Tag: soapbox

Formula D Media Coverage – No Cell Phone Cameras

The few times that I’ve attended Formula D events as part of the press, the officials there always stated that they want to see real deal cameras out there. This means no cell phone cameras or point-n-shoots. They have their reasons for saying that I guess. But I’m not clear on what they are and I’ve never tried to challenge them on this. I have always used prosumer/professional equipment at the events regardless. Well times are changing. Print media isn’t necessarily dying, but web media is definitely on the rise. With many of the automobile based magazines shutting down their operations, web media is the consumer’s only alternative to get the information that they crave. E-zines and blogs, like WreckedMagazine.com and Speedhunters.com are fast becoming the go-to outlet for drifting and other motorsports coverage.

So, how does this relate to Formula D’s media rules?

The Internet generation wants their information fast, really fast. To me, this means that technology to get that information published quickly, needs to be utilized to its fullest potential. But this doesn’t mean the coverage can lack quality. Typical equipment for shooting a Formula D event could be a digital video camera (at least something from the prosumer class) and/or DSLR. Turn around time can be quick if done correctly. Usually media, whether it be video or stills, can be posted that night, after the event. But the current trend across the Internet is moving towards real time. People want streams of video, status updates of their friends, and instant news coverage reported live, as it happens. So how do you accomplish that? New technologies/services such as Twitter, allow websites to publish short 140 character headlines and other facts in real time, as they happen. A blog can be set to import this Twitter feed along with anyone else using certain key words, such as #FD or #FormulaD. This not only allows the authors of the website/blog to contribute, but also allows anyone with a cellphone or laptop attending the event to collaborate via text, images, or URL links, current happenings from their point of view as they occur.

The future also holds a number of great things for real-time streaming media. The revolutionary Apple iPhone is set to enter its 3rd generation this summer and it promises to be quite a leap forward. Rumored specifics as to the devices capabilities include shooting video as well as an industry first, basic video editing within the device. Imagine the possibilities that this kind of tech could open up for journalists alone.

Another potential packed technology is the Eye-fi SD card. This card can auto upload photos from a digital camera via Wifi hotspot connections. Combine this with Verizon’s new Mifi 3G portable wifi router and an amazing point-n-shoot like the Canon G10 Powershot, and you can produce fantastic images and have the ability to upload those high quality photos in near real time.

On my last trip to LA for FD Irwindale, I was toting around a Canon GL2, Nikon D90, and my blackberry curve. I shot video of drift runs first, waiting for something to report on, then shot high quality stills, and then a secondary shot with my curve to post to Wrecked Magazines Twitter feed. All very important to the success of the story. A reminder though, technology is useless without the knowledge of how and when to utilize it. It is merely a tool though, you still need to be able to tell a story. That is the root of all journalism. And by no means should this new technology replace tried and true approaches and outlets. The need for a solid flow of well written articles, quality edited video and sharp photographs published or broadcast in a timely manner, will never run dry. But with the additional need to be the first on the scene with current events, it is definitely worth it to invest in another hand or person to report via these new tools.

Formula D is going to have to change the way they look at media coverage as a whole if they plan on getting the most out of it. Cell phones, as well as point-n-shoots are becoming perfectly capable for the production of the futures web-based media.