As I said yesterday, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire let off a big fireball on the set in Greenpoint last night. Here’s three videos of it, telling three different stories.
Note how the two amateur, unauthorized videos offer a more immediate and visceral look. They get closer to the actual explosion than News Chopper 4. In the second video, it literally takes up more space on the screen. Their NSFW commentary lets us feel what it was like to be there.
The news helicopter takes time to show us the scene from a wider perspective, we see the people hosing down the boardwalk, the firemen at the ready. We are assured that this is a safe and controlled exercise being run by experts. Once the explosion happens, we cut to a vantage from behind the director’s camera. This gives us an idea of how it will ultimately look on screen, we have the wide shot, and it’s a view that the amateurs wouldn’t have been able to achieve. But it also makes the explosion look more like something happen on a miniature set, and it projects the “official view.” This is more the scene HBO wants you to see. With no sound or commentary (this is B-roll), some of the immediacy and grip that the amateur videos has is lost. (update: I just saw the segment as it ran on TV last night, it had full sound, so that part of my point doesn’t matter so much)
But neither is better than the other. Curated amateur video isn’t going to kill TV news. Each is doing something the other can’t. Amateur: close, visceral, raw. News station: access, perspective, context. They’re complementary, not competitive. And both are here to stay.
Amateur video from across the water:
Amateur video from street level:
Update: Another street footage shot, this from the crowd. You really hear the boom in this one.
News Chopper 4 aerial footage. Can’t embed the video because it’s Shockwave so I have to take a screenshot and link it. The mainstream media source loses out on some sweet Tumblr action while the amateur video can propagate more fluidly.
Segment as it ran on TV: