Just a disclosure, I am technically a guy that collects airchecks and have more of a mind of a creative services guy and some journalistic instincts. I am also an amateur photog. I presently do not work in the industry nor am I affiliated with any union.
Electronic News Gathering is a process that was developed nearly 40 plus years ago. ENG was basically the concept away from film and to videotape entirely. The editing process moved away from splicing and cutting film negatives, to playing a raw tape on a “source” tape deck, and record the cuts by timecode onto another deck called “record”. For more advanced productions, raw tapes were dubbed into more crappier qualities to use to make notes for cuts, known as offline editing. Online editing was the mastering of the quality using various scopes and meters before the final product was finished.
ENG actually goes as far back as the early 1970s for liveshots. But that’s all it could do until Sony made smaller portable tape decks and the advent of the Betacam in 1982.
This very simplified definition as changed a lot as digital replaced the analog format, the tapeless mediums, such as the first generation Blu-Ray like XDCAM, the PCMCIA disk storage for Panasonic’s P2 DVCPRO camcorders, the move to “file based workflows” away from the traditional tape editing booths, and a focus on using standard Windows or Mac workstations to edit on either EDIUS or Premiere Pro.
My opinions on “filming” is very clear. I do not really care for cinema. There is a time and place for film, but not in non fiction environments. There are some really pressing issues. I rarely talk about my autistic condition here, but in the state I live in, the issues are very pervasive. In New Hampshire it seems like “filmmakers” outpace any ENG or the sister workflow for live events, Electronic Field Production videographers. For any message to get out, takes time. Filmmaking is an art to them. Sure, but if there is a story to tell that is time sensitive, like the end of the world for some groups of people, there has this hustle of energy.
When I carry my Vixia I do not film, I take offense when I hear that phrase. You can’t film to live. You can’t “edit” film the way you can do with video. Jump-cuts used to be a no-no but again thanks to the damned filmmakers, they legitimized hobbled works.
To not single out radio, but radio is also an immediate medium. If there is a very pressing narrative, someone can do a phoner, and even if POTS telephony is scrappy as heck with the move to more IP based technologies, that scrappy quality will grab you in (at least in my own theory.)
For me, I am not a friend of slow deadlines, no urgency to important issues, the bloated headcounts in film, where in ENG you can do things with less people and produce in par with the film world. I long for the days for having a shot for every time I saw some name in a “ENG” unit in long closing credits.
Can we make ENG Great Again?
Next year I’ll show my collection of ENG replicas in the minifig world on my site and my social platforms.