One of the most common questions that we get in the EdTech Office is regarding how we take an idea and turn it into a finished project. We thought we'd expose this process, using a recent video project for the Engineering and Computer Science Library.
The goal of this project was not only to produce actual videos, but was also to build capacity within the Engineering and Computer Science Library for their staff to design and produce instructional videos. Which means that we didn't get to jump right into Premiere Pro to start editing. We'll need to way rewind (pun intended) before we get to that point.
Project Stage 1: Preliminary Planning and Meetings
We were approached by the Library to create a series of instructional videos. The idea for this video series was to address provide resources that explain and resolve questions that the Library team had identified as being particularly useful to their community. To begin, we discussed these ideas and narrowed them down to focus not only on the essential topics but also on the content that lent itself most naturally to video and to the online environment. Some of the parameters for this decison process are:
- Can this concept be explained within one short video or is a series of videos required? (While doable, a concept that requires a series of videos would require more resources.)
- Is this concept one that addresses a general issue or a very specific issue? (Would this topic be relevant to many students or only one?)
- What level of production is required to competently cover this concept? (There are certain concepts that lend themselves very well to instructional videos - say, a walk through of an application. Other concepts might require more sophisticated methods of capture, which would in turn require more planning and resources.)
There are no right or wrong decisions during this process and each one is made with that project's goals in mind.
Project Stage 2: Training and Storyboarding
Seeing as one of the goals of this project was to develop in house production capacity, we wanted to train up the Graduate Library Assistants (GALTs) in a session designed to help them create effective instructional videos. The session focused specifically on the planning and protoyping stages of creating a video and not at all on the production side of the video (which we'll see in more detail in Project Stage 3).
The learning outcomes for this session were:
- to identify the stages of video development
- list the learning outcomes for your video
- discuss best practices for video content creation
- to make a simple storyboard of your video
Head's up, this is an almost impossible amount to do (well) in one session, but we made good use of our time. Before the session, each GALT had been tasked with thinking about one possible idea for their video - based on an inquiry that they felt was common and not currently answered in another format online.
Although there are plans for several videos, the Engineering Library decided to tackle the Library Tour video first. The storyboarding was done by Glyneva Bradley-Ridout and is embedded below, for your reference. The process of finalizing the storyboard included a one-on-one meeting with Joanna Lau, our Instructional Technologist. Joanna had reviewed the document to flag any issues, content or production-wise, in order to ensure smooth and effective filming.
Joanna provided feedback on:
- Improving Content Clarity: For example, an early version of the script included the line "Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Toronto's Faculty of Engineering!" Now, there's nothing wrong with this line, except that we knew, through our consutations, that we wanted this video to have a wider audience, to include everyone who was new to our community, not just those who were recently accepted. It's much easier to change the script now, then after it's been recorded. Having an extra set of eyes on your content before it goes into production can save a lot of time in the long run.
- Scene Continuity: One of the most difficult pieces of on site filming, especially over multiple days, is to ensure continuity between scenes. For example, if a student is carrying a book in one scene, you want them to remain holding this book in the next (and in the same way). Storyboards are particularly helpful for this, as you are mapping out not only each scene but each element in a scene.
- Filming Challenges: Identifying challenging things to film, say, public spaces, loud environments, or even filming as the light changes, are all things that we can help you identify and help you plan for. Again, this is the power of storyboarding, as we can address scenes that should be filmed consectively to provide continuity, even if they won't be consecutive in the final video. We'll also help you identify shots that might be too long or not long enough, as well as tips on how to get the atmosphere you are going for without a Hollywood movie budget.
Project Stage 3: Filming and Production
Although there are plans for several videos, the Engineering Library decided to tackle the Library Tour video first.