#1  
Old 05-22-2008, 09:05 PM
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Default Text messaging sweeps piece

Ithought it coulda used more nat sound, butit is what it is. We were at our time limit before ny nat breaks/pops

lemme know what you think?

http://www.wdbj7.com/Global/SearchRe...text+messaging

Click the link with the video camera
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Old 05-24-2008, 07:06 AM
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Just me and my thoughts.

I noticed not a folks have responded to this one. It might be because they don't want to be harsh. Neither do I...so I'll use little smilies to make sure you know I'm just giving you friendly tough love while respecting you and your abilities.

OK...It probably bothers some...but I don't mind that you shot a lot of this package handheld. Nice mix of shots, shaky, but nice.

Then...a strange set up shot of your interview subject standing in front of a window...very wide. To me...odd. Then boring, predictable set up video using a cutaway of the reporter! Why? With all due respect, the reporter, if she's going to appear in the story as she did, needs to look better. You didn't do her any favors. Better set up for that interview...since you were staging it anyway...would have her working, doing something, anything, other than standing in front of a big window, framed wide, looking at a less than attractive shot of your reporter writing in her notebook.

The stand up was pure NPPA. That's not a good thing in my book. You had this overworked hand sequence going. It did nothing to advance the story. You used it to get the reporter into the car from outside. Why didn't you just start with her in the car and save the time? It screamed...to me...of someone so into sequences that they lost sight of what the story was about. You didn't do as imaginative sequence with texting? Why? You used only one phone to visualize all the track about texting. Why?

Your cop interview headshot...floats left to right. Like you weren't looking through the viewfinder and the camera drifted so you tried to get it back into position smoothly. Sorry, it just looked like a screw up from my end as a viewer. None of the other interviews had this move so...that's why I thought it was an attempted recovery from a mistake by an inattentive shooter during an interview.

You used a lot of what I call generic traffic shots to cover this story. Kind of boring. Especially with how often you did it. I saw so many of them...then you use just that kind of shot as a close shot? Why? Why not some fingers texting or something? Not very imaginative at all. Like you lost enthusiasm for the story.

That was a three minute long story. You obviously were not crashing it to get on the air. You had time to set up lights on one key interview...but not on others like the guy at the cell phone store.

You need to be more consistent throughout a story. Not just hit or miss with the level of quality. An after thought on the cell phone store interview. You obviously didn't set up a light. You should have had him facing the window more. The harsh, half light on his face made him look evil. He's not. He's a shopkeeper. One who graciously granted an interview for the story and you didn't do him any favors. A simple change of screen direction, having the reporter on your left instead of right during the interview, would have solved the problem. You didn't need to move your camera at all to have made that better.

Listen, I could nit pick some more but...I want this to be positive for you.

Quick points.

Get more consistent.

Don't get caught up in doing useless sequences that waste time. The story was three minutes long and could have had better impact and still be shorter. What you added to the story didn't help. In fact it ate up time you might have used for nat sound breaks that you admit you had to drop due to time concerns.

You should have shot lots more fingers texting on cell phones. You had no video of anyone texting in a car. None! That was the story and yet you didn't have a frame of video to illustrate the key element of your story other than part of the reporter stand up. That didn't stop you from going three minutes though! (note smiley and it's reason for being here to indicate I'm giving you a friendly, respectful tweak of the cheek for something you should know better to do than you did.)

You seemed to have time to put this story together. It wasn't done in a couple of hours...was it?

Use more imagination...make that...direct your imagination in the right direction. To visualize the story you are covering and not cover supposed bases like nat pops and sequencing that are today's formula for good. They are important but do them to help the story, not just to do them with visual elements that don't advance the story telling of the subject at hand.

Texting!

Look back at that story and count how many times you showed fingers texting during that three minutes.

I think you'll learn something by doing that alone.

Best to you!
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  #3  
Old 05-24-2008, 09:10 AM
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Old 05-24-2008, 10:41 AM
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Wow, I guess I could get really defensive about that critique but going back and watching the story and following your post point by point it was pretty spot on with its remarks. Thank you so much for the critique and pointing that stuff out. Its the first honest response I've gotten, I think.

The few things maybe I can defend:

The interview with the cop was very nice. We got his interview in between a story we were doing on something else. We shot ten minutes of interview footage with many usable soundbites, and like with teh mayor in a previous piece, he was never introduced. The soundbite picked was from after our interview was over and I was doing cutaway stuff (floating head pan, helmet to head tilt -- something I saw from a guy in OKC that I'd liked). I agree that it kinda looked funny there. My mentor asked me if I forgot to lock my tripod down, and I said that it was supposed to look like that, just not really look like that... if that makes sense. But very out of place in the story.

The standup is what it is. They like something special. Half the folks loved it, half hated it. I'm not sure where I stand on it.It'll be something good for her to put on her res. tape.

The lady's interview I had problems with. I agree the window looks awkward but the intention was that the highway was behind her. Why that's relevant to the story rather than her sitting at a desk, I dunno. The telescope was a weird background, too!!! She turned out to be a bigger part of the story than I thought she was and I let other people take control of the interview setup, which is my fault.

Yes, generic traffic shots abounded. ND told me she didn't want me riding in a car with someone text messaging because its too dangerous, and didn't want edited shots of folks in still cars texting made too look like it was moving. I'm sure there is a creative solution to that, but I think that's where 1-20 years experience trumps my two and a half. There's some things I just can't do yet and that very frustrating...

And the lack of text shots was just a brain fart on my part. The day we were to edit the piece I realized that I had no footage of texting in general. We're a bureau of two people and we had to get the story shot in between news of the day and I didn't plan well enough. The day the piece aired, I had no texting shots and I went out at 9:30 in our college town (at 11 we had to leave for a walkshot an hour away) after school's been let out for a week or two now, expecting to find someone somewhere text messaging. I got what I got and that was it. Very big mistake on my part.

The edit was done in an hour on the way back to the station from the walk shot, with another story looming over my head. No excuse for anything. I've put together alot better in a lot less time.

I hope the story didn't lose the viewer, though.



"Use more imagination...make that...direct your imagination in the right direction. To visualize the story you are covering and not cover supposed bases like nat pops and sequencing that are today's formula for good. They are important but do them to help the story, not just to do them with visual elements that don't advance the story telling of the subject at hand."


Besides the obvious like..... more fingers texting (by the way, I counted three, that's one per minute... that's enough for a three minutes story on texting, right? HA) What ideas would you have thrown in there? Always love adding stuff to my knowledge bank.
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Old 05-24-2008, 11:01 AM
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I'd echo a lot of what Lensmith says; he's got great pointers.

On the nats front, I'll add this: I'd love to hear cars starting up, revving engines, and that lovely tire-on-blacktop grind! This isn't just a story about the clickety-clack of dial pads. After all, it isn't the cell phones that slam into one another!

Like Lensmith said, you probably had some time to put this piece together. In that respect, why wasn't anyone interviewed in their cars? This piece screams element! If I shot this story, each and every interview subject would have their car involved. Making this story even more visually appealing takes one question: "Is your car nearby?"

You're talking about texting behind the wheel, so throw your subjects behind the wheel! I think you guys probably just perched yourselves in the wrong spot while looking for interviews. You should've been walking around a shopping center parking lot.

(Off-topic, but I gotta say: that chick in the first interview annoyed the hell out of me with her giggly nature. Those "three or four" close calls would reduce her to tears if they were actually accidents. No wonder my insurance was so sky-high when I was a teenager!)

Tangent aside, why not put the research official behind the wheel of her car? What about the cop? Office interviews are boring, and so are the reporter cutaways that almost always accompany those types of interviews. Cop cars are fun!

Finding different interview angles for several of the same type of interviews can be a challenge, but that's what makes you a better photog. Do it enough and -- odds are -- you'll probably stumble upon something that looks great! Always look to expand on your bag of tricks.

Just a few off the top of my head:

1. Have the subject sit in the driver's seat, driver's side door open, feet on the pavement. Shoot at a downward angle from just behind the driver's side door. Reporter stands to your left.

2. Have the subject stand behind the driver's side door, shoot from the driver's side headlight back up at the subject. Reporter stands to your left.

3. Have the subject sit in the driver's seat as normal. Open the passenger's window. Shoot through. Reporter stands to your right.

4. Provided you've got the room, do the same as #3, but hop into the passenger's seat! Obviousy, you'd be shooting upwards. Hell, have the reporter cop a squat in the back seat and do some laps around the neighborhood for the interview!

Which reminds me, why is the reporter doing the texting when they've got perfectly objective subjects who can swerve around an open mall parking lot instead?


Congrats for putting yourself out there for us to see, and I hope you've gained some insight to your shooting. Obviously, you care about your work, or you wouldn't be here!

Good luck!
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Old 05-24-2008, 12:11 PM
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I've been trying to help this new part of B-Roll Online get rolling with, what I consider, honest thoughts...without crossing the line and hurting peoples feelings or simply becoming empty "good story" comments.

It's hard to present thoughts without hurting feelings.

I want to say one thing up front that is important about what I write.

I am not perfect...nor the best all the time.

When I write a criticism, I am looking to offer points that may not have been noticed. Ways to improve. Things that I myself sometimes fail to accomplish until after I look at my own work.

I am not looking to tear anyone down and, by doing so, make myself seem better, smarter or more talented than others.

This could be a really positive part of B-Roll Online that didn't exist anywhere, any place, before. Immediate feedback from others who know how we have to do our jobs.

We all have to do what we can to maintain the honest feedback balanced by the reality none of us were there shooting the story, working under those specific circumstances when a posted story is produced.

I will be the first to say arm-chair quarterbacking is easy.

Deadlines are different every day...as well as the ability of those we are working with to get the story to air. Whether it be in less than an hour or more than a week.

Never doubt that what I offer when I write are options and views from someone who wasn't there.

We all have better days than others. There is no "best" photog out there.

We are all learning together.
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Old 05-24-2008, 01:29 PM
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Well said, Lens.
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Old 05-24-2008, 04:43 PM
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I still have not found a way to view this story. It won't open up in any of my browsers. Can you upload it to b-roll/tv?
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Old 05-24-2008, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lensmith View Post

I will be the first to say arm-chair quarterbacking is easy.

Deadlines are different every day...as well as the ability of those we are working with to get the story to air. Whether it be in less than an hour or more than a week.

Never doubt that what I offer when I write are options and views from someone who wasn't there.

We all have better days than others. There is no "best" photog out there.

We are all learning together.
One of the keys of asking for a critique is to get ready for honest feedback. If someone truly wants critique, expect harsh. You don't have to put up with rude, but be ready to have you feelings hurt even if you're really proud of a piece.

Some things to consider when asking for feedback: No excuses. You can't qualify a story with things like "I only had xxx time to shoot this", "This was my third story of the day" or things like that.

When a viewer sees a story at home, the anchor lead in usually doesn't say anything about the time put into a story or any obstacles overcome.

The other thing about this site that is great for critique is people have varying backgrounds. There are freelancers, network guys, long-time local guys and rookies chiming in. There is just about every region from the country and market size represented, not to mention international input. Everybody is coming from a different background.

Take it for what it is. Also remember, everybody to an extent is full of crap in their own way. There will be good points and bad points made as well as many points open for debate. Either way, don't take anything too personally and take away some good advice when offered.
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Old 05-24-2008, 08:52 PM
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"
Just a few off the top of my head:

1. Have the subject sit in the driver's seat, driver's side door open, feet on the pavement. Shoot at a downward angle from just behind the driver's side door. Reporter stands to your left.

2. Have the subject stand behind the driver's side door, shoot from the driver's side headlight back up at the subject. Reporter stands to your left.

3. Have the subject sit in the driver's seat as normal. Open the passenger's window. Shoot through. Reporter stands to your right.

4. Provided you've got the room, do the same as #3, but hop into the passenger's seat! Obviousy, you'd be shooting upwards. Hell, have the reporter cop a squat in the back seat and do some laps around the neighborhood for the interview!"


I'll def. have to put those suggestions into my bag of tricks. Really never occurred to me to do that with this story, and now that you mention it, I don't know why it didn't.

Lensmith: Didn't take any offense at all to anythign posted, matter of fact I welcome any and all comments like that. Getting outside views of things makes people grow. If we just taught ourselves how to do things and never listened to anyone else, we'd all pretty much suck, right?
No hurt feelings here, you made some very good observations on this and I'd like to hear where you'd have gone with it? I've got a couple people I talk to regularly and we brainstorm like that. Didn't mean for it to come off bichy or something.
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Old 05-25-2008, 07:54 AM
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Have no fears...you didn't come off "bichy"

We're all making this new section of B-Roll Online happen...and it seems to be something that all of us can use to become better.
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Old 05-25-2008, 05:05 PM
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Thumbs up Good call!

Hey AB, I highly suggest you and Kev trade a few private messages and consider making your response a sticky post in this particular forum. I think your write-up is excellent advice; it encompasses what anyone posting to this branch of the forums can expect.

Well done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AB View Post
Also remember, everybody to an extent is full of crap in their own way.
As soon as I get home, I'm making that my new sig line (with proper attribution and a link to the original, of course).
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Old 05-26-2008, 04:07 PM
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Maybe it's just me, but I think people might not be so hesitant to put their stories up for critique if there was some good mentioned along with the bad.

It's not just pointing out the bad and giving suggestions that's going to help people learn; it's also telling them what they did right. And just as importantly, it will help lessen the sting.

This site is a great resource, and this new board is a great way for it to grow...I'd like to see more stuff put on here from more people, and telling them what was GOOD along with what wasn't so great can only help that.
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