Our special feature on the Karoo drought, produced in partnership with africanDRONE and Code for Africa, won two silver pixels at the 2019 Bookmark Awards in Johannesburg on 28 March.
The project pushed the boundaries, unlike any other multimedia project News24 Video has tackled, and incorporated drone footage and 360 video (even some 360 drone work which involved a makeshift flying Insta360 ONE camera) to highlight the impact of the water crisis on the region. I envisaged a truly innovative and beautiful story when I originally came up with the concept and in all aspects this tested my own limits in terms of technical ability, problem solving and all sorts of IT obstacles in order to host the story on News24's site.
A drone photo of the near-empty Gamka Dam that supplies drinking water to the town of Beaufort West. Picture: Aletta Harrison/africanDRONE
I did a short online course in 360 video and set out for Beaufort West with Tammy Petersen and within 3 days we gathered all the material we required. Learning to shoot stories in 360 and editing was incredibly challenging. Not only does it require a totally different way of thinking compared to traditional video sequence shooting, but the VR editing tools had not yet been incorporated into Adobe Premiere Pro and all manner of plugins had to be installed. Many an online tutorial had to be watched during this time!
News24 Video Editor Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath (left) and me. Photo: Bookmark Awards
It was News24's first use of Shorthand and I loved building the story. I must mention that it would not have been possible without great advice and help from Johnny Miller of africanDRONE. Neither would it have seen the light of day without the support from my wonderful editor Jerusha, who gave me the space to work on the project.
Land of Thirst: a 360 degree video experience by News24 won a silver pixel for news innovation, and the second was for news or feature writing. A great acknowledgement of the quality of the work, but also the amount of work that went into telling a story in a completely new and original way for our audience.