Sights and Sounds

As I move on in my Journalists’ Toolkit class and take more and more photos, I become more and more sensitive about things I’d never paid much attention to. One of them is angles and compositions of each frame in the films and TV programs I watch. Sometimes I, unconsciously, look at a video frame as a still photo. In the frames I like, I examine, very quickly, were the main subject of that frame is situated. I’m amazed to see that most often the rule of thirds applies to these video frames. The frames I like usually have a novel angle or composition. On some of the frames, I wish that for example part of the shot was not in the frame (was cropped?). I have also realized that there is some merit to TV programs that I don’t like at all, at least in terms of visuals and the composition of video frames. For example I never liked CSI Miami because of its unrealistic and sometimes childish stories. But I have recently become interested in the program, just because I like the composition of each frame in this program. Sometimes I think each frame of this program can make a beautiful photo!

The other issue that I have become sensitive about is the sounds in soundslides, films, radio, and TV programs. We had a good practice for the class two weeks ago to listen to and examine the use of sounds in two packages. One of the packages was “The Art of Listening,” a small soundslide that contained some recordings of Jesse Seay, one of the founder of “Your Favorite Chicago Sounds” audio archive. The soundslide has few photos. But what makes it interesting and in fact makes the title of the package relevant in my idea, is that the sounds come before the photos. You first hear the sound of a wolf, then you see photos of the wolfs in a zoo. You first hear the sounds of dolphins in an aquarium, then you see their photos. Each set of sounds put you on that location, without even seeing the photos of the location. This was an important lesson for me to learn how much a good and sharp nat sot can make a story more effective. I didn’t even need to see the photos to get a feeling about the zoo or the aquarium. Some of the frames of the slideshow are simply black, so you can even close your eyes and still feel the environment.

The other package that I had to listen to, which was an NPR program on Studying a Koala Mystery in Eastern Australia had the same effect on me. As Sonia has also mentioned, I had a feeling as if I am there in the jungles of Australia searching for Koalas! There was the sound of birds singing and the echo of their singing, mosquitoes, people walking on the grass (or bushes and leaves?), and even people’s voices with different pitches on the expedition. And the climax of the story for me was the end of it, were we could actually hear the sound of a Koala!

Now after these practices, I sometimes listen to the noises and sounds in my environment, wondering if what I hear can be a good nat sat for a story!


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