institute for documentary studies

{Week 10: Multimedia}

Week 10: Multimedia

At some point in the past few weeks, I realized I am no longer skimming the surface of multimedia—I am fully submerged. Our video profiles are due this week, our final projects are due in four. When I’m not in class, I’m conducting interviews, taking photos, shooting video, editing audio, and pondering the “story” in my story. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, like stepping into a raging river. Other times it’s disorienting, like when I look away from Final Cut and the real world is fuzzy, as if I’ve emerged from a pool with chlorine-clouded eyes.

The real world was especially fuzzy this week because I spent a lot of time editing my video profile in Final Cut. As with any medium, editing multimedia is a slow and tedious process. For hours, I slid clips of audio back and forth in the timeline, trying to create a concise and meaningful story. Then I added the B-roll (clips of video that play under the audio). After each edit, I scrolled to the beginning of the story and played it through, looking and listening for tiny flaws. I watched the minute-long clip again and again and again, until the words sounded wrong and the video looked stupid and the story seemed irrelevant. When this happened, I turned off my computer, hung up my headphones, and went outside. It’s important to recognize when submersion becomes drowning.

We ended class this week by watching “War Photographer,” a documentary on the career of James Nachtway. It’s such a powerful film that there wasn’t much to say when it ended. For me, the movie broke the spell of editing, of thinking the world is contained in my video profile or final project or writing assignment. There is importance in these pieces and in doing them well, but there is greater importance in stepping back. As one of my subjects recently said, there is value in looking at the entire watershed instead of focusing on a single river.

- alison, writing