Monday, July 6, 2015

Process for video storytelling

My favorite show on TV right now is The Profit. 

In this show, investor Marcus Lemonis helps struggling businesses become successful. Lemonis stresses his 3Ps of business success: People, Product and Process.

This year I want to stress the process of video storytelling.

Lemonis often tells business owners to "Trust the process." This will become my motto as I often see students who want to skip or rush steps along the way. I want my students to tell engaging and compelling stories, but they must learn to follow the steps of the process in order to do so.

Objective:

Students will follow and execute the storytelling process.

Process:

1. Plan: Students must develop a plan before they can begin filming or editing. That means storyboarding. Developing a shot list. Pitching their idea. Researching. They can't just show up and "spray and pray" that they will film a great story. They must first develop a plan.

2. Film: Students now have a plan for what they are going to film:
3. Organize: Next, they should organize their footage after importing it into FCPX. Create In & Out points, favorite/reject clips, and keyword clips. This should all be done before anything is placed on the timeline.

4. Write: Once the clips are organized, it is time to write the script. This is a step that is often rushed by students, but is extremely important to the process. They often want to start editing their story without a plan.

I created a news story template that combines elements of a STORYBOARD and NEWS SCRIPT so students can write a script of what the viewer will HEAR and SEE.

5. Edit: If all steps in the process have been followed, editing should be easy and quick. It should be easy to find the clips needed if they are organized. The script should lay out the entire story. Everything should come together easily.

6. Feedback: This is an important and often scary step of the process. Showing your unfinished work to other people can be intimidating. We have class feedback time where we go around to each work station and review the work - and the class provides feedback to the unfinished story. This is an important part of the process - much like receiving peer feedback on an English paper.

7. Publish: This is simple. Once you have completed your story, publish your work.

8. Promote: However, you are not finished once you publish your work. You must now promote it. We create these stories in order for people to view them, so they should be promoted through various mediums: Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Facebook, websites. Multiple methods of promotion should be used, and it shouldn't just happen once. Promote your story several times to reach the most viewers possible.


Assessment: 

I want to assess that students are following this process and not skipping steps along the way. Here is the rubric I am going to use this year for assessing process:

4 (A): Above and beyond in following the process. Meticulous attention is paid to each step.
3 (B): 100% of the process is followed.
2 (C): 50-75% of the process is followed.
1 (D): Less than 50% of the process is followed.

Finally...

This is the plan I am going to execute this year. What do you do to teach process? Any feedback on what I have developed? I welcome your comments below!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Creative stand-ups

Stand-ups are an important part of reporting a news story. A good stand-up accomplishes a couple of things:
  1. It draws in the audience with a unique hook.
  2. It sets the stage for what is to come in the package.
  3. It give the reporter face time.
This year we are going to concentrate on three types of stand-ups.
  1. Demonstration
  2. Information
  3. Participation
Here are great videos that describe how to do a stand-up. Watch them and take notes:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

ONW...NOW! year in review

My Convergence Journalism and Sports Information students just finished the 2014-2015 school year.

This year brought many new changes - from a new green screen studio to an updated tricaster. We also expanded from a weekly show on Wednesday to three shows a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In all, we produced 39 editions of ONW...NOW!

However, the biggest change had to be the quality of the students' work. We made huge leaps this year from a year ago. Storytelling and shot composition/sequencing were the things we focused on the most - and it paid off. I believe we had more visually compelling and interesting stories than ever. It is a huge celebration.

Here is our 2014-2015 year in review show with five of our top stories:




Our sophomore A/V class also came a long way this year. As freshmen, they used flip cams and edited stories on iMovie. This year, they moved to professional-grade Panasonic cameras and edited on Final Cut Pro X. Here is the final show that they produced:



I am already making plans for next year. We are going to have a "boot camp" this summer to get a head start on the year, and I am excited about the work we will produce.

Cool video: Diving sequence

I wanted to share a great video that one of my sophomore A/V students created for her final exam.

This is a story about a champion gymnast who took her skills to the diving team this year.



I love this story because she has great sequencing throughout the video, but especially at the start:

Over-the-should shot
CU of her feet climbing the ladder
Another CU of feet
CU of feet
The jump itself 
Splashdown!

She did a really nice job of filming from the same spot (maintaining the 180 degree rule), while making it look like it was one continuous dive. You can't really tell that she filmed several dives to get the footage.

The only thing I wish this sequence had was a close-up of her face as she prepared to jump. That would have added more emotion to the sequence.

See my previous post about "Advanced Video Sequencing" to learn more about sequencing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Music video assignment

This year my sophomore A/V students created music videos.

First, we watched a variety of music videos and talked about some of the common elements. They all tell a story, they have tons and tons of shots, and the shots change every couple of seconds and are synced to the beat.

We worked on editing to the beat using the Marker (M) function in FCPX, storyboarding, and filming lots and lots and lots of shots.

Here are some examples:






Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Crafting a story through editing

When I work with my video students, teaching them to tell a solid STORY is probably the most difficult thing to do.

We all know that stories should have a beginning, middle and end. When you are a great storyteller, that comes naturally. However, students need to follow a formula to take them through the process of telling a story through editing. Telling a story chronologically is one of the easiest formulas for students to follow.

I want to share an example of a video one of my sophomore video students produced:



For this video, he set out to produce a story about a fashion show at our school. He went to the show, filmed, and came back to class to review the footage. He called me over to look at what he filmed. It looked nice - but it was basically medium to wide shots of models walking on the runway. There wasn't much to work with to tell a compelling story.

After a discussion, we talked about changing the story angle to show the PROCESS of what goes into putting together a fashion show: the beginning, middle and end. The end was easy - the fashion show itself. However, he needed to go collect footage of the creation process of the clothing to have the beginning and middle of the story.

He went to the fashion design class to collect footage. After returning with the footage, the storytelling process naturally fell into place.

What is the first step in the process? Probably designing, but the students weren't designing on the day he filmed. Instead he started with the creation process: sewing.

He started with this shot:


He loved this shot, so he decided to lead with it. This shot is great for two reasons:
  1. Visually it is interesting because it intrigues the audience. We aren't really sure what we are looking at.
  2. It also has great NAT NOISE. I always want my students to use nat noise to start their story. It draws the audience in with sound.
Following are just basic sequences of the creation process. I talk to my students all of the time about shooting and editing in sequences. Check out this blog post to learn more.

Over-the-shoulder shot
Close-up of the hands
Structurally, we have the beginning and middle of the piece put together. We see the beginning (symbolically the thread on the sewing machine), and we see the clothing being put together. The clothes they were making were not the ones worn in the fashion show, but that doesn't really matter at this point. We are crafting a story through the magic of editing. This is the middle.

The natural ending for this story is the fashion show itself:


This worked ok as the end, but it lacked a sense of finality. However, he found it when looking at the footage from the START of the show:


How does a fashion show naturally end? With applause! He captured applause from the start of the show, but didn't have it from the end of the show. Doesn't matter. He used this clip as the end of the story. It gives it a sense of closure.

This story exemplifies a great first step for this student in the storytelling process. It has a natural arc. It has a beginning, middle and end. Story.

Think about this easy process when telling your own story through video. Other ideas? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Advanced video sequencing

The six-shot system and video sequencing is the best thing I have implemented in my broadcast journalism classes.

Here is a simple example of video sequencing and the six-shot system:



As you can see, this is one subject doing something that is repetitive. The six-shot system allows you to tell a simple, short story with a variety of shots.

Now, let's take this concept to the next level.

In this next story, the student used sequencing to connect together different characters to make it appear that there were multiple cameras filming at the same time. Check it out:



There are several sequences here that act as little short stories within the scope of a bigger story.

Let's break down one:

The sequence starts with this student looking to the left and slightly behind her. It poses a question: Who is she looking at? The next shot answers.

This student turns his head to look to his right. Whether or not they were actually talking to each other is really irrelevant. That is the power of editing. Who is he talking to?

It appears that he is talking to these students.

The next shot is this student again answering a question. He has a great expression on his face. He is talking to...

...the moderator. She turns back to the student from the previous shot and tells him "I can't accept that answer." This completes a simple five-shot sequence where we have multiple characters appearing to interact with each other. 

This looks simple, but it is complex editing. It takes a plan both in shooting and editing to make it happen. It doesn't happen by mistake.

If you want to take your editing to the next level, think ahead next time to how you can film and sequence shots to tell short stories within the context of a full video package.