What a TV news channel in Switzerland learnt as they replaced cameras with smartphones

Smartphone reportage is now a reality, and in spite of some resistance, the trend is being welcomed by the industry.
What a TV news channel in Switzerland learnt as they replaced cameras with smartphones
What a TV news channel in Switzerland learnt as they replaced cameras with smartphones
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Sooner rather than later someone was going to do it and Léman Bleu, a regional news channel in Geneva (Switzerland) is among the first to take the plunge.  Smartphone reportage is a reality. “It is light, quick and a new grammar of reporting is emerging,” Laurent Keller, News Director Léman Bleu tells The News Minute. Excerpts:

What were some of the reasons behind your decision to try this experiment?

It was a search for lightness, quick reactions and the rapidity of execution and inter-activity that set us on this path. With a single tool you can feed media – the web, social media and television. It permits us to offer better coverage and journalists scan go “live” with the smartphone wherever they are.

The potential to economise is huge. A priori, a journalist – reporter’s kit with a smartphone costs less than traditional equipment.

Léman Bleu Switzerland goes LiveU

You knew it had to happen, right? A local TV news station in Switzerland has gone “100% iPhone”. Over the summer, Léman Bleu outfitted each of its reporters with an iPhone 6 with LiveU's LU-Smart software and SmartGRIP's to shoot their live stories.

Posted by LiveU on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What have you learnt from this experiment?

The smartphone produces good images if we respect certain rules – this is an on-going process. Secondly, using the smartphone necessitates a reinvention of the grammar of images (how to film, for example). Filming with a camera and a filing with a smartphone are completely different.

In addition, people we interview seem less intimidated with the smartphone than with heavy cameras and this puts the interviewee at ease. As for the journalists, this is a very welcome fillip as it has renewed interest in our métier!

What is the downside?

The smartphone reacts badly to changes in light (luminosity). Without the zoom for example, it is difficult to film certain sports like golf, football etc.

Is this the future of the first draft of news?

We can certainly look at it that way, especially for certain types of reporting.

How important was it to have Swisscom (Switzerland’s partly state owned operator)?

In future, Swisscom can help us find solutions for the technical problems we have encountered. Soon, Swisscom is coming out with a 4G advanced. This could make the images and live-streaming better.

What is your advice for small news organisations such as yours who may want try it out?

Not to be afraid of a drop in quality. The public is very indulgent and as long as the subject and angles are well reported, they will be interested.

What is the feedback you have got back from a) media and b) public?

Both have reacted very well and that has been an important source of encouragement for us to continue this experience. There is some hesitation about the quality of images and the future of jobs linked to the images and sound industry, but that is perfectly understandable.

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