Young choreographer's work highlighted (view this story)

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Michael Fagans May 10, 2010, 1:54 p.m. permalink

Randy:

Off the top I think you shot the dancing portion of the video well.

The first hurdle for me is your sound. I couldn’t tell if you used a shotgun mic in a “live” room or had a lav mic too close to your subject, but the entire interview had way too much reverb for me. It was difficult for me to listen. The good news is that this is easily addressable. A simple NPR trick I have picked up is to use a bath towel to dampen live surfaces like wooden tables; a sound friend of mine uses burlap.

The other aspect of the sound design for me is that because the audio of the interview was different from the music and the natural sound, I could tell when you dropped her levels down or out. In general, I like longer tails for bringing in background or natural sound. It is recommended by people wiser than me to get a minute of ambient sound from every place you record. That would have been helpful is giving you more “empty sound” moments to fade Alexandra in and out.

I kind of feel like the video gets going at 1:16 and I found out what the story is about at 2:15 and things really come together well at 3:09-3:30. Essentially there are three parts to this story, a young choreographer, the piece she has created and her teaching/instructing her colleagues. I think you can tell all three, but it needs to be deliberate.

I am very interested in knowing why she picked this subject matter, not very typical for someone her age.

While I am not always a big voice over (VO) fan, I think it could have really helped you “set the table” a little quicker so that you could get to the meat of your story. Near the end I felt like the dancing clips went too long, sharper cuts on the central action might have helped; you certainly have plenty of good b-roll.

There is a good story here, I think some more judicious editing could really help it emerge or apply what you have learned here to your next project. For many of us, myself included, we have to continually ask ourselves “what story am I trying to tell, what is the story” until we let the video, audio and stills that we have tell us how to put them together.

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Submitter
Randy Flaum May 11, 2010, 5:31 a.m. permalink

This is really helpful Michael. One question I have has to do with the sound. The one-on-one we had was in a room that I could control and placing a towel or burlap on the table with no problem. She also gave me good information but in the dance studio. Should I have just brought her back into the room after and have her repeat that? Thanks

Rep: 87
Michael Fagans May 11, 2010, 10:26 a.m. permalink

Good question(s).

In general, I try to keep the same set up for someone's audio, ie. if use a lav mic I stick with it or I start with the shotgun and stay with that. Part of this is the Keep It Simple Stupid concept and the other thing is that it leads to consistency.

Re. rooms. I think if you really liked the room you interviewed her, you could have brought her back or interviewed her again/more. The nice thing about the one set up, is aside from a small room vs. a large room, many of the qualities will be the same.

I have from time to time had some one say something I just missed or didn't get the complete thought and had to do followup work or ask them to rephrase (or explain it was my mistake).

More often than not a good followup question can lead to even more interesting areas of thought.

Rep: 141
Colin Mulvany May 11, 2010, 11:33 p.m. permalink

Randy, a couple of things I might add to what Michael said. Your lower third titles are really ugly. Scale them down some and use a clean font like Arial (I bold the subject’s name only) with a light drop shadow with a softened inset.

Framing an interview is very important. Your camera was too low. Position it so the subject’s eyes are in the top third of the frame. The head should be left of or right of center looking in. Master that, and then break the rules later.

I think this piece could lose about two minutes. Really. The story needs to have a sharper focus. You do that by including only what is important and cutting away the stuff that really doesn’t move your story along. Define this story in one sentence, then shoot and edit that story.

Michael is right; this video could have used a voiceover. A VO would also have helped to introduce the subjects and Holocaust story line more clearly.

Finally, by really tightening the narrative, you would have more B-roll to use and your edit time would be cut by a third. The dancing visuals got pretty repetitive after a while. More tight shots and sequencing would have helped.

I am curious, did you use and external mic, or just the built-in camera mic.
At all costs, never use the built-in camera mic. It is too omni-directional—it picks up every sound around you. The audio quality really hurts this story. If your camera can take an external mic, invest in one.

Randy, this is a good story that just needs some focus, a mic upgrade and a little magic in your video editing program’s timeline.

Rep: 3
Submitter
Randy Flaum May 12, 2010, 6:09 a.m. permalink

Colin, Thank you for the suggestions. I used a remote mic but the Sony camcorder I own only takes a Sony blue tooth which works for me because it's remote but at the same time it picks up a lot of the room noise. I need to listen better for surrounding sounds.

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