Final assignment

3 06 2011

This is my final project from my MCDM Storytelling Narrative course. The project involved working with a client while focusing on one person’s narrative to reveal the issues which surround that subject.

During the course of this class, I learned how to trust my own abilities. I learned not only technical skills, such as how to use and care for the equipment (check for all batteries including the microphone!), how to frame and capture great sound (use the Edirol for backup audio) but it also introduced me to Premiere professional editing software. I found my  experience as a dental hygienist served me well since interviewing people on camera can be a bit uneasy for some folks; using non-verbal techniques to relax people can really aid in comforting and capturing a natural shoot. Capturing  good interviews is not only technical in terms of use of equipment, but psychological since you have to subconsciously relax the subjects during the interview process while setting up the cameras, checking for room tone, adjusting audio.

Multi-tasking and the ability to be flexible  is another must when creating a narrative video as you will piece together several interviews and B-rolls in a shifting landscape as some interviews are stronger than others. The creation process is stimulating and challenging but for me the real take away was the gift of getting to know my interviewees well. The simple joy of listening to people and picking up the essence of what they are saying is really fun and Zen by capturing the moment.

What goes behind the scene in a video and what gets lost on the digital editing floor is another story in itself. Although a bit heart breaking to edit with brevity as your guide, a reminder that nobody (not even your own mother!) wants to watch a 10 minute interview of a guy in a dimly lit grain cargo galley with bad acoustics.

I hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed the process of creating it. My desire is to have this content bring more visibility and greater understanding to seafarers around the world. They deserve respect and recognition for making great sacrifices and take risks in the high seas and dealing with issues such as piracy. Join me in celebration June 25th the International Maritime Organization (IMO) “Day of the Seafarer”.  Consider visiting and perhaps donating your time at a local Seafarers’ Center. As Ken Hawkins, Executive Director said, “It’s a lot like being in the Peace Corps but where the people come to you!”.

Telling a story using 5 images

27 04 2011


Minute paper- Narration: a gentle guide into another world

20 04 2011

What improves news ‘stickiness’?  Perhaps its the story and personalization of the content developer, the narrative voice which grabs the listener by the hand and gentle leads them into something new. The ‘new’ can be the telling of a new environment or a situation, but its the point of familiarity which grounds the listener to greater acceptance that the story can involve you, the listener. Having a point of commonality builds empathy, which can be manipulated (so we should be aware when we’re consuming or creating  content).

The three part NPR series of Somalia and the struggle against piracy has helped me understand the situation from different perspectives.

How does NPR make me care?

I follow international and U.S. maritime news which covers the basics of piracy; Never going into further details of Somalian government, the people and politics, it’s hard to understand the problems or have much sympathy for those involved. “Somaliland Struggles In Effort to Fight Piracy’ the first NPR three part series sets the tone and overview of the landscape; It answers the 5 W questions: who,what,where, when and why. “Catching Pirates With A Kind Of Neighborhood Watch”, the second part of the series discusses what some citizens of Somaliland are trying to do and how Somalia is divided into three different parts. “Inside The Pirate Business: From Booty to Bonuses” , the last of the series examines why they would do it. Fighting  piracy when there is no anti-piracy law, not many boats and one prison near the coast (built in 1880’s) with poor conditions it is hard to imagine what the struggling government is going to do, besides getting UN help.

In the podcast, it would have been nice to hear the interviewers voices in their native tongue with a translator overdub. Now that we are starting to video record our surroundings I’m more aware of ambient and environmental sounds. For example, in the part they talk about the engine not working, they could have got a sound of an outboard (but I don’t yet understand the difference of storytelling and journalism, perhaps it isn’t right to reproduce sounds?).  The leading image on the first post is attention grabbing showing the overcrowded jail conditions perhaps to garner sympathy, but as the story progresses into the final reveal, the story ends with the pirates manipulating the media by casting a sympathetic tale of  ‘Robin Hood’ and their fishing rights.

Recently I went on board a cargo grain ship at terminal 86 and met an all Philippine crew that just arrived from Tokyo, heading out to China the next day. These men worked hard but they were polite and surprising kind considering the life conditions on board these types of ships.  I was also surprised that the large cargo vessels, such as this one, had only 21 men manning the vessel this size; Apparently, this is not unusual. How do these men maintain the engines, tanks, refrigeration and also stand watch? Sometimes these ships have even less men on board which boggles my mind and you have to wonder why these shipping companies are sacrificing their safety.

  In 2010 there were more than 1,000 captive seafarers and the stories continue to escalate. 2011 piracy has hit an all time high recently with 142 attacks worldwide according to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) global piracy report.

This is from the ICC Commercial Crime Services website. This site lists all 'live' pirate activity.

Before listening to the NPR series I didn’t understand the issues of Somalia, but now that I’ve actually met and video recorded these men, I feel attachment wanting them to safe as they risk their lives just to send money back to their families that they’ve left behind. This crew who can be the victims of the next piracy act and because I’ve heard these NPR stories it brings the realism and danger. How tight knit we are to our global neighbors and this growing international issue which continues to be unresolved.

The crew on board the Danann Island grain cargo worship on the ship because they lack the visas which would allow them to disembark the vessel. Since 9/11, the U.S. security is tightly monitored and the human rights of the seafarer are often neglected.

Scene-setter assignment: A new location

6 04 2011

I’ve been to Florida many times with visits twice a year but seldom venturing far from the usual boat show paths; Miami, Fort Lauderdale, then afterward a short trip to Orlando has grown overly familiar and sterile. I’ve become weary of all the mega-strip malls, Hard Rock Cafes and national brand stores which you can find pretty much anywhere around the world. Florida, at least to me, has become a flat wasteland, but I was pleasantly surprised this time when we visited St. Augustine, south of Jacksonville and north of where we were staying in Orlando.

Coquina is basically limestone made out of compressed shells

St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest city where there is a section of well preserved downtown cobblestone streets with tightly packed buildings exposing their Spanish colonial history. The quaint courtyards and high fences made of coquina would reveal an earthiness, a sense of place always reminding us that we were near the ocean. How formidable this material was and what were these hard outcroppings, just seashells! The same material was used for the Castillo de San Marcos to create thick impenetrable walls to resist cannonball fire. Touch the shells you can almost imagine someone having to chip away and stack them as a new vertical reef for the Spanish colonists. The early Spanish settlers were powerful and wealthy judging from all the beautiful and remaining architecture but the use of shells made me think of one thing, they must have eaten a lot of paella!

360 degree advantage point from this special look out, great for snipping.

Castillo de San Marcos is now a national park where the rangers re-enact a typical firing  of a cannon. The cannons were thick, bronze and elegantly ornate, once again showing that the Spanish had good (if not expensive!) taste. The cannons up on the fort were easily visible as sailing ships below must have felt intimidated entering into this water inlet. Strategically placed so it seems, any vessel that enters would not only lose some wind but if they wished to escape they would have to tack as quickly as possible and risk their mast from being shot down by the heavy cannon fire from above. The ceremonial procession of firing the cannons seem to be performed intentionally slow, perhaps to intimidate their intruders. These thick shell walls were also soft enough to absorb a cannonball impact and not collapse. Living, once breathing natural material, these walls were impenetrable.

18th century Spanish graffiti, still no one knows what it says.

Inside, the walls of the fort seemed to come alive with writing and drawing of tall ships with near precise accuracy. Letters on the wall spelled out words trying to communicate something which adds to this living history. It is hot and humid outside, but inside this cocoon, it is cool and dark. This is not a room for prisoners, this is where all the soldiers would rest and relax over the nice over sized fireplace and share a warm meal. I wonder if these soldiers were thinking of their families back home in Spain. Were they happy here in Florida, what could be foreign to them. This is where they would enjoy a big pot of seafood paella filled with mussels and clams and talk story of the struggles, conquest and sailing excursions to the new land.

Quality storytelling that inspires

30 03 2011

Found: Lost Pictures of New York Blizzard “

This simple yet beautiful video touched me in a way that no YouTube video has before. Apparently, as I was researching for this video, many others feel the same as I do. It features Todd Beiber, a young New Yorker who stumbles across a roll of undeveloped film while cross-country skiing  after a blizzard in a Brooklyn park. He decides to take on the adventure of finding the owners of a lost roll of film by developing it and use social media to find them. He whimsically browses through each black and white picture analyzing each photo and subjectively makes assumptions of the photographs and its subjects. It is his thoughts and narrative voice which compel me to continue watching. Not only is his tone soothing, but he’s curious, he’s an adventurer desiring to connect with the world, like myself. Who hasn’t felt the same need, the need to reach out to others, it’s the lost message in a bottle, we yearn for a conclusion and connection.

Here is part two of Beiber’s quest for the film canister owner. He doesn’t find the owner(s), but he expresses appreciation for those who are helping him with his quest.


When trying to locate the first video for this assignment I didn’t realize there was a second and third final video where he finds and meets the owner. Even as an observer I find adventure in his story & I’m drawn into the finale. He meets and stays with a few of the people who have emailed him. It is the journey and the random generosity of strangers which move him to reciprocate the same opportunity to others by leaving a roll of his own vacation photos to be found and returned.

This story isn’t about finding the owner of the lost canister, merely a device to tell the story of how one can break out of daily routines and meet the world.

In this time of social and economic discord I feel hope as the final resolution to Beiber’s journey. What inspires me is humanity and man’s need to connect. Honesty is conveyed through this video via  voice over narrative, but I think the quiet black and whites images have led for open interpretation.


Telemetry blog

17 03 2010

Telemetry Final Presentation

10 03 2010


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