Making news with an iPhone – the Quality debate
January 28, 2014 6 Comments
I’ve been researching and developing mobile journalism training for nearly three years in RTE. Most recently I’ve trained over 100 staff to shoot and edit and a few exceptional staff members have taken the challenge and created an entire news story – for broadcast. I have to point out this is not the norm, or even an everyday occurrence. But it is part of a pilot programme to examine and investigate the potential of mobiles and content creation / news gathering devices.
Last Friday, Philip Bromwell, one of RTEs Full time staff Video Journalists, decided to use the iPhone 5S to shoot a complete story for broadcast. As usual Philip used the Mojo Grab bag I put together for his shoot.
He shot in 1080p HD on the iPhone and then imported the footage into a MacBookPro to edit it in Avid Media Composer. At the end of this process he transcoded (downsized) the edit from full HD 1920x1080p to 720×576 SD and also converted the progressive scan to interlaced for our broadcast system.
On Friday night we agreed we would publish the SD version of the story on YouTube:
Then on Monday we published the full HD 1080p version to Vimeo
I would like you to have a look at both versions to see the difference in resolution from the TV version and the online HD version. This is one of the reasons that shooting with the iPhone (or smartphones in general) is ideal for online but somewhat problematic for TV broadcast. If you add into the mix the fact that the iPhone natively shoots at 30fps but in Europe (PAL) we transmit in 25fps then you uncover the second technical challenge for smartphone usage in broadcast. Professional Apps like FilMicPro and Voddio allow you to shoot in 25fps or in the case of Voddio render out in 25fps but Apple Apps like iMovie render out in 30fps. In order to convert the 30fps to 25fps you have to drop 5 frames every second, this leads to non fluid motion artefacts. This may seem like technical jargon to you and to a certain extent I agree with that – what most viewers watch is the Story, not the frame rate etc etc, so Philips story above is proof that in the hands on a professional storyteller – the device is almost irrelevant. THE STORY IS EVERYTHING!