Eric Seals documents missing person cases in “Gone Missing in Detroit”
Eric Seals, videographer at Detroit Free Press, sent along a link to a recent project he completed titled “Gone Missing in Detroit.” For two weeks he rode along with police, interviewed families of missing loved ones, and documented a recently solved case. According to Eric, this topic is a big issue in Detroit, with approximately 1,600 people going missing every year. I think Eric did an excellent job with this story by weaving an unsolved case with one that was recently resolved so the viewer can see the desperation of unanswered questions along with the pain of knowing the truth. I want you to watch this video and let me know what you think about his use of narration – was it needed to tie everything together or was it a distraction from the story?
I always have a hard time deciding when to use narration in a story. In the past, I normally revert to narration if I didn’t get substantial sound bytes from the interviewees to make a coherent script. So, does this mean that narration is the lazy way to make it work? Of course you can’t go back to your subject and ask him/her to say the perfect transition. But then again, do we need to use a voice-over to provide that transition?
In this case, I think some of the narration wasn’t crucial to the story, such as the voice-over at 30 seconds telling the viewer the date the man’s father went missing. Moreover, the nut graph at 45 seconds giving perspective might have been stronger coming from the police officer. On the other hand, the voice-over at 3 minutes helped bridge the story from the unsolved case to the solved one.
I’m obviously on the fence regarding voice-overs. I know many people feel the same way about text slides, where many think it is the lazy way of going about things while others think it is the perfect opportunity to provide unemotional context to the story. I think the same is true in regards to voice-overs … so what do you think?
On another note, I really love the angles used to shoot the car scenes as well as the desolate footage of the area, which provided excellent scene setters. Thanks for bringing this piece to my attention, Eric!
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Tags: Detroit Free Press, Eric Seals, missing person case, police, videography, voice-over