Diary of a simple online video

[Sunday, June 20] Tonight, instead of commenting on videos that already exist online, I’m asking you to ride with me as I make a new video. It’ll be a simple story–I’m guessing under two minutes long. As usual, I’m not going to talk much about technical aspects. The focus here is on seeing the story: envisioning a tale to tell that will accomplish my goal, then taking the steps necessary to turn that vision into a reality. OK, fasten your seat belt … let’s go!

A runner on the trail in Cold Spring Park, NewtonWell, that’s a bit over the top. For this saga you won’t need a seat belt, because it’s a jog around the park–literally. A bit o’ background: When my wife and I moved here, to Newton, MA, years ago, one of the things I loved about the neighborhood was a park with a beautiful mile-and-a-half trail around it. It was used and appreciated by neighbors and track teams alike. But years passed and budgets shrank, and by now the trail has become a minefield of protruding stones and roots. When I told our new mayor about the decay of this wonderful resource, he had a city worker contact me. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to walk around the park with arborist Marc Welch, and I’ll take my trusty Canon HV30 along. I’m hoping that a video will help persuade city officials to open the municipal purse for this worthy project.

Ha! The above description already contains Step 1 and Step 2 of seeing my story: I know the audience (city officials) and the purpose (persuade them to revive a deteriorating resource). Knowing those two things should make planning the production much easier. (Rule 86: Even simple “throwaway” videos can use planning.)

This time I won’t script anything in advance (though it’s usually a good idea). I’ll just jot down a few bullet points of what I want to capture tomorrow morning:

  • Beauty shots of park and trail (a great resource for residents)
  • Horror shots of trail deterioration
  • Standups (by Marc or me) establishing the trail, its beauty and its destruction. Include standup where I tripped and required 7 stitches in my chin (!)
  • Brief POS (person-on-the-street) interviews about trail with people we run into

There, I’ve put those bullet points on an index card I’ll take with me. I think that’s all the planning I need. The camera battery is charged. Good-night!

The only shooting script was this index card.[Tuesday, June 22] Yesterday, I shot the video–with Marc’s help–and now the editing is done. Since this blog is about “seeing stories,”  not about the techniques of making videos, I won’t go into the process of shooting and editing. The point I want to make is that a few notes jotted on an index card were all the shooting script I needed for this particular video. I underlined those last words because an overarching point is that most of the time, the more you can write down in advance of your shoot, the better. I described that process a couple of posts ago, in Scripts are power tools for making online videos!

Now it’s time to judge for yourself if my approach to seeing my story was a good one for this simple video. Press the “Play” triangle and you’ll see the finished video. All one minute and ten glorious seconds of it. You’ll notice that not everything on the index card made it into the finished video.

Your comments on what works–and what doesn’t–in this video will be much appreciated by the management. Also, if you want to ask a technical question, about what mike I used on the HV30 or my approach to finishing in Final Cut Express or whatever … sure, go ahead and ask.