Looking for Constructive Criticism (Documentary on Vets)

Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews Forums General Video and Film Discussion Looking for Constructive Criticism (Documentary on Vets)

Viewing 19 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #45367
      AvatarBMFortier
      Participant

      Our Story: Rhode Island Combat Veterans (Part 1)

      Our Story: Rhode Island Combat Veterans (Part 2)

      Background:

      I’ll be very brief. If you want the full background on the video, you can watch my eight minute discussion on the piece.

      I’m an Iraqi Freedom Veteran (Marines) and wanted to give back to the local veteran community. When a final project came up at school, I knew that I wanted to do something about Rhode Island veterans. So I grabbed a couple local guys and shot this documentary.

      My Criticism:

      – The lighting for Tom Gingerella is really bad, and that’s something I can’t get over. It was a really heinous amateur mistake. I shouldn’t have given the green light to film but I felt rushed. I was under prepared and it shows.

      – The tempo of the piece really slows down after the “tragedy” part. I wish I had used more of my own voice over to parralel the different stories, and had more B-Roll for John’s part.

      – Overall I wish it was longer. John and Tom both told incredible stories, and its a shame I had to cram it all into 13 minutes.

      I’m open for any and all constructive criticsm. This is the first piece I’m actually proud to call my own, and not something that was a gag or joke. The floor is open.

    • #188528
      AvatarEarlC
      Member

      Benjamin…

      I just watched the first almost 10 minute RI Part 1 video. The story? Strong, poignant, enlightening, provocative.

      The lighting, not as radically bad as you had prepared me to believe. Primarily, I got so caught up in the story that I often failed to pay much attention to the technical aspects.

      What I did become aware of, what most intruded into my attention to the telling of the story were actually things with potentiall simple solutions.

      Your transitionals from titles/graphics and fade in/outs of the music bed, some introduction of narratives, were not smooth enough to prevent my noticing them. The quick fade-in/outs between narrative elements were acceptable, but the ones that cut suddenly, and some of the jump cuts from one narrative line to the next could perhaps have been treated a bit differently.

      I can see you tried, using cuts where it wasnt or didnt seem so harsh, and fast dissolves where you needed a smoother move from one narrative point to the next. You produced a GREAT story, very well articulated by your subject, selected strong story elements, but perhaps your whole transitional treatment between still shots and other supportive video elements could use a bit tighter (as you noted) pacing.

      All-in-all, you created a 10 minute segment that never made me want to leave until the end, never caused in me a desire to look and see how much time remained before I could return here and write a response. The magic is there, the story(s) solid. (I’ve not watched part II yet, but I will. It’s shorter 🙂

      What I have mentioned are things that, if you feel strongly enough about them, and have the desire to revist and reedit (often, after the initial pains of video editing childbirth, a difficult and challenging thing to take on because all you really want is closure, finish, be done and through, moving on to something else.)

    • #188529
      AvatarEarlC
      Member

      Part II, Benjamin…

      GREAT ending quote about helping living veterans while honoring those who have died. While my many producitons have mostly focused on creating memorial, funeral and “The Life of… documentaries of all people, veterans or “everyperson all too many of them become the interest of their families or friends only after they have “passed.

      We put a lot of effort in educating people, making them MORE aware, of the need in our society to recognize, honor and “memoralize the people in our lives WHILE they are around to celebrate. We call it “Celebrate Life! video and are working toward a time when better than 50 percent of our productions focus on the living, as well as maintaining memories of the dead.

      Your lighting was very well assisted with the soft backlight of the vertical blinds in back of the subject. Obviously you had a better handle on not only the lighting, and the off-camera remarks you sometimes made in the first segment and didn’t remove, but cleaned up, or didn’t need to remove in the second segment because being aware that your comments off-camera during the interview were unnecessary, you didn’t make as many.

      GREAT storytelling. I commend you. The production quality will continue to improve because you are focused on it on a serious professional level.

    • #188530
      AvatarBMFortier
      Participant

      Thanks for taking the time to watch the video, Earl. I do agree that a lot of the transitions were pretty harsh. I appreciate your criticism and will make note of it in future pieces.

    • #188531
      AvatarRob
      Participant

      I watched part of the first section. To be honest, I had a hard time paying attention and I had a hard time figuring out what the point of the video is. I understand you have people telling their stories, but what do you want the viewer to get out of the video? Now maybe there is a point and I just didn’t catch it or didn’t get to it since I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I feel I should have at least understood where the video was going by the time I got to the 7 minute mark. So here is my crit:

      1. Right from the beginning, the viewer should know what the video is going to be about. Yes, I understand vets came back to Rhode Island and now they’re telling their stories, but I should have understood right from the beginning why these guys are telling there stories. Are they going to explain why going to Iraq is a good thing? A bad thing? Is the video made to convince the viewer that wars are good or bad? What’s the point? I should know right from the beginning. Use your narration to tell the viewer and be literal about it.

      2. Use more narration altogether. Tom talks so slow and is so boring. You need to take what he says, cut out the boring stuff, rephrase it into narration, then use smaller shorter soundbites of his interview toemphasizewhat the narration says.

      For example, right at the 5 minute point, he starts talking about how one of his friends died, but that’s such a boring section because he talks so slow and those fade to blacks are soooo long.Use narration to explain the situation and that Tom is in for a big surprise or something. Then use his soundbite, “You don’t know when you’re talking to someone that it’s going to be the last time”

      3. Get more b-roll. Yes, it’s tough sometimes, but get creative about it. For example, he talks about getting fired while he was in Iraq. Well, have a shot of his of where he used to work or walking away from where he used to work.

      4. Cutting could be a bit smoother. You don’t need to cut the interview right when the interviewee starts a new soundbite.

      For example, right at 6:00 you have that text on the screen. Start his soundbite there so that there’s a bit of a voice over. It will be smoother.

      5. Use 5-frame cross dissolves between audio soundbites to smooth out the cuts.

      I think the most important thing is to get the story line established and use more narration to tell that story while using interview soundbites to emphasize.

    • #188532

      Both Earl and Robgrauert are the pros here so my opion may be a bit mute.

      It started out great, caught my attention, but i have to agree with Rob I quickly got bored. You said this was a student project, so I assume that it was your first, with that said it was impressive. The background music I believe was a good choice, makes you feel that your in the middle east, sorta.

      Over all I think you have talent and are on the right path.

    • #188533
      AvatarEarlC
      Member

      Rob, I disagree with quite a bit of what you say. I think your comments, if not overly sanctimonious, were harsh and indicate extremely subjective opinion, as opposed to objective. I also think that anyone watching, focusing and listening for the story would “get it” sorry you didnt.

      Also, you have a firm grasp on the obvious. Benjamin had already stated: “- The tempo of the piece really slows down after the “tragedy” part. I wish I had used more of my own voice over to (parallel) the different stories, and had more B-Roll…”

      I watched part of the first section. To be honest, I had a hard time paying attention and I had a hard time figuring out what the point of the video is. (Pretty clear to me).I understand you have people telling their stories, but what do you want the viewer to get out of the video? (Pretty clear to me) Now maybe there is a point and I just didn’t catch it or didn’t get to it since I didn’t watch the whole thing, (yup) but I feel I should have at least understood where the video was going by the time I got to the 7 minute mark. (I did, and I am NOT a qualified member of ANY elite intellectual society) So here is my crit:

      1. Right from the beginning, the viewer should know what the video is going to be about. Yes, I understand vets came back to Rhode Island and now they’re telling their stories, but I should have understood right from the beginning why these guys are telling there stories. Are they going to explain why going to Iraq is a good thing? A bad thing? Is the video made to convince the viewer that wars are good or bad? What’s the point? I should know right from the beginning. Use your narration to tell the viewer and be literal about it. (To a degree, regarding some “literal” narrative, but for the most part I think the BUILD was relevant to the presentation and subject)

      2. Use more narration altogether. Tom talks so slow and is so boring. (Not at all slow and boring, sounds like we’re parroting B’s own analysis) You need to take what he says, cut out the boring stuff, rephrase it into narration, then use smaller shorter soundbites of his interview toemphasizewhat the narration says. (Tighten, yes. General overhaul, no.)

      For example, right at the 5 minute point, he starts talking about how one of his friends died, but that’s such a boring section because he talks so slow and those fade to blacks are soooo long. (Tighten, yes. Fades were longer than short, granted, but not OVERLY so.) Use narration to explain the situation and that Tom is in for a big surprise or something. Then use his soundbite, “You don’t know when you’re talking to someone that it’s going to be the last time” (One good suggestion so far.)

      3. Get more b-roll. (So stated by B) Yes, it’s tough sometimes, but get creative about it. For example, he talks about getting fired while he was in Iraq. Well, have a shot of his of where he used to work or walking away from where he used to work. (So stated – more B roll)

      4. Cutting could be a bit smoother. You don’t need to cut the interview right when the interviewee starts a new soundbite. (Good input here)

      For example, right at 6:00 you have that text on the screen. Start his soundbite there so that there’s a bit of a voice over. It will be smoother. (Good input here)

      5. Use 5-frame cross dissolves between audio soundbites to smooth out the cuts. (Goes with tightening/smoothing, but good advice.)

      I think the most important thing is to get the story line established and use more narration to tell that story while using interview soundbites to emphasize. (OK)

      “The tempo of the piece really slows down after the “tragedy” part. I wish I had used more of my own voice over to parallel the different stories…” Good self-assessment, Benjamin.

    • #188534
      AvatarRob
      Participant

      Well I’m sorry you don’t agree with my crit. I wasn’t trying to be harsh, I was simply giving some advice, which he wanted so he can improve in the future.

      And the piece isn’t slow just after the tragedy part. The whole thing is slow. So I gave out some tips on how to pick up the pace rather than being useless and say, “geee uhhhh too slow.”

      Once again, sorry you don’t like my crit, but it’s for him and not you. If he wants to embrace my advice, good for him, it not, I could care less.

    • #188535
      AvatarRob
      Participant

      Lets not forget, you Earl,are the one who started a brand new thread stating that we all need to watch this guy’s video and deliver a critique. So why you would critique my crit and tell me what is good and what is bad about it,is beyond me. It’s actually kind of rude.

      It’s not like the things I said have no value. They’re all things he can do to improve.

    • #188536
      AvatarEarlC
      Member

      Gosh, now I need to be reminded that I started a “brand new thread” on the subject. More parroting, and still a firm grasp on the obvious.

      Hate to start a war over this but IMHO, and after years of work in the journalistic, freelance writing and publishing career, there’s just as much logic in disagreeing and critiquing critiques as there is in critiquing the original resource.

      Hey, I can stomach it, slamdunk me if you’ve a mind to. Everybody has an opinion, some are constructive and informed, others are subjective and uninformed. We’re all in this togehter, right? No need to get all defensive.

    • #188537
      AvatarEarlC
      Member

      Benjamin, are you getting anything of value out of the input so far? If you want me to back off, just say so. I admittedly was more impressed with the story than any significant technical elements you had mostly identified in your self-critique.

    • #188538
      AvatarBMFortier
      Participant

      Earl, please call me Ben.

      Rob, while I agree with a few of your points (More B-Roll, better transitions / less jump cuts, etc.) I think we just have different tastes on how to tell a story. You said “Are they going to explain why going to Iraq is a good thing? A bad thing? Is the video made to convince the viewer that wars are good or bad? What’s the point? I should know right from the beginning.”

      I disagree. I didn’t want to make this into a “Shove-My-Point-Down-Your-Throat” documentary like 98% of documentary’s are. Its a story. That’s why its called “Our Story”, not “Bring the Troops Home” or “Let’s Bomb Baghdad”.

      I see where you’re coming from and respect your train of thought. The floor is open for critiques, but I know how I wanted to tell the story and I’ll stand by that

    • #188539
      AvatarRob
      Participant

      Earl, when I said you are the one who started a new thread, it wasn’t to point out or remind you that you started a new thread. It was to point out that you asked for something from others on this site, but then turned around acriticized what someone has done to fulfill your request. Who does that?

      Ben, I respect the fact that you want to tell your story your way. Just note that both of you asked for opinions and I gave my opinion. Whether you embrace what I think is “right” is up to you, and I really don’t care what you do in the future. Of course we’re all going to do what we think is right. Who wouldnt?

      I simply was giving input because it was asked for.

    • #188540
      AvatarD0n
      Participant

      “Lets not forget, you Earl, are the one who started a brand new thread stating that we all need to watch this guy’s video and deliver a critique. So why you would critique my crit and tell me what is good and what is bad about it, is beyond me. It’s actually kind of rude. It’s not like the things I said have no value. They’re all things he can do to improve.”

      Rob.

      Whenever someone starts off a conversation/topic/speech with a “You have to…/You must…/You gotta…” it is a safe bet that there will be no tolerance for “Opposing/Different/Any other” point of view.

      The only response not likely to get an argument is to say to yourself “No, I don’t have to.” and move on.

    • #188541
      AvatarRob
      Participant

      Don…good point.

      I’ll make one last point though:

      Ben, when I said,”Are they going to explain why going to Iraq is a good thing? A bad thing? Is the video made to convince the viewer that wars are good or bad? What’s the point? I should know right from the beginning” I’m not saying your video has to be about those topics, but your video must have a point of view. If it doesn’t why should I or any other viewer watch the video?

    • #188542

      Down Boys, do we have to send yall to your rooms :)))

    • #188543
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      Excellent job – I didn’t get through it all – a bit slow for my taste also. People have short attention spans these days.

      Here are my opinions:

      1. Get rid of the opening credit – you can add that at the end.

      2. Add more motion to your stills – Zoom in out – right left -Ken Burns effects.

      I’d never just show a still picture.

      3. At 42 seconds you have a dark picture – I can’t make out what it is.

      Around 55 seconds you have 4 seconds of black – I’d definitely try to keep the black sequences to a second – no more.

      4. You’re always shooting down at your subject. Did you do that on purpose? It’s ok, but normally you shoot face on.

      5. I like your background narration – good audio and a nice voice – it adds a lot.

      6. Your music at the beginning definitely says this is going to be a slow-paced documentary.

      I’d experiment with other music – maybe a bit more patriotic and upbeat – at least for that first minute.

      7. At 2 minutes you can use some B roll to cover that obvious cut.

      8. At 2:06 you talk about the unit as being a family and yet you show people fighting each other – there’s a discord.

      9. 3:06 – Cover your cuts with B roll.

      10. From 6:01 to the end of the first part you’ve got 4 minutes of what they call a “Talking Head” .

      That doesn’t make for good TV.

      Good first attempt _ Keep working at it and it will only get better.

      One of the sayings I like about writing (which you can apply to video editing) is this:

      There is no such thing as good writing – only good re-writing.

    • #188544
      AvatarD0n
      Participant

      I forgot to mention….

      I did watch the first video.

      I must say I’m astounded.

      Seeing a such young person delving into such a mature subject, with so much passion…is fantastic.

      My Grandmother used to describe such people as “having an old soul”, more mature than thier years bely.

      Your subject matter, is well to be honest, too important to ignore.

      When you get your technical skills up (for reasons others, and you have stated) you’ll be creating “Pro” calibre work in no time.

      This project, wouldn’t convince me (as a businessman) to hire you for a project. It would, however, convince me (as a businessman whose business is photography/videography) to take you on as an apprentice….

      so keep trying….

    • #188545
      Avatarbmills
      Participant

      Just watched part 1…

      First, let me start off by saying I agree with rob on the story. It’s not that there’s no story or that the material isn’t compelling or interesting, but rather there’s no story arc.. You start out narrating this guy Tom and you don’t have much in common, except you both fought in Iraq. The story opens with Tom talking about the rhode island regiment (or platoon) and that it was like a family, etc.. Then you go into when you got moved to Fallujah.. Then you end with some of the B.S. vets have to deal with when they get home. OK, now please don’t take me as sounding callous or like a d***, but we all know that story. What I think Rob was trying to say, and what I am saying, is what is YOUR (meaning you and the people you interview) story? I know based on a post you made above that you don’t really want to hear any criticism of how you told the story, however if do you want to hear some ideas on how to tighten up the story and give it a better flow I will gladly post my thoughts, just say the word…

      Story aside, my biggest criticism (and this is a criticism I have for A LOT of indie video, movies, etc..) is the audio. The audio was not recorded well and was not mixed at all. I found myself turning the volume nob up and down as I watched the video. Also, Tom’s voice is very bass heavy. Instead of a lav, a boom or a directional camera mounted mic would have probably been a better option.. Also, keep in mind you lav placement (a guy with a bass heavy voice should not have the lav place directly in front of his throat or on his upper chest area) and the lav could also have been hidden better (though I still would have gone with a boom or even your camera mic)…

      The lighting wasn’t great (but you already knew that). Though with a piece like this, if you had used some more cuts during the interview segments it would help the ace and make the lighting and cuts less noticeable..

      Also, I want to reiterate robs point (#4) about the cuts. You don’t have to cut on a specific sound bite from the interviewee. For some of the middle interview cuts, you could be using pictures or b-roll video over Tom talking so that you don’t have to use those shutter transitions and it will visually pick up the pace of the piece

      finally, music!! I liked the music in the beginning and thought there were several places that you could have inserted music behind the dialogue to enhance the pace and add more emotion…

    • #188546
      AvatarBMFortier
      Participant

      Thanks for the tips and pointers, everyone! For the most part you’ve all given really solid points that I will take on in my future work. The plan is to expand this very heavily, so there will be no deadline for me to meet.

      I’ve got my entire life ahead of me to get better at this, and I really believe that one of the best ways to get better is to put your work (and ego) on the chopping block and let people at it, so thanks! I didn’t see too many egos in here so I think I’ve come to the right place.

Viewing 19 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Best Products

homicide-bootstrap