Basketball star dies on court, town bonds around team (view this story)

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Rep: 141
Colin Mulvany March 20, 2011, 2:44 p.m. permalink

Well Done Eric! Great interviews, strong editing and camerawork. This story will have a positive impact on the Fennville community as they grieve the loss of this young athlete. 

Some observations.

Good job on lighting the interviews. Also with mixing up the framing focal lengths of the taking heads. It really helps with the visual variety.

I got lost a couple of times with whom was speaking. Bringing back a lower thirds a second time on some of the interviews would be helpful.

Who is Mitchell? I assume he's Wes' bother, but I think you need to identify him for people not as familiar with the story.

As an outsider who only read a newspaper brief on this tragedy, I kind of needed a tighter narrative at the story opening to define in more detail what happened to Wes. The ESPN clips are ok, but they don't say much. I kept asking myself what happened? What did he die from? The reason this story is so big is because Leonard died at the end of a big game, but no one really sets the scene of the last few minutes before and after he collapsed. It's just too vague for me. The player interview with Adam starts to set it up, but then the next ESPN narrative wonders off without answering the why? 

You know me Eric, I am a strong proponent of well-written voiceovers. What was your reasoning for not using one here? To me, not going with a voiceover stretches the storytelling out and slows the pace down. I understand that's a judgement call, but the story felt longer then it needed to be. The player's mom in the purple had a lot of great things to say, but I think some of what she says could be trimmed without hurting the rest the story. 

One final question I have for you and others-- Do you have the ability to make more edits after you post a video? I am always going back and tweaking minor stuff, then replacing an earlier version of a video story. Sometimes just giving myself a day away from an edit brings some storytelling clarity. I have total access to the web admin to do this and, in the end, I think my stories are technically better because of this. Just curious what other producers feel about this...

Rep: 444
Eric Seals March 20, 2011, 3:05 p.m. permalink

Thanks Colin!

I thought about bringing the lower thirds back a second time for each person seeing how this is a 7 minute piece.

I'm still fine tuning this while the story is fresh and I have minor tweaking to do.  Sunday and Monday's are the really heavy traffic days at so I wanted to get it up there and the web wanted to give it some space. Planning on revisiting this again after a few days off...after 5 straight days of shooting then 4 days of transcribing, scripting and editing my brain is scrambled a bit at the moment LOL!!

As for Mitchell the woman in the red sweater talks about Mitchell Leonard getting the trophy and I have that underneath but now that you mention it there is an opportunity for me to add a lower third with Mitchell's name and him being Wes's brother at the part when Mitchell is in the presser and says a few things.  Thanks for that :-)

Good points Colin about seeing it from a national perspective.  This is a case where I could of done some narration perhaps to bring it current for folks that haven't heard about this story or just heard bits and pieces.  I thought those ESPN clips would work along with Adam (Wes's teammate) talking about it.  

That's my problem with this piece is not stepping out or away from it at all to see it from a different view like you are seeing it.  Even showing it to colleagues to get opinion, they all know the story as well.  But this also makes a great discussion we can all learn from, showing work to others who have NO connection or idea about the story.  Even my wife and mom know what is going on with it so I can't use them :-)

I might revisit doing narration when I clean this piece up a bit so someone who has no idea what is going on or who Wes Leonard is will know the full story.  

Being a one-man band and on this for 9 days some things slipped through the cracks.  I don't think I was rushing it get it done at all, I had lots of time to shoot and edit which is nice and that is the great thing about video storytelling for newspapers you can always be tweaking, fine tuning, etc.

I guess that starts to get to your final question. Yep we have the ability to make more edits, changes after it posts. We use Brightcove at the Free Press and when I make the changes just give the Video ID code to the web team and they can just swap out the video with the changes.

Totally agree, taking a few days off from this after being so into it for 9 days I'll see other things I want to add, take away or tweak. 

Thanks for checking it out and for some of the ideas :-)


Rep: 7
Mahala Gaylord March 29, 2011, 7:10 p.m. permalink

Hey Eric,

So there is this important climax when Wes is on the floor at the end of the game and he dies; having such a great moment of conflict makes a strong story but it almost seems like you've skipped past it in your video to the falling action and resolution of the story. In order for me to be really invested I need to understand the rising action/conflict.

I guess i'm just saying--I agree with a lot of Colin's observations. I came at this piece only knowing that a student had died at the end of a game. So throughout the piece I was left wondering 'what exactly happened?' I think your video would be stronger with an opener that really addressed the end of the game and why he died. I was also assuming that Mitchell was the brother so lower thirds twice might be a good idea. 

I can imagine out hard that story must have been to tell, good work.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals March 29, 2011, 7:25 p.m. permalink

Thanks for checking it out and commenting Mahala on the video.

I wish there was more to Wes as well. After he scored that basket and died on the court the only footage I was able to get doesn't show those climax moments nor do any of the stills I was able to get from the local newspaper so I had to transition from that last layup to the stills of him on the ground with the crowd around him.  Totally understand what your saying.

Luckily I'm able to go back and tweak this more and make it better with ideas I have, other suggestions from people like yourself and others. 

This is far from over. Besides tweaking it, going back to the school, the gravesite, that first basketball game in the fall, interviewing Wes's parents and the anniversary of his death will all be important to complete this video storytelling.  

It's funny, the more I do video and fall in love with everything about it, it seems to me video storytelling is like a house you know?? You have the house but you are always updating and improving various rooms or the garden outside and is something that is never quite finished but fun and challenging as hell to work on  :-)

Thanks again!


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