Tuesday, January 4

the story behind the tsunami videos

MK-AD846_videoblog01022005215251Wall Street Journal has had an interesting article on video blogging and the tsunami with the story behind one of the most famous of the Phuket videos shot from a hotel window showing an elderly couple getting swallowed by the incoming wave as a man briefly attempts to save them before they are swept away. The article contains no information on what happened to the couple and I am (as I'm sure many are) desperate to hear what happened to them.

"The story of one particularly vivid video, labeled 'Tsunami hitting Phuket Beach' by Mr. Golson, is a case in point.

The video, which shows an elderly couple overpowered by a wave, was filmed at the Kamala Beach Hotel near Phuket on Sunday morning by a 31-year-old factory worker from Sweden named Tommy Lorentsen.

Reached in Thailand, Mr. Lorentsen said he salvaged the tape from his camera after it was soaked and gave a copy to Fredrik Bornesand, a Stockholm police detective who appears in the footage trying to rescue the couple. Mr. Bornesand handed a CD of the clip to journalists with Norway's Dagbladet newspaper who then uploaded to their Web site on Monday.

'It wasn't too steady a shot, but we thought it would be good to show what happened,' says Det. Bornesand.

The Phuket video has since been one of the most widely aired on television networks, but only after bloggers spread the word. Mr. Golson heard about it from other bloggers and posted it on his site on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. in Boston.

Dagbladet editor Oliver Orskaug says once the clip began circulating on Web blogs and forums 'suddenly the networks were calling from Japan, Spain and France and everywhere to buy the video.' He says within 12 hours he sold rights to CNN, ABC News, and others for a total of about $20,000. Mr. Orskaug was not surprised bloggers grabbed the video without paying. 'That's the Internet. We expect that would happen,' he says.

The networks typically seem to ignore competition from news blogs that post videos, although that may change as video-blogging expands. Bill Wheatley, Vice President of NBC News, says during the last six months the network has begun adding a digital watermark to its video 'so electronically we can determine if it's our video.' He says the marking is mostly to know if other TV stations are using its video, rather than keeping tabs on the Internet. 'But the day may come when we may need to deal with that,' he says.

Beyond copyright issues, videoblogs are facing another challenge brought on by their sudden popularity: too little bandwidth, or the amount of data they are able to transmit over a period of time."

I would add that not only is bandwidth a huge problem, which is being addressed handily with bittorrent, but the biggest problem I see is keeping the stories behind the video clips connected to the clips. This is only the first or second video that I've gotten the background story on. They're not easily identified as the names change and the are either recompressed or edited. Disembodiment from the background information is a huge problem. Hopefully I'll be bringing you the story behind more videos as the coming days. If you see anything please email me.

WSJ.com - Video Blogs Break Out
With Tsunami Scenes


dltq said...

If you go to the Dagbladet.no homepage (http://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/2004/12/27/418679.html) you can read the following, which is translated to English here http://jlgolson.blogspot.com/2004/12/translation.html :

"We tried to drag an older English married couple out of the water. But then the concrete wall they hung onto broke. We managed to find the man again afterward, but we have not seen the woman since," said Fredrik to Dagbladet at Bangkok Hospital in Phuket.

I blogged slightly on the context of that movie here: http://dltq.blogs.com/dltq/2005/01/the_vlogging_er.html


Michael Meiser said...

Thank you, those are indeed very good resources.