Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Academic Analysis Assignment

I watched a few different videos from the One in 8 Million series by the Times and from Mediastorm, and I've picked two to look at for my assignment this week. First, a short audio slideshow in the 'One in 8 Million' series about a private detective, and second, a long piece with all still pictures about junkies living in New York City by Mediastorm. I thought it would be helpful to pick two because there's a big difference between telling a story in three minutes (the detective piece) and telling one in 13 (the junkies story).

The two stories give you a quick sense of where you are. The private investigator is in his car in New York, which you can see through pictures and through his audio interview, and the junkies story has text slides that guide you through without any confusion. With no time crunch, Mediastorm can be more explicit about the location and the five Ws of journalism through text if need be, while the 'One in 8 Million' series has a tougher challenge of doing it through imagery while still telling the story.

The difference between black and white photographs and color photographs in the two pieces (the Times story was all B&W and the Mediastorm was mostly color) is interesting because the private investigator story is almost secretive in itself, so the black and white works well. But with the junkies, you want to see what their skin looks like, what they're wearing and that their teeth are yellowing and gross. The color makes the images much more realistic and jarring, but the black and white photographs draw you in with a sense of mystery.

The photos in the detective story are also very close to the person. The majority of them are taken inside his car, so the entire time you feel as though you're riding with him and listening to him tell you all these things about his job. It's very interesting and intriguing and the story is over before you know it. I learned a lot about private investigators just through watching that three-minute segment, and it sounds to me like they aren't all that different from the guys who play them in movies. It's just an odd job.

Meanwhile, in the junkies story, the photographs are often graphic or hard to look at. Whether it's a collection of scars from needles or the emotion on the subject's face, the pictures in the junkies story are stomach churning. You can definitely see the three full years of hard work that this journalist put in to make this story. It really makes you wonder how she earned the trust of these junkies because they are portrayed as anything but saints in this project.

The two multimedia projects are linked in that they use still photographs to convey a strong message and tell the story of another human being. The photographic talent is clearly present because even in a setting where you are handed emotion, it's not always easy to capture it, and the audio is well edited so that nothing jumps out at you or rubs you the wrong way. It's all cut down to an easy flow, so that the viewers lose themselves in the story.

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