I don’t want to let you down

Joe Hertler and The Rainbow Seekers at South By Southwest


AUSTIN, TX – Joe Hertler stood alone on a small coffee house stage with a harmonica strapped around his neck, the Michigan flag draped over his shoulders and an acoustic guitar slung across his body.

In 2009, Hertler was playing solo shows at nearly empty bars for little to no money.

Almost six years later, Hertler and his Lansing-based band, Joe Hertler and The Rainbow Seekers, have a record contract. They have spent the last two months touring the country, fulfilling a dream most local bands only hope to achieve.

Read more on MLive.com.

(This article originally appeared online for MLive.com as SXSW coverage of the band. I’m turning it in for homework.)

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Thought Piece 4: Interviewing, Scripting, Editing

In Chapter 11, all about interviewing, the author gives a pre-interview checklist. This includes things like having a clear reason for the interview and preliminary research into the topic. This carries over into Chapter 12: scripting. The checklist can help you prepare whether you want to make the video into a scripted piece or one without narration. This then flows over into Chapter 13 in editing. If you have a script and a storyboard, then you can easily find clips that you planned out and place them into the areas they belong.

Storyboarding and scripting are more important than a lot of people think. With them, you have more of a solid plan of what you need to shoot. Shooting without a script can be challenging as the book points out. Sometimes plans change, but it’s good to have a solid idea of what you want.

In TIME’s piece about extreme couponing, they use a narrator, something that is more like a TV news story rather than a newspaper piece. This is still an option, though, because he is able to tell the story exactly how he wants it, rather than let the subject control the story’s direction. I think the narration fits better in the TIME piece about Kony. Because there is the language barrier, the narrator can tell the story and add in pieces that support his statements. I do think that his use of the child’s story was extremely powerful as well even though it’s subtitled. You hear him and you hear his tone.

Stanley Heist, author of Chapter 12, is a lecturer at the University of Maryland. He is an award winning photojournalist and has been published in multiple areas.

Thought Piece 3: audio and visual elements

Chapters eight, nine and ten all discuss audio and visual elements of storytelling. All three chapters emphasize that audio is the most important part of the process. If you don’t have good audio, you don’t have a good story. Chapter eight is all about collecting audio and the stories you can tell with it. If you think of everything as a radio show, you can tell your story and then add in the visuals. Chapter nine talks about adding the visuals to the audio and keeping the audio your priority. The visuals push the audio along, but they aren’t the most important part of the story. Chapter ten discusses how to keep the visuals interesting as well. The different angles they use to tell stories are important.

In Chapter ten, the author discusses the “bread and butter” of visuals: the wide shot, the medium shot, the close-up shot, the point-of-view shot and the reaction shot. These shots alone can tell the story better because they have a variety. If each shot is shown for five seconds each, it can be a 25 second audio story, which is plenty. I also found it handy that they gave alternatives for recording devices in Chapter eight.

In Chapter nine, the story “Waiting to Die” by Liz O. Baylen of the Los Angeles Times is incredible because of the combination of audio and visuals. He’s talking about his life and the times he’s had and basically that he’s waiting to die. You see him and his family and his house and how lonely everything is.

As for Soundslides, I understand that it’s a great tool for some people to use, especially those who aren’t familiar with other programs. I, however, would prefer to use something like FinalCut or Premiere because I’m familiar with the tools. The video on Soundslides was very helpful, though. I also appreciate that the program is relatively cheap.

I was impressed to see Liz O. Baylen because she has been a great writer to follow. Her stories have always had a great flow, and “Waiting to Die” is no exception. Her storytelling in this story is very personal and I think she captures his life and death through those photographs and audio very well.

Video Shootout: Hall of Heroes

We had to do a video shootout for class, and our group ended up at the Hall of Heroes. The comic book shop right next to Central Michigan University’s campus hosts game nights frequently, including Heroclix, Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering. Check out the video for more on the store.

Thought Piece 2

In Chapter Five, the book talks about the autofocus capabilities of some lenses. It reads that most professionals prefer to use manual focus. The book teaches that zooming all the way in on the subject, then focusing, then zooming back out is the best way to achieve the correct focus for shots. Lighting is another fascinating subject. Different lighting situations will create different feels for the video.

It was interesting to learn that the focus will stay with the subject even after zooming out when manual focus is applied. This isn’t extremely surprising, though, because it is the same thing for still photos. Seeing a diagram for how a four-point lighting set up works was wonderful.

The how-to video from chapter six about tripods was very useful. It reminds people that when using the telephoto lenses, movement can be amplified on the screen for viewers. The movement can be distracting and annoying. Using a tripod reduces this movement greatly. It helps focus on subjects better without distractions.

Ken Kobre did a fine job of capturing different light types in chapter seven. He wanted to make sure people understood the different types and had great visuals for each kind.