Odd Jobs: Animal Psychic (view this story)

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Rep: 50
Michael Lloyd June 15, 2011, 6:18 p.m. permalink

If a fundamental of video story-telling is "show it, not say it," then this video spends an awful lot of time telling what Thomas does, not showing it. At 3-minutes we see him teaching a class, which seems to be a lot like meditation and doesn't really involve more than pictures of animals. We also see pictures of Thomas working with animals. I guess telepathy isn't very visual. The story is clearly told, but only through good editing of the interviews, which is mostly what this video is.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals June 15, 2011, 7:29 p.m. permalink

Hi Lam,

What Michael said about "show it, not just say it" is so, so true in order to do good video storytelling.  

If I'm going to do a piece on a family that makes amazing, world famous pizza and I don't show them making that pizza, it baking in the wood oven and people enjoying it you're not going to be happy because I didn't give you or show you the point of my story.  That's what happened here.

I was excited to watch this because animal psychic sounds so odd but so cool at the same time but reading Michael's review told me that's what not what I was going to be seeing and that's to bad man because I'd kill to find a story like this were I live.

Surely there had to have been time hanging out with Thomas that he was reading the minds of pets.  That would have been a great way to start this piece and making it surprising shooting at Thomas as he does his job and slowly reveal that it's an animal he's communicating with.  Build suspense, surprise and engage us to want to keep watching.

Starting off the piece with talking heads is almost always a bad way to start unless it is so vital. I'm always saying grab me in the first 10 to 15 seconds with your piece and then keep holding me through the piece with great visuals, audio and a story line that takes me places and keeps my interest.

Another thing I'd say is really save your end credits for the end and have it on black it just feels right that way otherwise we as viewers are looking at that at the start of the piece while watching the video and listening to what the person is saying.  You're asking for us to juggle a lot when we should be totally focused on your work.

Also I understand the need for subtitles but try and make them one line across the bottom of the frame and not double stack them just much cleaner.


Rep: 444
Eric Seals June 15, 2011, 7:45 p.m. permalink

Interesting Lam, I went to your site and saw a few other of your videos 

like "Islanders Gripped by Renewed Fear of North Korea "

That video had my attention the whole time , it was interesting, you showed what the islanders are going through. It was shot nice and really nice scripting and narration by you.

I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt and wanted to see what else you had.  Perhaps the animal psychic was one of those it is what it is assignments.

Date with Hairy Crab was also good and well done.

I'd encourage you to keep shooting and editing like those two stories and others that I watch and be sure to add those to Finding the Frame.  Don't worry about it not being recent. The three others I watched of yours were from mid to late 2010 but video storytelling is video storytelling no matter when it was.  

It was cool seeing other stuff of yours that engaged me and Date with Hairy Crab was a clever title!!  :-)


Rep: 2
Lam Thuy Vo June 15, 2011, 8:37 p.m. permalink

Thanks guys for the feedback. 

I think one the biggest problems with this guy is that...uhm... he doesn't actually communicated with animals directly -- as in he doesn't sit down with a dog to speak to the dog. He talks to pictures of the animal, which makes it even less visual. I think I failed big time to communicate that that is how he talks to them and your eyes were critical in showing me that I need to be more explicit about certain facts. 

So the very first shot is actually the act that you're craving to see: him communicating with an animal. The photos later are promo shots of his... Sadly, it's less exciting than even I had hoped for. 

Again thanks for your eyes. 

Rep: 2
Lam Thuy Vo June 15, 2011, 9:10 p.m. permalink

Eric, as for your other comments: Sadly I don't control the subtitles. They are in various languages and function as an overlay that gets superimposed on the video after it has been published. We have audiences in China (http://cn.wsj.com/gb/), India (http://realtime.wsj.com/india/) and Japan (http://jp.wsj.com/) as well, and depending on where you are watching the videos you will see subtitles in specific languages. 

As for the credits: I will certainly make a point of that to my editors. All our packages put the credits up front. 

Anyhow, thanks again for your feedback. 

Rep: 444
Eric Seals June 15, 2011, 9:26 p.m. permalink

Oh wow!!  that's totally different, weird but interesting at the same time Lam! 

It reminds me of something a picture editor told me when I was having trouble with a story. I was doing on video piece people eating bacon at a Camp Bacon event.  It was so boring and not even close to what I was told it was going to be.  Tons of speakers talking about bacon under a white tent, not much with visuals and crappy audio.

Anyway, she told me ;

"Make the problem the solution!" 

I had thrown in the towel before I even started and her words really helped me refocus and tackle the story by approaching it in a different way. Here is what I ended up doing
and I'm so glad for her words of wisdom and they still creep in my mind when I'm getting stuck at video storytelling.

So with that said and now knowing all that stuff about the guy and talking to pictures of animals I think there could of been a great way to have hung out with him as he's looking at 8X10 pictures, wallets, cell phone pics or whatever and had that interesting conversation as he's "talking to the animals" and in editing cut back and forth between overall, details of his lips, details of his hands and the picture, his eyes all the while you have great sound of him doing his thing.

This also is a good case where pre-interviewing the person ahead of time as you are scoping out if this would make a good story or not comes into play. You would of know about him talking to pictures and you could of thought things out more about how to tell and shoot this story or if you felt you needed to move onto something else.

With all that said I think the challenges in front of us on the road at video storytelling are great and when we have a big pot hole or bump like you had to deal with it how we work around or drive straight through the problem and find that solution that makes us better and in the end you feel good that you tackled something that you thought was impossible and made it your own.

Hope that helps :-)

Keep up the good work and keep posting on here.


Rep: 444
Eric Seals June 15, 2011, 9:29 p.m. permalink

Damn, sorry my typing is really bad on that last post. It's 12:30 am here in Detroit and I think my brain has nodded off when it comes to writing :-)

Rep: 2
Lam Thuy Vo June 15, 2011, 9:50 p.m. permalink

Yeah, I think another solution would have been to show a bit more dialogue perhaps... the reading from the image and telling our reporter (whose hamster he was looking at at the beginning) what said hamster was thinking. 

He wouldn't let us be part of any consultation sessions with clients but read 'Jellybean's' mind for us. Perhaps a good chance to do an 'immersive,' personality-driven piece in which the reporter --  at least for some part of the video -- participates in the story, considering access to other characters who interact with him was tight. 

But yes, "Make the problem the solution" is perhaps the best advice I've heard in a while. 

Again, thanks for your words! I'll keep that in mind next time and will make sure to post a bit more, even older pieces. 

Rep: 444
Eric Seals June 15, 2011, 10 p.m. permalink

That's too bad he wouldn't let you be with him and clients. Personally for me I'm not a huge fan of reporter involvement or interaction in a piece but sometimes you just have no choice and have to go with what ya got.

Glad to have helped out.  Lots of great videos and comments on here from many different levels of people doing video storytelling. I'm always telling people to watch lots of the work on here and read the dialogue going on on the videos.  Lots of good learning on this site

Take care


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