Chicago Crime Scene Cleanup (view this story)

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Rep: 141
Colin Mulvany Sept. 18, 2012, 4:28 p.m. permalink

Hi Simon,

Interesting story. Here are thing that stood out to me:

I like how you opened the video with the cleaner on the phone. That conversation really got my attention. 

I wish you had at least one crime scene to show. I feel a bit cheated that the title was about crime scene cleanup, but your story shows only the subject checking out a hoarder's house.

Did the owner have any still photos he could let you use? That would have helped connect visually what he does. 

Audio from the interview was thin. You don't list any mics, so I'm assuming you just used the built in mic on the 60D. This is the first thing I would invest in. A Rode video mic would really add punch to the audio. A wireless mic (even better) tucked into the respirator would have enhanced the audio report. 

You float the camera a lot in this video (chasing the subject). I would have liked to see more steady, wide, medium, tight and super tight shots in this story. Especially the tight shots of all of decayed stuff. Remember you are the eyes for the viewer.  Show things that you think people would want to see close up.  Also, by sequencing your video, it makes it easier to edit later. 

Shooting DSLR video without a tripod really hurts the professional quality of the video. A lens with built in image stabilization really helps with hand-held video. A monopod in this situation would have been helpful too.

Keep working on this Simon, there is a better story to be told.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Sept. 29, 2012, 7:25 p.m. permalink

Wow, that house looked like an episode of Horders Simon! Unreal.

What a good story to follow.  Very interesting and I watched it twice just to see 

Colin gave you a really good review and hit on some good points to take to heart and think about. Hope you'll revisit with this guy to fill the holes, fine tune it and work on your craft to make this shine.

To add to what he wrote;

1. With the audio issue he mentioned I'd add to it that it had an echo feel to it at times. Perhaps interviewing him afterwards in an area where you could control the environment and lessen the echo. 
Colin's idea of having a lav in the respirator is a good one but you'd want to do a test to see how it sounds. Could come out muffled or over-modulated with the proximity to his mouth and/or you could get rubbing of the lav once in awhile against the mask.

2.   Focus issues. Even at the start of the piece the focus is on his shirt and not his face when he is talking on the phone. Inside the house there were times when something would go in and out of focus and I just wanted it sharp and stay on it.

3. A lower third to id him would be nice and could eliminate the "Hi, I'm Dan Reynolds....."

4. Leaving you out of it.  For me the back and forth dialogue between you and he just didn't work for me. If you were going to do anything I could consider adding narration to this. It could help tighten and focus this piece up. At 5:15 it was pretty long.

5. Think of questions people want to know. You're the eyes and ears for us on this. We're curious about why he does it? What are some of the most bizarre, scary, crazy things he's seen since doing crime scene clean up? Is what he does like CSI after the fact?  Lots of questions like this can help more the story along and keep us interested instead of the tour of a crime scene home that this felt like to me.

6. There were some amazing things in this house I wanted to see longer than you showed them to us.  All those cobwebs on the doll and covering those pieces on the wall? Wow!!  Explore that! Take a tripod and just focus on that, let the camera run for a bit and let us just sit back and take it all in.  This is something we don't see all the time and just might never see again so make it worth our while, whet our appetite for this man and his story and keep us interested.  If you could do that, have a really good fine tuned and focus story, great visuals, etc 5:15 would work.

7.  The camera movement was a problem for me.  I realize you are walking on, over and around lots of junk in this house but having steady hands and feet are so key in doing video storytelling.    
There are tools you can use to help keep your camera steady.  One system I have and built it myself from PVC pipe at Home Depot is a HaloRig kind of device it's also called a FigRig.  I found really easy to use instructions on YouTube under camera stabilizer.

Fascinating to see the kind of job this guy has (besides being a firefighter)
You kept me glued the whole time now just think about taking it all to the next level.  I hope you'll go out with him again a few times.  Very interesting!!  



Rep: 444
Eric Seals Sept. 29, 2012, 7:29 p.m. permalink

Simon, here is one of many DIY FigRig's on youtube.  This one is pretty detailed and they tell you all the parts needed to build it.  I did mine last year and between shopping for the parts and assembling it took about 1 hour.

Total cost was about $25 and I have extra parts if needed.  A "real" one will cost $300 so it was worth it.

Here is the link


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