News travels fast, video travels faster

by brian d foy

This war has been hard going for the public affairs people. Something happens and in several minutes it is on CNN or Yahoo! News. The events get on the news before I have a chance to get back to camp, even.

A lot of soldiers carry digital media equipment with them. As a military policeman I carry a digital camera to document things (traffic accidents, people I talked to, and other boring things). Some soldiers carry personal digital video cameras.

Yesterday we had a bit of action north of Baghdad---nothing big, just the everyday variety of danger. This time, a group of combat service support (CSS) soldiers (the sort that do military jobs that do not involve direct combat) showed up to do their job. While we were clearing the area, an armored platoon joined the party.

We left because oour job was done and we were needed elsewhere, and I did not think about it again until another squad member showed me a MPEG movie he had.

As my squad was left the scene, things went south and the CSS crew filmed it. There was a moderate exchange of gun fire, and it looks more exciting on the video than it did in real life (which is normally the case with these things), but then, watching armor shoot anything can be interesting just like watching construction cranes or freight trains can be.

The video looks like some of the manufacture cinema verite stuff that seems so popular now---shaky camera, bad pans, bad lighting, and lots of action happening where the camera is not pointing.

Now, by this morning when I got up, the soldiers in my unit were already passing this around, even though it was filmed by another unit. I happened to have my USB key disk on me (a lot soldiers do, it seems), so I immediately got a copy too, and passed it on to another team leader three minutes later, using only SneakerNet.