Online Lecture: ICC ‘Communities of Practice’

This is quick look at some of the production processes around the creation of an online video segment for the Institute’s Intercultural Communications course.  We are working with Netta as she discusses Communities of Practice.

Green screen: We typically shoot in front of a green screen largely because it’s the most cost-effective and efficient way to create online content with high production value. It also gives us a lot of flexibility in the production design in editing.

Location shooting:  While another approach would be shooting much of the standup work on location, that can be complicated for any number of reasons: (1) the logistics of making arrangements for a location shoot can be difficult, (2) once you’re on location production issues arise like ambient sound and crowd control and (3) many times the subject matter may be a little obscure and the design of the finished video does not benefit from being on location that isn’t really relevant to the topic being discussed. In other words, a video about classroom management would benefit from being shot in a classroom just to add some dimension to the visual ambience of the piece.

Script / prompter:  Netta sent her script ahead of time so I could get it loaded into the teleprompter.  I generally take the script files (.doc) and for the sake of readability on the prompter, break the paragraphs into single lines.  I use Presentation Prompter software for the Mac, which is much easier to use than the software that came with the ‘Prompter People’ teleprompter.  In some cases the instructor does not have a script and can lecture from their Powerpoint slides, much as they would in a classroom.  In that instance we set up a laptop just off camera for them to reference.

Studio Process:  This is actually the simple part, as most instructors are already experienced with lecturing and working in front of an audience.  The studio process isn’t that different.  What is different is that we can stop and start as many times as is necessary… Don’t worry, I’ll fix it in post 🙂

Editing/Post Production:  The first cut I make is to get all of the good takes strung together so we have a baseline of clean narration; if you listen to this entire piece at this point, it would sound seamless and smooth, but the video images would be full of jump cuts of Netta in front of the green screen talking to the camera.

Then I start working on the visuals.  I almost always open a video with the instructor on camera, then begin to look for opportunities in a recording to use other visuals (bullet points, simple motion 2D graphics, still photos, and possibly other video footage) to help round out the message.

Many times the instructor will have a Powerpoint presentation to work from, and I will use that as the primary source for key point graphics.  I will copy the bullet points and wording and paste them into a pre-made Photoshop ‘template’ for use in the final video. Occasionally I’ll make some minor revisions in the text so it aligns better with what is actually being said, when it is being said.

In the above image, the blue boxes are Netta’s standups (on camera parts) and the pink graphic boxes represent Photoshop files.  I use Photoshop to create all of the graphics / bullet points / simple animations which makes it easy to update and change the files.  This is because the Photoshop files are directly linked to the same files in Premiere and any changes I make in the original Photoshop files will ‘ripple’ back from Photoshop into the video timeline.  (Premiere’s built-in character generator utility is pretty underwhelming, so that’s another reason I use Photoshop)

Graphics:  Taking a cue from the reading, I’ll bounce back and forth between graphics and the instructor on-camera parts in order to keep the viewer’s experience engaging.  Some parts of the script just beg for bullet points and graphics; other parts, like an intro to a section or a summation, are better done with the instructor on camera.  Still other sections are more effective with pictures or simple illustrations.  Incidentally, most of the pictures and illustrations are images licensed from Adobe Stock.

I’ll also use simple transitions to keep the viewer’s eye on the pages; slow reveals, wipes, simple 2D motion, etc.

Distribution / Rendering:  Once the piece is fully edited, I’ll use the Adobe Media Encoder to generate a rendered file (usually an .mp4) for uploading to the Middlebury Panopto server.

Here’s the result of that editing process: