All posts by danielsmorfin

Update Storm King

I finally talked to someone at the PR firm that handles all of Storm King press and communication inquiries. She would send our request to the proper contact at Storm King that would review our request. We exchanged emails about the future use of the footage.

I posted a very basic wireframe in Github, as well as a VERY VERY VERY initial HTML shell (still working on the rest of the structure). I developed the script of the website to help figure out the rest. It is also on Github.

I drafted the two paragraphs that will introduce the project. I wrote the questions for David Collens (only five because it will be a very small video). These elements are on the our TitanPad.


Those were the things I need to work on by April 31st.


Mission proposal: Feature Story on Storm King Art Center

Storm King is an open-air museum and one of the “world’s leading sculpture parks”. It is located one hour north of New York City, in the lower Hudson Valley. Its collection comprises more than 100 sculptures by acclaimed artists from all over the world. The location of the park and the large-scale sculptures makes it an ideal subject for a feature journalism piece using UAV’s. Drones could provide exciting images not only of the art pieces but also of the natural environment surrounding the museum.

I imagine an interactive article that also provides a brief tour of the museum. Such article would allow to zoom in and out of the different pieces, providing multimedia content about selected pieces. It could also provide a map of the possible routes in the park from one piece to the other. Because of the museum size (500 acres), the project could be  shot in one or two days.

Footage from different moments in the day would be ideal (sunrise and sunset).

What is needed?

  1. Research on the park: enough information on the internet. The interesting part would be the visuals that we could provide using the UAV’s
  2. Contact Museum Director for interview: David R. Collens, Director & Curator
  3. Select some pieces.
  4. Research on emblematic pieces: Who is the artist? What’s the story behind the sculpture?
  5. Contact specific artists for possible interviews (possibly very difficult).
  6. Map routes, using “satellite” style shots.
  7. UAV’s footage:
    1. Shot of the whole park (Google Earth-like), by the DGI Phantom.
    2. Videos and pictures from individual pieces (multiple angles and altitudes, both with the DGI Phantom and the Parrot AR.Drones
    3. Images of the routes
    4. Video interview with David R. Collens

Captura de pantalla 2014-03-02 a la(s) 11.42.10 PM


Our code…

My team and I tried multiple instructions. It is not as intuitive as I though it would be. I think someone from my team will post the code , so I’m posting  one we also tried during the class.

Captura de pantalla 2014-02-10 a la(s) 10.55.48 AM

This code instructed the drone to turn on the lights snake-like (I guess). The drone moved too much and was hard to notice the movements of the lights; I was expecting it would hover in place.

We had better luck with the following command, which instructed the drone to take off, (we canceled the clockwise movement), then fly upwards at speed of .1 for 8 seconds, then come down at the same speed and during the same period of them, then to rise again for five seconds at a speed of .3; and come down with the same speed and time parameters, and so on. I think either T.K. or Fletcher will post the video, so I won’t…

Captura de pantalla 2014-02-10 a la(s) 10.57.29 AM

It is still hard for me to determine the exact height and speed: my impression is that when it soars, it’s way faster than when it descends. Although our drone was supposed to descend at the same speed and for the same time-length, it never came down to where it started (isn’t this supposed to happen?). Does this make sense? I enjoyed it anyways.

“Is Drone Journalism ‘Pi’ in the Sky?” It depends…

Yes, but not for itself. Right now, based on the examples I’ve seen, drone journalism is more focused on promoting the images captured than the unfolding story that is supposed to be covering. In other words, it’s doing “drone journalism” for the sake of it. Such perspective considers that information alone makes a public more informed or that having more data is intrinsically better, which is not necessarily true. Journalism should tell a whole story, not only present data without providing the citizens with the elements to grasp the full issue. In that sense, drone journalism will be a valuable activity if it becomes part of a bigger project, one that contextualizes data and presents a clearer picture of the world at hand.

I think that the challenge for drone journalism will be (and is) to put the data that it captures into context and make it a complete narrative that empowers the public. If drone journalism becomes part of an integral –and collaborative– effort to shed light on an issue of public concern, I’m convinced that it will be something big and relevant. By contrast, if the data gathered is not accompanied by background information, contending frames, and a broader exploration of what’s at stake, it won’t get to be really significant.

Hence, to me, drone journalism is about the opportunities it offers to news producers. So far, it doesn’t provide a point of view that is unique: news organizations have long used helicopter, plane and satellite images to narrate a story. The difference is that drone journalism is emerging in a time of increasing citizen journalism, in which technologies have helped decreased the costs of publishing and production. Relatively inexpensive drones will become part of the tools that people can use to provide a perspective that diverges from the one that mainstream news present. This is a positive outcome for journalism in general. As Jay Rosen (NYU Professor of Journalism) says, “journalism benefits from participation”. More sources make a story better and richer.

Some of the tensions we see in citizen journalism (are bloggers protected by the same laws that journalists? Who is a journalist and who isn’t? What constitutes act of journalism and what doesn’t?) will also emerge with the use of drones for journalistic purposes. There will probably be more and more complex. We should accompany this process by an open debate about our traditional understandings of spatial dimensions, ownership, privacy, and security but also about the sort of information that is deemed of public interest. In that sense, I found this code of ethics for drone journalists particularly illuminating:

Source: Home of the Professional Society of Drone Journalists (PSDJ).