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WITNESS Human Rights Group Impacted By Discontinued Cameras

May 24, 2011

WITNESS is a human rights advocacy group co-founded by musician Peter Gabriel; the purpose of the group is to get small video recorders into the hands of endangered populations of people and teach them to be their own documentary videographers.  Many women have been involved in the project to end gender-based violence.  The idea is to bring attention to conflict areas; to bring awareness of people in need and possibly discourage violence, rape, genocide and domination of vulnerable people by giving them voices that can reach the world at large.

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CISCO has discontinued manufacture and shut down operations for the Flip camera and Kodak has discontinued making the Zi8.  This has left the group with a technological vacuum.  Many areas that WITNESS is reaching out to have lower technology and may lack electricity.  They have specific needs for cameras:

  • Easy to use.
  • Sturdy and reliable.
  • Preferably running on standard [old school] batteries [like AA].
  • Affordable to the organization.

The WITNESS blog points out that the sound quality on the Flip camera is very poor and that all in-camera microphones are low quality.  They express hope that the world’s various manufacturers will innovate new and improved products which will fill the gap left by the loss of these cameras:

“We hope they come up with new devices that fit our idea of the perfect pocket camcorder for video advocacy – low cost, external mic input, simple and intuitive controls, robust, and with no proprietary ports and batteries.”

The concern is that smart phones will cost too much, be too complex to use and not cost effective.  WITNESS is looking for suggestions on alternative video camera products and can be contacted on their blog here.

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