Just shoot me.

#4 in my series of Lessons Learned blog posts
Video is complicated – lighting is hard to get right and editing the footage means you have to watch it all (more than once).

Beyond the surface, video, like most things, is more complicated, agreed? The proposal to establish a creative services unit at William & Mary included a request for a new position for video. You’ve probably already figured out that the position is still a gleam in my eye. Some day? When state budgets improve? Maybe?

I decided that no self-respecting creative services team should say, “we don’t do video.” I’m lucky. Because I work with the best creative team ever, I can say that sort of thing. A few among us have the interest, the talent, and most importantly, the enthusiasm to tackle video. To be honest, our current approach for producing video is to treat each piece as a one-off. Meaning that, each time, we figure out who might have some subject matter expertise, who makes sense, and how much payoff there is. We’ll continue improvements to our video capabilities in 2011, but in the meantime I’ve learned a few things.

From this point forward, I mean the royal we. I don’t, and won’t ever, do video, but that doesn’t stop me from developing some background as a passionate observer of those who do.

Lighting matters and it’s hard to get right. I have to say I don’t always notice when we don’t do it well. It usually goes something like this: we’re sitting around a conference table doing our version of a film screening and I’m just grinning from ear-to-ear because I’m loving what the footage we’ve produced is saying about William & Mary. Not to mention, I’m incredibly proud of the fact that Joel Pattison, Steve Salpukas, and Justin Schoonmaker have taken on video projects with no formal training and no additional compensation. Back to the sitting around the conference table: as we’re watching the footage, one or more of them will start the head shaking and what follows is a discussion about lighting and how we need to get even better at it.

A lot of what I’ve observed has a do that, don’t do that aspect to it. In other words, what you do to prevent one problem causes another. Example 1: we shoot as much footage as we can because we don’t know what we might need, or where we might want to take the storyline. The punishment for that good deed is we then have to devote the time to watching all that footage, and more than once. Example 2: we choose on-location for the video interview (why not, viewers don’t want to look at a talking head in a studio, right?). This time the punishment is eliminating the repetitive sound of doors closing as students enter and exit your vibrant, “you are there” on-location spot.

Lights, camera, action? Just shoot me.


Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

3 thoughts on “Just shoot me.”

  1. Susan, I’m really enjoying your posts here, lots of fun 🙂

    A few thoughts on video. You may want to take some time to scout some good locations for interviews on campus that will bridge that gap between an antiseptic “studio” look and the dangers of any old location. I would think the board room in Swem or some of the upper floor locations in Wren. All offer good natural lighting (which a few reflectors or a softbox could help augment) plus attractive locations. And they are out of the way enough to hopefully avoid noise.

    On the front of avoiding having to watch the whole video again, you should have someone taking notes during a the interview or during shots to identify likely locations of good video. Sometimes you need to watch the whole thing, but if you have 9 takes of one shot and you know #8 was the best, you can at least jump there first.

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