Monday 15 September 2014

Media now using drones at the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto parade


I am busy writing my final media report for the 2014 Caribbean Festival.  I always start by looking at the report I wrote the year before and reflect on how the media coverage has changed in a year.  And while Festival years  come and go, the issues and challenges of the parade remain about the same (money & security), the real change is in how the world finds out and follows North America's largest Carnival event.

Three or four years ago the vast majority of media registering for media passes worked for traditional working media - print, radio and television. This year the festival limited media access to the parade to 300 journalists/photographers/bloggers (plus 100 badges for CTV and the Toronto Star for their extended coverage crews) down from 500 badges issued last year.
Caribbean Connection TV live from the Caribbean Carnival Parade

Two thirds of the 300 were for virtual and social media - newspapers that only are readable on the net (Independent Newspaper), radio stations (like WACK), TV shows (Caribbean Vibrations)  primarily shot for the web, networks shooting for digital tv (WIN HD TV) and even a TV network shooting shows for the web while waiting for the CRTC licence to finally come through (Farley Flex's FEVA TV).  A very large number of the media are now self-employed and self-financed compared to years gone by when the media were employed by traditional outlets.

Thousands of more YouTube videos have been shot about the parade than TV news items prepared by mainstream TV, and the spread between the two media grows larger every year as hundreds of parade goers become youtube earth station journalists.   One only has to look at what Caribbean Connections (Paradise Hendrickson and Ed Hawk) did this year with a single video camera and a suitcase full of gear to see how non-traditional media outlets are using new technology to get a leg up on the competition and reach carnival lovers around the world.

Caribbean Connections used to have a regular weekly show on CBC TV (and will soon be back on air with another broadcaster), right now their shows are available on You Tube and through their website.  During the carnival season they covered every single event of the Carnival - from costume launches to the parade - in real time by live streaming their camera onto the Internet. Audiences around the world started following the Festival by watching their live coverage.

At the parade they had great live coverage until the CNE refused them power at the judging stand (I was dealing with stormers and couldn't help). But before they went dark they used something I had never seen before at the parade - a Go-Pro camera built into a mini-drone.  While traditional TV show a ground level view of the parade, it was only Caribbean Connections and CP24 (who used a bridge mounted camera) that showed the sheer mass of the Mas!