Your Feedback Requested - Simulated Weapon Video

RNLVideo wrote on 3/29/2005, 4:43 AM
Good morning..! I'm working on a video for a company that is marketing a new "simulated training weapon" for law enforcement in the U.S. I'd be interested in hearing your construcitve criticism - I'm feeling a bit of a creative block, so feel free to toss out alternative approaches or techniques. I'm seeing lots of little things that bug me.... not sure if I'm just too close to it or if I'm missing the obvious.

Content is police / military training oriented (SWAT gear, assault rifles, etc). If there is any chance that you may be offended by viewing these types of images, please do not open the link!

All of the editing was done in Vegas; I had a little trouble with the chroma keying despite the tutorial that DSE posted recently. The video was shot with a VX-2000 and there are a few digital stills. The video is going to be shown at trade shows / conventions; there are several more segments that I'm still working on.

Thanks for the feedback....!



Jimmy_W wrote on 3/29/2005, 5:24 AM
I liked it Rick, I think it had a very good look overall. As far as creative approach less is more
seems to work with this piece. Maybe adding a little energy with some background music.
The only thing that bugged me was the v\o. To me the voice talent doesn't seem to fit this piece.
Other than that I think its great. Hope to see more of your work.

RNLVideo wrote on 3/29/2005, 5:31 AM
Great input - thanks!

The VO is one of the things bugging me too. I thought perhaps it was a pacing issue - but maybe there is more to it.

I should have added to my original post that the piece that will run after this will be much higher energy - faster dramatic music (but still "dark" - think chase scene) with quick edits of the training in action (SWAT team sdoing there thing, etc..)
Jimmy_W wrote on 3/29/2005, 5:41 AM
There ya go! As far as the voice over goes he doesn't sound natural. What I trying to say is that
he seems to be talking deeper than he actually can if that makes sense. This would be a awesome piece to work on. Lots of cool stuff.
RNLVideo wrote on 3/29/2005, 5:46 AM
Yes - I changed the pitch and added reverb trying to get that "dark" feel. Perhaps the reverb alone would do it more justice (and speed the pace slightly at the same time).
Jimmy_W wrote on 3/29/2005, 5:50 AM
You need Darth Vader ;)

Dan Sherman wrote on 3/29/2005, 6:28 AM
Hi Rick,

Did you do your own VO and script?
If so don't take this personally,---but it may be a tad overboard on the bass and the echo.
I think you're trying to get a tech sound.
But this may sound a bit too robotish.
The read needs some more colour and character for people to listen and connect. More human warmth.
If it's in the budget,---hire a professional announcer. One who has the skill to communicate one-to-one.
If he is,---my aplogies,---could be the processing.

A great read will add the polish you need to match the great looking video and editing.

A few things that got my attention in script,---purely subjective.
Guns are a lot of things,---"new dawn",---I don't think so.
"Force unforced training",----huh?
Projectiles is pronounced pro-JECT-tiles,---like ceramic "tiles".
"Meticulously manufactured>"---another way

Some fine-tuning with the script and VO will kick this up a big notch.
Again video and editing rocks hugely!
Just one guy's opinion.
Hope this helps,---Rick,---would like to see a re-worked version.

Kind Regards,

BillyBoy wrote on 3/29/2005, 6:35 AM
I agree with Jimmy, the VO is wrong. Get rid of the reverb or at least cut it back. I can't put my finger on it, which maybe is why it bothers me, seems like intended or not there is a subliminal message, the way it sounds makes me feel uneasy, like I want to look over my shoulder. Reminds me of the movies 1984 and peripherally Fahrenheit 451, a little too big brother...ish for my tastes.

Video portion seems good, if anything a little slow paced. The one thing that bothers me about the video is the guy in the black shirt never looks directly into the camera. The message there is also a little off, body language doesn't seem right. So combined with the wrong voice over it seems a bit evasive, kind of gives me the creeps. All that said, if the target is SWAT and other gung-ho types maybe it works.

boomhower wrote on 3/29/2005, 8:24 AM

You are getting into my word here! My background is in this arena.

Overall, I liked it....I think when you add the music and show the teams training it will really bring it up a notch.

I'll echo what others have said in that the VO is a bit off. Just find a solid voice w/o the effects and work the pacing out.

My personal experience (as it applies to this particular niche) has been use the VO for general info about the product ("best thing since pocket on a shirt") and then have the talking head (Joe Tac) tell the viewer why and apply it to real world situations. I like the fact you have an apparent tactical guy talking between clips. For this target audience, credibility is everything and having someone (especially someone who has been there so to speak) talk on camera about the virtues of the product makes a big difference. You may even want to put a lower third under the guy speaking and put something about his background - ie. Joe Tac, former LAPD SWAT etc....whatever his particular credentials happen to be. Will make a difference to the viewer.

I'd be happy to talk with you off forum about this (the LE end of things) if you want. Drop me a line at kkeithb at gmail dot com.

PierreB wrote on 3/29/2005, 12:54 PM
Great stuff.

Agree with the others about the voice, especially Jimmy's point that he's "talking deeper than he actually can"... that's damaging in this case because I think it transfers to the product (i.e., the product's not really that good just like the voice isn't really that deep/manly).

My 2 cents, thanks for sharing.

RNLVideo wrote on 3/29/2005, 3:59 PM
Thanks, everyone for the candid feedback (and if you haven't yet commented, please do!)!

Overwhelmingly, the VO / script is where the most work is needed. I felt that one coming in, so your comments have helped me define how to go about fixing it. Yes, the VO was me (no worries - I'm thick skinned....!). I did a rough read for the client that I think flowed much better. He wanted to go with it, but since I was doing it rough I wasn't as concerned with quality (mistake) and it had obvious background noise in it. So, even though the read was better, I only used that take as a proxy until I did it over. This one was mic'd better, but obviously didn't hit the mark (annunciation, pace, credibility, etc). Lesson learned - I'm going to go outside with this one....

I'm a little surprised that nobody was concerned with the keying. It's really my first serious attempt at using chroma keying in an actual project (I've used it, but never when it counts! It's a different game when you're in front of the client and have to get it right!). I tried to keep the perspective right by panning the background images with the camera motion, but wasn't sure it looked convincing. On top of that, I had some blue halo that I had problems with - fortunately I think the particle illusion smoke helped divert attention from it. I'm going to burn it off to DVD before going much further to make sure it works.

This group is awesome - thanks again for your comments!

VOGuy wrote on 3/29/2005, 6:12 PM
Hi Rick.

Funny, I thought your v/o was pretty good! I've heard far worse on a good number of corporate projects. The thing to remember, is that with audio communication, you want to get the listeners to relax- to break down their natural resistance to recorded messages. For me, that's the real challenge in voiceover - to just sound like a human being -- it ain't easy -- especially when you're reading someone else's words.

While heavy stylization can work well for video, audio is just the opposite - we tend to get suspicious of any sound that isn't "real". At the same time, the "tone" of a message is something that should be considered. The only time I would consider a "dark" narration tone, is if I'm trying to get someone to be scared.

Now, the question for you is: "If I pay all this money, just for someone to talk, will it solve my problem?" Best way to get an answer is with an audition. You send a potential talent a portion of your script, along with whatever direction you think is important, and they send back a snippett. You then can evaluate for yourself, or your client can decide.

As far as I'm concerned, either I'm right for a project or I'm not. If, In the producer's opinion, I'm not right, (I can't help it if a producer has no taste) no problem, he can locate someone else, and I can continue looking for my next gig. No voiceover guy is perfect for everything.

Good work (even the v/o) !

Travis Voice-Over / Narration Services
Yoyodyne wrote on 3/29/2005, 7:04 PM
I didn't even notice the keys until you pointed them out - nice job! I think your smoke emiter is going a little overboard at shot 00:01:30;07 but the smoke sure adds a nice touch of drama. Of course it's tough to really judge chroma key from a web compressed file but the motion and backgrounds sure look good.

p.s. Isn't that an H&K PSG1 behind your speaker?
RNLVideo wrote on 3/29/2005, 7:16 PM
Thanks, Yoyodyne...! I'll take another look at the smoke (moving the emitter may help, but I need the smoke to help cover the key!).

I think you're right on the H&K, but I haven't kept up with the latest in weapons (but I do know an M-16 and an AK-47 when I see them!).
PumiceT wrote on 3/30/2005, 8:00 AM
"force unforced"

I think he said "force-on-force."

He doesn't enunciate his words clearly enough. It seems unnatural when you're doing it, but when doing voiceover, you should be smiling, and pronouncing every letter.

It sounds like: "Systema inginneereen prezense."

You probably don't notice it when you hear professional voiceovers, but if you listen carefully, you'll hear the over-pronunciation to a degree - but it's neccessary in order to be understood the first time.

The announcer also seems to be losing energy at the end of each voiceover section. Compression may help minimize the effect, and boost the quiet spots.

And I also agree with whomever said that it sounds like he's reading. There's no inflection whatsoever. It sounds like he's trying to sound like a pro, but instead would sound more professional by simply enunciating clearly, and speaking in normal inflection. Pitch shift is fine, as long as he wasn't already trying to sound deeper. Natural + pitch shift sounds more normal.
Jimmy_W wrote on 3/30/2005, 8:42 AM
As travis said " No voiceover guy is perfect for everything." I use 5 or 6 different voice talents
they all bring something different to the table. I have done it myself on some projects and believe me I hate the way I sound but sometimes it just works. I'm from the southeast and If was doing a piece on Bluegrass music in the smokeys I wouldn't call Travis (because he sounds to edgamacated) I would more than likely do it myself. Because I don't think Travis could convince me that he's from the south. In short get the right voice for the job. Hope we get to see the finished work.