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Video Manipulation We All Do It

by John on 04/22/2015

We live in a video manipulation world.

In a previous post, I mentioned how police agencies and criminals will try to manipulate video for their own purposes.

But we already manipulate reality in our culture.

Look at our so-called reality shows. They are all scripted. Yet we call them reality.

Is the entertainment business bamboozling us? Yes and no.

It is really the entertainment business making money.

Imagine a meeting you might take with a TV executive about a reality show you want to pitch.

You: I have a great reality show. I’m going to follow around this group of people with my video camera and create 13 shows for you.

TV exec: Great, what’s in the first episode?

You: I will introduce the characters.

TV exec: And the final episode?

You: I don’t know yet. I will have to see what happens in front of my cameras.

TV exec: Not interested.

And why would he be? His company is going to invest millions on a hunch. Would you invest that amount of money? I wouldn’t.

But here’s my snarky, biased question: why would you watch them?

(Here it comes)

The last real reality TV show was Real TV.

(Expect at end of post to read comments like: “yes despite the host.”)

We had live action caught on tape: crimes in progress; rescues in progress; police video. It was raw, more interesting, and revealing than anything you see today. We actually pioneered the all-video show movement that is being practiced by all news agencies and shows such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, and Dateline.

What is missing from today’s shows, though, in my humble opinion, is the uplifting human spirit we captured with our storytelling. I wrote about one video that showed the human spirit of people pulling together in this post.

But we are missing that today.

Take the story this week about Ben Affleck. The actor-director tried to spike a TV show that explored his family roots only to reveal he comes from slave owners. Affleck was embarrassed since he has done a lot of work with African aid agencies.

I think he was wrong. And he since admitted that.

Still, I get where he is coming from. Ben did what most of us would do on video: protect our brand. It would have been more revealing of his character, which I hear is solid, to talk about how he has overcome that. (I still question whether we are responsible for something our great grandfathers might have done, though.)

However, a young ESPN reporter had absolutely no clue about her brand or her real TV persona. But she gave us some great, if not embarrassing Real TV like footage.

The ESPN reporter is caught on camera trying to get out of a towing ticket. She berates the woman who is collecting the money and releasing the car. She calls her fat and toothless while announcing, “Do you know who I am?” (I didn’t remember her, to be honest, but now I will.)

What she did was wrong. But how many of us in the TV biz especially young newbies who have had any fame haven’t done that or something similar to get our way? Probably a big portion.

No, her stupidity came from being told she was on camera. And yet she continued the tirade.

She won’t do that again. And that is good.

But in another way, the technology has culture of video manipulation.

We all do it.

I am just as guilty. But I didn’t realize it until I was with some friends in Las Vegas at a leisurely dinner. One friend said, “Why can’t you be like that on the news?” I realized my on-camera persona as a TV news anchor was totally different from my every day personality.

Of course, I was trying to bring across the “credible journalist” on air. But that was my job, my brand.

We all do that with our jobs or people we want to impress.

Don’t believe me? Stick a camera in someone’s face. You have changed some reality.

In a previous post, I discussed the two streaming video services on your phone called Meerkat and Periscope. I encourage you to look at them.

But here’s a reality about both of them – if you use them legally.

You have to tell people you are live streaming when they are in your vicinity of your recording. It is courtesy but also the law when it comes to privacy.

I encourage you to do it.

However, when you make that announcement, “I am recording live,” there is a drop in raw reality.

It’s not as invasive. It’s not as voyeuristic. It gets boring.

That’s when the manipulation begins.

But this also calls for more cameras as well.

That is something as a society we need to decide. I don’t want my privacy invaded but I am also concerned about my security.

Are cameras the answer? Yes, they put people on notice. But we need to be vigilant with technology that won’t allow video manipulation.

We also need to be vigilant ourselves to not be swayed entirely by video. Our research and news gathering, as citizens, should be used as a complement to the video we will have.

You never know when someone might be manipulating you – like some washed up TV host trying to get his show back on air.

Give me your video thoughts.

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