Feedback we give to first time Multimedia Storytellers

James Dockery, ESPN editor and co-teacher, is in Lisbon with me as we are teaching the students multimedia storytelling. [Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm,  ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/90]

Each time I teach multimedia storytelling I find myself sitting with the student and talking about what they could do better.

This summer I taught in a program the same thing I teach in a workshop, but they needed to have a grade, which required me to write out those tips.

Here is the gist of what I am writing when grading or giving someone feedback on their first multimedia storytelling project.


Since this is the very first time you have done multimedia storytelling and have few friends who have been through something like this you may feel like you are flying blind at times.

I know most students when signing up for a course like this have often talked to other alumni of the classes and made their decision to take a class based on what those students told them.

This is to say that for the most part the only person helping you with this assignment would have been myself. This puts a lot more burden on you to ask more questions and push harder to grasp new concepts.

I saw through the class this grappling with storyline and storytelling. I think this is actually the most difficult part of the content to master. If it were that easy to do then there would be blockbuster hit after another coming out of the studios around the world.

One of the key elements of this project is that the success of the project has a lot to do with how well you take ownership and control. It requires leadership skills as well as the skills of the technician to capture the content.

You did a great job of adjusting from the first interview to the second time. I think you really showed the concept really well with what I call the “Radio Cut.” A “Radio Cut” is where you can close your eyes and just listen and get the story as if you were listening to it on the radio.

One area I would encourage you to work on is what I call the peeling of the onion of the story. I thought you did a pretty good job with peeling the onion and getting a deeper story than you had on the first round. I think in time you will know how to get deeper faster with your subjects.

The reason I think it is good to dig deeper is the more you are able to help the audience understand that this is a problem that is so difficult to over come and needs a miracle to make it happen they will not be as engaged.

Zacuto Z-Finder

My advice on the technical side would be to get a viewfinder for your LCD. Many of your shots were slightly out of focus, which is typical if you cannot see the LCD up close.

Fill the 16×9 frame. Make is a cinema piece and don’t use verticals where you see the black on the sides. Fill the frame.

I would also advise getting more variety in these types of shots as both video and stills.

  • 25% Wide Shots – Establishing
  • 25% Medium Shots
  • 50% Close-ups

I think if you had more time with your subject you could have shot a lot more and had what we call more b-roll to use while he is telling us his story through the audio.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Another tip is to fill the screen with b-roll when someone is talking about things in the past. This is where abstract visuals can really help you.

This is where you may have what I call a video portrait of her can help. The subject is looking out a window for example and you just slowly move the camera or it is on tripod and they might move just a little.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/420

Another thing you could use is what I like to think as visual eye candy shots. This might be a close-up of water drops during rain hitting leaves. Could be a shot in a room as people walk through the shot. Where you rack focus in and out of focus on elements in your subject’s world. Things like a book, a flower on a table, tools he may use in the job and things that just when used as b-roll are kind of what you might see when you are day dreaming and looking out a window.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 10000, ƒ/8, 1/100

For non-journalistic piece you can coach the talent/subjects. Their voices sounded the same even when they are talking about killing themselves or running a successful business. Their voices need to have a little more emotions than the same one. Most people need a little coaching and doing several takes until you capture the emotion of what they are saying is necessary. Just as good light can impact the mood of a photo, the tone of the person’s voice can bring mood and emotion to the storyline.

Sequencing needs to keep me on the edge of the seat. Meaning every 10 to 15 seconds you need to create a little tension. Sometimes this is visual and sometimes it is in their voices, the words or something that makes it a page-turner.

Remember this from all that I taught on storytelling. Your clients for the most part do not know their stories well enough or they don’t need you. Also, they don’t know how to take your content and put it together into something for their audience. They need you to take control and capture their stories and put them into packages for their audience. They also need help with promoting their stories. So individual social media posts to drive people to the “story” are also needed. Still image with a few words and pointing people to the project on Vimeo or YouTube can not just help the client promote their work, but give them ideas on how to promote their work as well.

Remember you are not just telling their stories; you are educating them on how to tell their stories without you as well. They will take tips from the process and now be better speakers when they speak due to you helping them see the nuggets of their story. You will help them become more transparent so that ultimately their stories are told in a way that the audience is moved to action.

Can you tell me what you do?

While we do lectures, we are careful to show examples. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1100, ƒ/4, 1/100]

If I were to ask you what you do or what does your company do what is your answer? Maybe you start to stumble around trying to find words and even say things like “Well …”

One of the greatest struggles to communicate what you do or what your company does is that words alone often do not do justice to what you do. No matter how well you craft your words it still can fall short. Too often using words alone takes too long and you lose your audience.

Visual content reaches an individual’s brain in a faster and more understandable way than textual information. Or, more accurately, a person’s brain is hardwired to recognize and make sense of visual information more efficiently, which is useful considering that 90 percent of all information that comes to the brain is visual.

We have discovered that showing students the setup and how to do an interview working with a translator improved the results for students. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1800, ƒ/8, 1/100]

Storytelling tactics focus on different functions of the brain related to understanding and perception. The brain processes images 60 times faster than text, and 92 percent of consumers want brands to create stories around ads. Because of this, marketers should be delivering linear content with clear narratives and using images to tell their stories.

I work with clients by listening to them and asking lots of questions to help pull out the most compelling storyline that will engage customers to pay attention to what they do. I teach my clients the seven elements they need in their story and then capture that in a visual storyline to build their brand.

A great example of how I did this was with a professor at Georgia Tech. We played basketball together during our lunch breaks. While standing on the sideline waiting for the next game I was just asking what he was working on.

He was creating a bomb detector for about $30. He had presented this a few times but no one was willing to give him a grant. I asked if he would like my help. The solution was simple. By changing his visuals with his story then presented at the next conference and got a $1 million dollar grant.

Size of experimental microneedle array is shown by its placement on the researcher’s finger. There are 400 needles in the array. “Microneedles” much thinner than the diameter of a human hair could be the basis for a new drug delivery technique able to administer small quantities of high-potency medications through the skin without causing pain.

I really do believe that “Seeing is believing” for most of the population. It leads to a way of teaching that “seen evidence” can be easily and correctly interpreted, when in fact, interpretation may be difficult.

Give me a call and let me help capture your story in a visual way so that you too can make what you do understandable to your potential customers.

I also teach this to people in workshops. This summer I taught a workshop in Nicaragua and in Togo, West Africa. In Nicaragua James Dockery, ESPN Video Editor and Jeff Raymond, Director of Visual Communications for ABWE led 9 students through the process of visual storytelling. In Togo, West Africa professor Patrick Davison, UNC School of Media/Journalism worked with Jeff and I in leading 10 students through the same process.

Here are two examples of storytelling done by those students in just one week.


https://player.vimeo.com/video/180096388

https://player.vimeo.com/video/178934277
Give me a call if you want me to help you in telling your story or to help teach your team how to do visual storytelling to build your brand.

Best time for dusk photos

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/10

The time of day you make a photo can make all the difference. For this exercise you need to know the time of sunset, which tonight was at 8:13 pm.

This first photo was taken at 8:00 pm. Just 13 minutes before the sun dipped below the horizon.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1 sec

Now right at sunset 8:13 pm isn’t the best photo either, but notice how the sky is changing. But the sky is still too bright.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 2.5 sec

Now just waiting until 8:24 pm or 11 minutes after sunset the sky is getting dark enough that now the lights are starting to balance with the rest of the scene.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 4 sec

Now while the color here is excellent at 8:27 pm we now no longer have the sun lighting up the clouds and lose the pastel colors in the sky.

I like both of the photos for different reasons. Which one do you like best.

KONDO

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/800

This is Keziah Khoo who I met a few years ago when I taught in the School of Photography 1 class of Youth With a Mission in Kona, Hawaii.

This was her second Storytellers Abroad Missions Multimedia Workshop. She went to Romania last year and this year went to Togo, West Africa.

She tells the story of Kondo who struggled to get an education. Listen to Kondo tell her story with the help of Keziah bringing that story to life.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/180096388
While we were in a village one day a mother gave Keziah her child to hold.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/500
We still have openings for the Honduras Multimedia Workshop taking place this October 29th to November 5th. Deadline to apply is August 30, 2016. 


Click here to learn more. Get your money in now to hold your spot.


Come join us in Honduras and have some fun.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1800, ƒ/7.1, 1/200


Passing The Torch In Togo

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Storytellers Abroad participant Brian Funderburke listens to instructor Pat Davison as he works with Brian and the team in advising how to handle the story.

Sharon Sedzro was born 3 months premature, and weighed less than 4lb (2kg). The doctors told her mother that she would only live if they relied on God. She lived and was later the catalyst that brought about a children’s camp ministry that missionaries from the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism had tried to start over ten years earlier. Storyteller Brian Funderburke shares the story of Madame Sedzro, Sharon Sedzro, and Judy Bowen, and how God worked in their lives to restart a children’s camp ministry that is impacting hundreds of Togolese children.

We still have openings for the Honduras Multimedia Workshop taking place this October 29th to November 5th. Deadline to apply is August 30, 2016. 


Click here to learn more. Get your money in now to hold your spot.


Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 5600, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Brian was able to sit with all three instructors, Jeff Raymond, Pat Davison and myself to work through his plan for his story. 

Removing AIDS Stigma In Togo

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/800

Hannah Saxe, one of the Storytellers Abroad participant, has her fan club walking through the village of Adeti-Kope,Togo, West Africa. Hannah did her story on HIV in Togo.

Brenda Mastin is a nurse at the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism hospital in Tsiko, Togo. Over the last few years she and other Togolese colleagues have formed the organization ALMA which is french for “friend indeed”. They are an HIV/AIDS ministry of education, compassion and support. Their main operation is to educate the local churches to show compassion to HIV/AIDS patients as well as giving them support through counseling and medication. They hope to open their own center for chronic disease care near the hospital. In this video Storyteller Hannah Saxe tells the story of ALMA and their work in Togo.

Here is Hannah having prayer with an HIV patient and the subject Brenda before they did the interview.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2000, ƒ/8, 1/100

One Test Short. One Dream Reached.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 3600, ƒ/4, 1/100

Storytellers Abroad participant, Alison Waller, is surrounded by children in a church service as she is capturing her story on Gnoyi.

Waller produced this story of Gnoyi’s dream to become a part of the Togolese medical community. Gnoyi failed his high school diploma test. Without his high school diploma he never would have been able to be a part of the medical community. With the help of Hôpital Baptiste Biblique he was able to raise the funds and find the courage to retake the high school diploma test.

“With the added education I will be respected more, and people will have confidence in what I say so I will be able to approach my patients in a way that they will have confidence in what I say and I will be able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they will listen because of their respect and confidence in me. I will do it though humbly and I will give glory to God.”

https://player.vimeo.com/video/178659242

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 3200, ƒ/4, 1/100

Here you can see Waller shooting some footage of her subject leading in church.

We still have openings for the Honduras Multimedia Workshop taking place this October 29th to November 5th. Deadline to apply is August 30, 2016. 


Click here to learn more. Get your money in now to hold your spot.

Freedom From the Fetish – Martouka’s Story

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 5600, ƒ/8, 1/100

Storytellers Abroad participant Hannah Teramura works with the voice over for her video.

Teramura tells the story of Martouka. After years of growing up in fetish worship, Martouka Anani fell deathly sick and remembered the gospel he had heard as a child. Even though his parents disowned him from walking away from the fetish religion, he pursued Jesus and devoted his life to sharing the good news with others.

Now he is a pastor of a thriving church and a teacher at the Bible Institute, training up other pastors to step into teaching roles to transform Togo for Jesus. This is his story – please watch and consider support the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism’s mission to impact more lives and expand the multiplication of churches in Togo, West Africa.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/178931705
Here is Hannah on the far right enjoy some fun with some of the other workshop participants.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 160, ƒ/8, 1/100

We still have openings for the Honduras Multimedia Workshop taking place this October 29th to November 5th. Deadline to apply is August 30, 2016. 

Click here to learn more. Get your money in now to hold your spot.


Because of God’s Love – Djamila’s Story

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/1250

Storyteller’s Abroad participant Kathryn Shoaf tells the story about a young woman named Djamila. She is the daughter of an Islamic soldier, but found herself torn between two opposing worlds – the familiar traditions of Islam and the unknown Christian faith that her mother had claimed. With guidance from two ABWE teachers, she discovered the life changing love of Christ.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/178932566
Kathryn was stretched during her time in Togo. She was learning how to use visuals when there are no visuals when someone talks about something that happens in the past. She also learned more about how to sequence the story to keep you more on the edge of your seat.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1600, ƒ/8, 1/100

Before the class all went their separate ways to interview their subjects we did a practice interview where they saw what it will be like interviewing someone in French wth a translator helping. Kathryn has the headphones on in this photo.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 160, ƒ/8, 1/100

While we work hard while in Togo, West Africa you can see we also had fun as a group.

We still have openings for the Honduras Multimedia Workshop taking place this October 29th to November 5th. Deadline to apply is August 30, 2016. Click here to learn more. Get your money in now to hold your spot.

Trials in Togo

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 800, ƒ/4, 1/4000

All the girls jumped into the back of the pickup to ride into the village. On the far left front is Liz Ortiz. This was Liz’s second trip with Storytellers Abroad Missions Multimedia Workshop. She first joined us in Romania.

Liz did a story on Gaglo who was there when the missionaries first came to Togo. He helped build the hospital and has seen first hand how the hospital has made an impact on the Togolese. Over 32 churches have been planted because of the hospital. Gaglo not only works as a physician assistant, but is also a pastor for one of the church plants.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/178933495
We still have openings for the Honduras Multimedia Workshop taking place this October 29th to November 5th. Deadline to apply is August 30, 2016. Click here to learn more.