12 July 2007

Sound Advice for Visual Storytellers

Television editors asked to provide feedback on the audio slideshows produced by news organizations highlighted pacing as one of the key areas for improvement, according to a recent report from PoynterOnline.

Award-winning NBC News editor John Hyjek said the slideshows often were too slowly paced. He says he uses his ‘Rule of Waldo,’ named for the comic in which Waldo is a figure hidden in a visually busy illustration. ‘What happens when you find Waldo? You turn the page, of course. You move on to the next illustration. In the same vein in video editing, the moment you glean the important information, it's time to move on to the next shot,’ Hyjek said.

Other issues identified by the video professionals were overuse of transitional special effects such as dissolves, fades and zooms; and excessive reliance on an interview or narrator rather than on environmental sound.

`The importance of sound is to bring the viewer a much more intimate sense of reality, to take the viewer where we went,’ said Jim Douglas, a former national photographer of the year. His recommendation: `Listen, listen and listen some more. Close your eyes and hold your breath and hear.’

More tips, reactions and advice are available from the PoyterOnline site at www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=101&aid=125795

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