December 3rd, 2015 by Joonas Rokka

Endorsed by the Lifestyle Cluster, Transforming Markets & Changing Lifestyles Research Center, and Department of Markets & Innovation at EMLYON Business School, the first Lyon Videography Workshop took place at the Ecully campus as a two-day intensive research workshop that welcomed a group of researchers, Phd students and practitioners inspired of doing research on video media.

This was already the fifth Videography Workshop event I’ve had the chance to be part of organising. This time I invited Hannu Uotila as a co-organizer. He is a top European film producer and CEO of an audio-visually focused market research company (Sailer Ltd.) based in Finland. Combining our prior experience in academic and professional, commercial film production allowed an interesting setup for discussions and perspectives into what is currently emerging as a novel research practice.

We were a total of 13 participants, a highly international group representing 8 nationalities (France, Finland, Scotland, USA, Peru, Turkey, Morocco, Germany) and varying professional backgrounds. Notably, we had EMLYON marketing faculty (4), Phd students (3), external marketing professors (3), and external professionals (3). Only few participants had prior filmmaking experience.

The 2-day program was, as one could imagine, action-packed. We begun with important theoretical and ontological considerations about what doing research on video means and entails, drawing on assigned pre-readings and films. We then covered important videographic research streams, as well as modes and approaches to filmmaking (notably visual ethnography and documentary film). Thereafter, reflected on insights from prior videography projects and illuminated the process of filmmaking – including pre-production, production and post-production.

After the theory part we engaged into hands-on videography projects that were completed from inception to finish within 24h. Each participant had brought an idea about research-inspired short film that could be filmed and edited within the limits of time/space of the workshop. We collectively chose two topics that were then pursued in two teams, under supervision. We assigned appropriate roles for each team-member: director, producer, director of photography, script supervisor, and photographer/editor. Enacting these roles made it not only possible for us to complete our highly challenging filmmaking tasks but also taught various tasks and points of view necessary for building compelling filmic experiences. Both resulting films, 3 min each, were completed and finalised in time, and then screened at the workshop concluding “Film festival” where films and filmmaking experiences were further exchanged.

The learnings of the workshop were many. Here is a list of some of the evident ones:

  1. Doing films is a practice that requires careful planning and focus. Poor planning, on the other hand, results in unusable or missing footage and thus unfinished or poor films. This is why we spent time working on scripts and storyboarding (we really could have used even more time doing so!) before touching the cameras.
  2. Doing films is necessarily teamwork and thus the best result comes when the team functions seamlessly, flexibly yet according to the plan (script + storyboard).
  3. Filming is all about being ready for the unexpected, facilitation of the potential for something interesting to emerge.
  4. Filmmaking is all about access. Therefore negotiating access to the studied phenomenon needs to be considered and planned as well.
  5. Justification of all choices. Be it your story, camera angle, argument, talking heads, mood, background music, voiceover, transitions, b-reel footage – always ask: “why do I need this element for my film?”

After the official program we visited the Institut Lumière for an intriguing history lesson on filmmaking. This was important as the moving image has indeed been invented in Lyon!

Next up: the 2nd Lyon Videography Workshop will be organized as a 2,5 day event on 16-18 May 2016, just before the French Marketing Association conference (AFM). There are still some places available, so be quick to reserve. Apply by sending email to joonas.rokka(at)gmail.com

Some pics from the workshop:

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January 13th, 2015 by Joonas Rokka

The most recent Videography Workshop took place at Lund University, Sweden (2-3 December 2014), with a very very nice group of enthusiastic filmmakers. Next week we’re heading towards the mountains with new set at the University of Innsbruck. The boat is moving!

Find here some reflections from the participants in Lund, Marcus Klasson and Carys Egan-Wyer, who kindly wrote a detailed piece based on their workshop thoughts and first steps towards academic film production (here). Below is also something worth checking – their 2 min film titled “Strange” that was produced during the workshop. Well-crafted and filmed story in my view, especially considering the limited time we had. Looking forward to hearing more from these guys!

In the snow-covered Innsbruck, the agenda will be largely the same: together with around 10 participants we aim to cover a broad range of critical theoretical and ontological questions relating to what making research on video format means, and then get our hands dirty by planning, filming and editing two short films in just two days. These are, hopefully, the ingredients for many fruitful discussions on how to advance research on video media.

Will write some notes on how things go!

(Below some action pics from Lund…)

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April 6th, 2013 by Joonas Rokka

Two weeks ago 15 enthusiastic participants and three workshop co-organizers set out to explore, discuss and discover how video media could be employed by researchers. Our set up was a three-day intensive Videography Workshop featuring introductory lectures on key topics and approaches, fruitful discussions and, importantly, hands-on videography work covering the entire process of filmmaking (pre-production, production and post-production). We were lucky enough to occupy the Rouen Business School campus Château making the experience special in many ways. Find in the following some thoughts and insights from the workshop that – at least according to feedback from the participants – can be considered a good success.

First of all, the idea of this workshop was, on the one hand, to continue the series of inspiring and pioneering Video Ethnography workshops organized by Professors Russ Belk and Rob Kozinets some years back in connection to Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) conferences. On the other hand, the principal idea behind this event – perhaps distinguishing it from the previous ones – was to invite researchers together who already had at least some prior experience in video production or analysis, had questions about it, or had tried to shoot and edit film before, or who were looking for further advice in advancing their ongoing video projects. We wanted to cater for this group in particular by offering not only practical information about “how to do it” but also raise important questions about the practice of academic videography productions: Why should academics consider videographies as a means to produce, express and disseminate research? What is it good for? What does it mean to employ video media? What requirements, opportunities, limitations and approaches should be considered?

I wanted to invite two co-chairs for the event for a number of reasons. Joel Hietanen, my dear friend and co-author/filmmaker (not to mention co-writer of this blog), finished his Doctoral dissertation last summer on a fundamental topic to our workshop: “Videography in Consumer Culture Theory” – in short, a philosophical account on academic film productions (see link here). Joel’s task was thus to inspire, provoke, and stimulate discussion on a journey to philosophical trajectories in audiovisual research. His presentation excelled in that it introduced fundamental notions from Gilles Deleuze’s theorizing of cinema (see Joel’s posting on our workshop in this blog any day soon). The second co-chair I invited was Hannu Uotila, CEO of Rocketgang productions – a Helsinki-based video production company. Hannu’s role was to provide and facilitate a comprehensive account on the video production process from professional’s viewpoint (Hannu’s posting forthcoming in this blog soon too). Hannu’s experience in commercial video productinons – including ads, television programs, company films etc. – was essential in setting up the workshop learning experience. It is also worth mentioning that, just last week, Hannu was nominated to the list of “New Producers to Watch” by MIPTV event organized in Cannes, France (Hannu: We salute you! Congratulations!)

I tried to add my personal input somewhere between Joel and Hannu – between Deleuzian ephemera and hands-on concrete video productions – in attempting to position videography as a particular research approach and a useful tool for researchers and also to point our opportunities and challenges that videography may bring about. Among other things, I attempted to open up how traditions in documentary film theory, visual anthropology, experimental ethnography, and also artistic video projects may help us in charting and finding promising directions for videographers.

Finally, and most importantly, we left room for emergence and improvisation in that all the participants of the workshop engaged in filmmaking activity (in four teams). We planned, filmed, edited, produced and finalized four short films over the course of just two and half days! This videography challenge seemed impossible at first (see Hannu’s posting in this blog) but we were confident of success. All four groups finished their films in time and the screening of the films was certainly the climax of our workshop. Four amazing films of stunning quality! Great work from all the groups.

My own experience of organizing and pulling together the workshop was of course very special. Notably, it was absolutely great to receive such a perfect group of guests to my home school and city. In addition, I am astonished how many new ideas I/we got concerning both future videography productions and also the role of videography in the academia altogether. I am convinced we’re still taking some of the early steps in this regard! So let us continue… :)

Thanks everyone one more time! (and check out some photos from the action below..) We also wish to thank Rouen Business School research group Markets, Brands & Experiences for generous sponsorship.

April 14th, 2011 by Joel Hietanen

Ok, I lied. The concept of hiatus does not apply if one considers anything that we’ve been up to not pertaining specifically to this blog. What has now been going down behind the curtains has consisted of voluminous amounts of editing (my screen-glaring eyes look kinda funny now and the silver fox proportions of my integrated toupée have certainly been on the increase). The outcome consists of two ‘Film Festival’ submissions to ACR 2011 which I’ll be linking to when the review process has amounted to something tangible. Let’s see how those work out – fingers crossed!

The other submission (not the ‘Pushing the Scene’ -project that we’ve already documented below) we call ‘Post-Materialistic Work’ was a do-over of one of my Master’s thesis group students research. I’m glad to say he became the first Master’s student to graduate with a videography as the primary product – perhaps the first in the world from field of economics (his videography thesis was in the field of entrepreneurship, but the video data was reincarnated into a work of consumer culture theory in consumer research after quite a bit of revamping). So yes, one can now conduct a Master’s thesis as a work of videography in the Aalto University School of Economics in the marketing program! Within the nascent project MediaMark I have four such ongoing research initiatives. You’ll hear more about them soon enough!

To get things going again I just wanted to brazenly display some of our new gear. As we are still obvious amateurs our gear bag seems to forever be in a state of emergent flux. Here we are at the moment:

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(From left to right, somewhat) Handytools Base-X, Rode SM3, Audio-Technica AT875R, Canon 60D, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC Macro, Rode Stereo Mic, Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye, Canon 550D/T2i, Zoom H4, Redrock/Ops Running Man

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(From left to right, somewhat) Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG APO Macro HSM II, Joby Gorillapod SLR, Silk Monopod 350, JVC GY-HM100U, Glidecam 2000

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Our Canon 550D running the magical Magic Lantern software (with AGC disabled, audio meters, focus peak and zebras)!

Let’s see if these new babies will bring about a much anticipated improvement in quality (if I’ll ever be able to master any of them with my butterfingers).

I’ll be back with other news shortly on this same bat channel!

August 18th, 2010 by Joel Hietanen

Remember my gripes about the automatic gain control (AGC) ‘feature’ on our Canon 550D, which effectively makes audio recording, even with a professional level external microphone, absolutely useless? Here I was testing the Beachtech solution, which was not only expensive but bulky and inadequate in term of effective monitoring. Well, I’m certainly glad that I (for once in my life) summoned my challenged abilities of patience, as it seems that Magic Lantern are coming out with a hack for the camera after all. I was all but ready to buy an elaborate rig for the camera and glue the up-and-coming Samson H1 onto it. Perhaps its time to re-evaluate the situation now.

Magic Lantern – 550D/T2i port from Trammell Hudson on Vimeo.

And I for one was under the impression (after following a myriad of obscurant discussion threads) that this project was iced.

Thank you Magic Lantern! Can’t wait!

February 1st, 2010 by Joonas Rokka

My inspiration for video research was spurred by a few occurrences that took place in 2006-7. Firstly, I had just jumped on to my doctoral studies at the Helsinki School of Economics (currently known as Aalto University School of Economics) the previous year and was anxiously looking for new potential topics for my thesis work. I soon discovered that I needed to look outside of Finland to be able to find something interesting.

As it happened, I found myself first on an intensive course on Consumer Culture Theory (Odense, Denmark) headed by some of the most renowned figures in cultural consumer research, including Eric Arnould and Craig Thompson. The course instantly set the tone for my future work: I was caught to study the cultural aspects of consumption and consumer society from emerging approaches that stem largely from cultural anthropology and sociology.

Not long after, I took part in my first research congress: the 2nd Consumer Culture Theory Conference 2007 (at York University). This annual conference was organized for researchers employing qualitative, interpretive, ethnographic, videographic, netnographic and phenomenological approaches, in other words, in many ways emerging, if not completely novel approaches considering the dominant corpus of work within consumer and marketing research.

CCT conference was a success in many ways, not least because it also offered conjoined workshops designed for new students entering the field. I took part in the Video Ethnography Workshop, which was held for the third time. The purpose of this two-day workshop was to experience videographic research in a hands-on manner, guided by experts. After opening lectures on video-based research production, student teams were given camcorders and editing software as well as professional assistance for designing a small-scale video study in practice. By the end of the workshop we also presented our videos and received feedback.

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Pics from the workshop.

During the assignment I ran into my future co-author, Kristine de Valck from HEC Paris. We conducted a video study in a local shopping mall interviewing and observing consumers about their personal styles. We got to experience some on-field action and stumbled upon a number of challenges typical for video research including 1) the difficulty of gaining access to people in such public environments and 2) the trouble of presenting camera in interview settings without scaring people away instantly. Despite of these, we managed to shoot some footage that we could edit and produce into a short film – my first videographic experiment.

The videography event was organized by Russell Belk and Robert Kozinets who have written several articles and book chapters about video research (see Belk and Kozinets 2005; Kozinets and Belk 2006). They have also founded the Association for Consumer Research Film Festival. Held annually in the North American ACR conference and in rotating years in Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, the film festival has spawned considerable interest among consumer researchers now for over 9 years.

As soon as the workshop was behind, I began to ponder how video research could work out for me. What is it good for? What makes it so compelling? Why hasn’t it been used previously? What new avenues could be opened up? Soon Kristine asked, if I could join her in Paris and to come up with a brand new video project. I knew this would be the perfect chance, so I was in…

References:

Belk, R.W. & Kozinets, R.V. (2005) Videography in Marketing and Consumer Research. Qualitative Market Research, 8, 128-141.

Kozinets, R.V. & Belk, R.W. (2006). Camcorder Society: Quality Videography in Consumer and Marketing Research. In Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing, R.W. Belk (ed), Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.