Building Character (view this story)

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Rep: 38
Kevin Wellenius July 30, 2010, 7:53 a.m. permalink

There are some wonderful moments in this piece. I absolutely love Shelby (the kid with the chickens) and the commentary from Rick about the tough lessons of working all year for a few seconds of judging was a great "moment of reflection" that helps make the connection between the action we're seeing and what it means in a bigger sense. Similarly, Jamie Irwin offers moving insight into the pride the kids take in showing off the animals they raised during the year, while Robbie Watson explains the history her family has to this fair. Lots of different experiences and viewpoints help me understand this event better.

So you have good tape, good footage, and good photographs. I think the sequencing could have been a little more effective.  For example, the opening is really abrupt: I click "play" and I'm hit with a guy talking and a lower third I have to read, plus what he says just isn't that compelling ("Good Lord you want a good dose of character builder this is it"), and the transition in and out of the audio cut into his words. The title slide then hangs for longer that we got to see Rick, and is followed by Jamie Irwin saying "I'm a mom and I just try to help out with the horse show." So we're at 15 seconds and we still don't actually see anything of what's going on, or why it matters, or even what it is. Jamie goes on to talk for another 30 seconds about how her daughter is crazy about horses, but again without any clear link to what we're seeing (except near the end, when we find out 4H helped her learn about horses). It's not until 45 seconds into the piece that we get her great quote about the whole purpose of the fair (to let the kids say "hey, look at me, look what I did, look what I accomplished"). That quote is awesome, and is a good candidate for an opener or a closer. On a technical note, the audio sounds overmodulated (levels were too high).

The next several segments are the real heart of the piece. We meet the actual participants and volunteers, and we hear observations about what this means in a young person's upbringing, all of which is good. The last quote by Rick starts great -- that people might drive by the barn and not know what's going on -- but you end it on a strange idea: "it smells like money to me [laughter]." This is a bit dissonant with the theme of the piece: it's not about money, it's about character building, so why end it on that message? I think Jamie's quote currently at 00:45 is a much stronger closer.

One thing that's missing -- not entirely, there's just not enough of it -- is ambient sound. I want to hear the animals, the kids interacting with them, shearing them, giving them commands. I want to hear the judging and spectators and kids talking with their parents after the judging (good or bad). This would really give you an opportunity to take some of the themes that your subjects *talk* about and make them themes that you *show* us. Do this enough, and you can eliminate Rick saying that this fair "builds character:" you will have already shown that to us.

Nice job; thanks for posting this.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals July 31, 2010, 6:55 p.m. permalink

Kevin broke it down good for you so I won't repeat very much.

There were some nice moments and visuals in the piece and I liked the emotion, love the mom and these kids have for 4H.

I thought at 4:20 it was long and with a tighter edit you could knock this down a couple of minutes. Everyone says less is more with video and I agree most of the time depending on the subject, the topic or of course on longer term projects. Something like this is important for the community but figuring out why you are here covering it, what you want to say in this piece "like building character" can help cut this down more.

Your open should be visually striking for the first 15 to 30 seconds, perhaps a lav on some kids as they are feeding or talking to their pigs or other animals getting them ready for competition. You started with that guy and then go right into a kind of title slide. Let your subjects tell us what the story is about.

Nice natural sound of kids and animals were missing and there was lots of talking in this piece.  Let your piece breath a bit and give your viewers ears an audio break by having good transitions between people talking, it's all about the pacing.

As far as your lower third titles of people, they were all over the place not just in position but even in terms of color and it looked like two different fonts were used.  You could always try using a gray bar with white type for names and always have it in the same place on the screen. Sometimes yours was at the top or bottom and it just gets confusing you always want to keep things consistent.

I'd also consider putting some slow movement to your stills and have them go in rhythm; in and out.  Sometimes you were doing video and there was movement and then abruptly it cut to a still with no movement and you always want to easy your viewers into the next scene.

Looking like you had fun doing this :-)


Rep: 21
Peg Achterman Aug. 2, 2010, 2:27 p.m. permalink

I'll echo some of the comments above. Nice moments here - I particularly liked the stills that had great action in them.
The length is a concern - if you tighten this piece up you'll be golden. I think (no matter how tempting to show all) focus on just one kid or just one competition (chickens, sheep, pigs) would have made it stronger.
A couple of technical least on my computer the first mom's audio is pretty over-driven (compare settings to the rest of the audio). The other thing I'd suggest is watching your white balance (esp on the moms it seems) -- they all shaded a little cool and the stills and most of the vid are quite warm. It's tough to balance in a barn - just take a few white balance readings until you get a look you like. It's riskly to let the camera auto-balance in these situations.

The kid with the steer (disappointed face) is priceless.


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