I created this documentary short in 8th grade (last year) and was wondering if you had any critiques (be as harsh as you want as I myself see some flaws in this video too). Any advice on, for future projects, post production or different shots would also be appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to watch!
Quite an interesting film, but rather flat and monotone.
The edit of the final vox pop at the beginning was poor. It's obvious that the speaker was going to say "it's just a shame <something something something>" so it sounds edited for what the editor wants the speaker to say rather than what the speaker wants to say and creates an immediate distrust (if that's not too strong a word) of the editor.
You go straight into Russell Pawlak's speaking which is fine but we have to take in what he's saying AND the change of shot. I'd suggest that it's too much to expect the viewer to take in the caption as well. I found myself a few seconds in wondering who the guy was. Better in my view to leave it a few seconds before introducing the caption.
Speaking of the caption, given the composition of the picture, the caption would be better justified to the right of the screen so it's against the darker background.
Clearly Russell needs to be lit better.
There was a good attempt to mix in a variety of shots and limit the talking head, however you seemed to be struggling in places for some appropriate shots to use. A bit more research might be worthwhile to come up with, for example, photos of some of the other people mentioned. The Prelinger Archives may well have some footage of the terminal in its heyday.
However, the important thing is you tried to cut the visuals to the narration rather than the other way round (trying to fit the narration to the shots you've got/want to use) which is the only way a documentary piece should be made (in my opinion anyway) Well done!
A few of the shots were a little shakey - I'm guessing some of the detail shots were on a long zoom - and a few weren't quite square.
You need to get rid of the disolves from Russel to Russel (again more shots would help)
How to liven it up?
Well apart from some more shots as mentioned earlier, you might employ greater use of sound - possibly music where appropriate (eg period music to go with the description of the Art Deco architecture) but also background noise from the perios when showing old photos etc.
Break up Russell's narration. The same voice going on and on becomes soporific.
(I suffer from this problem in my own films - I often lack the courage to leave a few seconds here and there where either information is provided purely by the visuals/non-narrative audio, or information is just allowed to sink in)
I found it quite interesting as a documentary as I had forgotten what that building had looked like outside. We are so used to seeing the interior in many movies over the years, it was a surprise to see the exterior. The technical points have been well gone over above in terms of the main speaker needed to have left breaks in his delivery, show some visuals with music, or just synch sound or either do a v/o yourself or get someone to do it.
You need to plan and frame your shots better, they are lop sided, you start on a pan and then cut straight back to the main speaker, the people talking at the start are cut off abruptly. While you are recording your interview with them, let the camera run for a few more seconds as a lead out. Don't just hit the record button to stop, once they stop speaking. You need some lights especially for the interior shots.
Good attempt but it needs work, maybe a bit too long aswell, set a finished time for your next movie and stick to it, so shots or people doing pieces to camera don't go on and on forever. Tell them to cover 5 or 6 main points that would keep the audience interested or points that members of the public don't know about and stick to it. Get into the habit of creating a deadline and become more disciplined in what you record and what not to record.
Thanks for all the advice. I agree with almost all of it. I myself wasn't completely thrilled with having Russell as the only person speaking. I think it would have been better to have more people, especially the public and such, giving their opinions on the building. Unfortunately, I was under very strict time constraints because the organization gave us a short period of time to film and plan. Also, we were only allowed to have our documentary short be between 5 and 7 minutes (i think I went for the shove as much info in as i could approach instead of moving along at a relaxed more comprehendible pace). All and all though, I had a great time making this film and am planning another for the summer. Any more just general advice that could help me personally would be great! Thanks again to all that took the time to watch this and critique my work!
Last edited by videonoob2233; 05-10-2009 at 02:56 PM.