Damian Mac Con Uladh

Posts Tagged ‘Tourism’

Astrophotographer detects traces of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ in tourism agency statement

In Greece on 14 November 2014 at 7:32 pm
Alex Cherney and his daughter, who led him to the stars (Photo: Facebook)

Alex Cherney and his daughter, who led him to the stars (Photo: Facebook)

When Australian astrophotographer Alex Cherney saw the excuse that the Greek tourism agency EOT came up with this week for including his timelapse footage of an unmistakable Australian landmark in a much-derided Greek tourism promotional video, he was reminded of a classic quote from the 2002 comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

“When I saw EOT claiming in a statement that ‘The mythology of the sky, at all latitudes and longitudes of the earth, is Greek’, all I could think of was the line ‘Give me any word, and I show you how the root is Greek’ from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. That sort of claim denies other sky cultures, like those of the Inuit and Aboriginal,” says Cherney, who has mapped Aboriginal astronomical constellations for Stellarium, a free, open-source planetarium computer programme.

Speaking from his home in Melbourne, Australia, the award-winning astrophotographer confirmed that a licence to use a snippet from his 2010 Ocean Sky production was only purchased “after the material was used‏” and after this blog reported that it had been included in EOT’s video without his knowledge or permission.

About 16 seconds of footage from Ocean Sky, a timelapse production that took him 1.5 years of work and 31 hours of taking images over six nights on the Southern Ocean Coast in Australia, appears in the Gods, Myths, Heroes video. The clip shows the Twelve Apostles, a very famous Victoria landmark.

Cherney says the first he heard that his footage was in the video was in the early hours of November 10 when someone from Greece alerted him through Facebook. His Greek contact suspected it was without his permission. Cherney’s initial response was one of surprise, especially as this was a video put out by an official tourism agency: “How do you react when someone tries to steal your work? It’s not nice. Going to these remote places is expensive. One night’s filming gets you 20 seconds of timelapse footage if you’re taking two shots a minute, as I did.”

Later that day, he emailed the producer of the Visit Greece film, Andonis Theocharis Kioukas of Qkas Productions, with a link to the video’s licensing page. Kioukas replied to inform him that he had subsequently purchased the appropriate rights from an agency representing Cherney, a transaction he has been able to confirm.

“This was done after the material was used, so in this regard EOT and Mr Kioukas did the right thing to rectify the situation‏. I think I have to give Mr Kioukas the benefit of the doubt and assume a genuine mistake which was rectified properly and promptly. However, I cannot speculate how and where did they got the original footage. I have had that video ripped off and the copyright removed before, so it is possible that they got it from a source that already did not have the copyright mark there‏.”‏

Footage by Alex Cherney of the Twelve Apostles, an Australian landmark, was used in the EOT video without permission (Screengrabs)

Footage by Alex Cherney of the Twelve Apostles, an Australian landmark, was used in the EOT video without permission (Screengrabs)

In any case, however, he maintains it was not enough for EOT to say they were not responsible. Earlier this week, an EOT official informed this blog that “EOT is never using [sic] footage without clearance. We collaborate with production companies that, according to their contract with the organisation, are responsible for every permission of use of the material.”

For that reason, Cherney believes, EOT, which after all paid for the film to be made, should exercise more diligence and oversight in ensuring that all material that appears under its name is authorised and licensed. He added that were the case had come to court – and he’s grateful it won’t – he would have sued “EOT as the first point of contact”, not the producer.

It’s the duty of every producer to seek permission to use material, he said. “I always mix my videos with music, but I always look for a creative commons licence or contact the rights holder directly. Likewise, most producers would contact me directly, or through an agency, to negotiate a price to use the material. That’s how I fund other trips and projects.”

Cherney points out that in the EOT video, his footage has been cropped just above the copyright line, which is unmistakable in the original. “That constituted unauthorised usage of my footage because the copyright mark was not visible.”

However, the watermarks of Greek photographers whose material was used can be seen in the tourism video. Earlier this week, another photographer, Norwegian Athens resident Stian Rekdal, said footage of his had also been used without his permission. Likewise, his watermarks had been removed in the EOT video. Questions from this journalist to EOT about the missing watermarks have gone unanswered. Rekdal has since confirmed on Facebook that he has been compensated for the use of the footage in the EOT video.

“The good thing about the attention given to this story is that it raises the importance of the correct licensing of video materials and should help prevent misuse in the future,” Cherney believes. ‏

My big fat Greek sky

Cherney points out that ancient Greek sailors would have been very confused had they encountered the night sky visible in his Ocean Sky video. “While there no southern constellations in it, what you see – like the Scorpius – are all upside down. And just off screen to the left is the Southern Cross, which the ancient Greeks did not know about. If ancient Greeks sailors used these for navigation, they would have ended up in Australia.”

When Giant Fish Leaves the Sky it is Time to Travel: Alex Cherney and John Morieson’s cultural reconstruction of the night sky totems and stories from the Aboriginal Boorong clan, which lived in northwestern Victoria, Australia

Success

Ocean Sky proved so impressive that it landed Cherney first prize for astrophotography at the astronomy-related 2011 Starmus Festival, held in Tenerife in 2011. He says that given it has a staggering 2m views on Vimeo, it was only a matter of time before someone spotted his footage in the Greek video.

His success is all the more impressive considering that he only started looking at the stars in 2007 when his daughter, then four, asked him to help her “find aliens” as part of a space project she was doing at school.

“We went to a local astronomy club and when I looked through a telescope, I said ‘What have I been missing?’”

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Some questions for Greece’s tourism agency EOT

In Greece on 11 November 2014 at 7:42 pm
Screengrab from EOT's Visit Greece website

Screengrab from EOT’s Visit Greece website

Greek tourism agency EOT has issued a very detailed statement in Greek on the controversy surrounding the video it launched last week.

The statement is unclear in some key aspects and I have asked EOT for clarification on a number of issues. I have decided to publish these questions before receiving a reply as EOT’s statement will be reproduced in full in the bulk of Greece’s media without the necessary questions being asked. This is what invariably happens when press releases are issued late in the day to media organisations that haven’t or won’t follow the story.

My questions are:

1. EOT mentions that Andonis Kioukas, the video’s producer, confirmed to it in writing that it had rights to use the footage of timelapse photographer Stian Rekdal. When was this written statement provided to EOT? Was it before November 10 or on November 10, ie after the publication of my article in which Rekdal clearly stated that he had not been asked for his permission to use his footage.

2. EOT’s statement does not mention if it has rights to the material belonging to Australian photographer Alex Cherney. Does EOT have permission to use his work? Has Kioukas has confirmed this in writing?

3. The watermarks on both Rekdal’s and Cherney’s footage were not visible in the EOT video (ie they were cloned out) while the watermarks of at least two Greek photographers who were credited as sources were left in place. Why was Mr Rekdal’s watermark removed if EOT claims it has rights to use his work? Who removed these watermarks and why?

No gods, no myths, just Greece: the tourism videos that work

In Greece on 11 November 2014 at 12:57 pm
Screenshot 2014-11-11 11.51.44

Scene from Beach Daydreaming (Screengrab: Damomac)

It certainly hasn’t been the best of weeks for the Greek tourism video genre, at least those produced by the country’s official tourism agency EOT, whose latest promotional effort has been beset with controversy after this blog showed that it contained footage from the 1936 Berlin Olympics and unauthorised content from photographers.

Yet, on 3 November, the very day that Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni launched EOT’s latest video at a major tourism fair in London, the Crete regional authority published on YouTube its new tourism advertisements for the 2015 season.

Comprising six spots, the new videos are based on the concept of “Crete – the island inside you”, which is the new communicative identity of the Incredible Crete campaign.

Three of the videos show how the experiences made in a Cretan holiday stay with family of four long after their return home to an unidentified northern European country. In one, entitled Beach Daydreaming, the father tries to relive a fond, Raki-fuelled memory with his wife in his local swimming pool, with hilarious consequences.

In another, called Easter Daydreaming, the mind of one of his son’s wanders back to an Easter spent in a Cretan village where he engaged in the preparation and celebration of Easter. The third daydreaming clip focuses on how the mother, also back home, longs for the relaxation and pampering she enjoyed in Crete.

Sticking with the same theme, Falling in Love Daydreaming looks at how a young cultured Italian woman whose fond of classical recitals becomes enamoured with traditional Cretan musician, after considerable effort on his part.

Directed by Thodoris Papadoulakis, best known for his work in adapting Victoria Hislop’s The Island into a television series for a Greek channel, the films are produced by Indigoview, an audio visual productions based in Chania, and McCann Erickson, a global advertising agency network.

The tourism videos sponsored by the Crete regional authority have proved extremely popular. A 2012 spot, entitled See for yourself, feel for yourself, has been watched over 860,000 times.

Controversial Greek tourism video hit by plagiarism claims

In Greece on 10 November 2014 at 3:52 pm
Spot the difference? Stian Rekdal's footage (left) and the same scene in the Visit Greece video right (Screengrabs: Stian Rekdal)

Spot the difference? Stian Rekdal’s footage (left) and the same scene in the Visit Greece video right (Screengrab: Stian Rekdal)

The new official Visit Greece tourism video that was described on this blog last week as “hackneyed, corny and stodgy” includes copyright footage lifted from the work of at least two photographers without their permission.

One of the professionals, timelapse photographer Stian Rekdal, told this journalist that five clips from a 2012 video he made feature in Greek tourism agency EOT’s Gods, Myths, Heroes video, which had to be re-edited last week after a British newspaper passed on the news (without crediting this blog as a source) to EOT that it contained footage of the infamous 1936 Olympics held in Berlin under Hitler.

Originally from Norway but now living in Athens, Stian Rekdal produced the spectacular timelapse video, simply entitled Greece, after clocking up 2,500km in a 16-day road trip in 2012 during which he managed to take over 116,000 images.

The six-minute video has been watched by nearly 100,000 people since going on line over two years ago. It was so successful that shortly after posting it to video sharing site Vimeo, LG purchased some clips from it to demonstrate the quality of television screens worldwide. That contract ran for two years, Rekdal explains. “If you were looking to buy an LG television during that time, you probably saw my work on the screen in the shops,” he said.

One of the shots used in the Visit Greece video – a scene from Santorini – took Rekdal five hours to make. “That involved me minding a camera for three hours and another two hours of post-processing. You’re never guaranteed to get the image you want. Someone might stand in front of your camera for ten minutes and there’s nothing you can do, so you have to chose a setting where that can’t happen,” he explains.

Above: footage by Stian Rekdal. Below: how it appears in Visit Greece tourism video (Screengrabs: Damian Mac Con Uladh)

Above: footage by Stian Rekdal. Below: how it appears in Visit Greece tourism video (Screengrabs: Damian Mac Con Uladh)

Footage taken by Rekdal on the Cycladic island of Santorini and in Zagorochoria in the northwestern region of Epirus are among those used in the EOT video. Although Rekdal watermarked the original video with a copyright logo, this was removed in most of the clips used by Visit Greece. The copyright watermark is, however, visible in a clip from Ancient Olympia, onto which the tourism agency superimposed an image of Hercules.

Above: footage by Stian Rekdal. Below: how it appears in Visit Greece tourism video (Screengrabs: Damian Mac Con Uladh)

Above: footage by Stian Rekdal. Below: how it appears in Visit Greece tourism video (Screengrabs: Damian Mac Con Uladh)

Above: footage by Stian Rekdal. Below: how it appears in Visit Greece tourism video (Screengrabs: Damian Mac Con Uladh)

Above: footage by Stian Rekdal. Below: how it appears in Visit Greece tourism video (Screengrabs: Damian Mac Con Uladh)

Rekdal said he was alerted about the copyright infringement by an Australian colleague, Alex Cherney, who discovered that a timelapse sequence he took of the Twelve Apostles, a famous Australian landmark, was included in the Greek tourism video, again without his prior knowledge or permission. Cherney’s watermark was also not visible in the Visit Greece video.

Footage by Alex Cherney of the Twelve Apostles, an Australian landmark, was used in the EOT video without permission (Screengrabs)

Footage by Alex Cherney of the Twelve Apostles, an Australian landmark, was used in the EOT video without permission (Screengrabs)

Although the tourism agency credits other photographers for the use of their work, neither Rekdal or Cherney are acknowledged anywhere in the video. Rekdal also suspects that since emailing Visit Greece on Sunday for an explanation, a number of scenes were subsequently removed from its video.

Rekdal said EOT’s use of his material without permission is all the more surprising as it’s not the first time it’s happened. Last June, he spotted other intellectual property of his in another Visit Greece video and was duly compensated for it by the production company that made the advertisement.

An earlier version of Visit Greece's promotional spot contained these images from Stian Rekdal's video. They were subsequently removed (Screengrabs: Stian Rekdal)

An earlier version of Visit Greece’s promotional spot contained these images from Stian Rekdal’s video. They were subsequently removed (Screengrabs: Stian Rekdal)

Unless the tourism agency deals with the copyright infringement in a speedy manner, Rekdal fears he will have to request YouTube to remove the video by submitting a copyright takedown notice, known as a DMCA. “It’s a shame for it to happen like this. But if EOT continues to infringe on copyright, it risks losing its YouTube channel. You only have a certain number of strikes,” he says.

“Photography is my job. I licence things for a living. I can’t run a business if people just help themselves. While it’s hard for an organisation like EOT to know where all the material they use comes from, there seems to be a culture in Greek post-production to take what you want from the internet with no regard for who made it or created it. It’s a shame how people help themselves when they are paid to do a job. It’s plainly illegal and something has to change,” Rekdal remarked.

Despite numerous requests to EOT, no one was available to comment on the claims put forward by the photographers.

Update: At 9.20pm, I received the following message from EOT regarding the plagiarism claims:

Regarding your article concerning the commemorative video entitled GODS-MYTHS-HEROES, we would like to stress out the fact that:

EOT is never using footage without clearance. We collaborate with production companies that, according to their contract with the organisation, are responsible for every permission of use of the material.

As far as it concerns specific material created by Mr Stian Redkal, according to written confirmation of the video’s director, Mr Antonis Kioukas, the said footage is free of broadcasting rights for the purposes and uses that EOT has requested for (i.e. broadcasting on every digital media platform including tv, internet , social media, presentations etc.)

You may consider this message as the official GNTO position and announcement on the matter.

Above: footage by Stian Rekdal. Below: how it appears in Visit Greece tourism video (Screengrabs: Damian Mac Con Uladh)
Above: footage by Stian Rekdal. Below: how it appears in Visit Greece tourism video (Screengrabs: Damian Mac Con Uladh)

Not the gods again! Greece launches new tourism ‘communications strategy’

In Greece on 5 November 2014 at 1:25 am
How tacky can you get?  A statue of the god Hercules superimposed on a scene from Olympia

How tacky can you get? A statue of the god Hercules superimposed on a scene from Olympia

[See update below]

The Manhattan cityscape by night, a middle-aged (fictitious) male writer sitting alone in his penthouse office and dreaming of Greece with a soundtrack that’s reminiscent of 1980s US soap operas Dynasty or Falcon Crest … if there’s a way to start a promotional video for Greek tourism, then this is surely not the way to do it.

The video, entitled “And everywhere you turn: Gods … Myths … Heroes”, is described as visualising the national tourism agency EOT’s “communications strategy” for 2015, the aim of which is to attract more visitors.

According to the tourism minister, Olga Kefalogianni, the “new communication strategy is based on the Greek gods and ancient heroes that we have all read about since our childhood and have all known since our school years”.

It’s a strategy built on the concept that contemporary activities such as harvesting, entertainment, sports, learning and arts are inspired and correspond to a Greek god, a Greek hero, a myth or a historical event.

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