Sunday, October 19, 2008

A beginning video lesson

Friday I learned lessons myself as I introduced video production to social studies classes.

The task was to make a video designed to reach out to students wondering which high school to choose. Cmhs needs a new recruitment video and we are in a good position to help.

My plan is simple. Show super-quick head shots of a ton of first-years saying simply "Magnet." The message is intended to be somewhat subliminal.

Here are the mistakes I made:

a) Posing students in front of the projection screen with the projector on looked interesting at the time but diminished the lighting and clarity of the faces in the video. All of that footage will be re-shot.
b) Not taking more time to teach students their role in the video. I need to get everyone to understand -
- The camera does not instantly capture video when the On button is pressed. Students need to be aware they will be expected to wait a moment before the videocam begins to get their image. The classic video cue is a hand that points at the subject when it's time to speak.
- Moving off camera immediately after having said one's line looks unappealing. You must Stay In Place after having said your line. The camera does not immediately shut off - it takes about 1.5 seconds to stop. Moving off camera while the video is still rolling makes you look clueless. It may take a while, but you must learn the basics of video production.
c) Lighting must be strong on faces with skin tones that are not fair. Be aware: lighting is one of the essentials in photography.
d) Audio is one of the trickiest parts of video. If the camera isn't close enough to the subject, the spoken words will be indistinct. To get effective audio, get the camera as close to the speaker's face as possible.

Final lesson for today:
- "Can't you edit that part?" Since I've been shooting and editing for years I can tell you that editing is a time-consuming and tedious business. It is smarter to get it right in the filming - re-shoot it - than it is to edit the errors.

Thus we will shoot this video again on Monday. It won't take long. But you will have learned the appropriate lessons.

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