2004 Platypus Workshop

April 24 - May 3, 2004

Brooks Institute of Photography

Ventura, CA

This year, we are encouraging publications to send teams to the Platypus Workshop. Enough newspapers now have video as part of their online brand, that we encourage editors to join shooters in training, in order to streamline the news room process. See our special offer for shoot n’edit and producer teams.

Sponsored by:

Learn from the Platypus

The rapidly changing world of new media will offer today's photojournalists new opportunities to tell their stories, whether by print, the Web or television - provided they understand and master the techniques of video. There are crucial differences between the two, previously separate, professions. The rules must be learned before you can break them. The workshop will be taught by still photographers who have made the jump.

You'll Work Hard

As TV shooters who have gone through the experience can attest, learning this stuff is no picnic. Students will spend 12 to 16 hours a day in formal and informal sessions, attending lectures by the staff, shooting their assignments, and editing with Apple's Final Cut Pro 3 software on new Mac G4 computers.

What To Expect

You'll be totally immersed in a new atmosphere from the moment you arrive. The Workshop will provide the newest in 3-chip professional digital video cameras. Technical and storytelling skills will be taught, providing the foundation for a new breed of total visual journalists.

Leave Your Ego Behind

Unless you already have a professional 3-chip digital camera that you can't do without, leave your gear behind. We will outfit you with the equipment you need. Prepare to learn a set of skills that will form the core of your new career in photojournalism. Workshop graduates will be the spark plugs whose enthusiasm and commitment will energize the environments in which they will work - and change the face of media.

The 2004 Platypus Workshop will be held The Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura, Ca. from April 24- May 3. The workshop ends at 12 pm on May 3rd.

Read Amy Bowers' column about the 2002 Platypus Workshop

The Brooks Institute Campus

The classes will be held at the Brooks Ventura campus. Click here for a map of the location.

The workshop will be held at the new Ventura campus of Brooks Institute, 30 minutes south of Santa Barbara, 60 minutes north of Los Angeles. This is the new home of the Brooks motion picture department. It is a former sound stage used in the production of major Hollywood films. The new digital lab and classroom will have the latest equipment software to insure that students in the Platypus Workshop are working with the most current industry tools.

The cost of the one week workshop is $1500 for Shoot-and-Edit students. These people will do the hands-on shooting and editing. There is a limit of 15 positions in this category. There are also 30 spots available for participants at $750. These students will join the Shoot-and-Edit people to make up 3-person teams.

For publications that would like to send shoot n’edit-editor-producer teams, which we strongly recommend, this year we are offering a $2,000 package for one shooter and one editor,or $2300 for one shooter and two editors.

Finally, students currently enrolled at a University will be able to attend for $400, provided they provide a letter of recommendation from a Professor. These students will get all the same training. The participant category is especially attractive to editors, writers, and producers who want to familiarize themselves with the language of television. In the event there are more than 10 candidates for Shoot-and-Edit, the first to apply will be considered, If Shoot-and-Edit is full, you will be offered an opportunity to attend as a participant, and you will be refunded the balance of your tuition.

We expect a heavy demand for the Platypus training this year. Because we only have so many spots, we recommend that you reserve your places early.


Attendees must make their own housing arrangements. Visit this Yahoo web page to search for listings of Ventura hotels. Brooks has made arrangements with The Pierpont Inn. From their brochure:

The Pierpont Inn and Racquet Club has been providing the very finest service and comfort since 1910. Nestled by the sea, this full service resort and conference center offers a rich environment. Craftsman Period architecture, lush mature gardens, and priceless setting by the sea. The Pierpont Inn and Racquet Club, 550 Sanjon Rd., Ventura, Ca. 93001.
Click here for a reference map.

Contact Information

Marshall Dennen
Brooks Institute of Photography
801 Alston Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108
Fax 805-564-4618

Dirck Halstead - 512-402-0854

Faculty for the 2004 Platypus Workshop

Dirck Halstead, Director

A veteran still photographer for UPI and Time magazine. In the early 90's he helped in the creation of Video News International, now NYT-TV (a New York Times Company). VNI played an important early role in moving photojournalists into television. Currently Dirck is a fellow in photojournalism at the Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin, and a lecturer in the new visual journalism.
Dirck can be reached at (512) 402-0854, or email:

PF Bentley

PF Bentley is a long time photojournalist, with over 15 years at Time Magazine under his belt. He graduated from the VNI workshops, and almost immediately started to produce documentaries for ABC Nightline. He is the author of several books, including a book on the Clinton campaign. He has helped to devise new methods of compression and editing for the web. He is now a full-time member of the faculty of Brooks.,, email:

Roger Richards

A photographer and photo editor for The Virginian-Pilot, Roger is a graduate of the first Platypus Workshop. He produces his own video documentaries and is the editor of The Digital Filmmaker website. Email: