(Note: This post was originally written for my work blog, Jumpcut… just so you know.)
While the Canada Games were at UPEI, I, along with my trusty sidekick and host Fraser McCallum, produced a series of web videos around the Canada Games. We managed to knock out nine videos in about two weeks. Impressive, if I do say so myself. During the process, I learned quite a few things about throwing together a short-run web series.
In no particular order:
Get a host
Getting a host was probably the best thing we did for this series. While I’ve worked with “hosts” in the past on a video-by-video basis, never before has one person been the face of nine. The host acts as a familiar face, and makes the editing process much, much simpler. Rather than trying to tell the story with only images and sporadic interviews, the host can tell the entire story in a matter of seconds. Plus, if you get a fella like Fraser, he can help with the production.
Schedule the episodes, but leave it flexible
Before we started, we knew we wanted to create a collection of vignettes, but also knew that we wanted to have the flexibility to create some “news” content. In other words, if one of our students were to win a medal, we wanted to make sure we could add that piece into our production schedule. It worked.
Know when to stop cutting and post
I love to edit, and if it were feasible, I’d take a week to edit a three minute video. But when you’re trying to do one video a day, that’s obviously not possible. When the video had to get up, it had to get up. As such, I had to sacrifice some of my pickier post-production tendencies.
One in the can is worth two in the bush
This depends on how time dependent your content is. If your content is “this is what happened today, and tomorrow you won’t care about it,” then maybe this statement is not true. However, if you plan on people watching this episodic content weeks or months down the road, then deciding to put the extra effort in one video and dropping another is definitely worth the consideration.
Less (footage) is more
This took a while for me to learn, but when I did, it made everything so much faster. Keep in mind that every frame you shoot will have to be logged, captured, and considered for editing. This process, as you likely know, takes a lot longer than you think it should. Thus, if you’ve three shots of athletes jumping hurdles, you probably don’t need a fourth.
Post to YouTube while you’re still waiting for approval
Like all good editors, I had to make sure that someone looked over the “completed” videos before we let them free to the world. Sometimes, this approval process took hours. Perhaps the approver(s) didn’t have time to see it right then and there, or perhaps I was out shooting when it did. Most times, my first edit was the one that was going to go live, so while I was waiting for approval, I posted to YouTube and set the the privacy setting to “Private.” That way, when approval came through, I simply had to change that permission, and the video could be live right away. If changes needed to be made, I could just delete that uploaded video and throw up the new one.
The Sony EX 1 is heavy
I love this camera, and trying to produce this series on tape would have been a major pain in the neck. The tripod we had it on was about two times as heavy as the camera. It didn’t really slow us down, but it sure helped in tiring us out.
So that’s it. Sure, some of it may be common sense, but I hope it at least reinforces the points. If anyone has other tips for this kind of production, I’d love to hear about it.