Fire and Rescue open day. (view this story)

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Rep: 14
Tony Overman May 3, 2010, 11:50 p.m. permalink

I know this will sound really harsh, but I - as a viewer - don't care about Holly Thompson. And yet the story is all about her. And is that fake ash on her cheek? It might be real, but I get the impression that she's just made-up to act in a movie.
There visuals and audio were very nicely done. I like the helmet-cam crawling through the smokehouse. Putting the camera on top of the firetruck was a cool idea, although it didn't really work for me.
There are nice shots of Holly face, but remember that I don't care about her.
The music was too hokey. It came off like a satire of an action movie...right down to the the blooper reel at the end.
The piece comes off as an advertisement for the fire department's recruitment of women, which could be a good story if it had focused on that. I really wanted to see some women who really want to be firefighters "having a go"....not Holly.

Rep: -1
Tony Gieske May 4, 2010, 3:40 a.m. permalink

Who cares if you don't care about Holly Thompson? Thing could be tighter and a couple of shots didn't work, but you didn't seem to notice those.

Rep: 0
Bengt Engan May 4, 2010, 4:26 a.m. permalink

I must agree that following a real female firefighter would have been more interesting (i.e. authentic) than using this reporter as some sort of "case". However, using Holly T. this way could work if she represented the typical audience for this video. Is she? I doubt it...

Rep: 444
Eric Seals May 4, 2010, 7:17 a.m. permalink

First off Tony Gieske, lets have just a bit more professionalism from you on this site and back off with the attack on Tony Overman about him not caring about Holly.
This isn't some teenage internet chat room/message board Tony where we can go attacking people for what they say.
This site is always about professionals breaking down, giving constructive criticism to others so we all can learn and grow from watching the videos and reading others comments. Tony Overman made some good comments about the music, visuals, audio and wondering about the fake ash.

Now that's out of the way I can move on to talking about your video which is the whole point of this site........

Rep: 444
Eric Seals May 4, 2010, 7:18 a.m. permalink

I liked some of your shooting on this and you covering it from all angles like looking down as Holly was climbing up on the ladder, the low angle looks as she was about to work the fire hose. Good variety and it kept the video moving.

Good editing and cutting in this piece. That said I don't think starting with her in the Superman pose before and after fire suit was the best idea in my opinion. I'd like to have seen something of her getting the boots, pants, helmet etc on. You have good editing and I know you could have turned the first 10 seconds of the start into something special to hook the viewers.

I noticed at the 23 - 28 second of the video there is a real long fade to black, 5 seconds leading up to Holly talking. That is something I'd try to edit down and fill with some b-roll.

In your interviews I would say look at your backgrounds. I made a comment on another video on this site that interviews on camera should always look like nice portraits for your newspaper. Holly on the steps and Debbie up against a brick wall didn't work for me. I understand they aren't up for long but make it count. I wanted to see the firestation as a whole so perhaps interviewing way from the station so it is in the background so we have a better overall look at it and you can kill two shots with one.

Also with Debbie, you had her close to the right of the frame and she was looking off to the right and it felt trapped, instead next time try moving to the other side of the camera (if she is to the right or visa versa) that way she or others are looking through the empty space.

My favorite was from 1:42 - 2:05, I liked the shooting, editing, cutting.

The music I didn't think needed to be in there, it came off as a hero piece of music and I think with the nice audio you have and some natural sounds of fire hoses gushing, overall ambiance of the scene, the crew talking while working etc would have been better. I did like the Darth Vader breathing apparatus but which I could of just heard that when she was crawling around instead of hearing her voice.

At the end when Holly was getting up I noticed the wire from your lav and it's the same thing to me as seeing a tripod or reflection of one's self shooting in a video. I always run it under someone's shirt just to hide it.

Tony Overman raised a good point about the ash on the side of her cheek, not sure if that was added for effect but it stood out to me and was over the top.

As far as the Holly Thompson the reporter or a "real" firefighter; for me the point is good storytelling no matter who the subject is using great visuals, audio and keeping the viewer focused on the screen for the 3:02 of your video. That's a long time to ask for someone to sit down in from of a computer to watch something. I think you were starting to do that. Keep it up, keep pushing yourself and remember to start your video with some powerful stuff that will hook and grab your viewers attention.

Rep: 91
Peter Huoppi May 4, 2010, 8:24 a.m. permalink

I don't have a problem with you using a reporter as the personality for the story, as long as she can give the viewers an interesting insight. Using a known personality can actually engage your audience. I think the problem here was that her insight wasn't particularly interesting. What did she feel when she was walking through the smoky room? What was is like to be pulled from the wrecked car? Did she get a good appreciation for what firefighters do?

Your visuals and nat sounds were good, just think a little more about what story you want to tell. Is it really that any girly girl who wears high heels can do this? I'm not sure it is.

Ditto on the music. It doesn't fit. If you're going to use music, try to avoid those Apple loops. I used to use them from time to time until I started hearing the same ones used in quite a few other places.

Rep: 87
Michael Fagans May 4, 2010, 9:17 a.m. permalink

I am intrigued that this piece and critique has promulgated the most discussion to date on the site.

While not wanting to rehash the good points that Eric, Peter and Tony have made I will offer the following:

This is another way of taking on the media assignment, probably went a bit long on the Apple-loop but the entire piece was done tongue-in-cheek so I don't mind a bit of cheese.

I am not saying this is better or worse; just a slightly different tack. I am curious what Peter will say about the mix of stills and video.

At least for me, one of the ways we can communicate is by sharing similar work, probably more effective than writing.

Rep: 14
Tony Overman May 4, 2010, 10:20 a.m. permalink

I truly apologize if my critique was insensitive. It was not meant to offend. I was trying to be completely honest about my critique, and probably worded it too harshly. I meant no disrepect to the photographer or to the reporter.

Rep: 87
Michael Fagans May 4, 2010, 2:58 p.m. permalink

My apologies, the link is broken. Working to fix it.

Rep: 87
Michael Fagans May 4, 2010, 10:57 p.m. permalink

Let's try this one:

Rep: 6
David Berman May 5, 2010, 5:13 a.m. permalink

Wow. Thanks all for such excellent feedback! its more feedback from you guys on this one piece than I have had from my colleagues for all my other pieces put together.
I don't feel any of it was personal and anyhow, I guess we are all big and tough enough to take some comments that may be other than how fantastic we all are!

This piece was, from the start meant to be a bit of fun and lighthearted to promote the forthcoming open day for the fire service. Holly is fairly well know by our readers and she was indeed the target demographic for the recruitment drive.
The audio does say that it is for the forthcoming ' have a go day' and Holly did in fact describe how she felt in the smoke house.
Personally, I liked the 'epic' feel of the music and yes, the smut was added for effect! again, just for fun. Great spot and feedback about the female firefighter looking right. It wrong and I see it now.
The lav mic jumps out at me every time I view the piece and, I have learnt my lesson.
I wish I had more time to have worked on the edit but, work as it is, there just isn't the acceptance that time is needed to make these things. Which is why, if you look at the site there is not much recent work stuff.
So, thanks very much for taking the time to watch this piece. I really appreciate your effort.

Rep: 7
John Harte May 7, 2010, 12:58 a.m. permalink

Call me old school, but I just don't like reporters interjecting themselves into their stories or doing stories on themselves. I think this could have been more effective if the story was about a real female fire recruit. There are some really nice angles and shots in this piece, especially the low angle smoke shots. I should point out that in the linked piece from Bakersfield, the reporter doing this story is one of my best friends. Doesn't matter, I do not agree with reporters doing stories on themselves, including my closest friends.

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