Thursday, August 22, 2019

Broadcaster Review: Military Aviation History

I only recently discovered this channel on YouTube and it is superb. Co-created and compered by a German aviation enthusiast, this presenter broadcasts under the name 'Bismark'. He comprises a series of 168 episodes to-date on military aicraft and military aviation history.

Bismark started off six years ago with this channel reviewing and running commentary of air frames within a computer game - so not really my cup of tea. Two years later he took a battlefield tour through Normandy and put together a commentated slide-show on the trip - so he had started to migrate toward documentary making. About two years ago he started making small documentary episodes on aspects of military aviation which have evolved into his current production of very professional YouTube TV broadcasts.

He appears to have just started making his 'In the Cockpit" series of episodes which is very slick and informative walk around and overview of historical air-frames. They are very much in the same style as The Chiiftan's "Inside the Hatch" format. The camera work for this is particularly professional, his presentations are well scripted and edited. Bismark himself is a smart, erudite presenter with good presence.

Interestingly, these historical and technical broadcasters have started joining up for discussion panels at museums and open day forums. They also appear to be borrowing the best presentation techniques off each other, implementing animations and complimentary slide graphics to their work.

Bismark has 151,000+ subscribers and is being funded through Patron. If he continues, Bismark will be building an invaluable audio-visual resource and filling a large gap.

Broadcaster Review: The Tank Museum

The gents from the Tank Museum (Bovington) in the UK produce a series of episodes for their YouTube channel on ... yep, tanks. The key presenters are museum curators David Fletcher and David Willey and they also include guest presenters who can be a mixed bag.

They categorise their episodes as follows: Tank Chats (vehicle overviews), Workshop Diaries and Top 5 Tanks and Bottom 5 Tanks by various presenters and other categories besides. They also run specials and commentaries around their Tankfest open days at the museum. To-date they have 206 episodes in all.

All episodes are professionally produced, scripted and edited and you may presume they really, really know what they are talking about.

I've been fortunate enough to have visited Bovington and it is indeed one of the finest tank museums in the world with a vast and increasing collection and an ever growing number of 'runners'. Whether it's the worlds best I cannot say: I went to Samur for the open day and the French collection is truly a mighty one.

Anyway, if you have an abiding interest in WW2 as I do and are interested in tanks then this really needs to be on your watch list.

Broadcaster Review: In Our Time

This is one of the BBC public broadcasting programmes which is released as a podcast and hosted by one of the premier presenters in the UK - Melvyn Bragg. Perhaps obviously, it is a government/publicly funded programme and a completely professional product.

Melvyn (an historical author himself) holds a tight leash at times to corral his guests (invariably three academic historians) over a 50 minute time frame to discuss the chosen topics.

The subject matter is always historical and can dive deep on literary and philosophical subjects which are not always to my tastes. The great thing about podcast menus is you can pick and choose - unlike radio where you either listen, change channel or switch off.

It's obviously been going for many years (since 1998) delivering 808 episodes to air and continues to deliver highest quality historical discussions with a tendency toward the cerebral.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Broadcaster Review: Epic History TV

Launched in 2015, UK based Toby Groom (MA History and professional documentary maker for the History Channel) has created a fabulously succinct series of historical overviews. I'd suggest no one knows better how to build short documentaries than Toby and true to the title, Epic History TV is what you can reliably expect from this YouTube broadcaster.

This channel currently provides 43 episodes and all of them slick, multimedia products with professionally edited commentary ranging from 5 minutes through to just over an hour. What I particularly like is the use of animated graphics to illustrate unit movement from grand strategic down to tactical levels. Toby states his intention on his accompanying website to produce episodes monthly.

It's remarkable how much impactful content can be crammed into these historical overviews and they are a particularly helpful introduction to some of the wars and campaigns you may not be overly familiar with. Of special note is the growing Napoleonic series but subject matter ranges from the ancient periods to the 20th century.

Currently rating at 420,000+ subscribers this broadcaster fits squarely amongst the professional social broadcasters. He is supported through Patreon like all the full-timers and maintains an e-mail and twitter account for the channel. This is another of my firm favorites and something you can't get anywhere else.

Broadcaster Review: The Chieftan

Nicholas Moran (aka The Chieftain) for me is best described as a talking head. Thankfully, he is easy to listen to and knows what he's talking about - just what you want in a talking head. He is another high profile YouTube broadcaster with 125,000+ subscribers at the time of writing and he very much stays on-topic ... and his topic is tanks.

A tanker himself and more importantly a researcher for the on-line gaming site World of Tanks, Nicholas is an Irish born US national who travels around the world to tank museums and open days, hosts forums and delivers lectures on tanks, the history of tanks and tank warfare.

He does not always work alone and is assisted at times by a camera-man for his Inside the Hatch series of episodes. He has 201 episodes on his channel including museum tours, presentations on tanks doctrines and development of the tank arms for a growing number of countries.

This man is a natural and his product is quite professional. He can only really improve once he buys a teleprompter for some of his studio presentations. I find him engaging, funny when he wants to be, knowledgeable and never dull. I have learnt from this broadcaster and hope to continue that trend.

Broadcaster Review: Napoleonic Wargaming

Another YouTube broadcaster, this represents the least polished product that I follow and a fairly recent entrant into the broadcasting circle. Since 2018, the Napoleonic Wargaming channel has developed 40 videos in 10 months with a good deal of content to support Black Powder wargaming rules for the period. As I play Black Powder this is interesting and even helpful.

With 1,400+ subscribers this UK based creator/presenter has a healthy following and travels the shows to present wargames. He has devoted considerable time and effort to provide detailed explanations of nationalities and unit types as well as game mechanics for wargaming with Napoleonics.

I don't know who the creator of this channel is other than an Englishman and he stays away from the front of the camera which I suspect he operates as he speaks. Perhaps like myself he values anonymity within cyber-space. His scripting is not very disciplined and his product is essentially live recording of video and audio. His camera work leaves room for improvement. His commentary is delivered in a straight, no-nonsense style, he doesn't come across as bombastic or overly opinionated and he doesn't try to be funny so his non-existent jokes can't fall flat. If you can tell anything about a person's voice I'd guess he is an unassuming and reasonable bloke whose subject matter knowledge and love of wargaming far exceeds any ego he may have. I get the impression he'd be a good fellow to wargame with.

For all of this channel's technical flaws, this broadcaster's knowledge of the subject matter and the effort he has gone to to promote and share his understanding of Napoleonic wargaming make this a worthwhile channel for me. His is very much a victory of substance over style.

Broadcaster Review: Dan Snow's HISTORY HIT

For followers in the UK, Dan Snow requires no introduction but for the rest of you, he is an honours graduate of Oxford university and a professional documentary producer and presenter with about two decades of experience - much of it with the BBC. Whilst he has a bent for military history (particularly naval history) his History Hit podcast is broad, wide-ranging and keeps up to date with new book releases, film reviews, promotes documentaries releases and interviews economists, historians and politicians.

The podcast really provides something for everyone and it constantly promotes his new delivery vehicle, History Hit TV - an on-line subscriber documentary channel which delivers significant content and generates its own. The only reason I don't subscribe to this myself is because of the unreliable and irregular internet strength in Tonga.

I listen to History Hit podcast devotedly and it's only due to my visitors that I have not keep up to date - so some catch-up to look forward to. Dan is enthusiastic, he travels extensively and records on-the-go and he is also very entertaining. As an experienced public broadcaster and presenter, his podcasts are well structured and naturally professional. I really recommend his podcast.