SFU

ROLES | Videographer, editor, co-director/writer

Overview

The project I have been focusing on at SFU Career and Volunteer Services is the  creation of an inspirational video. Intended for the CVS website, and for use during classroom visits and events around campus, the purpose is to broaden students’ perspectives about career education and inform them of the services that our department provides.

Process

Stage 1

In order to prepare for the video creation, I had to do a needs assessment. I created a spreadsheet using excel and gathered, reviewed and documented all of the videos that existed either on CVS channels or in the CVS shared drive. I used criteria to curate and rate them, such as “educational, entertaining, and relevant” categories. From there, I brainstormed the potential videos (content, style) that CVS could benefit from, in order to meet their objectives, which were: they want to have a contemporary video that adds “heart” to their otherwise fairly corporate, standard website outlining services, they want to represent their philosophies, and they want to let students know who they are. Since they already have a video that is still very popular – but is getting somewhat outdated – this video could compliment it and potentially replace it, in a shorter, more modern and more versatile format. My research findings determined the direction for the video script, and footage that would support the story.

Stage 2

Before writing the script, I researched videos that matched my vision for this video: clips included sport related commercials, music videos, educational videos, etc. After closely evaluating them, I started writing the script and the things I thought that would be necessary for this video. For example, I wanted to include myths related to career and school such as “you don’t belong in the academic world” or “you are defined by your degree”, which a majority of students possibly have thought of at one point in their academic years. I created a questionnaire about this and shared it amongst our staff, to collect the myths they hold, which along with a popular tool used in the CVS office called “challenge cards” informed the structure and the narrative that I wanted to create (samples):

original script

final script

Stage 3

The writing and visioning process led into gathering and assembling the footage. I sketched a rough storyboard to communicate my vision to the team, which included seeing students in action, working on something that they are passionate about, on and off campus. My supervisor connected with Jason Margolis, at SFU’s Creative Studios to ask about pre-existing footage in line with what we were looking for, and he provided us with a lot of what we were looking for, from their library and archives. From there, I created a list of all the footage that I wanted from the clips he had sent me, and I was able to start editing and cutting the parts I wanted in Premiere Pro to create a rough cut.

I created the following table to organize the footage that I wanted to capture.

I also started looking for a background music at this stage. I was looking for something subtle, positive, mellow but also upbeat that would give a sense of motivation and encouragement to our audience. I looked for background music on a website called “Thematics”, which is a website that provides background music for YouTube users, where I found the artist “Ninjoi”, who makes melancholic music, which brings up a lot of emotions both positive and negative for the audience and chose the ideal music for the video called “Where do I Go”.

Stage 4

The rough cut was supported with feedback from my supervisor as well as the director of our department, and from Jason Margolis, from Creative Studio. One of the central ideas was that we could shorten the beginning of our video in order to quickly communicate the primary message of the video to our audience, places where we could make sure it was on SFU’s brand and ideas about how to shape the script differently again.  

At this time, we were also booking time with a couple of staff members to record the voice over for the script. We worked with Duane Woods from the Centre for Educational Excellence to record. I booked space in the library to initiate some sample recordings there as well.

Also, at this stage, we were casting some students to shoot further footage that we didn’t get through searching SFU’s library. I used a Sony A7 camera and a stabilizer that we rented for this.

Stage 5

This project took around a year and a half to complete as we had some hiccups throughout our process. We were finally able to finish it on September 2020 and upload on Career and Volunteer Services YouTube channel.

Here is the final video:

Results & Takeaways

My first takeaway from this project was that when it comes to creating a video for a center, there is a lot to consider. It should represent the overall philosophy of the center in an interesting way and in this specific project, it should be inclusive to all the students. Because of this, we had to revise our script several times until we felt that it is representing the true message of our center.

My second takeaway was recording voice could be very challenging. We had to go back and forth in the sound booth to re-record our voice over. We took a lot of time to practice the way that we wanted to read the script and the tone we wanted to go for. One thing that really helps to set the tone for the voice over is to have a rough cut of your video in front of you so that you could see the corresponding images while reading the script. Also, listening to the background music while recording the script could also help to set the tone for the voice over.

Another takeaway would be that I really enjoyed working with professionals such as Duane Woods and Jason Margolis, who provided me with great constructive feedback. Their feedback helped us with to better organize the flow of our video.

Even though we had to share the script and the vision of our video with other staff, it was very important to me to hold on to my vision as a student as well as a co-director because I wanted to create a video that was different from what already exists out there. I insisted on keeping some of the script because I knew that the students would fully relate to and connect with us. By saying my opinion out loud and having supportive reasons, I think that I was able to have the competing voices on board with myself.

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