Vizrt Group has made its NDI HX Camera app for smartphones free for anyone to use in Ukraine, as it aims to give those in the country an opportunity to tell their stories.
Traditionally, Vizrt charges £20 to download the app, but it is waiving that fee to make it available for anyone in Ukraine who wants access.
“The idea of NDI HX camera is that there are 7.2 billion mobile handsets in the world and the vast majority of them are near 4K capable,” Vizrt Group’s CMO Steve Wind-Mozley tells TVBEurope.
“That’s a lot of cameras, a lot of lenses, and a lot of potential people who are able to capture a moment and share it with the world. NDI HX camera turns your smartphone into a 4K ready, broadcast camera. You can create really high quality images and make them available for any NDI capable network, switcher or production.”
He adds: “This is not just about broadcast journalists. This is really about the democratisation of newsgathering. We want more people to be able to share video of what’s happening and if the thing that they are actually sharing with the world can help change the world, really that’s part of our mission about telling better stories.”
Chris Black, head of brand and content at Vizrt Group, came up with the idea to make NDI HX Camera free for people in Ukraine. “Steve and I were having a conversation about three weeks ago, and I had been reading in the news about the information war that’s also happening, and we asked, ‘How do we allow people in Ukraine to be able to lift up their voice and tell us what’s happening on the ground?'” he explains.
“Over the last three years, we’ve been seeing a lot of instances where people are starting up small webcasts, they’re using things like OBS, which is free, and they’re finding different ways to be able to have their voice and themselves seen around the world when they can’t travel. In a way, the last three years have kind of prepared the world for this moment, to be able to allow more voices to be heard than ever before,” continues Black.
“Thinking about that, we said if we open up this camera app that’s just going to enable that one step further, and it’s going to hopefully allow more voices in Ukraine to be heard. More voices will be able to get their message out to show the world that’s what’s going on. So that’s what I really wanted to do. I just wanted to get that extra piece of enablement out there, that extra piece of sharing this story to the rest of the world so that there isn’t any filter blocking it.”
The free app was launched last week, and while Vizrt is waiting for analytics from both Apple and Google in terms of downloads, they have been in touch with people on the ground in Ukraine who already using the technology.
The company is able to geotag the Google version of the app to just Ukraine, but iOS requires it to be available for free to the whole world, as well as limiting the amount of people who can download the app.
“We’ve got tens of thousands of units that we’ve made available in the app store for free,” states Wind-Mozley. “It’s difficult because we never want to say to somebody, please don’t use it. All we’re saying is that we’ve got a certain number which we would love to be used by people in Ukraine. But, if you need NDI HX camera and you have a story to tell, I’m not going to say don’t do it. Just give the guys in Ukraine a chance first.”
The free download is currently live until March 17th when Vizrt will review it, and “probably” extend the time period until the end of March. “If there’s a lot of demand and we can see that there’s good usage in Ukraine, then we’ll extend it,” says Wind-Mozley. “The whole point of this is to try and help make a difference.”