How to create Community TV
Making television can be very easy, depending on your definition of television. I will briefly touch on production techniques later in this text, but I will be discussing these things in big abstract terms. I’m not teaching film school here (and you don’t need film school to make TV.)
In the most basic terms, you make DIY TV by pointing a camera at something worth recording, and pressing record. Probably, you’ll want something a little more polished than that, but simply Pressing Record was the key to the video verite style of TVTV, Lanesville TV, Metropolis, and many of the other early DIY TV pioneers.
Don’t overthink it, start small, stop when it’s good enough to stop.
If you want to start making Community TV today, you probably already have the tools you need. Nearly any smartphone produces significantly better video than the best video cameras that existed in 1999, and there is software for video editing available for free on both Android and iOS. I will not recommend any specific Android or iOS video editors, because this landscape changes quickly and tools that I have recommended in the past have been rendered basically unusable by the proliferation of advertisements attempting to make them profitable.
Instead, I recommend this:
- The phone you have, or the camera you have, whatever it is
- If you don’t have a phone or camera, but you do have access to the internet and a mailing address, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Community TV Camera” and we’ll work with you to get you access to a camera. It won’t be good, but it will get the job done.
- Any computer made since 2010.
- Ditto the above, with an emphasis on it won’t be good. We work with an electronics recycler to keep computers out of landfills. It will work! It will function as a computer and be able to edit videos, but it will not be fast.
- KDEnlive is a piece of free and open source software that can be used to edit videos. It will run on basically any computer, and it is fairly easy to use.
When you finish a piece of Community Television, you’ll need a way to distribute it. Later in this document, I discuss complicated ways to distribute things on the internet, but the simplest way to do it is probably to leverage The Internet Archive at Archive.org. They provide a huge amount of storage, and will host your videos. They are a non-profit, they will not stick advertising on your videos, and they will likely continue to exist for a really long time.
You can share those videos on websites, social media, etc. If you license them under a creative commons license, other people can also help host and share them. You can use a service like Neocities to host a free website through which you can curate your videos, and provide a landing page with context to others.
This is, perhaps, not the best way to distribute Community Television, but it is the cheapest and fastest. Use what you have, leverage the resources of the existing community.
If you have more technical expertise, or members of your community who are more technical, you may want to explore installing and configuring a Peertube server as discussed below and covered in our supplement Community Hosting.