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Old December 10th, 2020, 05:28 PM   #16
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Re: What do you think of this rough cut of this documentary project?

Hi Ryan
You have the essentials for a great documentary here - specifically a strong (no pun intended) main character, what they are are trying to accomplish. There are some helpful suggestions above. I think it could be improved if you identify a theme and put a stronger focus on a main issue - there's a whole lot to choose from. I always think documentaries are strengthened if you can identify and bring out some social criticism. I suggest listen to the audio (maybe with your eyes closed) and note down possible related images as you do so. Seek related images. Cut the repetition. Think about using "Ken Burns" effect to make static images more interesting. Looking forward to next cut.
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Old December 11th, 2020, 03:33 AM   #17
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Re: What do you think of this rough cut of this documentary project?

Thinking a bit more - he knows why he wanted to move from Vietnam to America. That's clear in his mind, so much so, he assumes we understand. I think perhaps we 'think' we understand, but I doubt we do. We have stereotypical history in our head, but I suspect younger people have no idea at all. There was a war. Lots of people died on both sides. Now it is a holiday destination. The world understands refugees and the lands of the free - we have a stream of refugees entering the UK at the moment, doing the last 30 miles in frail boats and lots die. This kind of stuff is the emotive content. A fella coming to the US and Canada to join a weight lifting society is probably NOT what this is about. In the pictures he suddenly grew a wife and child - they just magically appear in his story as a kind of afterthought, the weight training gets more emphasis than family? He MUST have images of them, who perhaps have a similar back story. That's an interest feature that a little re-write could let enter the story, and downplay the repetitive parts. Did he actually explain why he wanted to leave? How he got there. The church seem to have paid for it then he dumped them? Lots of loose ends to be tied. He task of religion but not one image of it?
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Old December 11th, 2020, 10:57 AM   #18
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Re: What do you think of this rough cut of this documentary project?

I'm not trying to discourage you but many of us tried to persuade you to do many of these small type projects to get better at directing and visual story telling. This is all the stuff you need to learn by doing. The more you can practice thinking for yourself instead asking others or trying to copy feature movies, the more independent you'll become.

Over all the movie lacks direction and purpose. I gather he has asked you to do a puff piece on himself and you're taking your direction from him. It's odd because there is no A-roll, video of him being interviewed. Instead it's all b-roll that has been quickly thrown together, many sections as people have pointed out doesn't match the tone and content. What I'm seeing here is something I'd expect from someone first learning video, it's not very dynamic, interesting, or well thought out. Where are the interviews from his friends and family? We only have audio of the subject clearly reading a prepared script... Not good.


If you must copy others for your ideas then I'd recommend watching a few good short documentaries. Independent Lens come to mind.

Last edited by Pete Cofrancesco; December 11th, 2020 at 12:09 PM.
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Old December 16th, 2020, 02:34 AM   #19
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Re: What do you think of this rough cut of this documentary project?

My impression is that you have been asked to do this project pro-bono or for a smalliish fee, handed a boxful of not enough pieces and asked to put it back together again.

There is a middleman involved which can only muddy the waters if he is not trained in documentary. You have no brief except perhaps to put together a slideshow around his existing recorded oral history.


What is the purpose of the presentation?

Is it intended to be a showreel piece for yourself?

Is it intended to be a documentary?

Is it intended to be a slideshow behind a personal testimony witnessing to and affirming his Catholic faith?

Is it intended to be a record for his family in case he buys the farm whilst he is peaking for the next contest?

Does he want to do a big Arnie and transition into the entertainment industry?

He seems to be a person of singular determination but also maybe selfcentred. The brief such as it is should have been nailed down directly with him, not an intermediary.

My sense is that you need to rejig the relationship between you and your client and set some agreed firm guildelines. There can only be one director and he has to be on his A game.

If he is not prepared to be subordinate to you as director/editor, have a paper edit done on his transcripted dialogue or far better, be interviewed on camera prompted by key points out of his oral history, frankly, I would hand him the existing piece, say "sorry I cannot work like this" and walk away.

I would be asking myself, how much of my own finite life do I really want to invest in this. What is the payoff for me. If it is doing a favour, I am fine with that, so long as I am not self-flagellating to no good cause.

If as a slideshow it must remain unchanged, then to "de-clunk" the presentation, my personal preference would be :-

resize and crop to reframe all the still images to look better,

scale them down into windows with thick black borders,

move their position on the screen so that no one image occupies the same exact space in the black, sort of like an old-style photo album.

window his motion footage smaller and perhaps crop for more natural headroom if necessary. Resizing in a black border will increase the "apparent" sharpness of the images.

Use "dip to black" for your transitions from still image to still image. Depending upon your NLE, you may need to make short gaps between each image for the dip to blacks and rise from blacks to attach front and rear of each clip.

If you can persuade him to be interviewed, then display that footage in normal size. His talking head or talking walk-along will be a far better core and anchor for the presentation and the existing material you have will be more than enough to use as cutaways.

Shoot some footage of him with his partner and infant, maybe showing him striking some builder poses and as a bonus the little kid might even try to emulate. Maybe even use this as your head bookend.

This link will take you to a slideshow which I did pro-bono for a friend-family on supplied material including the original music performed by a family member. Its purpose was to be a continuous playing loop on a screen as background to a gathering.


It should not be seen as a shining example of what you should do because it most definitely is not but may offer some clues on "de-clunking" your presentation.

For its purpose, beyond some older images which opened the presentation, the images were randomised so that over any short bracket of time that someone might watch before engaging in conversation, all historical periods were more or less covered.

It is not a Hollywood piece by any stretch and I have done better work. It was what the family wanted and that was what they got.

Finally take more notice of better practitioners than I who offer comment here.

Last edited by Bob Hart; December 16th, 2020 at 03:06 AM. Reason: error
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Old December 16th, 2020, 12:10 PM   #20
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Re: What do you think of this rough cut of this documentary project?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hart View Post
My impression is that you have been asked to do this project pro-bono or for a smalliish fee, handed a boxful of not enough pieces and asked to put it back together again.
This sums it up nicely
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Old December 18th, 2020, 12:02 PM   #21
also known as Ryan Wray
 
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Re: What do you think of this rough cut of this documentary project?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hart View Post
My impression is that you have been asked to do this project pro-bono or for a smalliish fee, handed a boxful of not enough pieces and asked to put it back together again.

There is a middleman involved which can only muddy the waters if he is not trained in documentary. You have no brief except perhaps to put together a slideshow around his existing recorded oral history.


What is the purpose of the presentation?

Is it intended to be a showreel piece for yourself?

Is it intended to be a documentary?

Is it intended to be a slideshow behind a personal testimony witnessing to and affirming his Catholic faith?

Is it intended to be a record for his family in case he buys the farm whilst he is peaking for the next contest?

Does he want to do a big Arnie and transition into the entertainment industry?

He seems to be a person of singular determination but also maybe selfcentred. The brief such as it is should have been nailed down directly with him, not an intermediary.

My sense is that you need to rejig the relationship between you and your client and set some agreed firm guildelines. There can only be one director and he has to be on his A game.

If he is not prepared to be subordinate to you as director/editor, have a paper edit done on his transcripted dialogue or far better, be interviewed on camera prompted by key points out of his oral history, frankly, I would hand him the existing piece, say "sorry I cannot work like this" and walk away.

I would be asking myself, how much of my own finite life do I really want to invest in this. What is the payoff for me. If it is doing a favour, I am fine with that, so long as I am not self-flagellating to no good cause.

If as a slideshow it must remain unchanged, then to "de-clunk" the presentation, my personal preference would be :-

resize and crop to reframe all the still images to look better,

scale them down into windows with thick black borders,

move their position on the screen so that no one image occupies the same exact space in the black, sort of like an old-style photo album.

window his motion footage smaller and perhaps crop for more natural headroom if necessary. Resizing in a black border will increase the "apparent" sharpness of the images.

Use "dip to black" for your transitions from still image to still image. Depending upon your NLE, you may need to make short gaps between each image for the dip to blacks and rise from blacks to attach front and rear of each clip.

If you can persuade him to be interviewed, then display that footage in normal size. His talking head or talking walk-along will be a far better core and anchor for the presentation and the existing material you have will be more than enough to use as cutaways.

Shoot some footage of him with his partner and infant, maybe showing him striking some builder poses and as a bonus the little kid might even try to emulate. Maybe even use this as your head bookend.

This link will take you to a slideshow which I did pro-bono for a friend-family on supplied material including the original music performed by a family member. Its purpose was to be a continuous playing loop on a screen as background to a gathering.

A LONG LIFE WELL LIVED FIRST EDIT - YouTube

It should not be seen as a shining example of what you should do because it most definitely is not but may offer some clues on "de-clunking" your presentation.

For its purpose, beyond some older images which opened the presentation, the images were randomised so that over any short bracket of time that someone might watch before engaging in conversation, all historical periods were more or less covered.

It is not a Hollywood piece by any stretch and I have done better work. It was what the family wanted and that was what they got.

Finally take more notice of better practitioners than I who offer comment here.
I am not sure which one of those is his intent, but I would say it's more like this one perhaps:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hart View Post
"Does he want to do a big Arnie and transition into the entertainment industry?
I can talk him into an interview it's just that he studders a lot if he is not reading from the page, so in the interview section, he will be studdering a lot more compared to when he read of the page, so it may not match as a result?

He helped me on one of my projects, so I am doing this to return the favor.
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