A Behind the Scenes Look At A Video Production

When we do video projects here, we often work on deadlines. Sometimes we have to shoot a quick video and turn it around quickly. Other times, we have months to produce a longer-form video like this.

A few weeks ago, we received a charge to produce a video that would be screened at our Matriculation ceremony, which was held yesterday. We first learned of the video at the end of July, giving us about 3 weeks of production time from start to finish to get it all done. A tight schedule, to be sure, but hey, you have to do what you have to do.

On this project, we partnered with Route1a, a full-service advertising agency in Erie, PA. Working with them was a dream – they understand higher ed, are great shooters and editors and I know several people there from our days working together at a different advertising agency way back in the day.

First, let me show you the video. If you’d like to see it in a larger format, you can see it at Vimeo or YouTube.

I thought it’d be interesting to walk you through the production process for this video.

We started by writing copy, and the Route1a guys came to campus to scout locations and record the narration for the video, which was provided by our VP for Enrollment and Communications, Dr. Scott Friedhoff.

The next week, we spent 2 and a half days shooting interviews with students, faculty, a trustee, a parent and campus b-roll. We lucked out with the weather – it was not too hot and the skies were completely clear most of the time. We shot more then we needed, but the good news is that we can use this footage (both the b-roll and the interviews) in several other areas on our site, which is great.

We shot this project in high definition, using Route1a’s fancy Sony XDCAM camera. The images this camera captures are amazing. To give the video a film-like look, we shot in 24 frames a second.

For the interviews, we shot them with just 3 lights – a key light, a fill and often something to highlight the background. This made setups and tear-downs quick.

After our shooting, Route1a had a cut for us three days later, which is an incredibly fast turnaround. We went to their studio to watch it, and made some edits and changes right in Final Cut – if you get the chance to go into an editing session, I’d really recommend it. Not only is it neat to see how much a project changes from start to finish, it’s interesting to see how much control digital editing gives you. Need to add a few frames here and cut some there? No worries. Need to magically remove the humming fan noise from a segment? Cool. Need to color correct a shot? Easy. It’s pretty amazing.

Last Friday, we received our final copies for both the web. We uploaded them yesterday to the web and the showing at the actual ceremony went off without a hitch.

It’s amazing we pulled off what we did in 3 or so weeks, but we have good people here on campus and a great partner in Route1a.

Want to learn more about video production and how to do it well (and cheaply)? I’m presenting a webinar as part of HigherEdExpert’s Online Videos 360 series coming up in September. I hope you’ll check it out, there will be a ton of great information.