Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Power of VO Narrative

KobreGuide is blessed this week with not one but two terrific video stories from Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader, both produced by the team of David Stephenson and Amy Wilson:
Turtle Man and Despite Rocky Start, He's a Fighter .

What these stories share is a potent combination of clever shooting and writing. Often the pursuit of quality writing is overlooked in video stories. In these two cases, it's a pleasure to hear the writer's Southern-twanged folksy voiceover, and in fact a big part of the stories' entertainment factor is that you feel like you're listening to an engaging campfire tale.

That said, if you only heard the narration, you'd be missing out on the compelling visuals, and especially how they deftly augment the spoken words without being redundant.

The lesson here is that, in this age of "one-man-band" videojournalism, writers should not be expected to shoot great video, and videographers should not be expected to deliver pro-quality VO narrative. True, some videographers have that extra gift, but when we look at the credits on KobreGuide, we usually find that even the best shot stories benefit from having a dedicated writer aboard the project.

Now, writing for the page and writing for the ear (and correlating words to visuals) involve separate sets of skills -- but that's another story for another time...

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