Changing the Face of First Nations Communication Conference Highlights Pt. 1 – Digital Asset Management

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 On November 16-17, 2010 I attended a conference sponsored by Indian and Northern Affairs (INAC) and Tewanee Consulting Group Inc. at the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver BC. This is the first of a series of posts reflecting my impressions of the conference and the presenters.

 Day 2 – Afternoon Session – Show and Tell

 Presenter – Ford Sinclair, founder of Banis Solutions http://www.serverdam.com/

 This presentation was about Digital Asset Management and monetization.  A digital asset is anything you have created and stored in digital format – photos, videos, even documents are digital assets. We all know what monetization is. The first big take-away message for this presentation was – We have an opportunity to capitalize on the Olympic coverage that placed BC at the forefront of the worldwide media AND we only have a few years to make the most of it.

Ford showed off a few of the videos and photos (primarily from the Torch Run) that topped the list of downloads and use by accredited media during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Many of these were of First Nations, Metis, Inuit or aboriginal people and/or had a distinct indigenous feel. BC landscapes also topped the list of downloads.

One of the things he said that kind of surprised me was that prior to the Olympics there was not a good selection of BC focused media, in high enough quality for broadcast media, available. His company was instrumental in feeding the international media outlets with high quality digital media that they could use in news and feature stories.

The second take-away message was that First Nations communities could capitalize on this interest in BC and indigenous culture by proactively using their digital assets to create greater exposure for their regions and tourism projects. He suggested that “good representative images of Canada (still) aren’t available enough” and then he outlined some ideas on how to change that. This brings us to the third take away message.

His company, along with Tewanee Joseph, (of Tewanee Consulting Group) are currently trying to put together a boot camp for budding video producers and photographers called the INdiginous Media Project. Their idea is to bring groups of people with an interest, better yet a passion for digital arts and provide them with the best training, from the best in the business and provide them with the best equipment to work with. Once they have completed the boot camp style intensive training they would then go out and start working right away. Ford further suggested that representative B-roll video is and will continue to be in demand and this would be something the boot camp attendees could focus on and provide.

To support this group, INdiginous Media Seeker (IMS) would be set up as a stock digital image library that would hold and distribute digital assets that could be used for both commercial (films, videos, etc) and non-commercial projects (news stories, documentaries, etc).

My first thought on this was that this would be like a monetized and professionalized version of Flickr. One of the questions asked by an attendee was around how this differed from all the other stock photo/video companies out there. Ford’s response was that, for one there would be a 50/50 split instead of the much lower industry standard. In addition there is the tie in with the INdiginous Media Project so for many there would be no overhead for the artist as even their equipment would be supplied.

I googled “INdiginous Media Project” and found http://www.chiapasmediaproject.org/cmp/  which looks like a successful and original version of what is being proposed by Ford and Tewanee. I also found http://www.imaginenative.org/2004/in2003/cam_about.html   whose mandate is to “To promote and to train Aboriginal media artists from across Canada”, however their last update was in 2003 so am not sure that this organization even exists anymore. This could be good for any organization seeking funding for similar initiatives.

Ford provided lots of additional advice to those wanting to have their videos and photos used by broadcast media and for those who want to capitalize on the spotlight now shining on BC and aboriginal communities.

  • Don’t use zipped products as the compression lowers the quality of the product.
  • Quality of image counts but with new pro-sumer equipment that is becoming less of an issue.
  • Use Serverdam or similar so your product can be found, and delivered uncompressed and on demand.
  • YouTube and similar are great for community engagement not so good for getting noticed by media/film producers.
  • Provide media as separate packages as well as whole i.e., B-Roll separate, interviews separate.
  • Provide one titled version and one untitled in case a news programs wants to use.
  • Provide 30 second teasers (story outline)
  • Provide entire story (up to 5 minutes) as many news agencies have web sites that allow them to carry longer stories.
  • Make sure smaller local station know about you, esp. ATPN as they often pick up stories and B-roll footage from local videographers, especially if they can use it “as is”.
  • Make sure you have a download usage agreement in place.
  • For communities – Connect with BC Film Commission http://www.bcfilmcommission.com/  – It’s their job to market BC communities to film industry, etc
  • Same with Aboriginal Tourism BC (ATBC)  http://www.aboriginalbc.com/

One thing that really concerns me with this is that neither Ford nor Tewanee’s companies are easy to find on the internet.  Tewanee Consulting Group is one page with no real information. Ford’s company is almost invisible although Serverdam popped up in the search engine fairly well. Yet I know both held high profile positions during the Olympics and the Torch Relay.

Overall this was an informative presentation and if they can find the funding they need to pull off the INdiginous Media Project and Seeker it could be a great thing for many First Nations communities and aboriginal peoples all around the province. If nothing else it could become a legacy project that captures images and video that may not be around in decades to come.

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