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Old November 5th, 2004, 12:07 PM   #1
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Please critique: Interview segments from possible TV show

http://www.karatemedia.com/telegram

http://www.karatemedia.com/fluke


These are two 5-minute interview segments I shot and edited back in June/July-ish. They were to be part of a local show I was developing with a friend of mine -- very low-budget, just me and my DVC80 and him holding the mic (a cheap Audio-Technica mic).

Various obstacles arose over the past months, and while the show as envisioned won't happen, I still plan to do something with all this footage at some point (including an interview with Secret Machines and 10 hours of footage from the annual local music festival). These were two of the first interviews I shot, and the only two I have finished editing -- you can see the opening minute of another segment at http://www.karatemedia.com/southernbitch if you are interested.

I think my amateur status re: interview segments is fairly evident in these clips, and I can see some mistakes myself (some, like location, or quality of mic sound, were somewhat unavoidable given the circumstances, but are nevertheless still bad), but I would be interested in any opinions/advice you guys have. Thanks.
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Old November 10th, 2004, 02:52 PM   #2
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*bump*

I am currently working on editing the Secret Machines interview -- I would love any input on the previous segments, so I can apply any advice you have to the Secret Machines segment before I finish it.
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Old November 10th, 2004, 10:55 PM   #3
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John, I watch the entire telegram clip, and parts of the fluke interview, and I have some (hopefully) constructive comments for you.

I though about this a bit before posting an answer, because I was trying to figure out what it was that was nagging me about these clips. The interviewer is, well, a bit "amateurish", not really good with the microphone, etc. The camera work was nice, the faces in the bar slightly dark but nothing too far out of line, the quality of the audio actually isn't too bad (could use a little compression / limiting to smooth it out, but generally decent), and the edits and cuts for the most part seem good and well executed.

What I finally came to the conclusion is this: The shooting style of the interviews is not in keeping with the style of editing / production you are trying to put across. I see your style on the editing side to be "funky modern" quick cuts / effects / short attention span / in your face sort of thing. I see your camera work as "steady eddy" and very conventional, using a lot of "three head" medium shots and indeterminate shots.

The "interview" parts are just a little too static when compared to the type of edits and style you are trying to produce. Those static "interviewer and two people" shots while one guy is answering seemed much longer to me than they actually were.

It's to do with pacing and balance. Maybe someone else can help me out here to explain this better?

Alex
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Old November 10th, 2004, 11:59 PM   #4
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You faced a typical problem with interviews. These guys are exciting musicians and cool comic book artists, but kind of flat interviewees--especially with the bad microphone situation. Your interviewer only makes the situation worse by coming in with lots of energy, a better voice, and by being closer to the mic--so they look worse by comparison than they actually are.

Perhaps you could ride the mic volume in post so it's as hot as possible without distortion--especially during their responses--and consider chopping up their answers to get to the meat. There are doubtless also things you can do with e.q. and other audio plug-ins to bring out their voices and make them sound more dynamic.

The look of the piece is pretty good considering the spareness of your setup, so I would spent the rest of your energy on punching up the audio and the cutting of the interviews. Although I'm no great fan of the double-time walkthrough look for interstitials (i.e. your entrance to the club in the Telegram segment), I think that Alex is right in pointing out that you've got two different styles going on and you need to resolve that--and (grr) I think you should get off the fence and go with your smash-cut instincts.

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Old November 16th, 2004, 07:05 PM   #5
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Thanks for your replies. They confirm a lot of what I was suspecting myself. This has definitely been a learning experience for both myself and the host; there's no hiding our lack of experience...

Michael: Flat interviewees indeed -- the band (Telegram) was the worst. The cartoonist is a great guy, but a little too soft-spoken. And I hate to tell you, but I've already tweaked the audio on both of those interviews -- you don't even want to hear how soft-spoken those people really were! And Secret Machines was even worse -- it was tough trying to get the host to tone it down; when he would talk, the levels were nearly peaking, but then when the mic was in front of the band... almost silent... But yeah, the audio could even use futher tweaking -- I even bought Jay Rose's book on Audio for DV, but it's still a subject that I am far from mastering.

Alex, I think you are correct about the pacing -- it seems like 5 minutes isn't very much time for an interview, but parts of those segments seem to drag. I'd love any any advice on pacing.

As for the camera work (please note that none of this is meant to be contrary or argumentative -- I'm not one of those folks that asks for opinions then gets angry if you don't shower me with praise -- your comments have been pretty on the mark):

I'm not entirely clear on the "camera work vs. editing style" comments. Some of the shows I've been trying to pay attention to seem to use a combonation of straightforward interviews with "hip" editing. Atlanta folks might be familiar with a show called Atlanta Tonight (I know one member here has discussed it before). This is one of the shows I referred to when trying to work on our segments -- mostly because it is also shot with one camera/one host/one or two mics; although they use a DVX100 instead of the DVC80. I've also tried to pay attention to some of the programming on VH1, etc (like the "I love the..." decade shows), which seem to use talking head interviews intercut with a "hipper" editing style.

I guess to my mind, it seems like the camera work during the interviews should not be "headache inducing," but the pacing and visual style can be made interesting via the editing process. But if I wanted to rely on just my own mind, I wouldn't be asking for advice. But I'm not real clear on what you mean by using a more appropriate camera style. Are there any examples of the type of camera style that would better fit the editing style?

Regardless, most of what I will be working with (at least for the next month or so), is pre-existing footage that I have already shot, so my immediate concern I guess is to best figure out how to best edit these segments to be interesting and watchable. I'd like a look that's professional, but visually interesting, if that makes sense. Again, when I watch those "I love the [decade]" shows, it seems like that sort of mix of "steady eddie" shots and "fun" editing. I also caught part of an episode of "Bands Reunited" that seemed to be a similar style. Perhaps there is something I'm missing?

Thanks again for taking the time to watch and comment. I'd love any other input people might have, especially points of reference I should keep an eye out for.
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Old November 17th, 2004, 12:52 AM   #6
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John, go back with a stopwatch and look at your favorite shows. Check out the amount of time actually holding a steady shot, and the amount of time spent wandering... it is truly amazing when you come to realize that many things are on screen for only seconds at a time.

Look at what they are doing to break up duller interview shots, how often they will cut away while the interview goes on to another shot, just to keep the eye as entertained as the ear.

Alex
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Old November 27th, 2004, 11:14 AM   #7
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Thanks again, Alex and Michael. I've tried to apply some of your advice to the Secret Machines interview:

http://www.karatemedia.com/secretmachines


This was originally shot a few months back, so I have tried to create more visual interest through the editing, as oppossed to the camerawork. I did have the forethought, though, to set up a second camera (a cheap Panasonic DV53) to catch a different angle -- those are the B&W shots in the interview.

Let me know what you think. It's not perfect, but I think it's a step in the right direction, at least in the "visually interesting" aspect...
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Old November 27th, 2004, 03:40 PM   #8
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John, my feeling is you are heading certainly inthe right direction. It's feeling a little more dynamic, and you certainly are not dwelling too long on any one visual, which is good.

There are some places when you skip from camera to camera that the color is a little weird, the black and white one I understood, but there is a third camera that is very heavy on the redish orange that is a bit weird to look at.

You might also want to space the steps between the cameras with other visuals, so the jumps aren't quite so, well, abrupt.

I certainly enjoyed this one more, the band isn't exactly wildly outspoken, but visually you kept my interest for a much longer time.

Alex
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Old November 29th, 2004, 10:48 PM   #9
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Did you tighten up the Telegram interview as well?

Secret Machines looks pretty good now. I'm not usually a fan of this kind of cutaway--distorted, desaturated, whatever--but it adds interest to otherwise static footage.

Michael
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Old December 7th, 2004, 02:29 PM   #10
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Thanks again, guys. I'm basically just copping ideas from the interview programs on VH-1, E!, etc. I even saw an episode of Dr. Phil where they were showing the previous week's episode and cutting in "effected" shots -- like I was doing with the third "camera angle," where it's just a blow-up of the DVC80 shot, on Dr. Phil it would cut to a blow-up of the guest talking, made to look even grainier than it should....

(the cutting to the "third camera" -- the saturated one -- was stolen, I think, from an interview I saw on E!, where they would blow-up the shot of the person talking, cutting directly from the normal shot to the blown-up one)

Michael -- I did not do anything new with the Telegram interview. I may not do anything else to it, but just use it as a learning experience. I feel like just you guys' responses to it helped me make the Secret Machines segment better; it was worth it if just for that. I first want to finish editing the rest of these interviews (3 hours with one band and 10 hours of a music festival) before I consider reworking the Patrick Dean or Telegram segments.

Thanks again for your input; it has been invaluable
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