#AskMediaStorm Answers Round 1: NGOs, Building Story Arc, and Don’t Forget the Room Tone!

This is the first in an ongoing series of question and answers with the MediaStorm staff. To ask a question for the next roundup use the twitter hashtag #AskMediaStorm or use the comment section below. We can’t promise we’ll answer every question (hey, we’ve got films to produce!). But if your question wasn’t answered this round there’s a chance you’ll be included next time. Stay tuned. 

This week’s questions are answered by Eric Maierson and Tim McLaughlin.

Working with NGOs: Do you have your own people looking for characters, or do you trust the local NGO staff? #AskMediaStorm –@tatublomqvist

Eric: It’s actually a bit of both. Sometimes organizations are very specific about who they’d like us to interview and sometimes they know the story they’d like to tell but don’t have a specific person in mind. In the latter case, our Director of Photography Rick Gershon will talk with people in the community and then decide who best embraces the NGO’s goals. It’s important to remain flexible and open when making these decisions.

Tim: I’ll add that Rick often interviews dozens of potential subjects before choosing someone. These short “pre-interviews” give him a greater sense of who might best represent the story of the NGO, or more importantly, who has the best story to tell.

Using (or not using) panning/zooming on stills: When, why and how much? – @colinelphick

Eric: The writer Elmore Leonard once wrote in regards to exclamation points, “Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.”

I think of pans and zooms similarly. Two or three times per piece is plenty, generally speaking.

Tim: I wholeheartedly agree with Eric on this. But that being said, when I do use these techniques, I use them for a reason. If I zoom in on an image, it’s often because I want the viewer to both listen to what’s being said in the interview (not changing visuals allows the viewer more opportunity to listen to the narrative), or I want them to spend time with a specific image. Panning, for me, is used to slowly reveal new information visually, or to continue the flow of a visual sequence. If, for instance, the camera is moving from left to right in the preceding video clip, I might use a pan moving from left to right in the next shot to continue the visual flow. This isn’t a rule (there aren’t any rules really), but it’s something I do from time to time.

What is the most important thing to remember when editing a multimedia? – @TorsteinBoe 


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Read more about the article Data, Dollars And Love: How MediaStorm Measures the Impact of Our Films
Attendees of Neighborhood Centers' "H-Town Stories" premiere interact with displays. Photo Credit: Neighborhood Centers Inc.

Data, Dollars And Love: How MediaStorm Measures the Impact of Our Films

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Today’s post is from Samia Khan, MediaStorm’s Director of Partnership Development. 

One of the questions I am often asked is “what is the impact of MediaStorm’s films?” It’s a reasonable question. After all, we ask clients to invest their time and resources into a project that simply unfolds. We ask our clients to trust us and to understand that no matter what happens, we’ll deliver a product that tells their story like none other. It’s a lot to ask. We get that. So we’ve made a commitment to measure impact, to develop metrics that help us answer that fundamental question – “why should I invest my limited resources in a MediaStorm production?”

In the coming weeks, you’ll see the results section of our most recent project, H-Town Stories for Neighborhood Centers Inc., packed with data. We’ll tell you how many people attended the film premiere on September 18th; how many people were moved to sign up as volunteers as a result of the film; whether any dollars were raised. We know we live in a world obsessed with numbers so we’ll jump on that bandwagon too.

But what I won’t be able to describe is the sense of connection, empathy, and love that took place at Sundance Cinema on September 18th. I won’t be able to accurately describe how moved everyone was by the stories they saw, and how inspired they were by the families portrayed in the films.

Attendees of Neighborhood Centers’ H-Town Stories premiere interact with displays. Photo credit: Neighborhood Centers Inc.


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Read more about the article #AskMediaStorm: Our Producers At Your Service
Eric and Tim. Photo by Shameel Arafin.

#AskMediaStorm: Our Producers At Your Service

Have a burning question about storytelling? Is Premiere Pro driving you crazy? MediaStorm Producers Eric Maierson and Tim McLaughlin are ready to answer your questions for their next blog post. You may know Eric from his rants on multimedia or his countless Premiere Pro tutorials here on our blog. Tim’s pretty amazing, as well. Between the two of them, they’ve logged a decade at MediaStorm, produced dozens of projects, and launched our new Editing Workflow Workshop. So we’re fairly certain they know what they’re talking about. Tweet your questions to @MediaStorm with the hashtag #AskMediaStorm, leave us a note on Facebook, or in the comment section below. We’ll pick the best questions for a special crowd-sourced blog post from Eric and Tim.

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Join MediaStorm at PhotoExpo for Motion & Multimedia Workshops

The PDN PhotoPlus Conference and Expo hits New York City October 23rd – 26th, 2013. Attendees will have infinite access to emerging technology and over 90 seminars by the world’s foremost experts on trends and techniques in photography, video, post-production and business development. Join MediaStorm’s own Brian Storm for two workshops focused on the future of storytelling.

Registration for the conference is now open. Pricing and hotel information is available on the PhotoPlus Expo website.


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Time Lapse: The Making of Darkness Visible Afghanistan

In 2011, along with Leandro Badalotti and Brian Storm, I produced Seamus Murphy’s A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan. It remains the largest, most complex project I’ve ever tackled. Seamus began work in Afghanistan in 1994. By 2010, he had made 14 trips to the country, producing more than 35,000 images and recording 25-plus hours of video interviews. Leandro and I spent the better part of 4 months organizing the vast amount of material. To document our editing progress, I wrote a Python script that generated a jpeg screen grab every five minutes. The result is a time lapse that begins on June 6 and ends November 8, 111 weekdays later. There are approximately 4,300 images in total: one frame for every five minutes of work. You’ll see the entire project take shape, from radio cuts to final output. And if you’d like to learn more about our editing methodology, please join Tim McLaughlin…

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