“FastCast” wants to revolutionize the online news market. The video agency from vienna has designed a rucksack which performs like a mobile unit but can be handled by a single journalist. With this, it is only minutes from the event until the finished online video can be watched on a website. SmartCitiesConsulting talked with „FastCast“ founder Harald Hackenberg:
SCC: Mr. Hackenberg, what is FastCast? Hackenberg: It’s a new reporting model for journalists. Actually it’s a completely new workflow which revives an old postulate: Information gets more important the faster it is contributed.
We set the goal to enable journalists to report from wherever they are via video. We then thought of how this could be done in reality, because the tools you would need for this were not available on the market. So what we did is; we built them ourselves.
SCC: How is the process until a video is embedded on a news site? Hackenberg: The journalist sets off to an event and doesn’t need anything further. He carries his „ChatPack“ with him – that is a rucksack wich contains battery for a day and a lot of technology. This rucksack looks autonomously after perfect visuals and audio. The camera films what the journalist sees on site. He can focus on events, on possible interview partners and just start recording. He doesn’t need to check on any technological aspects.
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When the recording is done the journalist can decide wether he likes the story or not. He says „Go“ or „No Go“. The story is then uploaded to our cloud – again autonomously by our technology. Once in the cloud we review visuals and audio and the piece then gets automatically adjusted for our partners with an individual logo and a signation. It takes normally about two to three minutes until the video is online.
SCC: Would you say that faster is better for journalism? Hackenberg: Concerning journalism faster is always better but until now this meant a huge effort in the television sector – e.g. mobile units and things like that. We reduced this to a little rucksack, which weighs six kilo (13lb). The next version will weigh half.
We are a kind of „liquid enterprise“ – a company which doesn’t need physical representation at all. Our colleagues are out the the whole day. They never need to come back. They don’t have any post processes. They can move from one event to the other. A FastCast journalist can do 20, 30, 40 stories a day. And through the number of stories and the number of colleagues emerges a new form of journalistic pluralism, which does have the potential to change the media landscape enormously.
SCC: What do you think about the old system camera crew? Has it become needless? Hackenberg: No. They don’t have become needles and we don’t try to substitute them. A well researched article can not be replaced by what we do BUT it can be complemented. Especially online media companies can be much faster than regular television now. They have the story online in minutes. In Vienna this was actually the case when a building near a pedestrian zone exploded. Actually, there is huge new market opening now.
SCC: How could FastCast change the journalism we know today? Hackenberg: I think only the speed and authenticity alone will change the picture viewers have today fundamentally. If you think about how Twitter – with it’s limited possibilities of text – changed our perception of events, then you may can imagine what is ahead of us. We are almost as fast as Twitter but deliver a 73 seconds long and professionally commented video report with a dramatic composition.
SCC: Did you already think about live-chats and interaction with viewers?
Hackenberg: Yes. The whole concept is exceeding pure reporting by far. Let’s say: We have not launched all stages of this missile yet. There are still some left.
SCC: Elke Glassner told the Austrian magazine „Medienmanager“: „The better smartphones will become the more „FastCast“ will loose on efficiency.“ Are you afraid of good smartphones?Hackenberg: No. Of course, smartphones can do a lot but they are also always user generated content. A professional news site will have problems in placing advertisement around this type of content. Second, smartphone reporting is not nearly as professional because the technology is not as good as ours. They are perfect for a lower quality segment. And for even higher segments we have traditional camera crews. But in between there is an ample field. And there „FastCast“ is completely alone.
SCC: What are your plans for the future? Hackenberg: The concept is perfect for implementing it internationally. We will begin sports coverage in Germany around next month. We won’t cover the matches themselves but we will interview visitors or players and show the atmosphere of the games.
Harald Hackenberg worked for a long time as video reporter. He was co-responsible for the founding of two austrian private broadcasting companies. In 2003 he founded „F5“ a think tank for the connection of media and IT. „FastCast“ was introduced for the first time in 2013. This year they won the „Media for Future“-price in Vienna together with Dossier.at and Neuwal.at.