What’s Your Trip?

We are sitting out here assembling the first three shows for What’s Your Trip – our user generated series for The Travel Channel.

We have screened literally thousands of videos, some crap, some great, but all done by ‘non professionals’ with small digital video cameras and laptop edits.

The results are pretty impressive – this is little different from when we started Current.tv, but a few years in, the overall quality is improving rapidly.

Here’s a video we received from Mike Murphy.

We got a lot of videos from him. He’s a carpenter who saved his money, took his camera and set off around the world. He created his own series – “Destination Unknown”, and submitted it to us.

Take a look. In this episode, Murphy goes to South Georgia Island, off Antarctica. It’s as good as much that you’ll see on TV – except he does it himself.


22 responses to “What’s Your Trip?

  1. Although the footage is pretty good, I do have issue with the fact that there is no narrative to add substance to what I’m watching. If this is suppose to air, I do find it lacking in this area.

    Is there to be narrative added in post or is this it?

    At least for me, the Solo VJ paradigm is composed of being a Jack OF ALL trades, master of them all. Why is the narrative missing – and why would this go to air with what many consider 60% of a completed project missing (ie, the audio narrative)?

  2. It’s pretty “empty”.

    Little real information.

    Lots of wide shots that look alike over and over.

    I find myself in agreement with Cliff.

    Look! A pig just flew by!

    Seriously, I appreciate the mans effort to get to where he could take some of that footage but then he dropped the ball and created something that lacked any for of story telling or information delivery other than “look at this” which, in reality was rather uninspired after all the effort.

  3. Cliff, once again you have demonstrated that you have no business being in the creative business. This is probably the fist time that I actually enjoyed something posted by Michael. Knowing that Mike Murphy is an amateurs and do not pretend to be a professional (like you do) but (unlike you) he has a great eye for creativity, with a little guidance he probably would make an excellent professional, unfortunately becoming professional and putting the worst of all evils “money” ahead of his work would probably kill the passion and creativity.

    Have you eve heard the clichés “A picture is worth a thousand words?” or “Photography the universal language” or the one that I’ve been bringing up lately here “Show it, don’t say it”. These are not clichés but phrases derived from teaching methods. In film school we had to produce pieces without narration, we were only allowed some subtitles but only to identify places and people or professions, and if we used any of these subtitles for no valid reasons it was a bad grade. The photography alone must tell the story, voice should only give details. “This is one of nature true spectacle” is how Mike Murphy ended his narration, what more can he say after that but actually showing nature’s spectacle, and he did it with good photography and simple but effective camera work, he even got his feet wet on one of those shots and that’s not Caribbean’s waters.

    There are a lot of great amateurs out there, they have always been out there but with the introduction of automation there’s a lot of crap being done too, and Michael is finding that out first hand. Come down here to Florida around sunrise or sunset in some of the nature preserves and you still see amateur photographers with still and video cameras on tripods waiting patiently for a great photographic opportunity, just like amateurs before them did 20 or 30 years ago, long before automation. All automation did was to expedite the enjoyment of the final result, is nothing more than a tool, the quality hasn’t changed. The camera and the computer are nothing more that dumb recording instruments, all automation did is making it easier, more versatile and eliminated several steps; you still need a brain and an eye to plan, recognize, compose and capture what’s happening outside the camera. Also automation on modern cameras, even the better ones, is only effective for half of situations and conditions, for the other half, particularly those that require added creativity, the camera has to be switched to manual mode and it must be done the old fashioned way, using the brain power and knowing how light affect exposure. This is why manufacturers even on automatic cameras have designed very effective manual controls.

    But of course you already know all this because you are the self proclaimed “master of all trades”. Or better known as “the best kept secret”, because we’ve heard a lot about how good the master is and read on his resume of how much better than everybody else he is, but we were never honored with the pleasure of seeing the master’s own work.

  4. “$ // Aug 30th 2007 at 1:52 pm
    It’s pretty “empty”.
    Little real information.
    Lots of wide shots that look alike over and over.
    I find myself in agreement with Cliff.”

    I’m sure by disagreeing with each other we are making a lot of people happy on this board.

    Let’s not lose sight that the maker of that piece is a carpenter and an amateur photographer (or videographer) and I’m sure that his photography is considerably better that my carpentry is.

    I’m a professional in this business but I’m also a teacher and as I’m approaching the sunset of my career I find it that what I have accumulated in my brains in the last 40 years is much more valuable than loading and unloading equipment from my van, it would be a crime to let it go to waste. Extending my teaching is definitely in my future plans. I have to recognize the positive and build from there. As I said in my post above “with some guidance” and without going into too many details you are right, there are too many repetitive wide angle shots and seesaw horizons but this is typical of amateur work, something very easy to correct, this is where the guidance comes into place. The fact that he placed the camera on the ground and let the action evolve in front of the camera for me that was very positive, I’m sure that those few scenes are a selection of many other that did not work as well or the penguins were not as cooperative, the maker shows patience. I also like the way that he composed himself in front of the camera letting the background also tell the story. This is considerably better work than most VJs stuff with swinging cameras that I’ve seen.

  5. I agree without reservation with $ on his assessment of the video.

    Nino – it appears you have never have worked as a journalist (where as yours truly has worked in journalism since the latter 80’s). Your assessment of what I said is lacking at best and once again you stoop to adolescent condescension for the sake of your egoic pain body.

  6. Content = not much. The pictures were nice. I did just see a movie about these penquins, so content wise, not much was offered. There were some neat shots. It is a great place. I was not able to watch the entire movie…I fast forwarded. There was no story. There was no beginning, middle or end. There was no focus per se. Sorry about the harsh critique…but that is one of the things I do best… critique. I hate being the Simon Cowell of video journalism, but critique is a good thing. For a citizen, he probably did a good job. But if any citizen wants to compete with big dogs, then they need to hone ALL areas of video journalism.

    Craft = Pretty good. Most shots looked good. Yet there was a lack of close ups. I needed to see more variety of shots. More natural sounds and moments were needed, instead of a syrupy music bed.

    Creativity = Not really much. Music probably could have been taken out for some time, to get a real natural s0und feel. The shots were not creative, editing not creative, content wasn’t creative. Again, sorry for the harsh critique.

    Committment = This is where he gets a 10 ! Committment is where citizens and solo VJs can out wit, out play and out last the current media giants and providers. This guy…was committed to travelling and videotaping a story. Congratulations on doing that…because it showed me a part of the world I rarely get to see. I would LOVE to go to this place. That is what this story accomplished.

    I don’t know if we are supposed to critique stories posted here…but that’s what you get.

    The old joke: How many news photographers (video journalists) does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    It takes 10. One to screw in the light bulb…the other nine to say they could have done a better job at it.

  7. Cliff, any criticism generated by you can only be considered a compliment to my good judgment.

    Soon or later you’ll have to put down the thesaurus because you’ll run out of fancy words to justify your “mastery” and start putting your work where your mouth is.

    In this business you earn respect with your accomplishments not with a big mouth.

  8. Well ,I’m sorry if some of you don’t like my video’s .I have over 120 episode of Destination Unknown. first I’m a traveler . I trying to make a living as a videographer and so far it working. I’m traveling all over the world and doing something I LOVE doing. Can all of you that put down my videos say the same. I just found out that Michael put one of my videos on his website,and I like to thank him for that. I was on the beach you’ve seen on South Georgia Island for only 2 hour. and yes I know i needed more shots but , i got what i did and i was happy with it. I think some of you need to get a life ,and when you have travel to all of the place i’ve been please be kind. and have a nice day!!!!.
    Travel On, Michael

  9. How many news photographers (video journalists) does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    It takes 10. One to screw in the light bulb…the other nine to say they could have done a better job at it.

    Isn’t that the truth… 😀

    Eric – You gave a positive constructive critique versus a negative criticism which makes for a positive environment for others to participate.

    Thanks for your insights – and yes, we need to hone ALL the Solo VJ skills, not just the ones we are most proficient at.

  10. Nino, we usually agree and I also admit this fellow, Michael Murphy, is early on the learning curve. However every one of those silly mountain shots looked alike to me. Sure, different mountains but none the less it was the same framing, same lighting, same dully composed mountain shots as a half dozen others in the same piece. He could have dropped five of them and still had the same impact.

    What is lacking is a beginning, middle and end to his offering.

    I’m glad he has a chance to travel and shoot his video. Good for him. But what is obvious to me is he doesn’t know how to tell a story.

    He shoots a bunch of shots. Throws them all together with a little on camera action in the middle and calls it a completed project.

    He’s learning. He needs to keep learning but I don’t mean that as an insult towards him. He just needs to actually communicate with his work instead of serving up a tossed salad of images. No open shot. No closing shot. He could have put all of those images in any order and achieved the same final product. In face, that’s what he did and the piece suffers from a lack of direction in the end.

  11. Michael, once again you deserve the title of “Master of Deception”. Apparently this guy Murphy has admitted to be a professional videographer and an experienced traveler, not just a carpenter who saved his money to go on trips like you told us. This changes the picture and also makes it unfair competition for the general traveling public that has also submitted video to the Travel Channel knowing that they are up against professionals who are attempting to make a living doing videos.

    Now a question for you Michael Murphy, you said”
    “I trying to make a living as a videographer and so far it working. I’m traveling all over the world and doing something I LOVE doing. Can all of you that put down my videos say the same.”

    I didn’t put down your video but I also was under the impression that you were an amateur. The words “trying” and “so far is working” are kind of confusing.

    When we travel, and I do travel much more that I really want to, we get hired and get paid to go places with our cameras. Is this the same for you or are you traveling with your own money and hoping to generate revenue from the videos that you are taking. As you said “so far is working” meaning that you are making money, where are your video being showed?

  12. Leave it to you Nino to find the worst in everything. Murphy, of course, does not write to question my making him as an ‘amateur’. Here is the link tohis website (also on the blog), and you can draw your own conclusions as to what is an ‘amateur’ and what is a ‘professional’.
    Murphy defines himself as a ‘carpenter and professional traveler’. This is good enough for me.

    Oh, by the way, I note that several people are hyperlinking from your lighting website to my blog, which is fine, but when I try and enter your site, I am asked for registration information. What is that all about?

  13. $, The expectations comes from the way that it was presented. Unfortunately Michael (R.) for whatever reason has blurred the line between amateur and professional making it unfair to both, but even more unfair to Michael (M) as he was instantly transformed from a very good amateur into a bad professionals; it’s all in the expectations.

  14. Michael Murphy,

    I want to encourage you to shoot all the video you can…and do as much as you can with it. I grew up in a small town in North Dakota, and believe me, I fully understand how video can transport a person…to another place and time. That is the value of video journalism. You have the ability and power to shoot and edit stories for viewers…and take them to places they’ve never been before.

    I have been a professional video journalist/tv photographer/producer/editor/writer for more than 20 years. In my field, we critique each others work. As a matter of fact, the NPPA is an organization that has a critique system set up, as well as contests to critique work…so I am by nature a person who gives out honest critiques and welcomes it too.

    What is going on here, Mr. Murphy, is a change in the world of video journalism and media. Your story just got caught up in the middle of it.
    Think of oil and water. The season professionals are the oil. And the new breed of VJs are the water. They are both needed. Both are valueable. But right now, they sometimes do not mix. On the other hand, just add some spices and they can make a great mixture, if done right.

    So… welcome to the real world. When your video is presented on a public platform…for other “craftsmen” to view and write about….you need to welcome critique. Take away the positive, and keep moving forward. I have personally received critiques that I disagree with and I know are off base.

    You are committed to putting together video stories. Work on the stories. Consider the NPPA as an organization that can provide a lot of great DVDs to watch and learn.

  15. Let me get this one out of the way first http://efplighting.com/ you should have full access, please let me know if you or anybody else are having any problem accessing the site. The cat is half out of the bag I guess. I’m having the program re-written as probably you hit something that the programmers are doing. We are experimenting on a virtual on line video production school, only testing for now and its months away from any decision that I will make if move forward or not. Some sponsors are doing all the work and paying for so they’ll have to prove that it will be worthwhile for me.

    Back to our programming. If you noticed I was the only one who had something positive to say, you made it sound like this is a carpenter that saves his money to pursue his travel dreams, when in reality he is a professional videographer who was a carpenter. Why didn’t just say it in the first place. Everybody was something else before they became professional videographers. But because this is an amateur contest one might get the impression that you are using work done by professionals in order to get better quality videos on the Travel Channel. Whichever way you slice it it’s deceiving and unfair to the public.

  16. First, What’s Your Trip is not an amateur contest. It is simply a platform for travel videos. Anyone is free to upload their work – professional or otherwise. As I have a hard time seeing where one crosses the line (it seems to me anyone is free to pick up a camera and start to shoot), I am reluctant to make any distinctions between pro and amateur. The quality of their work very much is on screen for all to see, regardless of what they may or may not call themselves.

  17. Michael,

    I fear that you are seeing hostility where there is really critique. I know over the last few months, I’ve asked members of this community to comment on my (amateur) work.

    Both those on the VJ side as well as those who are most certainly not, have given me public and private critique in the spirit of helpfulness.

    I’ll note that one or two fairly staunch supporters of VJ offered critique here, so I wouldn’t take anything personally.

    I submitted a story to ctzn.tv where I only had 3 hours before my plane left and, since I was traveling, I wasn’t able to take a tripod. Using the “Rosenblum” technique I was able to pull off most of my shots, but in the shots of an old guy I could just not keep my hands from shaking (I have very very shaky hands). I offer this as further proof that they guys here genuinely care about the advancement of anybody willing to be a photographer or VJ. Nobody slammed me, though I gave them reason to.

    Were there Kool Aide to drink, I’d probably now enjoy a frosty mug of VJ, as it has turned into a very special part of my life. I’m even planing a Central American trip in the spring with 7 of my children (applying for the last 3 passports tomorrow), which I’m already shooting as a series of stories using my new 3-chip camera in my photo on the right (you try to take 7 kids to Central America!!). I’ll divulge my business model later….

    On the other side, you have Nino, who at least to my thinking, is trying hard to keep people gainfully employed as videographers, which I find commendable. We may disagree that Mr. Rosenblum is a scammer (my wife worked with M.R. for a time), but I’ve gleaned much at his website and have found ways to incorporate some of what I found there into what I have available as a guy who can carry almost nothing onto the plane.

    I’m afraid I *can* see the logic in the “burn down the newsroom,” approach. The only show I watch on network TV has those little 15 second news teasers. What a load! I’ll be watching a Franka Potente movie from Netflix.

    A sidebar on my personal blog includes the top stories from the BBC, so I can click on those if I see anything interesting.

    Many many more people were killed in the recent Lima earthquake than in the recent bridge collapse here in the US, but go try to find that in your evening news. BBC covered it for days.

    Combine the cheesy grinning of our two co-anchors with the insipid need to fill all 22 minutes with *something* and I just don’t care. At least with Spongebob I can get a laugh or two. Bring on the penguins and heroin addicts.

    For my own critique, I think you have a perfectly fine mug and voice for video, and I saw there were other people there. I would have enjoyed hearing/seeing you more (have to watch that script for grammar), and maybe seeing some of the images through the eyes of the other people. I assume that the “wavy horizon” was because you were on a boat. 15 seconds of narrative would have carried that along while adding to the flow of the overall piece. Plus being on a boat is cool – show that.

    That from an avowed AMATEUR. Go look at any of my stuff and critique away. I take all criticism as a way to sharpen my skills.


  18. By the way, if your music is from a stock music place, be darn sure that you have sync rights that include television and international. You have to read the fine print to be sure. If it’s from a CD or other, get it out before the RIAA, publisher or the author sees it on the Travel Channel.

    Even creative commons has its vagaries, and you’d hate to have legal trouble, which, I’m sure will be left to you and your lawyers since the Travel Channel release is pretty thorough.

    I see so much User Generated Content these days that includes obviously copyrighted music. Authors and publishers are starting to include tags that help them find their material using simple google searches.


  19. Wow, First I like to thank all of you for your comments good & bad. I just want to say I’ve been making videos for only 3 years ,and yes I’m still a carpenter but I’m trying to make it as a videogarpher, I know I have a lot to learn but you have to start somewhere, so I went out with my own money and made a show I call Destination Unknown . My hope was someone would see my work and see how much passion I have for traveling and give me a job and it starting to happen with the help of the internet. Please understand I’m only trying to make videos of the places I travel to so people can see parts of the world that they can’t get to or maybe someone will travel to one of these places ,and that my dream , for people to see what an amazing world we live in. As for Michael Rosenblum I want to thank him for helping people like me make our dreams come true.
    It’s said ” You must first see the road less traveled be for you can open your eyes to the world” and boy did this blog open my eyes .

    Travel On, Michael

  20. Congratulations to Michael Murphy for having a dream and actually doing something about it. Keep up the good work Michael, and don’t let these boring “pros” bring you down. I think they’re just jealous that you will be credited on national television for your video work and they’re stuck behind the scenes. The only person who seems to gives credit to Ninos work is Nino, so maybe he should submit a video to What’s Your Trip and see if he can also get some recognition.

  21. It is not about recognition.
    It is about the stories we tell.
    It is not about us.
    It is about the stories we tell.

    If you want to be famous, that is a different motive. For some of us, being behind the scenes is exactly what we like. It allows us to shoot and edit and tell stories without the fame barrier. People do not react to me when I appear to shoot their story. They certainly do when a reporter they know is on scene. But that changes their behavior…a bit more than normal.

    It is the goal of the video journalist to be unobtrusive. That is why small cameras can sometimes work better than a big camera, reporter, producer, sound person, and lights.

    Good video journalists – even using a big camera – try to make their subjects comfortable, relaxed, and as unaware of the camera as possible. This takes special talent, and also good skills.

    Recognition is fun. I do like to see my name on stories and specials if I played a part. But who really reads the credits? Nobody. Yes, recognition is a boost to the ego and to the confidence level.

    But I really don’t think Nino, or myself, are jealous.

    Good for Michael Murphy. I stated earlier to continue to shoot as much as he can, and do as much as he can with it. No problem there.

    I was critiquing his storytelling however.

  22. steve // Sep 1st 2007 at 2:30 pm
    The only person who seems to gives credit to Ninos work is Nino, so maybe he should submit a video to What’s Your Trip and see if he can also get some recognition.

    Actually, the only person that I’m always eager to impress year after year is my accountant. But in order to impress him I have to impress many other people first. The only place that I love to see my name prominently displayed is in those checks that I find every week in my mail box. You can have the glory and the recognition, I take the cash.

    You see Steve, I also teach video production and I help many professionals improve their work, when someone asks me what I think of their work my first question is: “do you want me to make you feel good or would you prefer that I tell you how you can be the best of what you do”

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