The Sea is Loud (view this story)

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Rep: 444
Eric Seals Dec. 10, 2011, 5:50 p.m. permalink

Hi Sarah,

I was really hoping to get into this and learn something about these dolphins from the research to the sounds.

Your piece starts off with "and then the location is...." and he goes on talking longitude and latitude and for me was the wrong way to start this off.  It's as if we are being brought in this piece at mid sentence.  You don't want people saying "Huh??" to themselves right off the bat or at all with video storytelling.  

I think starting off with or building in a surprise would have been perfect.  I love the moment at 6 seconds when the assistant is looking and shooting.  Work that as the beginning without showing us the dolphins.  Work those angles of him shooting, the sound of the shutter, the beautiful scenery, both of them looking at the back of the camera.  It is making us wonder what they are shooting at then after some build up to it show us the dolphins. 

Glad you said that "I do feel like I should have had more of his captured audio in the story." That's exactly what I was waiting for the sound.  With a title of The Sea is Loud that's what I was expecting.  

As I watched and heard Eric talking about the rice crispy sound the shrimp make I was expecting a nice fade in of that shrimp sound.  When he talked about the sound the dolphins make in the May River to communicate or hunt for food I was expecting that as well. 
At the very end of your piece is when I heard the shrimp. Sometimes when I watched this twice I thought I might have heard some other sounds but it was to weak.

The general rule I've been told is;
"When they say it show" the visuals or in your case the audio.
Viewers were expecting it to and when they don't get what should be coming to them they are going to turn you off and move on to something else.  

We have to always keep people engaged with how we tell our stories to them from the visuals to the audio and to the edit.

Besides the audio the other thing I felt was missing was at least second character in this piece.  

The one voice just wasn't enough for me.  That other character could have come from people or sightseers looking at the dolphins from their own boats or tours if that kind of thing happens on the May River. It would have been great to know that these dolphins aren't just studied at USC but they are loved by South Carolinians and/or tourists and how that plays a hand with the environment, etc and something else Eric could address. 

Something else to think about is the kind of access to archival footage (stills or video) that Eric or others at the school have of the dolphins.  It could give you more b-roll as it looks like getting your own footage of them was hit and miss at times (unless you were to make multiple trips on a boat.

About Eric's video interview, I think he had way to much screen time to be honest and the background and framing of him was distracting. "You can never have enough b-roll" is something I'm always thinking about. Overshooting b-roll is a must so you can cover up talking heads. This was a chance to show Eric and his assistant at the dock getting into the boat, scene setters of the May River and details, details details. From the journey to where the dolphins are to the wake of the water moving as you guys are speeding along and even getting down and close to the water shooting when Eric drops that sonar mic in to the river to record sound.

As far as background and framing I always think that interviewing people on video should be treated like a portrait for the front page of your newspaper. If you could be happy with taking a frame grab of how that video interview is set up and have it run in the paper, cool. If not readjust or reframe until it becomes a nice portrait. 
Often Eric was looking off to the upper right of the frame and you had him placed in the right of the frame and it felt a bit trapped. It's much better to have him looking across the frame to the left and if it's you and a reporter doing this interview you both need to be in the same general area. So if instead you have it framed to the far left not only would he be looking to the right but you both would be to the right of the camera. 

How many trips on the boat did you make with them?


Rep: 9
Sarah Welliver Dec. 11, 2011, 12:40 a.m. permalink

Hi Eric,
I really appreciate the review. I'd lie if I said I didn't cringe a bit but I definitely agree with everything you said.

 I was only able to head out with them once on their boat and had the interview the following morning. Montie was heading off to Florida later that week. I had scheduled another boat ride the following week but the story was bumped up and ran before that could happen. The same goes for him sending me photos (no video) and audio he had captured. Still looking back I feel I could have pulled it off if I had thought it out more ahead of time and concentrated on getting a variety of shots for the b-roll.

I like your idea of getting another point of view for the audio and also building up to what they're doing at the beginning. I'll also definitely remember your advice on fixing how I frame my interviews.

Thank you again for the comments.


Rep: 444
Eric Seals Dec. 11, 2011, 6:34 a.m. permalink

Hi Sarah,

Glad to have helped out :-)

I thought this might have been a case of only being able to go out once with them.  I hate when editors bump up a story and it ruins what we want to do in finishing the story.  

Thinking it out more ahead of time and working the b-roll is so right and glad to recognize that.  I'm always running through my mind ahead of time and even in the midst of shooting the b-roll I need to match what the person is saying (another reason to do interviews ahead of time) that way when they say it in the interview you can go out and show it if you can or if it's audio you're going to use in your piece.

I see you have "The Road to State" posted and will check that out soon and hope others review as well.

Take care


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