Sam Houston: A Year in Transition (view this story)

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Rep: 444
Eric Seals Aug. 6, 2010, 7:57 a.m. permalink

Very nice Lisa,

It is so in depth and good I really hope more reviewers chime in on this because there is so much to say about this project and I'll run out of space! :-)

What worked? Everything :-)
1. Music selection was excellent
2. Pacing of the visuals and transition were good
3. Moments and being there for so much of these kids lives
4. Your paper letting you do this the right way
5. The school giving you carte blance access! Awesome!! I think they see and saw the value and importance of visual storytelling
6. Your passion and commitment on this while I'm sure you juggled other job responsibilities and your own life outside of this.

What didn't work? 
1. The only thing that didn't for me Lisa was the on camera interviews. From the way it was either shot or composed to the audio it is the only fault I saw in this project but not enough at all obviously from detracting from the great job you did.

A. You have a nice shooting style and now take that to your interviews. Think to yourself if this interview and the way I have it framed in camera and the way the lighting falls am I happy? If this was going to be a still portrait for the paper would I be happy with it.

B. The audio was bad on a lot of it either tinny, echoed or not crisp enough for me. Like the mic wasn't close enough, the marantz wasn't at the right range or the area you shot and interviewed wasn't ideal for interviewing. Having a lav would have been great for this. If you didn't have one you could of planned ahead for the sit down interviews and perhaps a second person with a shotgun mic off the frame or better yet setting up a tripod yourself with shotgun mic aimed at them.
In the Pride piece at 1:58 the two kids talking the audio was bad and I would have reshot it for better audio or just interviewed them again with the same questions and for the visuals show something else instead of them talking.



Rep: 444
Eric Seals Aug. 6, 2010, 8 a.m. permalink

It's obvious you spent tons of time on this and it really shows with the the planning you did, the access, the moments and the editing. Really nice visuals and it's like the kids just forgot about you which is what we all strive for.

Great to see newspapers giving one of us the time commitment to do a big project like this.
Curious how it all worked for you with time.  Did your paper give you 3 days on project and two days daily assignments or how did it happen?
How did your paper publish this? Special section? Insert?

The presentation of it on the web was well done (and maybe this was out of your control) but I wonder how many people would think to click the little icons below the main video player.  I almost just watched "Pride of the East Side" and thought that was it until I saw the play button on the next one.  Perhaps the other icons could have been made just a bit larger with a headline like the "Coach Green - 66 sons and counting" and have that stuff off to the side or off set in a box with a different colored background to help it stand out.


Rep: 444
Eric Seals Aug. 6, 2010, 8:01 a.m. permalink

Sorry for the triple post but the site would only let me type so much so I had to split it up....LOL!!

My favorites of the series was "Pregnant teen learns life's lessons" and "Saluting the Class of 2010"

Bravo to you and your paper on this Lisa!!!

I hope you'll get more feedback from other reviewers on this nice project.

Would you be able to send me a copy of the paper or special section? I've love to see how it looked.

Eric Seals
Staff Photographer
Detroit Free Press
615 W Lafayette Blvd
Detroit, MI 48226

Thanks :-)

Rep: 1
Submitter
Lisa Krantz Aug. 8, 2010, 10:37 p.m. permalink

Hi Eric,

Thank you for all the feedback, wow! I’m really happy this
site exists and am excited to be a part of it.

Yeah, the audio is pretty rough… I definitely could have done a lot better. That’s
really good advice, to think about shooting the interviews like you described. I've struggled with that. I was trying to keep them as similar as possible despite the different environments. Do you think that matters or should I just try for the best shot for each person and not worry about any consistency? (not that I had much, I know) I don’t have a lav so
I was using the internal 5d mic and an Edirol as back up. Not smart! Gotta fix that. 

You asked about the time I spent on it. That was brutal.
Everything in the football piece was shot after my shift. I would work 7-4
Friday or 8-5 Saturday then go to their games. But, I could have never done
that if I worked Friday nights during football season so I was happy. I usually
went to the school on my days off, before my shift, after my shift, and between
assignments. If something was really important I would request a block of time.
Some things couldn’t be planned though. For example, when Milli went into
labor. She called at 5:30 am but I had a 9 am assignment I had to shoot because
nobody else was available and I was freaking out thinking I might miss the
birth, needlessly, because she wound up having a c-section 19 hours later. But, the editor did clear me for the rest of the day and I got the next day off
because I was at the hospital until 3 a.m. Other times I would negotiate, like
volunteering to shoot black Friday at 4 a.m. so I could be off in time to shoot
Antwan’s funeral at 11 a.m.

During the first few months I worked on it, we were
searching for a DOP so once Luis Rios arrived, he was extremely supportive. The
last seven weeks were when I really started getting full days off the schedule.
I usually worked 3 days on the daily sked and 2 days on “Sam” depending on what
was going on but the last two weeks were almost full time finishing the
interviews, the multimedia (which Anita Baca produced), editing the pictures,
getting everything ready for the paper and making sure I had all the media
releases. Also, the publication date got moved up a week (which I fought
against and lost) so in the final weeks we lost a week of production time. In
the end it was complete teamwork with Anita, Luis and I. They worked crazy hard
to make it happen and I am really lucky to work with editors who supported and
believed in the project. 

The presentation on the web was completely out of my
control. I didn’t even see it until a few hours before it was supposed to be
published, long story… Then there was an issue the people approving it didn’t
realize was an issue so when I saw it, something was really messed up and the
night web woman made it into what it is now in a couple of hours so it could be
published on time. It was supposed to be fixed further but never was. I might be able to get the icons on the side, which was the initial plan. I don't know what happened. 

It ran on the front page on Sunday with two open pages
inside and also front page on Monday (with a live graduation pic) and 3-4
pictures inside. I don’t have any extra copies, but I can print out the pdfs if
that would work?

Thanks again for such a thorough, helpful and thoughtful
review! 

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Aug. 9, 2010, 8 a.m. permalink

Cool! Glad you are on here and hope you'll post more.


I think you should first think about the audio setting of where you want to do the interview (check for echos, hums etc) and then gofor the best setting in terms of making the interview look like a nice portrait even if their face time is only seconds in your piece.

Great to read all the time you spent on this project, especially your own time and glad that your new DOP got behind you right way in the last 7 weeks.

If you don't mind printing out pdf's I'd love to see them. Thanks!  :-)

Eric

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