Skype call with Socrates Kakoulides

On May 30, I had a skype call with Socrates Kakoulides about the last script I wrote. He gave me feedback on the concept and some tips regarding shooting the video.

First of all he mentioned that 360-degree video should give an experience. The concept I have now felt to much as a dialogue and a kind of a narration of the subject. Since the video will be shown at a conference where the audience already has to sit and listen to people talk, it would be nice to not have the same thing in a 360-degree video.

Maybe the most prominent feedback was that it could be a bit more controversial. “When they take off the headset they should feel a little offended”, Socrates said. This had mainly to do with the script being to “scripted”. It felt like it was telling what the policymakers wanted to hear. Bluntly put, throw away the script and focus on what the viewer need to experience. Keep it as unscripted, real and authentic as possible. An example of this could be to have a real conversation and discussion about the current smoking situation and policies with my roommates, who do smoke. This could be enhanced by having the people in the video actually smoking. And what could add further to the experience is to have smoke, or the smell of smoke, at the display during the conference to make it a multiple sensory experience.

By keeping it spontaneous and authentic, you show the viewers a more realistic perspective of the people who are affected by the policies that regarding the interest of the WHO. Talking about what policies would work and about those who have less effect from the viewpoint of people who those polies are meant for, might give those policymaker a better insight.

Some practical things were discussed as well. Since I am not a native English speaker, like others who will be in the video, the option to do it in Dutch with English subtitles would be possible. If this option would be chosen, the subtitles will be placed in the video in several places of the video. For example on two or four side, so when looking around you could read along with what is being said. However, this could take the viewer out the video, because he or she has to focus on the text rather than what is visually going on in the video. Socrates told me to remember to keep the background well lit so a sense of depth is stronger. Keeping the camera high (on eye level) was recommended. The camera could be positioned on a table for example so that the viewer is a spectator or it could be positioned as a visitor or participant in the story.

With this feedback in mind the video will be shot and a first version will be created.

Feedback on second script

After having finished the second script, some feedback was received on it.

During a Skype conversation with Jordan Jarvis, executive director at Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network (YPCDN), it was mentioned that the humanity gets lost in these conferences. Most of the time the personal impact of the policies is not understood or seen. Therefore she liked the direcetion the script is going to. The personal story of what WHO’s policies could do is great approach and it is definitely on the right track.

Jordan send the script to Erin Little, founder of Sucre Blue which is an organization that aims to bring access and affordability to chronic disease treatment and prevention around the world. She kindly gave feedback on it. She started of that she liked it and had some remarks on it. In the beginning of the story the following is said:

“Something is not entirely right with me at the moment. I won’t go into much details, but I have a little bit of a problem with my… Let’s say what goes in, doesn’t come out the way it usually does.”

Erin mentioned that this may not be very clear to those speaking English and it may be confusing. Anything involving nuance jokes may not make sense to a more general audience versus a primarily Western one. She said that perhaps if the joke could be edited to be more direct it would come across more clearly. She also wondered where the call to action was in the story. The scene drops of very sudden, which could be done a little smoother with some sort of call to action so that there might be a next step for the audience after seeing this video.
Claudia Tellegen, my graduation coach, mentioned something more practical that was overlooked. Perhaps some more actions could be added so the viewer gets to know the location a bit better and it would make the video less static. By walking out of the location I could create a couple of “cut-moments”, where I could cut the video to not have the video be one complete take. This would make it easier to make.
With this feedback, the script can be improved to fit the audience it will be shown to more.

Call with WHO and Socrates Kakoulides

On the 31st of March I had another call with the WHO. We talked about the progress of the project. They also connected me to Socrates Kakoulides, a New York City bassed filmmaker and studying to be a cardiologist. He has a background in documentary and now works with 360-degree video. He worked on Clouds Over Sidra and Waves of Grace. That same week the WHO also connected me by email with Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network (YPCDN), the first and largest social network of young health professionals targeting chronic illness like cancer and diabetes. Socrates is also part of the YPCDN. They are kind enough to offer me guidance, advice and thinking along with my project. Acting somwhat like a sounding board for me.

The WHO has stepped down from the role of supervisor, since it would take to long to get all the formal stuff done. Otherwise the project wouldn’t really be able to start and I would have less creative freedom. The project itself doesn’t change, the assignment stays the same. Just the supervision of the project has shifted. Hopefully the YPCDN will be able to provide that for me.

I had brief contact with Socrates over the phone and did not go into much details. He did give me advice, he said to make them (the audience) excited. They need to want to be part of it. Look at other videos, what are the good points? What is strong? What do you like?

Further calls will be scheduled with him and the YPCDN to help me with my project.

First call with the WHO

On Friday the 17th of March I had my first direct contact with the WHO regarding my plans. This conversation has made a lot of things more clear and more specific. The following things came out of this conversation.

The inital proposal for my project was to focus on one of the noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and target the video towards a young audience. However, during the call it became that the real problem is in the environment people live in that is enlarging the risk of them getting NCDs, escpecially in developing countries. In the “west” there is a bigger opportunity of getting treatment for cancer for example, than there is in Uruguay. There is an inequality in how NCDs are being treated in the world. The people who can lead the change in this are the diplomats, politicians and ministers, perhaps a better word for that is ‘the policymakers’. They can create a more healthy environment and fight the battle of inequality of survival changes of the NCDs.

This also means that the target group has shifted more towards these policymakers. There will be several conferences around the world on this matter. Thoughts at the moment on this, is to make it more personal. Show them a story about this inequality, show them the reality, place them in the reality.

The product also would be target towards these conferences. Instead of distributing the video only on online platforms, there would be a physical booth or installation that will stand at those conferences.

So to conclude, it is a lot more specific. There is more of a “wish” from the WHO where I can work from. A 360-degree experience targeted towards policymakers so that they understand the reality and fight the battle against the NCDs together with the WHO.

Consultation 13/03/2017

From a consultation with Claudia, my graduation guidance teacher, the following things came up.

The WHO has shown its interest and wants to have a Skype call with me and Claudia, for this I should prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ so that I can explain clearly what it is I will be doing. This Skype call will be on Friday the 17th of March. This call will mainly be about the expectations of both parties and have somewhat of a clear idea of what I will be doing for them.

Although my Plan of Approach has been approved, we found that there is a bit of shift regarding importance of the sub questions. First of I need to research the organization of course and write down all my findings on 360-degree video. (Which I already know more of than I thought.) The tone and perspective of the story is actually the most important part. Since I have a target group, I need to figure out what the best way is to approach them. Should it be provocative, humorious or something else? Ways of figuring this out can be with a focus group, survey, testing, literature, etc. I should know this, or at least have an idea, preferably sooner than later.

What we found out is that I have a clearer idea of my graduation plans than we thought. From a relatively vague subject, I know have some clear topics I need to focus on and answer. Witch are translated to my research questions. These questions might alter in the future a bit, depending on my findings. But for now they are a good start and point me in the right direction.

The first week. (Feb. 27 – March 5)

The first week of actively working on my graduation has past. My proposal has been send to the World Health Organization (WHO), so I am waiting for their response and, hopefully, their approval. Before sending this proposal, I made a draft on which I got feedback from Hester van der Ent. Essentially where it was lacking, is that it was to broad. I had to be more concrete and specific. These changes also made my research questions more specific, therefore “easier” to research. For example, instead of focussing on all the noncommunicable diseases I will focus on one group, the cardiovascular diseases. the cardiovascular diseases, according to the website of WHO, are the number 1 cause of death globally. Because this is the biggest one, I think it is a good choice to put my focus on.

Research has been done on the organization and I took a little dive in the world of 360-degree video as well. I read some articles here and there, with one particular one that is quite relevant to my research. The article is from KQED Science website and is called Is Virtual Reality an ‘Empathy Machine’? Some Charities Think SoI talks about how the Virtual Reality (VR) is used to trigger people’s empathy and takes examples where it works. Charities are of course a great thing, but getting the support they need is hard. Especially if you cover something tragic and brutal. They are hoping for some new medium that can be more persuasive. That is exactly where I am diving into. The article talks about VR, but this also applies to 360-video, but proves that more and more ways to use this medium are being presented.

During the meeting on March 1, Claudia Tellegen and all the other graduation students sat together to talk about our progress. We helped each other out with our research questions and how to formulate our main research question. For the moment I formulated as follows:

  • How can  360 degree video storytelling be used for the Noncommunicable diseases program to create more awareness among students?

Which is close, but still not there yet. Hopefully when I hear back from the WHO I will have a better view on the better from their perspective and can improve my research progress.

For next week my Plan of Approach needs to be written, plus an introduction/analysis of the organization.