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Costa Rica: Cow Parade and internet video

Café con leche - Cow Parade Costa Rica 2008 photo by mdverde
Café con leche – Cow Parade Costa Rica 2008
photo by mdverde

The Cow Parade calls itself the world´s largest public art event, and for tiny Costa Rica´s standards, it certainly is a huge deal that the capital city of San José was selected to host the legion of cows. On AmeliaRueda.com[es] , a series of online videos have been reporting to the website audiences and through YouTube about the comings and goings of the 120 cows and the local artists in charge of decorating them for the event.

The series of online videos dedicated to showing the process behind the cow´s arrival in the city isn't the only product that AmeliaRueda.com has released exclusively for web distribution: ever since they began this task of creating web content two months ago, more than 14 videos have been uploaded and liberated through a Creative Commons license. Amelia Rueda, the website's namesake and blogger, is one of the most influential journalists in Costa Rica, and according to Cristian Cambronero[es], who has created and uploaded the online videos, this is one more step towards the networked journalism that Amelia Rueda has been promoting throughout her career, a space where users provide videos, material and are a vital part in creating news that matters to them.

Journalist and blogger Cristian Cambronero, from Fusil de Chispas, told me a bit more about the journalism work done on AmeliaRueda.com. In Costa Rica, up to a short time ago, no one was producing any type of original video journalism content for the web and that´s the gap they intend to fill by creating brief, single topic videos with an agile visual language and risky editing, instead of adapting or just uploading content made for television. The videos have been uploaded on YouTube, and on the website. There are no intentions to launch a media campaign to bring people to the website, so far they are in the initial stages of having people stumble on the site and recommend them or link to the videos: not different at all from the John Doe who begins to blog and starts slowly gathering a readership.

The videos are shot with digital handycams which most people have lying around to record family events, and are edited on home computers using video editing software and image editing software for some of the captions or tags. The low resolution videos are friendly for low-speed connections common in Costa Rica, and it all serves to bring the message home: any one of the viewers might as well pick up their cameras and make some citizen journalism videos themselves. As a final question, I asked Cristian about the taping process on the streets, and people´s reactions to knowing they would be recorded for a video that wouldn´t be released on TV, but on internet:

¿Alguna anécdota sobre el proceso de grabación? ¿Cómo toma la gente que los grabes para algo que no va a salir en tele, sino en internet? Es quizá lo más interesante. Las cámaras y los equipos que utiliza la televisión son invasivos por naturaleza, y sobre esto han escrito un sinfín de teóricos de la comunicación. La televisión altera la escena de un hecho o suceso, con la sóla presencia de sus cámaras aparatosas, micrófonos llamativos y por supuesto una figura conocida, o pública, que es el reportero. Todos lo hemos notado: cuando aparece una cámara de televisión la escena literalmente se congela, y deja de ser natural. Nuestras cámaras pequeñas y nosotros mismos pasamos desapercibidos, somos un espectador más. La gente no se intimida ni asume poses. No se altera el entorno de ninguna forma. Los equipos pequeños son menos intimidades, y también buscamos la naturalidad. Queremos entrevistas en forma de conversaciones y no de ruedas de prensa. Es otro lenguaje.

That is perhaps the most interesting part. The cameras and the equipment that television uses are invasive by nature, and about this an endless number of experts in communication have written. Television alters the scene where something happened, the sole presence of the clunky cameras, eyecatching microphones and of course a known and popular figure in the shape of a tv reporter. We've all seen it: when a TV camera appears the scene literally freezes, and stops being natural. Our small cameras and well, ourselves pass unnoticed, we are one spectator more. People aren´t intimidated and don't strike poses. The surroundings aren't altered in the least. Small equipment is less intimidating, and we also seek for naturality. We want interviews that sound like conversation and not press releases. It´s another language.

Following, you can view the fourth Cow Parade related video, where artists repair the damage done to the sculptures by careless citizens and vandals. It has been subtitled in English, and hopefully, soon all the videos at Amelia Rueda.com will be as well.

You can view the other 3 Cow Parade videos by following this link [es] .

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