Meeting Dj Mkhukhwini (view this story)

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Rep: 14
Phil Carpenter Jan. 5, 2013, 8:29 a.m. permalink

Mkhululi Mpofu ,

Sorry for the delay in reviewing your story.  Kudos for wanting to do
video storytelling and congrats for putting this one together.  The subject matter is really quite interesting!

I want to divide my critique into two parts: technical aspects and story structure.

TECHNICAL

If at all possible, you should not use an on-camera mic for interviews,
for two reasons.  First, an on-camera mic is sometimes used far from the
interviewee and doesn't pick up their voice directly. Instead it
collects the voice as it is reflected from other surfaces, and so you
have this hollow sound like you have in your piece.  Second, and more
important, it collects background noise and other sound reflecting from
various surfaces which can make it harder to hear what the person is
saying.

For interviews it's best to have your microphone off-camera, whether a
lapel mic, or a stick mic.  The advantage of a lapel mic is that it's
small so it's less obtrusive.  Also, because it's clipped on the the
subject, neither they nor the interviewer needs to hold it. 

If the mic is wireless you can have the camera further from the subject
thus giving you more options for composing your shot.  As well it can
potentially make the subject more at ease to have the camera further
away.  With a wireless lapel mic you can even have the interviewee move
around, if you want to, making the interview active and more
interesting.

I noticed also that the exposure of the image kept changing during the
interview.  Did you shoot beside a window?  If that's the case then
maybe it was due to intermittent cloud cover. That's one thing to watch
for when using daylight or window light as your main light source - one
minute its sunny, then it's cloudy. 

To get around that you can always use artificial light, especially if
you plan to do along interview.  What I do mostly, is to cover up the
image with B-roll, which brings me to my next point.

You have your interviewee on screen way too much.  If there is one
subject you really need to have them on screen at the start, a
"handshake shot" so the viewer sees what they look like. Depending on
the length of your finished piece, MAYBE once or twice more. 

Besides the "handshake shot" I sometimes show my subjects only if they
get emotional, but usually i have a reason for showing them.

Your B-roll should be 90% of what you show in your finished story. 
B-roll gives visual variety and makes your story more visually
interesting.  Also, you can use it to conceal any technical flaws in
your interview pictures  -like exposure errors.  It helps when your
story is short, and that takes me to the next part of this critique.

STORY STRUCTURE

I think your story is far too long.  And sluggish.  Though the story
idea is good I lost interest after the first two minutes or so.  You can
cut it down to 3  minutes easily!  A few tips here.

This story is a classic "rags to riches" one - poor village boys making
it rich.  According to your piece that's is the story of many South
African DJ's.  This seems to be the framework - the larger story, and so
you start from there.

When you structure a story think of how we tell stories orally.  These
elements are almost universal: Once upon a time there was this boy in a
village, etc (the setting).  Unfortunately he was poor (the challenge). 
As it turns out he loved music and had a talent for it, etc (how the
challenge is overcome - the main thrust of the story).  What he's doing
now (Conclusion).  You can re-arrange these elements any way you want,
but in any oral story you will find them. 

Once you've determined how you want to arrange these elements then you
cut everything in the interview that doesn't fit, or anything that is
redundant/repetitive.  I mean EVERYTHING!  You have to be ruthless!

Then you add your B-roll.  One thing  missing from this are shots of him
working.  Those should have been your main visuals.  It would've been
great to see him inside his studio, at a party, etc.  I would probably have used music from one of his parties as an audio background for the piece. 

I really hope this was helpful.  Any thoughts?  Other reviewers can chip in as they see fit.

Continue to tell stories and I look forward to seeing more of your work.
Hopefully you won;t have to wait as long for feedback in future.

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