institute for documentary studies

{Week 4: Multimedia}

Week 4: Multimedia


In honor of the new skills we are learning in class, I set out to make a multimedia piece for my blog post. Despite efforts to the contrary, what I created is best described as an homage to this week’s take-away message: sometimes you have to create not-so-good work before creating great work. There are no two ways around the fact that what I made is not so good (which is to say it’s bad). Writing an introduction to what should be just an audio/visual piece gets to the crux of my dilemma with multimedia: it’s not writing.

The thing about writing is that you make it up. Not the content of course, but the words. With the exception of direct quotes and facts, writers have the entire English lexicon at their disposal when creating a piece. While I sometimes find this freedom daunting, I know that all of the words are out there, somewhere. In the realm of multimedia, familiarity with the flexibility of writing is debilitating, particularly when it comes to gathering audio.

You can’t make up audio. Week four taught me that there are no multimedia equivalents for ellipses or quotation marks: you either record the subject saying what you need or you don’t. If you fail to get the precise quote on tape then your story suffers, or never becomes a story. I approach audio gathering like the characters in “The Tortoise and the Hare.” I dart in with rapid-fire questions, never waiting long enough for a deep and meaningful response, or I allow the subject to talk about anything and everything while my recorder runs out of battery power. Unlike in the children’s fable, neither technique has gotten me ahead. Audio is one of the weak links in my multimedia work. Photography is the other. But, I hear that not trying is worse than failing, so I present this brief semblance of multimedia about multimedia.

- Alison, writing