How do you know when VO will add to the story?

Zak J. asked: How do you know when VO will add to the story?

VO really helps when you want to bring in a lot of information in a short amount of time. It allows you to summarize background information, and be much more succinct, than your character often can.

You may not have seen it depending on which Muse course you're in, but another good example of the benefits of VO is in our film The Elephant Whisperer. In this case, not only does the VO summarize her background succinctly without taking up too much time, but it also was really beneficial for us in this case because of the language barrier. Sometimes interviewing in a character's native language might not be the best option when so much can get lost in translation. In this case, a VO can help to clearly articulate that character's journey.

And finally, VO may be needed when you have disparate characters that you need to thread together. I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to borrow from one of Patrick's responses to a Muser from the original pilot round as he gives a great example here. In A Game of Honor, the first documentary we DP'd for Showtime and CBS, you'll see a whole bunch of characters that don't know each other. You can use a VO to bring those people together. We likewise have Jewel on board for our most recent documentary about public housing, and she plays an essential role in helping us tie together characters across the US who don't know each other.