Posted on July 11, 2007
Compare storytelling styles: Audio vs. video
Ben Shapiro has some serious chops: His film and video work has been shown on PBS, the Sundance Channel and the National Geographic Channel, as well as at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has three Emmys and an AFI documentary prize. He wrote a very helpful essay about storytelling, and how to get your images and your audio working happily together.
In the essay (at the invaluable Transom.org site), Shapiro links to two examples of the same story. One version was made into a long audio package for National Public Radio. If you listen to it, you’ll recognize NPR’s typical story style. It doesn’t work so well for me in this case, because I don’t care much about basketball — let alone a bunch of old guys who played for the Knicks 50 years ago. However, Shapiro recommends that we listen first to the radio story and only afterward watch the video version of the same story.
I think he’s right — I could not have sat through the radio story if I had already seen the video.
After following his instructions — wow, do I have a lot to think about now! Because the video story is the same story (and I’m still not all that interested in the old ex-basketball players), but it sure is about 100 times more effective as video!
I think I can use this in teaching, and one thing I’m thinking about specifically is the way the telegram is handled. There’s a telegram that is described by the reporter in the radio story. Of course, in the video story, you get to see the actual telegram. But in the video, there’s also a guy talking about about salaries — an interview subject. That bit of the interview is not used in the radio story. Right there in 30 seconds is a compact little lesson that I can show in class and get the students to talk about. It’s a fine illustration of the way we need to make decisions based on the story AND the medium.