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Japan Tsunami – the uncut footage you won’t see on TV

15 Mar

I’ve been reluctant to do a post on the Japan tsunami. I find words are quite inadequate in this situation. They cannot convey the horrific nature of the disaster, particularly when the footage of the tsunami has been so powerful. Being such a tech-savvy nation, Japan has offered up a seemingly endless supply of footage taken with mobile phone and digital cameras. And yet the media coverage in Australia has been a little frustrating. Here’s why. In the television world, editors and journalists are required to edit down minutes, sometimes hours, of footage into just a few seconds. They try to select what they consider the best ‘shots’. Generally a shot lasts between 2 – 5 seconds. On rare occasions, maybe 20 seconds. So, in terms of the Japan tsunami, you might see a few seconds of footage showing the water advancing on cars trying to flee the wave, then it cuts to the next, equally awful, ‘shot’. But we are left to wonder – what happend to the people in the those cars? That’s why this video on you tube is a must watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MR7u8xSr-8. (Thanks to my friend Jeremy for linking to it on Facebook).
It goes for 6 minutes – but it’s 6 minutes worth watching. It shows the water starting as a trickle down the street of a township. (I believe it’s called Kesennuma, in the Miyagi prefecture). Within seconds, there are cars being hurled down the street on the wave and in minutes there are whole houses floating away. It conveys, as nothing else can, how every second counts in a disaster like this. For the people of this town, a decision to go back and retrieve your wallet, some photos or, god forbid, your own child, meant the difference between life and death.