Friday, November 6, 2009

PSYOP Video – Self Taught

While a picture is worth a thousand words, a video may be worth millions of viewers! The power of TV as a PSYOP weapon is unmatched. While smart phones and the Internet with mediums such as YouTube are becoming so popular that they are mainstream, there is no doubt that today’s Facebook picture will be tomorrow’s video.

PSYOP needs to be more proactive – we need to capture events as they unfold and we need to be able to tell our story ASAP. The media expertise of the Taliban in particular have clearly shown that we are just not able to get inside their information operations OODA (observe, orient, decide and act) loop. While there are a number of factors behind this, one of them and perhaps the easiest to solve is technology – especially video technology.

I’ve always had an interest in photography and over the years I’ve had 8 MM movie cameras; VHS tape video recorders, 8 MM camcorders, and digital cameras that shot videos. I’ve also dabbled in things dramatic and many people have told me that I should have gone into comedy rather than the Army or High Tech. Over the past year or so I’ve been teaching military intelligence on line and have been managing all source incident investigations. In one of our investigations we used covert video and I had to learn the technical and legal ins and outs associated with the technology and its private use.

Consequently I know video is important and I’ve embarked on a self-managed professional development program to learn more. As a start, I bought a Flip Camera (see just before Halloween 2009. It’s so easy I could teach a General to use it. It has an on button, a record button, a play button and a trash button. You can’t lose the USB jack because it’s built in. It is really plug and play. I’ve shot a few segments inside and out and I’m quite pleased with the results.

I’m also enrolled in a Sloan Consortium workshop “Video, Tools for Teaching and Learning” which will cover a number of different (and apparently free) tools such as Viddler, Screencast-O-Matic and Viddix. Screencasting is used to capture screens (duh), Eyejot is video messaging and Viddler and Vidix are interactive video tools.

PSYOPers at the tactical level need to have these tools and the knowledge to use them. Of course there must also be an over arching system for quality control and approval. Big caution here –the pace of information in the 21st century requires decentralized tactical PSYOP and the ability to capture local events that can be used for strategic and operational purposes. This all implies a high degree of trust at the tactical PSYOP level and extensive training which itself is probably a combination of structured and unstructured.

It should also be noted that the same capabilities and concepts apply to PAO in their role as journalists so that combined training on technical skills for PAO and PSYOP should be considered not only as a way for DOD to save money, but to foster teamwork between these two sibling disciplines.

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