Making the project video

Recently the focus of the Transform project has been on making the project video description.

The JISC training held in London earlier this year – Storytelling Techniques for Project Dissemination – really helped clarify my thoughts and provided lots of helpful practical advice. I learned not to lose the audience by asking them to read something on screen at the same time as listen to what a talking head is saying, and that no amount of fancy visual editing can make a bad image good. Statistics should be avoided (it’s hard to present them coherently in visual form) and so should bullet points (people just read on –separate points instead).  Making it digital – as opposed to a slideshow – involves using flow, pace, subtlety and understatement, which is why music should only be used with extreme caution. Endings should not be abrupt. It is important to include some signposting like a web link at the end, especially as people could be watching it out of context.  We were urged not to leave out the human elements of our stories, which is what makes them interesting.  I came away reassured by the power of simplicity, echoing the message of a great book recommended to us by our critical friend Sarah Chesney: Simple and Usable by Giles Colborne

I made interview plans, decided they were too ambitious and complicated, and simplified them. Two people I had consulted during the project, whose work has involved them in transforming the way records are managed, kindly agreed to take part in the video: a Business Analyst piloting a new SharePoint committee records system, and the Project Manager of a finance efficiency programme. At King’s College London we are fortunate to be able to call on colleagues in Audio Visual Services, who did a very professional job of filming the interviews in their campus studio.  Although I had planned to ask only five or six key questions, I found the interviews flowed better and the subjects relaxed once I allowed the conversations to become more of a dialogue. It was difficult to select the short extracts for the final video, but we chose some that focused on the benefits of digital records, and lessons learned, and tried to avoid anything too descriptive or detailed. I wrote a script for a voiceover, which I recorded later. Now I am waiting for the first rough edit, to which still images will be added to break up the talking heads.

This aspect of the project has been very time-consuming but fun to do, and I am sure many more people will watch a short video than would ever pick up pages of text and read it. I only hope the finished product lives up to expectations!