About the Playpus Workshop
In this month's issue you will see the application form for the first National Platypus Workshop. It will be held in conjunction with the National Press Photographers Association's TV Workshop at the University of Oklahoma, in Norman, starting February 27, 1999.
The creation of this workshop--the purpose of which is to help train still photographers in the disciplines of video production--speaks to the NPPA's desire to give their membership the ability to compete and lead in the emerging field of multimedia photojournalism.
As readers of our Platypus Papers know, I received similar training from Video News International several years ago. There is no doubt that what I learned in those classes changed my direction and outlook in the field of visual journalism. Whereas before, I had been concerned that the market for my photo stories was being steadily reduced--I now saw that with the proliferation of cable television channels, and the future advent of Web TV, there would be a new and vastly expanding universe of outlets that would need product from people like myself.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle that Video News International faced in its formative years was that it saw itself as a provider of low cost news video to the existing television structure. Not only did conventional television not need a new source of inferior-looking video, but it resented the very existence of these intruders into its society. This made it very difficult for VNI shooters to be taken seriously. They were considered unprofessional-- even outlaws.
The purpose of the Platypus Workshop is not to produce 30 new television cameramen. One thing the Workshop will do is to give still photographers a new respect for the skills their television brethren have to master. The workshop will teach photojournalists a new language of communication. The basic skills needed to become conversant in television production. The second week, attendees will go through the TV Workshop, taught by the best in television news. These talented instructors will help their students find the new models to inspire them, unlike the shooters who emerged from VNI, these photojournalists will have the respect and assistance of the existing television news community.
Once these skills and observations are digested, it will be up to the individual photojournalist to tailor these new virtues to his or her own work. From this beginning will emerge a new generation of visual storytellers.
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