Haiti quake kills hundreds of thousands (view this story)

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Rep: 20
Will Yurman May 4, 2010, 8:10 a.m. permalink

The two survivors were great storytellers. Both of them were animated and descriptive. Their voices were very compelling.

I really liked the opening - the audio only of the first minutes of the earthquake. And I liked the way you cut back and forth between them, especially when the audio connected so well as if they were finishing each other's thoughts. It was very affective.

Some of the imagery is very powerful.

But I found myself confused after a while. I kept expecting the story to be about the two narrators. But it ended up feeling like you just layed their story on top of the visuals you collected while you were there. And while the audio was very personal, the imagery felt slightly remote.

In the audio I start to feel like I'm getting to know real people. But the visuals are sort of removed emotionally. I never get to know the stories of the injured, or upset, or homeless - they have become symbols.

I wish you had talked to the people you were photographing. i wanted to connect to them more. I wanted to look inside that little barbershop and hear people getting their haircut and hear from the very people I'm seeing.

Using the two men as narrators was WAY better than, for example, setting your images to music. I mean WAY better. But it still left me wanting more - I wanted to feel like you got to know the people you were videotaping. That you stopped to ask their names and their stories. And that didn't come through as clearly as I would have hoped.

i think because of that the video just felt long to me in the end. I started losing track of what was being said, and couldn't follow the narrative of the images.

I can only imagine the logistics of getting any stories out of Haiti during the aftermath of the earthquake. So huge kudos for what you did accomplish.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals May 4, 2010, 9:20 a.m. permalink

The b-roll of the death and devastation was powerful to see, did you get there a few days after it hit?

Your work from that funeral was good, love the detail of the oval picture of the woman who had died being held by a hand and then the cut to the three people in mourning. I wish for this part you would of just had the guy not talk so I could become impacted with what I was seeing and wanting to hear more at the funeral.

That said for me it was to long. It needed a tighter edit from laying out the story on the audio time line to the visuals that would go on top of the shorter edit. Sometimes it seemed all over the place and was getting hard to follow with my brain competing for the b-roll and the two guys talking. Sometimes felt as if you didn't stay in one spot long enough to allow me to have a connection or a feeling (through natural sound, visuals) with what I was watching.
Think;
1. What story am I trying to tell here? Obviously we kind of know but why?
2. Why should the viewers of The Gazette website want to pull up a chair for 5 minutes to watch this when they have seen it on CBC, CNN etc in a much shorter package? How can I make my package better, different and memorable for my viewers? Remember even though this is hard hitting news people have been inundated with the story for days. Wake them up with tight edit, compelling story arch and let them know not to forget what happened here through your eyes and your edit.

The two main guys I think were shown too much throughout the whole piece, show then two or maybe three times. Near the beginning and the end. They both have such distinct voices we'd have no trouble remembering who is who. When you showed them for the first time I think the lower 3rd was to high in the frame and could lowered near the bottom even with a white type face against a grey or dark bar (unless that's your paper's style and you can't change it. We have to always use this blue bar and it drives me crazy!

With the Pastor I wish it could have been done somewhere else that wasn't so fluid with movement in the car. Even to have him recount things for 15 minutes sitting in a chair with nice light and framing around him would be nice. The camera angle you shot him with was distracting to me as the window was blown out most of the time. Would have loved to have seen a wide angle look with him talking to you as we watch the scenery go by.
With Nickel I wish he wasn't on his knees looking up at you. I don't know the circumstances, maybe he had an injury etc but felt the camera could have framed him better.

Was curious about how you edited this? Did you dump your cards and edit there off an on or did you do it all back in Montreal?

Don't know if you cover F1 but I'll be up at Ile Notre Dame for the return of F1 to Canada.

Eric

Rep: 14
Submitter
Phil Carpenter May 4, 2010, 10:05 a.m. permalink

Thanks so much for your feedback so far.
@Will. I get your point about wanting to know more about the two characters. I think you're absolutely right.
@Eric. In retrospect I do think it's a little long and I can see how anyone could get a little confused, or lost after a while.

I left for Haiti the morning after the quake. My job was to document the aftermath with both stills and video. For the two weeks that I was there I felt that I had to shoot mainly stills. It just felt like that kind of story, except where there was lots of compelling sound that told compelling aspects of what the people were experiencing.

You're bang on Eric when you observed that I didn't stay long enough in one spot to really dig into a story with video. That was a source of great frustration for me but given the needs of the paper for stills, I had to move around. For that reason I wanted to stay an extra week to shoot just video stories, but my employer refused to let me stay, even on my own. They were concerned for my mental health. I did edit and file a simple video story while there but it was crap.

When I returned home I had no intention of putting a video story together at all. Though I had tons of good footage, I didn't have enough of one thing, in my view, to make a compelling story. But after taking a week off I decided to try to out something together, and this is the result.

Thanks for your critique; made me think of things that didn't cross my mind.

Oh Eric, I expect to be covering F1 this year. Shout me before you arrive. I know a couple excellent watering holes in this town ;-)

Rep: 444
Eric Seals May 4, 2010, 11:25 a.m. permalink

Phil, after hearing all that props to you for pulling this off while also having to do still work for the paper!

That has to difficult enough having to do stills and video on the same assignment and given the environment you were in even harder.

Vary rarely do I have to take a still camera with me and get some while also shooting a video feature and I so glad it doesn't happen often.

You know you can pull off some good frame grabs from your Sony EX1 in FCP especially in all the light you had. I do that from time to time and the quality is pretty good, I have a Panasonic HVX200. Depending on the lighting a 3 or 4 column can look good

Eric

Rep: 14
Submitter
Phil Carpenter May 4, 2010, 4:32 p.m. permalink

@Eric. Thanks Eric. I do pull stills from it from time to time, but for this assignment I didn't; didn't want to take a chance. In retrospect maybe I should've done some of that.

Re-F1; got confirmation today that I'm covering it; deadline for accreditation is this week BTW ;-) See you next month.

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