A VJ Story

Here is a VJ story – shot, produced, edited, written and tracked by Mike Kraus, VJ. The opening scenese where Kraus appears on camera were shot by his wife, not a VJ, just his wife. Kraus was trained at the BBC’s VJ project and is now a freelance VJ.


23 responses to “A VJ Story

  1. michael, if you are posting this for the benefit of m!nime you’ll need to recall from the movie that m!nime is quite a short fella… his view of the horizon sits much lower than those who stand a bit taller.

    don’t expect much except another bit mark on your ankle.

  2. It is true that no good deed goes unpunished, but I hope that here at least we can begin to explore the spectrum of what is possible. I have no doubt that there will be those who decry this as terrible, fluff, banal or badly shot and edited. I am used to it. Does not bother me a bit.

  3. i know.

    and that last comment bordered on a personal attack, so i’ll apologize to m!nime.

    i hate to piss the little fella off.

  4. Watching closely

    Is this all you’ve got? If your VJ thing is so great, then why cant you come up with something htat has been done recently? You’ve been using this one story to pimp your idea for at least the last year. How about something recent?

  5. This is the best criticism you can make? It’s old? Casablanca, great movie? Old. War and Peace, great literature? Old. You will have to do better than that. Go down and find Kyle Major’s piece on the spelling bee. Got a criticism for that one? Not ‘hard news’? Always something. I tell you what, you post one of your pieces and we’ll take a look.

  6. I enjoyed these stories by Kraus for the BBC.


    There is always a place for an interesting feature story on the news. Kraus does a nice job. I bet he even gets paid for it! Good job mate!

    No, it’s not hard news. Neither is 5-Takes but the folks doing the current 5-Takes could use a few lessons from Mr. Kraus.

    Is he still doing these stories for the BBC or something else. It was unclear to me. Thanks for pointing out a good example of a single person doing VJ work. It can be done but I think you would agree it is not the best style of production for every situation. Especially news coverage.

  7. Krauss has left the BBC and lit off on his own. I tried to hire him for 5takes, but he wants to pursue his own vision. Good luck to him! (And congratulations on his new baby). It can be done.. and as in all things, there is a spectrum, (like writing or anything else, from great to crap), but that does not prevent lots of mediocre writers from finding jobs. Is it for everything? Probably not, but I think that video and media literacy amongst all players cannot be beaten.

  8. This is a e-mail exchange I had with Michael about a week ago regarding his inability to show any positive success of his VJs here in the US.
    From: Michael Rosenblum [mailto:Michael@rosenblumtv.com]
    Sent: Wednesday, May 30, 2007 8:34 AM
    To: nino@efplighting.com
    Subject: Re: [Rosenblumtv] Comment: “The Peasants Are Revolting!”

    You can get in touch with her too. I just got this email this morning.
    she shoots for the bbc now.
    I absolutely LOVED working on 5 Takes and still think about it frequently.

    Do you know that I owe most of my international producing/shooting/VJ experience all to you? I’m eternally grateful and pleased. Would love to work with you again.

    Please send the DVD copies to me at:

    Karin Thayer
    Flat 27
    125 Albion Street
    LS2 8ES

    Great piece of information Michael; very beneficial too. The day that I start driving on the left side of the road I’ll definitely start paying attention to your single success.

    You just don’t get it. Here in the US Michael, where they speak English with an American accent.

    My apology Michael, I’m behind you all the way on this one, I’m sure all your VJs will be happy to move to London. And I’m sure a few people here will be happy if you go with them. You said that’s a better market and you have found success there, why are you wasting your valuable time with us here in the US.

    And BTW, here’s a little Google info about Karen, it doesn’t look like she is very concern about where the money to buy groceries will come from.
    Not exactly your average VJs profile.
    Former teen actor and model through Grimme Talent in San Francisco
    Speaks fluent German, worked in German film industry
    Has a brown belt in karate, is a licensed sharpshooter and holds a multi-engine pilot’s license. Is known to fly her own plane to get aerial shots for her films.
    (December 2006) Shooting and producing film about the only gay bar in Jerusalem, titled “Freedom On The Rocks.”
    (May 2006) Quit KRON 4 News in San Francisco after less than a year, after being a videographer trainer and “VJ” (video-journalist”) reporter.

  9. Careful Nino
    If she gets pissed off at you, she’s got both the brown belt and sharpshooter license. I personally find her resume pretty impressive.. rather than alienating or intimidating. VJ is just great for aggressive personalities who want to go out and take the world for their own.

  10. Michael, you missed your call by not going into politic. You are the only person I know that can spend ten minutes answering questions without giving any answer. So let’s try it again. None of the VJs examples that you’ve been showing with so much pride (Karen included) fit the profile of you VJ’s concept. All of these people were already educated in similar areas and somehow successful even before they knew you and your VJs existed. But not only that, those few good ones are in another continent. So the question again is: with 9000 VJs that you claimed to have trained we should be seeing their work everyday and everywhere, do you realize that that’s more than double the number of freelancers operating in this country? And yet even with our smaller number you can see our work on TV 24/7. What are these 9000 VJs doing.

    Let me ask you another question, you and your followers keep saying that “it will happen, just wait and see and the VJ revolution will happen” So, what will happen that hasn’t happen already that will make it happen?

  11. Hi Nino
    Always a pleasure to hear from you.
    I don’t know where you are located and working but the 9000 are scattered all over the world, and if you lived in the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark or Switzerland you would indeed see their work every day. The US has been a bit slow in this, but they are starting to get it.
    This of course began when you asked me to show you ‘just one’ VJ. You didn’t like Karin because… she’s a woman? She has a pilot’s license? She is a brown belt in Karate? Hmmm Anyway, you now say that they were in the business before I met them. Yes, that is true. Many of the people I have worked with (most in fact) were already working in television journalism, albeit badly, that is, in an rather archaic way. I have worked with lots and lots of former cameramen, former talent, former producers. I could probably do a lot with you (not easy mind you… but I would be willing to give it a shot).
    When will the revolution come?
    Well, I lifted this straight from b-roll.net this morning. I would say we are well on our way:
    9 To Hire “Backpack Journalist” – 6/14 – More from FTVLive: Gannett, which owns Channel 9/WUSA, has used VJs, so-called one-man “backpack” video journalists, at a number of its smaller market stations, but as far as we know this will be the first for large market station. Says FTVLive’s Scott Jones: “The VJ ‘experiment’ has been a big success or a huge failure, depending on who you talk to. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, most agree that VJs are the wave of the future. Now, a big market station is looking to stick its toe into the VJ waters.” Check out the “backpack journalist” employment ad at wusa9.com…..

  12. Of course Michael, I’m sure I must be as pleasant to you as a root canal. Unfortunately this toothache will not go away until you come clean.

    Michael, if you consider an experiment with VJs the beginning of a revolution, we would all be still speaking with an English accent in this country. Something is very wrong here anyway, wasn’t your entire concept all about training existing staff to become VJs? Why are they hiring VJs instead?

    And while we are on the subject, here’s the link to Mike Krauss web site http://mikekraus.net/. Not exactly the profile of what you describe as a VJ.

    I wonder how you miss this from the same thread on B-roll. Considering it was right above your reply. I’m sure it was and accidental oversight.

    “Ants Media Group have experience producing documentaries shot entirely on PD 150 and Z1 camcorders and the programmes have sold to terrestrial broadcasters worldwide. The cameras are never a substitute for Digital Betacam or HDCAM but when operated by proper cameramen they do come in handy when budgets are tight.
    We dont hire out researchers who’ve read the manual and are now experts, just because someone invented the dv camera doesn’t mean everyones now a cameraman.
    Every camera operator we employ has at least 10 years experience shooting with proper cameras”

    And one more thing Michael, supposedly you are the world’s VJ guru, how come we have never seen any of your own VJ work.

  13. Dear Nino…you are not so much the root canal as the toothache…dull, persistant and annoying. Both retreads and new people can become vjs. There is no barrier to entry. When I met kraus he was a local cameraman…just like you. So you see, if he can improve his life so can you! As for my own work…in the words of sir christopher wren…just look around you.

  14. You’re absolutely right Michael; people who persistently ask for the truth can be very annoying. There’s a very simple cure to that, is called truthful and honest answers, and, quoting a line from the famous Michael Rosenblum, you should try it sometime.

    I have never said that not everybody can become a VJ, like I never said that everybody could become a multimillionaire after buying a lotto ticket. What I have been asking for a long time, and so are many other people, what all these people that paid you thousands of dollars to become VJs are doing now. According to you I was supposed to be out of business by now, VJ were supposed to have taken over our jobs. Is invisibility part of your teaching?

    You know, you can see the work of this humble “local cameraman” or “moose” as you call us, anytime you ask, but considering that I never met Sir Christopher, could you point out where around me could I find any work done by the great Michael Rosenblum? I’m sure that all your people would be just as interested to see what kind of work their very expensive instructor is capable of doing, or will this too go down as another entry in my very extensive collection of MR avoided questions?

  15. And just for yours and your followers information Michael. This “local cameraman” or “moose” as you refer to, actual title is DP/photographer-cameraman, I’m sure you know the difference, but I can explain it if necessary. Also this “local cameraman/moose” in addition of having 37 years of working experience also speaks three languages has 8 years of formal art and photography education including a master degree in photographic sciences and last year alone, in addition to domestic assignments he was hired to go to 17 different countries, at full freelance rates.

    I just want your viewers to know that I’m not just another pretty face and when I ask questions is from experience.

  16. Dear Nino
    You have a bit of the petulant five year old in you. Well how about this? Well how about this? Well how about this? And endless stream of questions… Which I really try to answer. But all you do is ask another one or the same one all over again. I have introduced you to several of the vjs. Each is unacceptable to you in his or her own way. My work. Go look up Trauma, Life in the ER, paramedics, breaking news or a half dozen other series. I shot on all of them. If you really have such a hankering to see my work, sign up for the training course – I’ll give you half off.. You’ll have it coming out of your ears… Or come out to san diego next week where I am running another bootcamp with kgtv.

    I can help you….yes even you.

  17. I find it kind of fascinating when someone so aggressively attacks what they are calling a bad idea. If it truly is a bad idea or falsehood won’t it eventually die on its own merits or lack thereof?

    Just an observation.

  18. Pingback: VJs embedded in 2008 campaigns

  19. Watching closely

    I have seen Kyle Majors Spelling Bee story. Nothing earth shattering. Anyone standing in one spot shooting precocious kids could do equal or better work.

    I was just wondering why you suddenly started to post Krauss’s stuff again as if it is new.

    Of the all the people you have trained, how many people are actually any good?How many are good because they have true talent, and how many are good because of your training? What is the turnover rate at stations where you have implemented this idea? If it’s so great, then why aren’t people sticking around?(and some are getting out of the business altogether).
    What happened at WKRN?
    Why have almost 30% of your fulltime VJ’s from KGTV quit and it hasn’t even been a year?
    How many of your original VJ’s from KRON are still standing?
    Can you explain the high turnover?
    Do people hate it? Do they burnout?
    What’s going on?

  20. Dear Watching,
    What do you have, 11 rapid fire questions here in three paragraphs? I feel like I am dealing with Michael Nifong.

    I am posting lots of stuff. You don’t like Erika’s because its amateurish (well, she’s an amateur). You don’t like Kyle’s because ‘anyone could do that’ (please feel free to post your own). You don’t like Kraus’ because it’s ‘old’. I have no doubt that as I continue to post, you will find other reasons to discount other people’s hard work.

    As for the rest of your questions, they all fall in the same category of ‘what happened’ or ‘what is happening’.

    Ironically, both the samples and your questions tie together nicely.

    Aggressive and creative people ‘get’ this and want to do it. Really, look at Erika’s story. This is what you get with a camera after only a few days. Think what it will be after a few months or a few years. This is what the technology has the capacity to unleash. More and more people who never had access to gear are now getting it for the first time. A tidal wave is coming… and its good and its only going to get better. I will be posting a lot of this kind of work.

    Many of the people, (not all, but many) who went to work in places like local news were looking for sinecures. Predictable 9-5 jobs. Good contracts. This is how much of television has been since its inception.

    The quality of what they produced did not have to be genius. Only adequate. You and I have seen enough TV to understand this. I have endless examples of absolutely terrible work that makes air every night. There is certainly much good but there is also much that is either mediocre or just bad.

    Now a new technology comes along that changes the very way in which people have to work.

    There are several hundred thousand young people who master this effortlessly. My 15 year old nephew, for example, shoots and cuts on FCP all the time. For fun. He loves it.

    As these people start to enter the workforce, they will pick up cameras and edits and shoot and cut their own stuff without even thinking about it.

    And trust me, they are coming.

    And fast.

    They don’t have the journalism and the experience yet, but they will get it. That is only a matter of time.

    Massive retraining projects like those at KRON or other stations are, in a way, stop gap measures, try and get the old conventional staff up to speed in time to compete. Kudos to companies that take the time and effort to rescue their current staff. Not everyone willl be willing to do this.

    Those who received the training can then make a choice – do they want to work in the new way or not? ~This is up to them. Clearly, there are enough places around that are still run in the old way, and they can continue to find work.

    This transformation will not take place over night, but trust me, it is coming as surely as the dawn.

    It is driven by the inescapable forces of technology and economics.

    In the meantime, if you are watching, newspapers and soon magazines will begin to adapt to this as well, and as all move online for distribution, a level playing field with whole new competitors will be created.

    This, to answer perhaps your most cogent question, is ‘what is going on’.

    You are watching, and perhaps particpating in, a massive process of transformation. Keep your eyes open.

    The fact that you comment on Kyle Major’s piece as ‘nothing earth shattering’ is in fact massive support for what I am saying. It does not have to be earth shattering. How much of local news is? All it has to do is work, and it does.

    And that is why when you look at it, you are looking at the future.

    You can either prepare for what is coming, or you can ignore it. But coming it is.

  21. Watching closely

    can you post some great hard news (not feature) from a VJ?
    It will hardly be a “transformation” if the meat of the show (regualr hard news) Looks like crap. Why are all the stories you post features? Anyone can do a feature especially if it’s one stop shopping. Photogs do them all the time…they’re called natpaks or video essays.
    What about the breaking news? What about government corruption? What about court cases? What about day turn hard news?Can you post any of that?

  22. confuse-a-cat

    Hey Nino,

    To refer to your previous entry, in which you state that you have:

    “8 years of formal art and photography education including a master degree in photographic sciences.”

    Like, so what? What’s your point exactly? I think you may be confusing academic qualifications with natural born talent. Scientific know-how is no substitute for creative genius, as I’m sure you’re aware.

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