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Making the EdTech Recap Video: An Intentional and Collaborative Approach

Related people and/or projects: The EdTech Workshop 2023 is back in person!

For this year's EdTech Workshop 2023: CTRL +Shift, the ETO Content Production Team took a different approach to capturing the events of the day by mimicking the filmmaking style of director Wes Anderson. Find out how a social media video trend turned into a collaborative experiment for the ETO Content Production Team. This article is the first of a series that we will release over the summer to go behind-the-scenes of planning the EdTech Workshop.

Watch the Recap Video

"You better not be acting like you're in a Wes Anderson film at the EdTech Workshop." We sure did! Before reading the rest of this article, we recommend that you have watch the video that we're discussing. You can also watch the final recap video on the ETO YouTube Channel.

Goals for the video

We make a recap video of the EdTech Workshop each year to wrap up the conference with a thank you to speakers, volunteers, and attendees (331 registrations in 2023!). It also captures some moments from the day (meaningful), reminds people (memorable) why they had a great day (hopefully!) and to get them (motivational) to sign up for the next Workshop. With our goals established, we were able to decide on a style of video that might be a little untraditional but still focused on what we were trying to achieve with the final content. To make this video happen, we leaned on intentional design, observational learning, and a full team collaborative effort. 

Backstory on the Wes Anderson Style

For this year's recap video of the EdTech Workshop, we wanted to try something a little different from previous years (see the EdTech Workshop 2021 recap video).  The backstory - earlier this year, content creator Ava Williams started a new trend on social media when she posted a quick travel video produced in the style of Wes Anderson. Anderson is the director of such films as "Life Aquatic" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and his work is distinct in its look, feel, and sound.  Instead of producing a video sequence of behind-the-scenes b-roll shots, we decided to be more intentional in our approach and jump on the Wes Anderson train...which probably looks like the one from his other film "The Darjeeling Limited."  While drawn to its quirky style and the way it fostered a connection with the viewer, we knew that this approach was more than about joining a trend and that mimicking a film style had benefits to the viewer and to the production process of the team.  

Intentional Design

On projects, we always recommend starting a new project with a pre-production plan, so we put our own recommendations into practice. Putting time into the pre-production process (the phase when we plan) actually takes a load off the production and post-production process (the phases when we make the content), making it more time efficient and deliberate. Planning can be made easier by determining some of the key elements of any video production, such as: confirming the stakeholders involved on both the client side and production side, deciding on a cohesive look and sound, identifying common graphic elements, creating a shotlist, and setting up file structures and tracking documents. When we decided to try the Wes Anderson trend for the recap video, it made it easier for us to then plan who and what were needed to make it happen on the day of the workshop and then in turn to bring it all together in post. You can have a listen to a podcast episode of "Filmmaking (Actually)" that talks about intentional filmmaking.  While the title may not seem to relate directly to the type of content we produce at the ETO, the same principles of planning ahead apply whether its a short film or an instructional video.  My favourite line in the episode is "Remember, creativity is a resource."  Which is another way of saying:  consider everything that is needed (and possible) before producing your content.  Bringing it back to the recap video - our intention was to create a memorable video that featured our some of our speakers, volunteers, and activities throughout the day.  One type of framing that is often used in Wes Anderson films (which we learned through Observation, in the next section) is a static and symmetrical shot of a person, looking directly at the camera without an expression.  This style choice made it a lot easier to feature speakers and attendees on camera because there was no pressure to "perform."  The less they did, the better!  Wes Anderson also incorporates shots that are an elevated view of an object or group of objects, commonly referred to as the "bird's-eye view." We staged a few scenes this way to feature the small details of the workshop (eg. the second shot in the video featuring the popular button machine and accessories).

Observational learning

Observational learning is a method of acquiring new skills and information by watching (and emulating) the behaviours of others.  In the world of video production, this is an effective way to learn a new camera or editing technique because it requires a person to first observe existing footage and reverse-engineer the process to understand how it was done. Producing the recap video was relatively straightforward and simple thanks to two types of resources (found readily online):

  1. Other videos in this style.  The social media trend of Wes Anderson-like content made it easy to find many examples of how other creators did it (you can watch this compilation of some of the best Wes Anderson-inspired videos shared online)
  2. Tutorials that breakdown how the videos were made. The style of Wes Anderson has been well documented online, with countless blog and video tutorials on how to achieve a similar look and feel.  Thanks to all these resources, our content production team experimented with some new techniques which included applying symmetry when framing a subject, using different focal lengths, adding new filters and colour grading during the edit, and timing shots and text to music.  To learn more about the filmstyle of Wes Anderson, you can check out Videomaker's article that outlines what we can learn from Wes Anderson films, or a more formal research article on the colour theory and social structure in the films of Wes Anderson.

Collaborative effort

Let's be honest - making the workshop video in this style was also a lot of fun for us to do! Laughs and smiles aside, that element of fun boosted creativity and collaboration amongst the team, and also with our willing on-screen performers.  Collaboration is such an important element when developing content because it encourages people to share ideas, learn from each other, and find solutions to problems.  Our film crew, many of whom were volunteers from other departments or soon-to-be ETO members (Welcome James!) worked so well together throughout the day and were always quick to help and encourage each other.

How we can apply this to the work we do 

Being inspired by a social media trend can also be a great opportunity to develop memorable and meaningful content while developing new skills and techniques to work more collaboratively as a team.  While we're not saying that your next instructional video needs to be done in the style of Wes Anderson (although if you can somehow make a strong case for it, we're all ears), our experience reinforced the importance of planning, collaborating and researching what has been done by others, and creatively meeting our goals for video content in new ways. Maybe you have an idea for a new way to deliver content or have seen something done online?  We'd love to heard about it!

References 

  1. Bandura, Albert. “Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication.” Media Psychology, vol. 3, no. 3, 2001, pp. 265–99, https://doi.org/10.1207/S1532785XMEP0303_03.
  2. Okada, Takeshi, and Kentaro Ishibashi. "Imitation, inspiration, and creation: Cognitive process of creative drawing by copying others' artworks." Cognitive science 41.7 (2017): 1804-1837.

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Interested to learn how to make content to support your course?  Book a consultation with the ETO: Content Production Consult

 

Article Category: Best Practices