Thursday, May 20, 2021

Lessons Learned from Organizing a Massive (by my previous experience) Video Project

About an hour before this post goes live, MIEExpert Cohort 11 premiered this short video that we have been working hard on. While my part in the video itself was relatively small, I did play a large part in the project as I edited the footage together.

This was by far the largest video project I have completed to date. While the video itself was shorter than most of my other videos, it required tons of editing, organizing, and more due to the amount of participants and individual clips. I decided to break down the steps we took to create this video.

The Idea

Earlier this year, Cohort 11 was assigned May as our month for the community call. As our turn was getting closer, the Fellows (myself, Karey Killian, and Rebecca Gratz) were discussing ways to make our call stand out from the previous cohorts. We had been discussing a video by Annie Agar that had been making the social media rounds a few weeks earlier and decided it would be fun to try and parody it. An idea was born.

The Script

We started by transcribing the original video and then modifying the script. We added Minecraft, Flipgrid, and more to turn the video from O365 to O365Edu. 

The Cast

For our turn at the community call, we needed to select four presenters from Cohort 11. Amazingly because our cohort is just that awesome we had way more volunteers than slots. Reaching out to the potential presenters, we found our cast.

Recording

Originally we thought about recording a live recorded Teams call, but it was difficult to find a time that worked for everyone's schedule. At this point, we realized that there was a perfect platform available for recording, Flipgrid. Once the script was finalized we sent our cast the Flipgrid link and password. They all recorded on their own time. 

I knew that I would want to have some group screens and reactions so I also asked all the cast members to record ten to thirty seconds of reactions such as laughing and looking bored. This ended up adding some great comedic moments such as Matthew Nickerson as Minecraft laughing while the teacher is talking and Dianne Krause as OneNote covering her camera in disgust at a purposely bad joke.

Editing

This was the biggest challenge and the reason I decided to write this as a full blog post instead of just a quick Tweet.

When I started downloading the videos from Flipgrid, I forgot that there was an option to download all the videos from a topic at once and it was taking me forever. Then I remembered how to get them all at once and it spend the process up dramatically. The next issue though also had to do with downloading the files. Each file was saved in an individual folder within the zipped file and was numbered, not named. Using the search feature on Windows I was able to isolate all the MP4 files within the main folder and transfer them out of the individual folders. Took a moment, but it wasn't difficult. 

Next, I needs to sort the files based on the character and content. The content part wasn't difficult because each original zip file was from one topic, but I had to figure out who was who and the thumbnails were hard to tell.

Once I had all the clips downloaded and labeled, the next step was something that I might have been able to simplify if I had more Camtasia experience, but I did it a long-handed way. I took one character at a time and added all their clips to a track line. I then changed the label/bottom third on the video and saved it as a new file. This way, when I resized their screen for the individual vs the multi-view, the label resized appropriately with the clip. I wouldn't need to worry about font size and such because it will all stay proportional to the clip.

Now that I had each individual role sorted and labeled, I was able to start the real video. At this point, I realized i didn't have a template for a Teams call so I relied on my MIEExpert tribe for assistance. I started screen recording and then messaged my group asking for anyone that was online to just join the call for a few minutes. Once I had about thirty seconds recorded, I was able to have the intro screen and borders. Using my Camtasia tracks, I just overlaid our "teacher" over myself in the call starting up.

I created a track for each person, my background, and a few overlays. It ended up having fourteen tracks by the time I finished. I then cut the clips and positioned them in order of the script. I had to be careful of where I cut the clips because some people started/stopped recording too quick and I I took all the reaction shots and placed them at the end of the track so they were available to pull over as I continued. 

This video took the longest to edit of all videos I've made so far just because of all the moving parts but I was very proud of my first draft. I uploaded it to YouTube, unlisted of course, and shared it out to the actors. I told them that there were a few issues I was hoping to play around with and fix but I wanted to get their opinions at that point. I then went back to work.

There were a few spots when I had the multi-person scenes that I had to stretch some clips to make them the same time frame. When you see faces that look slow or possibly frozen, they are. For example, some people said hello and waved for a clip that allowed me to cut some of the waving while others said "hello" and stopped the recording very quickly. By freezing a frame, it stretched it out so I didn't have a black screen for one person. This mostly happened during the multi-person screens and were small that you might not focus on the frozen person while the other window had the speaker. 

The other editing challenge I had was the multi-frame shot at the 0:54 timestamp. I had shrunk the Windows actor and increased the Word actor. The problem was which clip was the top track. It was causing Windows to stay on top of Word in that top corner.

Sharing the Video

So I wrote this post and scheduled it to publish before I actually shared the video with the group. I hope that everyone enjoys it when they see it because it was a lot of fun, and a great editing lesson for myself. I would love to do more projects like this in the future with my friends and I'm sure the process will get faster with experience.

Thank you all for watching the video. Be sure to like and subscribe if you enjoyed it.

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