Many news organisations use mobile journalism to empower journalists with little or no experience of going out and tell stories visually.

BBC News, however, has taken a different approach, putting mojo kits in the hands of their most experienced camera crews.

"These are people that have been using big eng cameras for years," Duncan Stone, senior cameraperson, BBC News, told mojo specialist Glen Mulcahy at Mojofest in Galway today (29 May).

"We wanted to see how they would get on, and found the results fascinating."

The 15 crews, who applied for the scheme voluntarily, were sent out to shoot with iPhones, but allowed to take their traditional cameras along to each story, just incase they felt they needed them.

"We had a bit of a shaky start," Stone said. "There was a lot of gear and we were slightly pushed by the crews who wanted at least two channels of audio at first – they were used to four."

But the project, which has been running for the past two and a half months, has been received positively. The teams were amazed at what they can do with their phone, including getting physically closer to the story, getting more intimate with interviewees and sending footage back to base more efficiently.

"For example, when they were filming the Royal Wedding, one of our crews had to go round and do crowd interviews, but get them back to base as soon as possible. He couldn't film on his normal camera, film or the SD card and get it back to base," he said.

"He physically couldn't move because there were thousands of people there. He just used 4G and borrowed open WIFI to send it across."

The broadcaster has found developing a workflow to be challenging, as the team find ways to push content back to the newsroom. BBC has been pushing its own FTP (File Transfer Protocol) programmes, which are able to ingest and send footage in 50 frames per second.

"One of the biggest problems we have in broadcast it that all of these devices shoot in progressive, but TV news broadcast is an interlaced platform, so we are always having to do a conversion," he said, explaining that they used to use Final Cut Pro before their internal FTP programme allowed them to do it.

"The whole infrastructure within the BBC had to change to accommodate new ways of filming."

Over the last two and a half months, the broadcast has recorded 30-40 stories, one of which was handed to editors at Six O'Clock news without telling them it was shot on an iPhone.

"When we told them, they couldn't believe it," Stone said. "They didn't notice any difference whatsoever. That was our test that we could actually do this on a device so small. Now the production teams on the news bulletins are starting to think about how they can use the mobile phone."

Stone states that the broadcaster is in no way thinking of smartphones as a replacement for their larger cameras, purely as an addition, as another tool in their toolbox to capture great stories.

"The BBC has so many outlets, including digital, where vertical video is increasingly important, so, for example, I might be filming on a bigger camera while another person shoots on an iPhone," he explained.

"We want to empower people – mobile journalism is enabling more people to produce more content. Mixed economy is king."

Join us at newsrewired on 11 July, where BBC mobile specialist and trainer Marc Settle will be hosting a mobile reporting workshop, shedding some light on the complex world of free and paid-for apps that can help journalists make the most of their mobile phone for newsgathering and storytelling. Book here.

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