Strawberry Picking (view this story)

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Colin Mulvany Oct. 7, 2012, 3:42 p.m. permalink

Cory, thanks for submitting your audio slideshow "Strawberry Picking" on Finding the Frame.

Here is some general feedback that stands out to me.

Your opening is a little vague with people just talking about picking strawberries. I'm not sure where this place is and why me as the viewer should care. As a multimedia storyteller your job is to make the viewer care. If you don't, they will bolt faster than you can blink an eye. 

This story has lots of voices, but none of them really connect me to the "why" of the story, There are lots of random voices saying similar things. All I know from this story is that there is a farm that people come to pick strawberries.  It is a farm that has been around a long tome and people like coming there. That's it. As a viewer, I need more.

Now, what would happen if you recorded a voice-over narrative: "Along State Highway 156, Porter' s Patch has been a destination for generations of strawberry pickers... Cut to a short audio clip with someone talking about picking strawberries.. Now introduce the owner... "Porter's Patch owner Troy Porter says that strawberry picking is cheap entertainment..." We then hear Porter say:"Some of these people have been doing this for 25-year..." Now you have set up the story for the viewer. Answer their questions quickly or you will lose them.

You should weave your voiceover in and out of your audio narrative. It will give the story more definition and help answer the questions the viewer has. Remember: You are the objective voice in your story--you supply the fact. Your subjects are the subjective voice, they talk about how they feel. And in between all this, you're weaving in and out natural sound that supports the story. The best stories are ones where the visuals and the audio work together.

I am not sure Cory how ling you have been editing audio, but here's doe tips  I can suggest:

You might want to think about upgrading your audio recorder and connect a hand-held mic to it. Your audio sounds really compressed and tinny. Clean audio is really a must if you want to keep the viewer engaged in your story. Don't let bad audio give them a reason to leave the page. 

Layer your sound better. Your transitions between scenes are really rough. Never, and I mean NEVER have spots in your audio narrative where there isn't any audio. Use room tone to cover these dropouts. In your case, just some ambient sound from the field layered under spots where you have a narrative transition would smooth out your audio dropouts. Learn to use audio cross-fades to smooth out the bumps in your audio. You should be able to listen to your audio narrative with you eyes closed and it should play smooth as melted butter. Meaning there should be nothing --no bumps, pops, hi-low audio levels, dropouts, etc. that will take the viewer of your story out the moment.

One of the most important things I've learned when doing audio slideshows, it to sequence my photos like I do my video. You need to keep your visuals moving. So instead of shooting a three-photo sequence of medium shots that look similar, try shooting a wide, medium and tight shot of that same scene. This will give your story some visual variety and the viewer will be less likely to get impatient with the pace of the photos. You'll also want to shoot more detail shots than you think you'll need. Cory, you have many photos that are medium shots back-to back. Break it up and use the tight shots as transitions to the next scene.
Hope that helps, 

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