Using multimedia for activism
Using audio and video to record, edit and share your ideas can be a powerful tool for campaigners. The revolution will be televised!
Why do campaigners use multimedia?
As it gets cheaper and easier to make and record video, it's quickly becoming a key aspect of campaigning. Now that most people can get the internet on their phones, it's even easier to share and watch video and audio recordings. It's also a very hard-hitting medium - ideal for getting a strong message across quickly. Greenpeace's KitKat campaign, for instance, used a funny shock tactic to grab attention. This sent the video viral, putting pressure on Nestle to remove palm oil from its chocolate.
Types of multimedia
The easiest way to make a video is to film it on your mobile and upload it to YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. Here are some tips on how to get your message across best:
- Interview people who understand the issue you want to highlight and can articulate it well
- Avoid camera shake - hold the camera/phone with both hands to keep it steady. Try to avoid getting jostled if you're filming on the street
- Get a good angle - don't film people's feet or the tops of their heads - and if possible film with the sun behind you
- Phone audio is usually terrible. Minimise this by interviewing your subject somewhere quiet. You'd be surprised how loud background noise becomes on a recording.
For a more professional look, consider employing a freelancer (or finding a mate with camera equipment and editing skills). There's also a range of free editing software available.
Packaged audio distributed online is called a podcast. Podcasts are like radio shows. Rather than being broadcast live, they're stored and distributed over the internet, meaning people can download them and listen to them at any time. Listeners/viewers can also 'subscribe' to the podcast and have it delivered automatically to their computers.
Anyone with an internet connection can make a podcast. You'll need recording equipment though. Try asking in your local youth centre - many of them have recording and editing equipment they may lend you.
The same principles apply to making podcasts as to video. Work out what your key messages are and state them clearly. Minimise annoying sound interference by recording somewhere quiet.
Tips for making your own multimedia
When it comes to audio, free editing software such as Audacity or Soundflower are fine. If it's video, then Movie Maker (Windows) or iMovie (Mac) should have all the functions you need to get started.
Try visiting the useful forums on Podcast Alley for more in-depth information about software. For step-by-step tips on getting your first podcast made, try this Eight-point guide for improving your podcasts.
For guides to filming, editing and promoting your videos online, see:
Multimedia: Copyright and consent
Copyright is an issue for anyone making audio and video. If you're planning to use music in your creation, you either need to obtain a music licence, use royalty-free or Creative Commons licensed music, or create and perform your own original music. Copyright also extends to material from published sources (such as books) and you should seek permission from the author or publisher about using the material in your podcast. YouTube videos tend to be safe as it often removes videos that contravene copyright laws, but do double check.
It's wise to get consent from anyone you're filming, especially if they're under 18, and to explain to anyone interviewed what you're planning to do with the footage. You can download basic consent forms from the internet or film them giving consent. UK privacy law means that a person who appears against their wishes could, in theory, sue, so it's important to respect people's desire not to be filmed. The situation may be different at protests, where things happen fast and you can't always get consent. For this reason, people often cover their faces if they don't want to be filmed, and for everyone else you would be able to argue that protestors should have a reasonable expectation of being filmed at a public protest. For specific advice regarding filming police, see our article on protest rights.
Examples of successful multimedia:
- TheSite.org's audio section - OK, we're a bit biased, but we reckon our selection of interviews, vox pops and audio guides are a good example of communicating through audio content.
- JUST DO IT: get off your arse and change the world
- True Tube - Video debate by young people. Upload a video or respond to other videos already posted.
- One minutes junior - Young people from all over the world create videos of one minute on any topic they like. Some are political, some social, some artistic.
- YouTube/Beatbullying - A partnership between Beatbullying and YouTube to combat bullying. Offer your advice, experience or support in a video and upload it to the site.
- Vegan A Go-Go - Cooking video show promoting the cause of veganism