Critique on Demo


Hello to the family. I would like any and all constructive critisim of my videos published. I want to mention a couple of things. First, I am starting this career later in life after being in the military and working in the electronics manufacturing industry for 10 years. I am a member of the NPPA and have a mentor to help me out and continue to strive even though I am a FNG to the ENG world. Any seasoned photog or ex-military will know what the initials stand for. Here are the links to my work:

"Schooldays" 1:40secs.:

"Baltimore Comic Con 2009" 1:30secs:

I appreciate any feedback.


Well-known member
Fun New Guy??? :)

Ok Schooldays. First your reporter is reading too fast. It’s really annoying.
She’s off at the sound of the bell (cliché opening) tell her to slow down it's not a race.
Not your fault but to be honest the script is so badly written you are left cutting boring pointless shots over the high-speed sports radio like delivery… then there is the interview. Do you really need us to point out the jump cuts, not to mention that it's badly framed, not lit, underexposed, shot against windows and got a hiss on the audio track? The random slapping in of shots doesn’t help. None of them tell the story. Not a sequence in sight. She is left to talk too long, repeating themes and the audio editing is sloppy.

So far it’s very poor all round… and then we get to the Stand up.
Was it raining so you shot it undercover? There is no light on her face… are you doing a story about trees and air-conditioning because they feature heavily in this shot.

Comic con was better, good work getting the grabs but comic conventions are a free pass, lots of good talkers and interesting shots wherever you point the camera… and it looks like you just sprayed the convention and chucked together a bunch of shots. Again no real sequences and still lighting, exposure, focus and framing issues.
How much did you shoot at Comic con? It's a 1:30 story so it should be between 10 to 15min tops.

Sorry it that seems hard. You have a long way to go here and I’m sure in time with work you will get better but for now I’m afraid FNG stands for: Frankly Not Good.
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Thanks for the insight

First, I want to thank Cameragod for his critique. I appreciate any knowledge I can get. Having said that I think a few things should be explained about my videos. First. I do not work for any news station anywhere. WBIM is the school's for purpose station ID. It doesn't exist, other than inside the school. Second. I do not own my own equipment. I make arrangements with the school to borrow the gear when and where I can. Third I'm operating independantly. I say this because I had to jump through hoops with my county's board of education just to get permession to interview the principal let alone students. The close shots on that particular piece were shot where I just recently graduated from. Are you kidding you think that the schoolboard would really grant me access to a classroom as a nobody. The answer is no because I asked. I wasn't event supposted to shoot inside the school at all. This leads me to my next point. I selected the comic con purely because of the access that I was allowed. Sure it could've been better but I'm beginning to find the access to things does make a huge difference to a story. It's hard enough when you're with a reputable and established new organization, but operating independatly trying to gain access with out recognition is tough. So some really help me out here and tell me what can I do to make a decent demo with one hand and two fingers tied behind my back? That would be really helpful.

Well-known member
Good start.

There are some technical issues (lighting, the out of focus invue, the rapid-fire v/o) and, structurally, a feeling of a bit too much squeezed into the space.

There were some decent shots, and the use to invues rather than v/o in the comic piece almost worked. But there was too much pointless wallpaper over the invues and that made it feel like a v/o.

What's next?



Well-known member
I know this is the entry level category so sorry if I was a bit hard but you have a big advantage over us… no deadlines. You can plan, structure and if you pitch it right you might even get access to people that won’t make themselves available to us.

You did get the interview with the principle but look what you did to her. Will she be available again after that?
The interview is the backbone of your story, you have to get it right. If that means you going over to the other side of the desk so the windows are behind you and she is lit where is the issue? People are usually more than willing to be moved around if you tell then it is to make them look better.
Also its no exaggeration that one bad interview can be death to your career.
I shot an interview with a guy about a fraud he was accused of. It was a rush, he didn’t really want to talk and it was a very minor story.
Then the fraud charge was upgraded to murder… then multiple counts of murder and the only pictures there were of him was a short iv I banged off in a car park.
For over two years every story on him that ran had my interview. If I had made a single mistake, been soft or got the exposure wrong or forgotten to white balance, then every time it played possible employers would think that that was the typical standard of my work.
Now imagine that the Principle had suddenly felt the need to confess to being one of Tiger Wood’s lover’s (stranger things have happend :) ) and that it was played nation wide for several weeks.
Do you think that with the interview looking like it did you would ever find a job anywhere in television? What could have been an amazing ‘get’ would become a career killing albatross.
Treat every Interview with respect and do the best you can with it.

Well-known member
CG - not arguing with any of that. Including your acknowledgment that this is 'Entry Level'.

This was a 1st time poster who clearly felt he was taking a chance posting his work here where experience can run deep and opinions run strong.

Did he get all defensive because of the content of your critique or the tone?

While I agree with you about the errors,I think he got more things right than wrong. Just my subjective opinion which leans more towards honey than vinegar.


Tom Servo

Well-known member
I hesitate to blame the audio hiss on RJA. I had hiss in my tapes back in school too because the equipment sucked and there was literally no way to get rid of it. The camera put it in, and we didn't have any filtering capability to get it back out.

However, what troubled me about RJA's second post in here was that there were a lot of excuses flying around. Cameragod is giving you something that the stations you apply to won't - critiques. If they don't like your stuff, they're just gonna chuck it in the trash.

I do understand that sometimes it's hard to get interviews, and sometimes, especially in schools, they get overly excited about keeping you from shooting stuff that you need to shoot. But when you send that story in your demo reel, the ND isn't going to be privy to your problems, nor is he/she going to care about them. At the end of the day, someone else's work (especially these days when seasoned ENG photogs are getting laid off and looking for work even in entry level markets) is going to look better than yours and so they're going to get the nod.

There's a certain amount of sweet-talk that you have to learn in this business in order to get people to let you shoot what you need to shoot. It comes with experience, though being a natural BSer doesn't hurt ;) Usually just assuring the principal that you won't show any student faces gets them to give you the OK. If you really can't get what you need to get in order to do this story well, then don't put this story on your demo reel.

The interview of the principal really was the sticking point with me, though. No matter what problems you had getting her to consent to the interview, you finally got it. So make the best of it. You can't blame the window backlight and the bad framing and the shadowed face on ease-of-access problems. That's all photog. I'm guessing you don't have a light kit. That's actually OK. I shot natural light throughout college, and then for several years in my first job because my station was too cheap to buy any lights. Learn to use what light is available to make it look as good as possible. At minimum you should have closed the blinds on the windows so that you weren't silhouetting her against blue light.


Well-known member

As former military you'll understand this statement..."no excuses, just results."
With that said, now that you've had to work with the sub-par gear, you should be able to work through the problems you are faced.

Next story, lets see the faces of people lit... and not back lit with windows. Think to yourself is the background distracting in any way, if it is. Don't use it.

Next, there is a team effort involved, have your reporter slooooooowwwwww down. It's not a race. Sometimes the first one who finishes loses in this business.

What will help you a lot is this... if it moves... shoot it. To take that a step further... if it makes sound, shoot it over and over again. Things like:
-doors opening and closing
-phones ringing
-feet walking
-lockers shutting
-writing with pencils

by shooting these normally ambient noises, you will be able to inject them into natural pauses underneath your reporters track or subjects interview. It will help give you purpose for using the video. And as always, think W I D E m e d i u m tight.

Good luck!