Mission Accomplished (view this story)

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Rep: 10
James Nix Jan. 7, 2013, 1:40 p.m. permalink

Hey Sarah,

First off, good job finding a great story from a pretty basic event. It'd be easy to just go cover the marine graduation ceremony.

This is my first review, so I hope I can offer up a few helpful tidbits. The first thing I noticed from the start that kind of took me out of it was the shaky camera movements. I know it's hard in this kind of situation to carry around a tripod (and I'm assuming you were shooting stills for the paper too), but keeping your shots steady is important. I use a monopod a lot to help stabilize my video while still being mobile. (I still need a lot work on this myself)

As far as the story flow goes, it took a while to get into it and understand why we should care about this. Your first 30 seconds seem a lot like an old Army recruiting film,  you can set the scene a lot quicker. The first time we meet Pfc. Ryan Burns, he seems like your average marine graduate who's parents want him out of the house. His comments on how tough it was are a little hard to understand for the uninitiated.

My main piece of advise is to get the details of the bet and the fact that his dad is dying up front, then get into how hard it was for Ryan to reach his goals and how the bet helped him.

The reaction from his dad at the end are great and you can really see how proud he is. Showing him struggling to stand also helped show how much this meant to him.

As someone who often shoots stills and video at the same assignment for my paper, I understand why you opted to shoot stills when Ryan and his dad meet up. The sudden switch to stills is a little jarring after 3+ minutes of continuous video. You may want to consider using stills with video throughout the piece.

I hope this was helpful and good luck to you at the Island Packet. I have a couple of good friends who used to work down there.

Rep: 9
Sarah Welliver Feb. 13, 2013, 8:45 a.m. permalink


Sorry I didn't respond to this review earlier, and thank you for your input. 

Not remembering a tripod is one of those things I am trying to knock into my skull daily now. In this case though, this was actually a planned video/story combo with a features writer and not having a tripod for the zoomed shots was one of those "ARGH WHAT WAS I THINKING" moments that will haunt me. The stills at the end was to cover up a mishap. I shot stills for the paper after the graduation ceremony assuming there would be more then one opportunity for a nice emotional moment, which there was. My SD cards decided to hate me and an error message popped up when I tried to switch back to video. Regularly formatting has for the most part stopped this from happening again.

I knew the stills suddenly at the end were jarring and thought about adding stills throughout to counter that. This was shot over two days and edited together for the following day. Everything was video except for after the graduation. I thought about it but didn't like how the still pulls from the video looked either and I left it as it was. 

I understand what you're saying with how I structured the story, but I'm going to stand by that one. I didn't want to reveal Charles Burns condition right away. This was just another father seeing his son graduate, something that happens every Friday. The beginning is a little overly oorah, sure, but I saw it as setting the scene and it takes on that much more meaning when you understand how much Pfc. Ryan and his parents went through to get to this moment. He's carrying on the legacy, not just of the Corps, but his family. 

Anyway, thank you again for the review. I'm always psyched to get feedback that I can think about for the next project. 


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