Storyboard, storyboard, storyboard!

by | May 5, 2021 | News, Organization, Projects

We aim to learn from everything we do. That was certainly true of our recent video project.

Collectively, we have a wide variety of experience in design, education, performing arts, and video production. But this was the first time we, as a team, set out to create a video from scratch.

We’re proud of the result, but have some ideas about what we want to do differently next time.

The Process

The video came about because we decided to experiment with delivering learning experiences virtually. In talking about a pilot event, we realized that it would be easy to capture video of just about everything. That led to deciding to create a promotional video.

So, we recorded everything that was happening on Zoom during the event, and asked participants to record what they were doing on their phones. Then we used otter.ai to transcribe the resulting video recordings so we could pick out the “good” bits more easily.

The amazing Peter Cromwell did an fantastic job putting together a first cut. After two revisions, based on comments from our internal team, we sent it to a small group of “friendlies” for review.

Their reactions were highly favorable, but their feedback all had one thing in common: There isn’t enough context to help the viewer understand what the video is about.

Fixing that was not as simple as it might seem. We could re-conceive the piece entirely, and change the structure we had. Or we could add clarifying materials, and call it good enough. In the end, we opted for the latter, and collected learning opportunities.

The Learning Opportunities

First off, we did several things right:

  • Capturing video materials was, to begin with, a great idea. Having participants record their activities was even better.
  • Getting all the videos transcribed immediately was a huge time-saver, and really helped in identifying pieces that connected to each other.
  • Making sure someone with professional skills was doing the editing was absolutely the right thing. (Even if we may have driven Peter crazy.)

But we also uncovered an important lesson:

  • It’s about the story. We defined our goals and objectives for the video early on. But we didn’t have a vision for what story it should tell, thinking that the story would emerge from the materials we collected. It turns out you need a clear storyline to bridge the gulf between knowing what the story is about and good visual materials. In hindsight, we should have storyboarded a general storyline, even before the event.

As a consequence of not having a story vision, we left it up to Peter to create one. We were lucky. He did a great job. But, on the next one, we will have the team walk through the “good” bits of visual material together to see how they fit into the initial storyboard, and adjust the story. That would probably yield a stronger result, and save a round or two of revisions.

In other words, next time, we storyboard from the beginning!

The Result

Special thanks to Larry Mirkin of Mirkin Creative for helping us to understand this learning opportunity.

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