This is a draft / working document of a video activism FAQ (or a Guide 2 Video Activism) which started life on The FAQ has now been moved to Indymedia so that it is more accessable, while other bits in progress remain on the TWIKI.

The aim is to produce a comprehensive guide to anybody wanting to engage in video activism. This bit works as a Frequently Asked Questions list, but the intention is to produce something that can be used as a flat document for print publication as well a more indepth multi-level online resource.

Video Activism Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Q. How can video be used by activists?*

There are two main reasons why video is useful to activists. One reason is that enables us to document what happens at events so that the footage may later prove something (for example, provide evidence of crimal activity by the police or security, or evidence that an activist is innocent of charges bought against them). The other reason is that since the mainstream media often ignore or misrepresent activists, it is up to us to create our own media and document our own history. Activist video can present events and issues without the filters of the corporate media and be used as a campaign tool to raise the profile of a campaign or to inspire further action and the involvement of new people.

Q. How do I find somebody to film at our protest/event?*

If you don't have access to a camera, there are a number of email lists to which video activist subscribe, where you could email a request for help. However, it would be bad to replace BBC and CNN news crews with an activist equivelent. Recreating such hiarachies doesn't challenge the model of representative media. If you think it is important that your event is filmed, it would probably be better if you or your group could do it yourself (although obviously this is somewhat dependent on resources).

Q. We need a video about XXXX. How do I find somebody to make it?*

If you are concerned about a specific issue or campaign and think it would be useful for there to be a film about it, check to see if something already exists. If there is nothing suitable, who would make it? What would you do with the film? Who would it be for? What would you hope to acheive? Who will distribute it and how?

While you could find somebody else to film, it is usually better that people represent themselves and tell their own story. This might require learning how to use a camera and make films, or it might mean consciously taking a far more proactive and particapatory role in the process.

Q. I have a video camera, what should I film?*

Perhaps you have a camera and want to make activist videos. What interests you? What events should you go to and film? How will you find out about them? One good way of finding out what is happening is to check out and

Q. I have a video camera, what should I not video?*

Some events may not be appropriate to film (for example, footage of people commiting criminal damage may incriminate people).

Q. I want a video camera, what should I get?*

miniDV is the obvious answer. The quality is high enough for broadcasters, the format is widely used and being digital it is easy to get on to a computer to edit. However older equipment is still viable, Hi 8 (or better yet Digital Hi 8, is a good format and you can pick these cameras up very cheaply as most people prefer to go for DV. You don't need to spend loads on a camera and while you could opt for a semi pro camera with 3CCD and a tonne of accesories, you certainly don't need to do so to get good results. Don't waste your time or money getting the DVD camcorders - they are not a widely used format yet and will cause you no end of trouble - stick to tried and tested technology.

Q. How can I learn how to use a video camera effectively?*

Cameras are pretty cheap these days so lots of people have them. It's not difficult to use these modern camera - although people do tend to make the same mistakes (too much moving about, constant panning and zooming). Various projects exist which can give advice about video cameras and train people to use them effectively. There are also quite a few online guides to using a camera and shooting good video.

Q. I've filmed something, how do I make my footage available to others?*

If you have footage of an action and do not plan to do anything with it yourself, you might like to inform other people of what you have available so that they can use it. There are several places you might do this; email lists, indymedia and online video depositories such as v2v.

see also

Q. I've filmed something, how do I sell my footage to the corporate media?*

Why do you want you footage shown on TV? What do you hope to achieve? Could it be misused? Ask yourself these question before you proceed. There are indepth guides available which tell you how to go about selling footage, but be clear about your motives. Selling footage can be a useful way to fund video activism (money is always required for equipment and tape stock) but be aware of what seperates those that use video for social change, and those that use video to earn their living.

Q. I've filmed something, how do I get my footage edited?*

Raw footage is normally useless without some form of editing (except in the case of footage for evidence in court actions). The people who did the filming do not have to do the editing - most people who film at actions do not do anything with their footage.

Q. I can train people to film or edit, how do I let people know?*

If feel able to train people to use a camera and make films, it would be useful to pass those skills on. The more people are filming and making films, the less elitist it becomes. Better still, training is often an area where it is possible to obtain funding.

Q. I've made a film, where do I get it shown?*

Obvious people need to be able to see the videos. Screening projects exist that organise public shows. Some of these are regular events while others are one off events perhaps on a specific issue.

Q. I want to do a public screening, how do I do it?*

Video Activist Network 'How to do a video screening' guide An updated copy of the undercurrents screening guid and more (:

Q. I put on public screenings, how do I find films to show?*

The are various distribution projects which you could contact for videos. Some are offline projects which sell VHS, DVD or CD. Others are online projects from which you can download. Many individuals / groups distribute their own videos and you will need to contact them directly.

Q. I've made a film, how do I get it distributed?*

You can either distribute it yourself or find a distribution project. When it comes down to it, you will need to do both. There are a number of offline distribution projects to which you can send / upload your stuff for distribution and screening. You can also do it yourself.

Q. I've made a film, how do I make it available on the Internet?*

Video can be put on the internet although bandwidth and quality are an issue. Digital video is large, it requires lots of disk space compared to text based information and can take a long time for people to access. However, more and more people are getting faster internet connections and disk space is getting cheaper all the time. Various online video archives already exist on to which you can upload video.

list VideoOnline

Q. Which CODEC should I compress my videos in?*

Depends on how the video is distributed, you may need to compress differently for online or offline distribution. If you are placing video online you will probably need to keep the filesize down to create video which people could realistically download. You should provide low bandwidth versions that people without access to broadband can view. Different people will recommend different CODECs but you should always consider who your audience is and what they are likely to have access to. If you choose baddly, the user may have to download and install a new CODEC on their computer before they can view you video - and they may not bother.

Q. What formats can I distribute my videos in?*

It is fairly cheap to produce videos for self distribution. VHS remains without doubt the most accessable and least elitist format but DVD players are quickly becoming universal and DVDs themselves are now pretty cheap to produce. There is also VCD, which is cheaper than DVD to produce and works on most DVD players as well as on many computer systems. A simliar option is to place video on standard data CDROMs. You can use in various compression techniques (CODECs) such as DIVX, QUICKTIME or MPEG. There are many ways to compress video to fit on CD but whichever you use, it needs to be a standard which your audience will be able to read.

For people who do not use free software, it may be difficult to play some of these codecs. If you can educate your audience about free software, then they will be able to install free (as in speech) software such as mplayer and play virtually any codec - ImcVideo#free_software_resources_for_vide. Please do not miseducate your audience by writing something like "requires realplayer", instead write something like "uses realplayer codec RV30, mplayer and codecs can be downloaded from".

Q. Can i distribute my video on a self-booting CD to avoid dependence on non-free operating systems?

It seems that the answer is yes. MoviX? is a series of projects. With eMoviX, you can prepare a CD, either on GNU/Linux or on windoze, which includes both your movies and a small GNU/Linux operating system including mplayer. Someone with a non-GNU/Linux computer can boot from this CD into RAM, so that both the operating system and the movies are running from the CD - there is no dependence on the installed operating system.

Q. How do I track down footage I need to make a film I am working on?*

It you are seeking footage of something specific which you would like to use in a project that you are working on you could make your requests on video activist email lists or check out online resources such as;

Q. I'd like to work with other people. How do I find other media activists?*

There are a number of video activist groups and networks. If you have access to the internet it should be possible to locate people who work in your region. Many video activists are associated with Indymedia projects and your local IMC will be a good place to start.

Lists of video activist groups / networks / mailing lists

-- BenR2R - 27 Aug 2004

Topic revision: r5 - 17 Oct 2004 - 21:19:56 - BouD
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