD-ROM would act as a good shop window for the archive – as the MPG1 video is only ¼ of broadcast resolution anyone who seriously wonted to make money from the video would need access to the full resolution original.
The global ruff cuts network
This project at the moment is an English language one, we need to think of other language versions – I prefer languages rather than nations as a means of making divisions, to be discussed during the process of launching the UK (global) model. It is relatively easy to make the Txt on the CD’s multy language, and the with some clever programming subtitles on the video could be made multilingual – that is you could choice the language but this would be a lot of work and commitment which I don’t think is around at the moment.
The advantages of the copyleft system
It means that any productions using part of the MPG1 video from the CD would have to be distributed under the copyleft system, thus could not be charged for. It normalizes the problem/delight of rampant piracy of the video pieces which exists already with out undermining the fundraising potential of the original producer of the video. It always camera people to feel more secure letting there video out into the world, thus allowing more people to see radical images. It is a positive alternative to the problem of hording lots of dusty tapes unviewed on shelves…
It decentralizes the distribution system while allowing some money to come back to the producers. Even if they have to sell the Video CD’s them selves!
Ruff cuts video CD project – provides VHS quality video which can be instantly edited or changed, dropped into people own projects. With web links to organization and more info. Have two CD’s finished.
Video CD’s simple to use and copy VHS quality video, am in the process of encoding the undercurrents tapes 1-10 in this format. Have done undercurrents 10
SVCD’s are 40 min’s of hi-quality “DVD” on a standard CD, a good format for relicesing new documentary’s have Globalization and the media on this format.
A copy left contract (needs to be cutermised)
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Cheap travel/small screening projector
LED bulbs, cheap lithium battery’s and high power USB charging have changed what a projector is. Its now easily possible to have a full cinematic experience in your pocket and run it for hours on very cheap USB battery’s. The days of expensive, power hungry and fragile projectors are over for all but the most demanding permanent set-ups. The are hundreds of these “micro” projectors available, they vary in quality a lot, here is a review of a good one.
If your looking for a very cheap travel/small screening projector I can recommend this one
Tiny, relatively well made, lots of ports and did I say very cheap.
LED bulb so robust long life and low power.
Plays videos from HDMI, USB thumb drive, micro SD card in many formats (it will not play surround sound audio files). As with many embedded playback devices it can get the aspect ratio wrong this is a normal problem. Will work fine by HDMI with image and sound from a laptop etc.
Used it at a recent all night illegal rave party under a railway bridge to provide background images, plunged into a small USB battery (5000mah) it easily lasted the night on loop.
Fits in your pocket and has a built in battery which last 1-2 hours, charges/runs off standard USB up to 2amps.
Its no were near its rated 800 lumen, more like 50-100 which is normal for a projector this size. You would have to pay something like £500 for a 500 lumen LED projector. Its brighter and the sound is louder if you plug it into a 2amp USB battery/power supply rather than run it off its internal battery.
Sound might be an issue when running on mains power due to hum.
In darkness it creates a large bright (somewhat over saturated) image, like all micro projectors it will struggle to overcome ambient light.
|Display Type||DLP Technology|
|Highest resolution supported||1080p (this is acturly only 854x480 and will be dowen scaled)|
|Brightness||800 Lumens (this is not true)|
|Aspect Ratio||4:3 ,16:9|
|Built-in battery||3.7V 1500 mA|
|Focusing Manner||Manual Focus,F=125|
|Image Size||14 to 150 Inches|
|Projection Distance||35.5cm-430cm(short throw)|
|Power consumption||10W Max|
|Lamp Life||20,000 Hours|
|Interfaces||HDMI/USB/AV/SD/3.5mm earphone jack|
|Supported Video Format|| 3GP(H263, MPEG4) / AVI(XVID, DIVX, H264) / MKV(XVID, DIVX, H264) / FLV(flv1) / |
MOV(H264) / MP4(MPEG4,AVC) / MPG(MPEG1) / VOB(MPEG2) / RMVB(RV40)
|Supported Audio Format||MP3 / WMA / ASF / OGG / AAC / WAV|
|Supported Picture Format||JPG / PNG / BMP|
|Supported Document Format||TXT|
|Dimensions||78*71*24.5mm (L x W x D)|
Have been testing it for a week, so far I would say a buy.
7/10 value for money
To livestream an event
To livestream the event we have these options:
A lot of our equipment is broken or missing.
Mobile phone samsung note with line in from sound deck. Might have to use with the mini mixer with 12v battery for sound to work. Would need long USB cable (or big USB battery) for phone and tripod and holder. Stream this to any basic live streaming account. Could use the oneplus one but think the sound adapter will not work.
This is simple and will work, but basic.
Acer Silver laptop running wirecast with USB HD webcam on Tripod, stream this to youtube. Can have a second camera in vire mobile (oneplusone) IP camera but issues with audio sync on IP camera. Phone holder + big USB battery
This is better but our equipment is under speck and needs a windows re-install to increase reliability
Black thinkpad T410 laptop, FireWire to DV camera Tripod sound into camera (we don't have a working DV camera), with USB webcam as second camera + ip mobile if needed.
This is the best and most reliable working setup but we don't currently have a DV camera with working firewire output. It is also based on obsolete technology so not looking forward.
The best setup would be medium power gaming laptop with 2-3 usb HD cameras with remote control and zoom. Run wirecast and stream to youtube. would be useful to have a mobile hub to help the internet and ip camera to work. Budget for this is 2-3K
Have a 3 camera setup working, one HD USB webcam and a USB to oneplusone phone and will try a wifi IP conection to a samsuneg note for the full setup. Now youtube streaming is not quite working yet, next step.
The audio feed from the venue failed and they could not fix it so this is from the mic on top of a webcam.
I sold the protest video for this ecotricity advert
I didn’t actually see the money just put it back it into visionontv expenses account...
Don't squeeze the last gas #FrackFree
With fracking companies circling the British Isles, it's now more important than ever to make a stand.
Ecotricity guarantees its gas is frack-free which, along with its 100% green electricity and ethical pricing, is a true alternative to The Big Six energy companies.
What's the NUT strike about?
(S)hell - Last minute filming of artistic direct action
DRAFT (needs a spell check)
The was little preparation for the filming of the action beyond asking a film-maker a week before the event. No information on what the action is or were it is, I come an hour early to the meeting place with equipment I think I might need.
It turns out to be a activist quire taking over the auditorium of the Shell sponsored Royal Festival Hall to sing a political song to the huge ordnance before the main concert comes on.
OK I have a a load of extended battery’s, good small qaulerty HD video camera, a short directional mic, a MP3 recorder and a good mobile phone with HD video camera.
Decide to place the MP3 recorder on the body of the person sitting in the middle seating of the quire to get soled sound. set-up the video camera on a fixed shot in front of the group then hand film with the mobile phone, with short mic to make shore I have cutaways/reaction shots and close ups.
Half an hour before setting off to shoot I discover the a second camera man is coming to film as well, he will be shooting stills with one camera and long shot video with a second stills camera in video mode. I would have liked him to take and use the good quality HD video camera as he is seated across the stage so would be in a good position to use the zoom – as nearth of his stills cameras have a good zoom. The issue is that he would not be formiler with the video camera, this together with shooting stills at the same time means this option doesn’t work out.
With the run though of the song it turns out the is no time/focus to find and attach the MP3 recorder to the central quire member, it ends up in my pocket. While looking at the seat allocation it seams its going to hard to setup the video camera on a fix shot as the is nowhere to put it, only a drop onto the stage.
Arriving at the venue, the is a reluctances to bring out the cameras, mics, cables etc. as this would bring attention to the nerves group of activist am sitting next to. I have no idea when they are going to start singing, I don’t think they have a common agreement eather (:
Looking around the is no place were I can get good video framing, in front of us is a row of narrow occupied seating then a drop to the stage, off to the side is more close set seating full of ordinary ordnance members. Behind me is a exit and a bored looking usherette.
As the humming of the song starts, I turn on the MP3 recorder and drop it on top of the quire members bag next to my seat. I shoot some establishing shots of the ordnance and auditorium using the mobile phone as if it were a stills camera.
The is no time to setup the video camera so start the mobile phone video rolling, soon discover that its to dark for a good image, but the song has started and I would miss half of it if I switched to the video camera that is still in my bag. Keep the phone camera rolling but am much to close to the action in my seat, even holding the phone arms leagnth away, this also creates a lot of bad wobble as it has so image stabilisation.
Hoping that the second camera man has his camera on and steady, after 45 sec I move out of my seat and across the isle and squeeze into the next row to get a wider shoot, The usherette lucky ignores me, though I get hissed at by the people am obscuring, they quieten down when they realise am filming. Am off to one side so still don’t have good framing even when holding the camera out at arm length over the stage (more wobbly cam). Its the best I can do, as the banner drops (surprise to me when it happens) I capture the audience clapping, then the group of young people behind me join in with clapping, spin round to film them. The song comes to an end, and the quire shuffles out sing as they go. I interview a usherette who is supportive then the theatre manager who is not, she puts her hand over the lenses and pushes me out of the theatre. It was all over in 3 minutes, a very successful fun action.
We retire to a café to exchange video, Hew missed the first 30 seconds due to focusing issues but after this he has a good wide shot and some nice cutaways, his sound track was also useful as both my mics were to close to the singing to capture the wider auditorium atmosphere and the clapping of the main audiences. I lay all 3 mic tracks over each other to get a fuller sound and to try and hid that the MP3 recorder was accidentally set to a fixed sound level rather than AGC so suffered from clipping of the sound during load bits of the song. Towards the end of the song Huw dose get into a discussion with his naber which is recorded onto the track , I have muted it down but you can still hear it on the finished film (:
I have to go and film a NUJ conference early the next morning, that’s another story (;
When it came to the edit I was in a rush – set the project file to 25FPS which is standard European video format, the editing package crashes every 5 min becouse of the bad formating of the stills camera video, produces a ruff edit, drop some draft titles over it, sleep on it then tweak and send off to the group – I still do not know what stories they wont to tell. Would be happy to just do a ruff edit and get it out as I have all the NUJ conferences stuff to do, but it was a good action and the is a good film in there so give them the option of a more polished piece. Come back to it after a few days, humm the sound is auta sync, looking at the sources files the mobile phone video is at 29.97 FPS and the stills camera video is at 23.976 FPS and the project is at a standard 25 FPS no wonder we have sound/video sync issues.
I had synced all 3 sound tracks up then locked them in place, then cut up and moved the video around... to do the draft edit, this was now not easy to fix and the more editing I did the harder it would become. I tried changing the output frame rate to 23.976 which didn’t help then to 29.97 which didn’t either. In Adobe Première you cant change the project frame rate for a project after you set it, so what to do. Looks like I have to re-do the edit from scratch (render both badly formatted video's into one good to edit format before starting). Or live with some video/audio syncing issues. Other matters were pressing.
How to film this action well
Be in on the planing of the action, and build camera angles and sound recording into the action from the start.
Have 2 people filming:
* One - long shot on mini tripod, then second hand held camera for audience reaction mashore of good auditorium sound on the first camera.
* Second - fixed action sound with recorder in quire and mobile camera/sound for medium/close ups.
Good to have a 3ed person responsible for makeing shore security dose not interfere with filming/action.
Have redundant sound recorders in the action. Make shore all equipment configured and is working at same frame rate and timing.
This happens nearly every day at Balcombe - Snatch Arrest
This happens nearly every day at Balcombe. This film was shot and edited and uploaded in 1 hour at the camp media center all on solar power.
Snatch, Snatch, Snatch!
3 videos of police snatch's from Balcome Protection Camp this morning. Already there have been 4 arrests today. Action began with with Nicky, a local resident, locking herself on to the gate to prevent deliveries to the fracking site. Then they started on the people slowing the trucks.
Frackoff! at #Balcombe
Trade union - 2001 and undercover police
This is 3-4 video reports in one. I made them for FSTV a US satellite station and show the wide spectrum of demonstrating post Genoa. I think the is still one report missing will post it when I find it.
My thinking then as now is to show the tredtional events, walking from A-B in a radical way, but to concentrate more on the fring more alternative party and protest movement.
Brussels 2001 - December 13th, saw possibly the largest ever demonstration of trade union strength across Europe. Well over 100,000 people marched through the capital of the 'Europe of Profit' under the slogan, "Europe: it's us!"
Video - Faslane Peace Camp
(DRAFT) The finished film has no people in it and long shots of organising lists and the camp infrastructure rather than the issues and characters surrounding the campaigns. This might seem strange at first but its important to realise that films don’t show the world as it is rather they all have a peurpures, a point of view, the point of view here is recruitment of new creative and competent people to use and live on the site.
The space empty of peopule is open for peopule to come in and fill it with life and creativerty. The song by seizetheday "thank you" is both a thanking the people who built the camp and thoughes who will come (the films audience) to keep the site open and perpusfull.
The use of long video lists of "rubish rules" and "todo list" is to highlight that that this is not just a place to party its a place of work and creativity/responsabilerty. The library and free shop is about showing that this is a sustainable alternative culture, not just a transentery protest. The language used throughout is conversational and inviting "pop in for a cup of tea, the is lots to do". The shot of the Anarchy caravan followed by the green garden is about that both fluffy and spiky activists are welcome.
The whole film is shot in bright sunshine, full of greenery and flowers to give a sense of buty/attractiveness - obversely in the middle of winter poring with rain the would be another view... The final shot of the nuculer base is a small part of the video - as its about protest camp cultures, rather than the issues involved in the campaign. Anybody who argues, and some will, about this is missing the point. With out a healthy camp the campaign in weekerend, this the film has a 2 step purpose, rejuvenation of the camp to then renew the campaign.
You really don’t need a big camera to make a good film. The film was shot entirely on a Samsung note II mobile phone in 720p resolution. I shoot at this reduced resolution to help with rapid file upload as with full HD it is almost imposable to upload the huge files reliably.
Faslane Peace Camp has been here for 30 years campaigning against nuclear weapons.
People living in all weathers, a community of committed campaigners. The camp has been a base for actions, a ecological alternative, a home for some, a eduction for many
Phone to find if the is space to stay 01436 820901 or 07511793227
Just down the road is a HUGE nuclear missile base that we have to do something about...
Hamish explaining the templates (video)
The recent police violences at the student demo's is nothing new - rather a new group of people are experiencing systematic police abuses.
The recent police violences at the student demo's is nothing new - rather a new group of people are experiencing systematic police abuses. This film is about what happened at the Kingsnoth Climatecamp 2008, at the big G20 demo after this they killed a man.
The harassment and exclusion of legal observers, the violent arrest of women refusing to be searched, the aggressive interrogation of local residents, the threatening of journalists with arrest for doing their job, the confiscation of 100s of items such as childrens' costumes and crayons, attempted dawn raids on the camp, the use of batons and CS gas against peaceful protesters, and the forced search of 1000s of people and the adding of their personal data to a secret database. This type of political policing has to stop, and the right to legitimate protest re-established.
The Ratcliffe Swoop prosecutions caused a backlash against activist media that reverberated around the Edinburgh climate camp. We were not present at the Ratcliife Swoop, and played no part in the gathering of video there. When we saw footage posted of identifiable activists doing criminal damage, we were astonished, as throughout the history of video activism this has been an absolute "no no", without the express consent of the activists pictured. We immediately took this material down from visionOntv accounts where it had been posted, and told the Ratclifffe media team why we did so. Regrettably the footage was later re-posted by the producers to accounts outside of our control. Having said that, as of writing, we have been unable to find out any details of the prosecutions and exactly which footage was used.
But as a response I (perhaps naively) thought it might be helpful to try to do consensus/affinity group process with activist film at the Edinburgh climate camp. To kick this off, we showed a sneak preview of END:CIV on the Saturday to a crowd of around 50-70 people which sparked off a good and respectful debate about aesthetic of activist film and the old spiky/fluffy debate about effective action. People came away challenged and thoughtful.
The next day after the action on the RBS HQ we showed the rough edit of it to get feedback and make sure it was OK to put out. It was enthusiastically received but there was also a very forceful verbal attack of “you must do this” “do it now, or you are endangering activists” and a refusal to answer simple questions about “why” in exchanges with one person. Finally, after some bad feeling, I found out that she had seen an “object for causing criminal damage” being held by one person in the film. OK, that is a genuine issue, so I agreed to look at it again. I asked her to show me where it was in the film but instead she rushed off to tell everyone that climatecamptv had refused to remove the “weapon” and that we were putting out films that were endangering activists. This led later to many different groups and individuals coming along to have their say over the next day about how the film should made.
See later where this led.
I had watched the film 3 times during editing for legals, and had shown it to to a number of other trusted people. After we had packed up the screening we looked at the “object” on the video and found it to be a plastic horn not an “object to cause criminal damage” at all. Humm... a storm in a teacup you would think, but read on.
Let's briefly go through it - the film of the action had a few legal issues.
* The pushing on the bridge (possibly assault) leading to the earlier dressing-up sections (unmasked) being possibly incriminating of this possible assault.
* We had no video of the breaking of windows (criminal damage) thus this was less of an issue in the film. Nor did we have film of any identifiable possible perpetrators.
* There was one additional shot which could potentially have been "creatively" used by police to prosecute an activist.
* The bridge-pushing was problematic as all the activists were unmasked, with all the FIT team on the roof and 3-4 corporate media TV/photo actively filming. Many photos/images would be available so on the one hand it was clearly done in the open, and therefore accountable. On the other, if they were charged, our video would likely be used in the prosecution, both for and against the activists. It's an issue we face many times and it unless we know otherwise we have to have to err on the side of caution. Without the opportunity to ask them whether they were accountable thus OK to show it or not, we decided to blur this section – rendering the need to blur the early stuff irrelevant as we now had no incriminating video of this “crowd” action.
The other potentially incriminating shot was removed, at the request of the individual filmed.
After running it past the affinity group made up of CCTV/visionontv crew and some trusted legal support we left it to a volunteer to polish the final edit for showing that evening before putting out to the web. In my experience you can never run a film past an audience too many times before it's finished from both a legal and an aesthetic point of view.
The day of action was very busy, and we were all running around filming. While we were out and about a number of people came in to look at the earlier action video being edited and asked the editor to make changes – he responede to their requests and made a lot of changes to hide and obscure many details throughout the film.
When we saw the film in the evening just before the screening we were shocked. Editing a film by committee is always a disaster and the film was now an incoherent and sinister mess making climatecamp look like a bunch of criminals. We now had a film we couldn't put out. This wasn't our volunteer editor's fault, it was a problem with the process we had begun but were not around to control. To top this, at the end of the day the editor had found the people who were at the front of the bridge-push and they had made it clear that they were unhappy being blurred out as it was the best thing they had done in ages. They were willing to be accountable for their actions, so we didn't need to thus put any obscuring in the finished film.
We now had to re-do the film from an earlier version. It was dark and we were late for the nightly screening, we had one computer to gather all the films up and convert then to the right format and re-edit this film – we decided it wasn't possible to screen the action film and concentrated on showing the other 9 finished but less exciting films we had ready. We started the screening with non-action films to cries of "we want to see the action". So an old version of the action film was rush-encoded and was ready half-way through the screening. Unfortunately this contained the ptoentially incriminating shot we had earlier taken out, and was screened to about 40 climatecampers. NOT good. Another person had a very solid go at us...
What did we learn from this?
Should protesters never trust any video/photo on an action OR should they trust video activists as THEY know what they are doing?
For me, not trusting experienced video activists leads to the very real danger that through bureaucratisation it pushes the working affinity group structure underground and renders it ineffective – the option of bureaucratic/consensus process isn't an option with film which is at its best a skilled creative story-based process.
But now we have to deal with the rumour mill which quickly churned around the "weapon" / plastic horn issue. Rumour has more power than truth when there isn't a functioning media. I heard the misinformation that we had put out footage of window-smashing weapons three times while leaving the camp to get home. And that's why I wrote this post as this rumour could distort the very real pro/anti-media debate in activism which needs to happen in a constructive way.
On the subject of social media and underground/wannabe mainstream film-makers/photographers, there are very real dangers that is the subject of another post.
Diaz - up in the water tower
2001 - The G8 Summit in Genoa
I arrived in Genoa a few days before the anti G8 demonstrations were due to start, to help set up the Indymedia centre. We travelled in a tiny camper van with my frend Marion from Munich. The border caused no problem - the border guard asked us why we were going to Italia and we said we were holidaying on the coast, with a knowing look on both sides. Arriving in Genoa the police presence was heavy. The convergence centre was being set up down at the beach. Just a hundred yards away there was a huge police build up at the stadium. After wandering around for a while, we camped the night parked out of sight beside one of the big marquees of the half finished convergence centre. In the morning, meeting up with other groups, we made our way to the GSF and IMC organising building: the Diaz school.
The IMC (independent Media center)
We found a place to stay at the IMC at the head of the stairs, on the roof, which was out of the way, and looked around. The video room was full of techy gear but none of it seemed to be available for public use. The centre was well equipped with computers supplied by the city, all networked together. The techy crew had obviously put a lot of work into the set up. There was Linux on all the computers but with no applications and no system of support to help people make the transition to this “non-standard” operating system – a powerful gesture of what is possible but practically useless. A re-occurring theme in the tec-journo divide.
The video room was a bit of a fiasco - a lot of non-configured private computing kit – most of it password protected, taking up the majority of the space. There were no shared resources and it seemed none of the kit worked in a familiar standard way. An ego wank space with little organised IMC ethos.
Two PCs were “requisitioned” from other rooms and MS Windows was installed (as there was no functioning Linux video editing software). At one of the first meetings money was put aside to upgrade one of these computers to be a DV editing system with a new hardrive and Firewire card. On the other we installed an analogue video cpature card - brought along from CanalB – so we had two shared editing systems. The second of these created the bulk of the video that was uploaded from the IMC centre during the summit – the DV computer broke down on the second day and didn’t work again.
Marion and I headed down to the street to make the first report at the convergence centre. It wasn’t long before we were stopped and detained by a group of undercover policemen while doing a piece to camera outside the main police accommodation stadium - which happened to be right next to the convergence centre. We were held for a few hours while more and more undercover policemen arrived, until there were 10 or 12 police and two cars around us. They asked me for the tape in the camera - I refused - took down all our details and checked our passports – it become a bit nervewracking. I secretly filmed some of the secret policeman. Interestingly we were to see one of them two more times undercover at the counter-summit, and outside the IMC centre before the raid.
Driving round the streets trying to film the red zone barrier going up, we were stopped and detained twice. For an hour the first time and 3-4 hours the second. Arguing with the police and attempting to exercise normal civil rights proved fruitless. This was the first nagging Orwellian feeling that was reinforced over the week of demonstrating. The police were a state in themselves and there was obviously no respect for the role of law in their actions. Fear was starting to stalk the streets, encircling the meeting of the cabal of world power.
THE RAID ON THE IMC
After the shooting of one demonstrator the tension was rising, paranoia about police repression spreading. People began to leave the indymedia center, people began to leave Genoa. There was much discussion of what to do and no firm consensus. Many people made the decision to leave independently until the numbers had halved as the night wore on.
At midnight there were shouts of "the police are coming". I looked out of the window but couldn't see anything. People started to run around, grabbing stuff and barricading doors. I ran to find Marion and told her about the hiding place on the roof I had checked out when we arrived. She grabbed the tapes and equipment and headed off.
Looking out of the side window I could not see any police around the front door so I shouted back to the people blockading the door, trying to calm the situation.
I went up to the roof to film the carabinieri breaking into the building next door - a van smashing through the front gate; police breaking the windows with chairs, smashing down the doors with tables they found in the courtyard. Worried for my safety and the video I was recording, after a few minutes I decided to head back downstairs to see if the police were coming into the IMC as well.
After two flights, turning a corner, I came face to face with a carabinieri policeman dressed in full body armour with his truncheon drawn panting his way up the stairwell. At this I turned and flew up two flights shouting, “they are in the building”; past the barricaded door to the IMC and up to the roof. Dodging the spotlight from the circling helicopter I headed over to the window of the water tower and lowered myself in whispering “Marion it's me”. No answer. Creeping through the darkness with the only light being from the IR beam of my camera, I made my way down through the corridor of water tanks whispering “Marion are you there?” and starting to panic that she was not. A small and frightened voice came back: “turn the light off”. She was hiding in the space behind the last water tank.
We waited. She had brought a bottle of water and supplies. We talked about what we would do if and when the police came. Would they come in and search… would they throw tear gas… would they smash our equipment and break our bones.. these all seemed very real.
The helicopter circled, its spotlight lighting up the window of the water tower. There were noises of movement outside: the police searching the roof. We kept very quiet and still.
We were there for 3-4 hours. There was screaming from the street below and cries of "assassina". We only came out after the helicopter had left.
There were survivors wandering around the roof top, numbed and in shock. I interviewed two English girls who had been in the IMC during the raid, then went downstairs to survey the damage. Doors were smashed open. Computers were dismembered: their hard drives ripped out, monitors smashed. Across the street there was much worse waiting. Blood had covered the floor, congealing into puddles, and sprayed up the walls. Trails led into huddled corners; clothes lay around in disarray, personal belongings were strewn across the floor, speckled here and there by blood stains. Desolate, dazed people were searching through the piles. Reporters stood in small, silent groups. The trail of blood led up the stairs. Bits of skin and clumps of hair stuck to the walls. Following the broken doors and hasty barricades, looking in cupboards and under desks, everywhere someone could have hidden there was blood and broken skin, the bashing of heads against walls, the smearing of blood stained hands. There was a smell in the building. The Carabinieri had left their mark.
My videos - a winter project
Idea for a project for next winter.
I have been making activist films for 20 years well over 100 short radical actavist 3-10 minit news reports on many different campaigns.
Tell the stories of video activism by my films – list all films then get key people who were in the campaigns (preferably in the video) to tell there motivation for being on the action/each film. Take all this footage to an abondond village on a Spanish island for 3 months next winter and edit it on solar power.
Its relatively simple and don’t have to work with anyone but me to get it done, which makes it easer (:
The video Cameras I have owned and used
Here are all the cameras (missing the first one) I have owned and used over the last 15 years or so
Lets make opensource tools - the mediaplayer
ENR - the foundation report
Report on Islip Gathering
June 14th to 17th 2002
The gathering in Islip attracted an impressive attendance of representatives from a variety of alternative media organisations and independent video activists. Some had travelled from as far afield as Croatia and Germany. Eric Galatas, from the US-based FreespeechTV network, the event's sponsor, had travelled from Colorado.
The days were organised around a series of meetings and workshops, the agendas of which were decided and agreed by the attendees themselves.
The first item was to establish the goal of the project. Everyone present contributed their thoughts and the outcome was a distillation summed up thus:
Create a video structure (network)
Enable production and screenings of a regular monthly Newsreal: CDs, video tapes, cable, satellite
Online co-operative network resource
Cafes or local nodes
Use multiple formats and approaches
Establish European satellite and cable channel, screening programs 24/7
Connects and empowers local and global (virtual) communities and groups
Distributes existing programs
Facilitates the creation of new groups and programs
Enables information (skills, clips, events) exchange
Connected to existing movements, shall bring about positive social change.
The group then split up into sub-groups to discuss strategies and problem-solving for three crucial areas:
Production of a monthly Newsreal (a complilation of segments from around European)
Distribution systems and publicity
Organising and fundraising
1. Production of monthly Newsreal
The workshop proposed the production of a monthly Newsreal defined as a compilation of segments of 5 minutes or less each totalling a maximum of half an hour (). Segments should be gathered and edited by a different group in different European countries each month so that workload and ownership of the project is shared. Countries outside the UK to provide English translated versions and all raw versions to go to non-UK countries for translation.
It was proposed that the Newsreal be made available in two formats: moultymedia(VCD) and VHS to accommodate different needs and facilitate wider distribution.
2. Distribution systems and publicity
The workshop proposed a three-stage plan to test and build an effective distribution system.
Stage 1: Test pilot the Newsreal using existing 5 minit segment to creat a news reel to be distributed to the current group. And locally screened. Usfull for fundraseing and explaning what the project is about.
Stage 2: Start posting out info on IMC video lists, Make a second “proper” news reel to be screened to sympathetic local groups. Assess feedback. Build a database of contacts of sympathetic groups and other interested parties who may be new to the concept of alternative media and conduct a second round of pilot screenings. Assess feedback and make any recommended changes to Newsreal. Assess and deal with any issues arising from production system. Make the project part of the IMC network – ie. Get it on the video IMC page.
Stage 3: the big lornch has to come after lydon as the main contacts will come from lydon…International launch of Newsreal. Proposed to coincide with the PGA (People's Global Action) conference in Leiden, Netherlands and the World Summit??? at the end of August screenings to take place in Leiden, other key European cities and possibly the US. Big publicity drive incorporating stunts and liaison with sympathetic journalists, aiming for national (as well as local) coverage in the mainstream media of all participating countries. Produce flyers and posters to advertise screenings locally. Post up info on Indymedia website.
3. Organisation and fundraising
The workshop proposed that participating organisations co-ordinate the production of Newsreal with independents sending their segments to the relevant group for that month. Each group should work on it for two or 3 months so they can get up to speed. Undercurrents can do the produces the first two pilots then I would sergest Cannal B produces the lornch issues and possebaly then the corations… its important that groups doing the production have a history of producing and segments (would argue that they should have produced 2 or 3 Newsreel segments before they take on responsabilerty for producing the news reel.
It was recognised that a large amount of translations would be required and that money should be sought for this.
Money to be raised by:
applying for grants (not-for-profit status of the project to be established beforehand)
profits from sale of Newsreal at screenings, through universities (People and Planet to distribute), festivals and other outlets
income from sale of Newsreal to FreespeechTV for monthly screenings and sales to mainstream media in European countries
we need to think about - sponsorship from ethical companies
Who are we and what is our purpose?
Participants agreed that we need to be able to define who we are and what our purpose is for those who may wish to get involved and for fundraising purposes. A number of definitions were proposed and this is still an area to be agreed on.
What happens next
Pilot Newsreal to be produced ASAP and copies sent to all participants to arrange small scale local screenings
Separate working group e-groups to be set up to facilitate ongoing discussions and organization – this is tempery – we need a new working websight.
Definition of project and purpose to be discussed online (Islip list) and agreed on
Grant-making bodies to be approached for 'emergency' funds ie small amounts, to cover production and administrative costs of pilot screenings
The European News real project - and being relevant
This is a DRAFT of a text i wronte 09/08/2002
The ENR was a global alt-media production/networking project in the USA it whent out on TV. I was reponsable for bring this project to europe after it had been runing in the USA.
This is my (failed) attempt to stop the project becomeing irelevent.
Every time this project takes a step I cringe, a shudder of shock go’s threw me. If we don’t ask the people who have done this before – and the are a number – then we are DOOMED to make the same mistakes and I for one don’t have much hart or spirit to go threw this sad alt-movement ritual.
So here is another go at wrighting up what I think the project is:
* It’s an indymedia style project- that is it is fundamentally decentralised and non-hieratical based on open publishing and non-re-editing of other peoples work.
* it’s a grass-roots project, that is it is about encouraging, faciliting and training people who wouldn’t normally use video as a tool for social change. In this giving them there own voice.
* it’s a project that is designed to link and strengthen existing video production groups and help to create new groups both within the indymedia network and outside it.
* it’s a project that at its bases is about creating a public focus for activist groups to facilitate and strengthen local campaigns and link these local campaigns together.
*** it’s a TWIN TRACK PROJECT, the euronewsreal it self is a tool for internal communication with in the movement. In this the existing video activist groups are mentors of the newsreal rather than creators – of course we will all produces segments but that isn’t our first priority.
*** the second track is OUTREACH – this is were the editing comes in, and our current higher production values are used to the best affect. The Newsreal is the opening segmemet of the screenings, ie. The first half. The main-feature is where the power of video as a tool for social change comes in, and it is this main-feature that we as existing video groups should concentrate on producing. Our job is to produces the main-feature such as globalisation and the media from Undercurrents, CannalB’s Genoa film, TroshenTV’s Europe film etc. This is the outreach social change part of the project.
* That is the newsreal itself is a tool for networking and training for the movement, its about strengthening connections and bring new people in, and hopefully (funding permitting) training them how to hold a camera steady (:
So fundamentally for us existing groups its more of a mentoring job. A good opportunity for thoues who need funding to apply for some to run training and networking meetings.
We will produces segments, but that isn’t the end all, of our job. The half hour newsreal is actually about creating a distribution network.
We will kill the grass roots nature of the project if we add a higheracky of editorial, not only will editing store up trubbal it will also take a much higher level of commitment – which I for one don’t have.
So at its base it’s a very simple “open publishing” system with no perment central higheracy. Its about expanding the alt-video moment at the grassroots and consolidating it at the level of existing production groups. It’s a low-level project to get us all co-operating. An internal networking project not an external social change outreach project.
Its power for changing the world is focused on the co-operation it creates rather than the half hour of monthly video. In this the video will have a much powerfuller affect than any highly produced project that founders on disagreements and the enevertabil burn out lack of support brings.
WE NEED TO LEARN FROM THE PAST!!!!