‘Webclip’ Training at AFP Hong Kong

Yesterday morning, I was in AFP’s Hong Kong bureau (I spend much of my leave from Iraq in Hong Kong) to learn how to make ‘webclips’, which the agency has been promoting and training several of us for. A webclip is a video, around a minute in length and comprised of a few short scenes of raw footage. The idea is to give the viewer/reader/customer a more rounded experience of the news or feature article, and it’s been quite widely deployed in Asia and the Middle East. My colleague Leon Neal, a photographer in London, has written about how he made webclips for AFP during the Glastonbury festival last year using a Nikon D3s.

While AFP’s professional photographers, like Leon, carry around pretty advanced equipment, the whole process of making and editing a webclip is designed to be simple enough for a text reporter (like me) to quickly figure it out and put one together. With that in mind, AFP has provided several Panasonic Lumix ‘point-and-shoot’ cameras that record HD video to bureaux around the world.

I’ve been keen to learn how to do it, because whenever I head out around Iraq, I always carry my personal Canon Ixus 120 IS in my pocket, just in case I see anything interesting. The camera is small but manages to shoot 720p HD video, which makes it pretty useful for making webclips.

The biggest challenge might well be the mental hurdle that requires me to ‘think video’ on every story I do — is there some way to illustrate our text articles better with video? If so, how? That’s also part of this project, forcing me to think more about pictures and video at every step of a story. Every time I upload an old story, I kick myself for not taking a camera along to take some basic photographs. Could I not have taken a picture of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales for my interview with him? Or for when I spoke to a Booker Prize nominee?

The training, which was run by AFP’s Asia-Pacific Photo chief Eric Baradat went well, and I’m keen to give it a try when I get back to Baghdad. Of course, what is glaringly obvious is this post is a chunk of text so far without an actual webclip in it. I made a little 45-second video illustrating how AFP journalists get to work, from the Wan Chai metro station to the office about 5-10 minutes away, but after uploading it, editing it and exporting it, I stupidly forgot to take a copy for myself to post on here. Yup, bad job by me. In lieu of that, here is a video of what an AFP webclip should look like:

Dutch troops on patrol in Afghanistan (For some reason, I can’t actually embed the video into the post — sorry!)

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