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Six Steps of Video Production for People Who Don’t Do Videos (Part 2)

Six Steps of Video Production for People Who Don’t Do Videos (Part 2)

By Suzanne Grubb

This “Six Steps” guide is posted in two parts. See Part 1 in the September issue of Chapter eNotes.

In Part 1 of this post, I covered the process for planning and creating a timeline for a library video tour, using a video I recently created as a working example. In Part 2, I’m going to continue on from where we left off, and share some thoughts on the process for creating the video that you (Step 1) planned and (Step 2) drafted a timeline for

 Step 3: Get the Pieces

A note about production.

I’m going to avoid going into the specifics of multimedia production, because we all have our strengths and preferred software.

But I wanted to make the important point that as long as you create a plan that plays to your personal strengths and knowledge, you can use absolutely any video editing software and end up with a clean, well-structured video.

The video tour that I made was my second attempt at a creative video. For my job, I do a lot of editing of lecture/presentation recordings, so I happen to have Song Vegas (professional video editing software) installed on my computer.

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But I could have created this same exact video using Camtasia Studio (a very inexpensive, incredibly easy to learn video editor that I highly recommend for anyone looking to dabble in instructional videos.)

And I could have created about 90% of this video using Powerpoint to create the static visuals

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And Windows Live Movie Maker to synch up the static visuals, screencasts, and audio.

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The point being – if you know how to use professional video editing software, it’s a great tool that can speed up the production process and let you incorporate some fancier/more complex ideas into your video.

But it is not at all necessary or important to have (or know how to use) fancy software to make a video. In fact, if you’re intimidated by visual design, and think you don’t have the skills – Powerpoint can actually be an extremely effective, easy-to-use tool. Here are a couple of things I do to set up PowerPoint to create ready-for-video screens:

  • Change the page size. By default, Powerpoint slides are 4:3 length/width ratio. Go to Design -> Page Setup to change the page size to 16:9 to create a standard widescreen video.
  • You’ll need to Export all of the slides in JPG format to use them in a video editor. By default, exported JPGs are low resolution, resulting in a fuzzy video. You can change your settings to export high resolution images that will be clear and crisp in your video.
  •  You’ll save a lot of time if you customize the default fonts, colors and layouts in the Slide Master to match your video style.
  •  Don’t ever use the slide animations. However, if you keep things simple, you can build interesting faux-animation effects by duplicating slides and using the flip-book principle.

Whatever tools you choose to use, understand their capabilities and limitations. If you aren’t sure how to get a visual effect to look right in your chosen software – just don’t use that effect, and brainstorm a different technique that you know you can do well.

Gather all your files.

Once you’ve decided on your tools and approach, use the timeline you developed as a checklist of elements that need to be found or created. Search the Internet for Creative Commons licensed images (don’t forget to credit in your video or description), take photographs and/or shoot video, find music and/or record audio, record screencasts, and find, make, beg, borrow or steal whatever visual elements you need.

As much as possible, stick to the timing and specifications you outlined in your timeline. If you find that a live action video or screencast needs more seconds than you allotted, it’s okay – just remember that you’ll need to cut time from something else later.

As you’re gathering your files, make sure that objects that will be used for similar purposes look (or sound) consistent.

  • Screenshots: Did you clean up your browser, so you’re not showing bookmarks/other personal information? (Pro Tip: You can use Firebug, or Chrome’s “Inspect Element” to tweak a page’s html to change log in names, change article titles, remove ads, etc. to better highlight a concept – or to hide details you don’t want visible).
  • Images: If you’re doing a series of similar images or screenshots – are they all the same (or of a complementary) width/height? Do the borders all match? Do the corner settings match (round vs. square)? Are they all high resolution? Do you have any that stand out as unintentionally “oddball” for any reason (e.g., nine photographs taken in front of a white wall, one taken in front of a bookcase)?
  • Audio: If you recorded your own audio, do all of the segments have a similar volume? Do they have a similar amount/type of background noise?
  •  Video: If you recorded your own live action video: do any of your segments stand out as “oddball” when compared with the others (e.g., three well-lit shots, but one shot is much darker because you forgot to turn on the lights)? If you plan to stitch together several shots in a sequence, do you have visual continuity (e.g., does a person have a hat that disappears/reappears)

Once you’ve got all of your files, and you’ve checked to make sure all of your files look like they actually belong in the same video, it’s time to start putting it together, in sequence.

Step 4: Edit Mercilessly – Put it Together

Make Your First (Very Rough) Draft

Using the timeline you created in Step 2 as a guide, lay out all of the visuals that you just created/collected in their intended order, and compare it to your audio track(s).

If you’re using my PowerPoint technique, build all of your screens, in order, then run through them like a flipbook as you play your audio. If you’re diving straight in and using a video editor, place all of your visuals into the timeline, and drop in your audio however it fits.

Congratulations! You just created the first draft of your video!

Revise Mercilessly

  1. Check your overall timing. Are you running way too long, or way too short? Revisit your timeline and add or delete material until you are in the right ballpark.
  1. Refine your pacing, and optimize audio synching. As you are running through your video, pay attention to your pacing. Do you feel like you are rushing through certain screens too quickly? Do certain parts feel like they are dragging? Adjust your timing accordingly.

Check your visuals against your audio track to see if adjusting your order, or slight timing tweaks can better line up your visual concept with your audio concept. Are visual transitions occurring in time with the music? If the music builds and falls in intensity, would a different ordering of your visuals help support this sense of rising and falling?

Remember that if you add time to a screen in one place, you’ll need to make cuts elsewhere – either by removing an element, or combining two elements. If your live action video or screencast elements are too long – look for opportunities to speed up the footage (e.g., instead of typing out each letter in a screencast, show the first two letters being typed, then cut to a completed form).

  1. Consider your order and tweak your visuals. If you’ve had to cut out a bunch of material, make sure you video still makes logical sense in the current order. If you do reorder elements, make sure you adjust your visuals as needed (e.g., if you decide to reorder items in a Countdown Top Ten list, make sure that the numbers you display still count down in the right order).
  1. Improve your transitions. How does it feel moving from one screen to the next? If it something feels too abrupt, consider adding in some whitespace or a screen with a keyword between the scenes. If it feels too confusing, try a different order – or if you are attempting a fancy fade/wipe, try simplifying your technique.

Repeat

One you’ve finished revising your first draft, put it away for an hour. Then repeat the process with your second draft. Keep repeating as needed/until you are happy with how everything looks, sounds, and flows.

Create Your Final Draft

Once you’re happy with your visuals, your audio, your transitions, and your timing, create a final draft of your video.

If you’ve been working in PowerPoint so far, it’s time to export your slides as jpgs and synch them to your audio using your video editor. (In most programs, you will be able to “select all” and drop all the slides in at once).

If you’ve been working in video editing software this whole time, it’s time to render the video (i.e., “export” or “share on YouTube”).

If you need help with this step, Kent State University Library has a great collection of Video Production Tutorials, including iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, and links to free software and resources.

 Step 5: Edit Mercilessly

Polish once you’ve got a final draft that you’re happy with, you’re almost there. You’ll just want to review your video carefully (or, better yet, have someone else review the video) in order to catch any potentially embarrassing errors.

  1. Pause the video on every single text screen. Proofread for typos, and be especially vigilant with any proper names.
  1. Listen to the audio to make sure there aren’t any technical glitches like unexpected silence or skipping.
  1. Watch the visuals carefully, especially at transitions, to make sure there aren’t any unexpected blips or blackouts – pay attention to the first and last second, where errors often slip in when you edit.

And, get your video ready to post online.

  1. Create a descriptive and compelling title and brief description for the video.
  1. Decide whether (and if so, where) you want to add an “annotation” with a link to your site, if your video platform allows.
  1. If your video contains speech, consider making it accessible to a wider audience (as well as to search engines) by providing a transcript or closed captions.

Once you’ve tidied everything up and created your final video, you’re ready for the last important step

Step 6: Share

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Like I said at the beginning of Part 1, I decided to share my experience with producing a library tour video because there are a lot of folks out there looking for tips and suggestions on how to get started.

My way works for me, but it’s certainly not going to work for everybody – so I hope you’ll share your own experience and advice. And if you made (or make) a video, be sure post a link in the comments to help inspire someone else!


Suzanne Grubb is a digital librarian/instructional designer and all-purpose info-geek, currently building a Clinical Research Education Library for a DC-based association.

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