269 DIGITAL VIDEO OPPORTUNITY
November 29, 1999
Dirck Halstead, editor and publisher of The Digital Journalist (TDJ)
on-line monthly magazine
(www.dirckhalstead.org) has announced the creation of The Digital
Journalist Agency. The agency will be focused on producing video
features for television use. Rolf Behrens
will head the newly formed television agency.
In recent years Halstead has been training editorial photographers,
experienced in story telling with still images, in the techniques
necessary to use light weight digital video equipment to produce
television quality productions. Halstead calls this training "The
In the zoological community there were distinct categories of birds,
mammals and reptiles until the platypus was discovered. The platypus
crossed the lines between classifications. At the time of the
discovery all conventional thinking on the zoological classifications
was thrown out the window.
In journalism there are distinct species -- still photographers and
television journalist, and never the twain shall meet -- until the
platypus throws all conventional thinking out the window.
According to Halstead, "the need for this new kind of agency, which
will represent the people we have trained to become a 'Platypus'--a
term describing still photojournalists who have started working in
documentary, Mini DV projects for print, television, and the World
Wide Web--is obvious. We have made enormous strides in establishing
the credibility and marketability of this new kind of television
In the past few months, TDJ has produced three half hour shows for
ABC's Nightline. All of which were conceived, photographed, and
produced in TDJ studios. Tom Bettag, executive producer for
Nightline says, "The Platypus professionals have hit full-stride.
"Both the Ellen Bomer story (a two-part documentary) and Dirck
Halstead's Dino Delaurentiis broadcast were first class. In both
cases the quality was superb. They even conquered the eternal issue
of finding the narrative voice. Both told stories that could only be
done this way. What more could anyone want?"
Three more major documentaries are now underway, being produced
entirely in-house, using Apple G3 computers with the new Final Cut
Pro editing software. TDJ is the first organization to use this
combination for producing network television.
TDJ will not only help to conceive, produce and sell television
programming to broadcast and cable, but will also, through
partnerships with major still picture agencies, be able to handle
sales of still photographs that have been taken in connection with
the acquisition of video. This, the first agency of its kind, will
become a leader in the emerging world of multimedia.
For Rolf Behrens, an accomplished producer, cameraman and editor,
formerly with Sky News, ITN and British Channel 4 television, the
agency represents a departure: "For the first time in the history of
television, we have produced shows for broadcast on a system that
keeps the integrity of the DV digital stream intact, from capture all
the way through to final product. The relatively inexpensive edit
suites are revolutionizing the film and television production
industries by making production and editing costs much more
affordable. The work we have done for Nightline lends incredible
weight to the entire movement toward the use of digital video. Due
to the dramatic increase in the number of projects being shepherded
through production and post by The Digital Journalist, the creation
of the agency has become a necessary and organic development."
Dirck's next workshop will be held from Sunday January 16th through
Saturday January 22nd at the Apple Computer campus in Cupertino, CA.
The tuition for shooters is $1250 for the week. There are also
places for editors/producers who won't shot, but will attend all
classes and be part of the production teams for the exercises. The
tuition for editors/producers is $750. All equipment is supplied.
To make reservations call Armelle Richard at 415-331-6300 or email
The course is aimed at magazine photojournalists, (staff and
freelance), who want to master the latest digital video technology
for creating stories for television and the web. Editors and writers
are urged to attend as participants. Halstead and his team are
teaching a new skill that will affect the future of every editorial
photo agency. Agency editors are urged to join their photographers
in the class.
Teams will be made up of a photographer and a producer/observer
working together on short exercises throughout the week using the
latest Canon digital cameras, Macintosh G4's and Final Cut Pro
Following an introduction to gear and process, teams gather original
tape on local issues and stories. They assemble and cut their short
projects into one-minute presentations for critique before the
faculty and class. The course teaches cinematic techniques such as
story content, pacing, coverage, writing, tracking, lighting and
editing. Emphasis is placed on developing a command of digital video
technology and acquiring the new story telling techniques to help the
photojournalist bring his or her vision and style to the TV screen.
For more information about the Platypus and Dirck Halstead go to The
Digital Journalist site at
contact Dirck Halstead, at (202) 338-3754 (firstname.lastname@example.org), or
Bailey Condrey, Jr., at (703) 319-0890 (email@example.com).
Look To The Future
Many still photographers are faced with decreasing options to sell
the kind of work they have traditionally produced. One of the
business challenges for photographers is to expand their options.
Demand for video will increase with expanded use of the web and an
increased number of television channels providing information on more
specialized subject matter. The Platypus will provide many still
photographers with new opportunities to supply content that will fill
that new demand. I will be at the workshop as an editor participant
and will continue to report on this new opportunity for