Platypus Workshop Report
by Tom Burton
It is difficult to describe the Platypus Workshop since there has never been anything like it before. Iíve had problems finding comparisons, but I think Iíve found one that works for me. 

When a group of highly-experienced still photographers were taught the basics of television news, it was like we were learning a new language. It was not an entirely foreign language. Many of the base words were the same but we had to look at some of our skills from a different perspective while also adding new vocabulary.  

Just like when I was first in a Spanish-language region, my head would ache a bit at the Platypus Workshop as I mentally translated back and forth between the language of stills and the language of moving pictures and sound. As the workshop went on, I became more comfortable in this multimedia world and the translations were easier.  

I am still not fluent in the language of video but Iíve come to believe that still and video arenít different languages as much as the same language with very different accents. I can now communicate in the  telelvison language but Iíll have to continue using the video skills or my television language will become as sloppy as my seldom-practiced Spanish.  

Iím also much more aware now that within the newsroom of The Orlando Sentinel, we need to improve our skills in translating between media. Iím seeing the need for people who are truly multimedia in their experience and who can interpret stories between print, television and the Internet. There arenít many people with such qualifications because until now, there hasnít been a demand. With the Platypus Workshop, there are a few more out there who understand the different cultures.   

I hope someday to create televison stories from the same assignment that I am working on for print, where the video version will translate well. I happily reserve the right, however, to ďspeakĒ with the accent of a still photographer.   

Tom Burton is a senior staff photographer for The Orlando Sentinel where multi-media journalism is expanding to both online and broadcast, with the addition of Central Florida News 13, a 24-hour local news channel. A life-long Floridian, he graduated from the University of Florida's journalism school. Burton currently oversees photography for the features sections of The Sentinel, and creates a weekly photo-driven feature called A&E Gallery which profiles individuals and events in the arts community.

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