Using video to tell human interest stories: part 3

You’ve got the kit, you’ve listened to expert advice – so before you get cracking I thought I’d  share with you a couple of iPhone videos I’ve made. These have been produced at the start of my #mojo journey so they mostly showcase how NOT to do it.

They give me the chance to highlight where I’ve gone wrong and any difficulties I encountered and it’s also a great way to reflect on my learning so far.

First up is a video I shot on my iPhone at a busy event on campus at Birmingham City University. Inspired by a morning workshop with Stephen Quinn, I visited Langar on Campus, a food and information event hosted by the university’s Sikh Society.

Armed with just my iPhone and a Rode smartlav+ mic, attached via a short lead, I wandered around the event and chatted to volunteers and participants, shooting bits of footage, which I then hastily put together using the iMovie app, also on my iPhone. The whole exercise took less than two hours, including time out to eat some of the brilliant food.

My first piece of advice is to always clearly explain who you are, what you are doing and what you intend to do with the footage you create.

It’s good manners for a start, and may help you avoid one of the time-consuming issues I encountered later.

Ideally ask each participant to say their name at the start of recording and to confirm they are happy to be interviewed…more practical than asking people to sign permission forms. Just ensure you retain the footage in a permission folder somewhere.

If you are able to share email contact information all the better – it will demonstrate your professionalism and also means you can share a link to the finished video with them. This is a great way to encourage sharing of your finished work – when you send the link, invite your participants to share on their own Facebook or Twitter feed, thus increasing the views and shares.

Next, always do a rough storyboard of what footage you intend to take. This should help you avoid the simple mistake I made… I forgot to shoot an intro explainer while at the event so had to cobble something together in an empty corridor while editing.

The transitions between clips are clumsy, and the captioning is rough and ready, with some sections lacking any at all – but as an exercise in speed I’m quite pleased with it.

However, after completing and posting the video, I was contacted by one of the organisers I’d interviewed who, while happy to participate on the day, said he did not realise it was going to be shared on social media. He asked for his contributions to be removed – a difficult task as he featured a couple of times and voiced over a third section. Frustratingly, this deletion and re-editing exercise took as long as the original edit.

I could have refused but that seemed particularly churlish given the nature of the event.

The second video was created in a really short space of time to publicise a consultation event organised by the county council where I currently work as a content creator.

From a vague idea the day before, three of us in the communications team set off on a short travel challenge, covering a busy two mile stretch of road at rush hour in Worcester on either bus, bike or on foot. Fitter and younger colleagues took on the bike and run, while I whiled away 10 minutes on the bus.

Our aim was to raise awareness of the council’s Local Transport Plan, which included a section about ‘active travel’ – walking and cycling to me and you. The consultation had garnered limited responses, and we’d been asked to come up with ways to give it one final push before the consultation ended.

As it often is with off the cuff content, it garnered quite a bit of interest – the BBC’s local news team got in touch to interview us after spotting my speculative tweet sent out the night before; the story appeared on morning radio bulletins; and the resulting video was shared and viewed fairly widely across social media.

With hindsight I’d have preferred to have waited until after I’d had a haircut – but it was pleasing to turn it around quickly from original idea to posting.

The only problem was that some additional footage, taken on a gopro by our cyclist, failed to get uploaded successfully within our short timescale. So the video had to be cut without it. It’s definitely worse for the lack of it but sometimes time is of the essence.

There are lots of things wrong with this video – for example, I seem to forget I’m wearing a sensitive mic and keep SHOUTING! – but it served its purpose.

I’m pretty certain you can do a lot better…over to you!






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