VJs in Sweden

We have just spent the past two days meeting with VJs from all across Sweden. But first, some background.

In 1999, I got a phone call from a Swedish journalist named Leif Hedman. He was a TV reporter for SVT, the Swedish state broadcaster, and he asked me if I would be interested in doing a weekend seminar in Stockholm to introduce Swedish journalists to the VJ concept. Hedman had been doing it on his own for years.

Lisa Lambden addresses Swedish VJs

lisa lambden meets with Swedish VJs, March 15, 2007

I never miss an opportunity to fly to Stockholm all expenses paid for a weekend, so I said, ‘sure’.

Hedman told me he had signed up 70 Swedish journalists who wanted to find out more about the VJ movement. This was 1999, and relatively early. We set a date.

Normally, these weekend things used to involve a lecture, a hands on demo with a camera or two, a demo shoot of a piece and an edit demo and dinner and drinks. This seemed no different than a dozen other weekend demos I had done around the world up to that point.

But the Swedes are different.

Trust me.

A few days before the seminar was scheduled to start, Hedman called me in NY to tell me that he had secured an astonishing 70 cameras from SONY, so each participant could have their own camera and try shooting their own stuff. This was a real testament to Hedman’s drive. SONY never gives anything away for free.

Nice job, Leif.

Two days before departure, Hedman called me again. He said that he had just secured 70 computers from Apple with their new FCP software. (it must have been 1.1 in those early days), so that each participant could also have their own editing software.

Bear in mind that none of the participants had ever shot or cut. Almost no one had even seen FCP in those days. I was staggered. I was also nervous that this would become a disaster. What would happen when 70 people who had never shot or cut before got their first experience rushes and tried their hand at FCP? First time? Was it possible to take such a big group so far so fast?

On the first day, we taught eveyone some basic sequences and sent them out to shoot.

On the second day, we taught them the basics of FCP.

They spent Sunday afternoon hunched over their 70 computers……

I was both intrigued and nervous about the results.

On Sunday night, we screend 70 cut pieces.

The next day, TV4 Sweden committed to the system.

Last week we returned to Sweden to meet with Swedish VJs, and of course, Leif. The VJ movement is very strong in Sweden. They are incredibly technically adept and have always been early adapters. I can only contrast with astonishment what it is like to be in a room full of eager Swedish journalists and their rather frightened and recalcitrant American counterparts in many local TV stations in the US.

This, after all, is a country where the number of cell phones exceeds the total population. They are not afraid of the future – indeed, they embrace it daily.

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