Digital Video Opportunity

Posted on 11/29/1999 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



November 29, 1999

Dirck Halstead, editor and publisher of The Digital Journalist (TDJ)

on-line monthly magazine

( 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."

Next Workshop

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

editing software.

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

( or

contact Dirck Halstead, at (202) 338-3754 (, or

Bailey Condrey, Jr., at (703) 319-0890 (

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


Copyright © 1999 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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