Monday, November 24, 2014

Deciding How to Improve Our Videos

In class today we viewed 21 "first draft" one-minute videos that will be revised and posted as part of our final project (Take a look! They are embedded just below. Two others, not in the playlist, can be viewed via their blog posts for Viri and  for Hailey). We took notes on production and content issues. Then, we discussed how we might improve these. I reminded our class that our goal is to create videos that can be an end in themselves (assuming many people will view the videos but not go on to view the essays they speak about), and so we need to focus on ethos. What do I mean by this?

"Ethos" is character. If we convey a good sense of ourselves, personally, then this will naturally be engaging. After all, why should anyone read an essay we've written or be interested in our religious beliefs, if we do not convey a good sense of character? This is harder than it sounds, of course, since we can all too easily construct an artificial character. If it sounds like we are selling something -- our own story, or the Book of Mormon -- then we have failed. On the other hand, if we convey a sincere and authentic character, one in which viewers recognize real human beings describing real, lived experience from a genuine angle -- well, that is optimal. Happily, many of the essays seemed to do this well.

How do we get there? Well, first of all, we discussed a number of technical best practices (regarding the use of good lighting, good sound, etc.). No matter how good our ideas, if there is poor sound or lighting no viewer gets a good impression of what is being said. As far as background or location goes, we did think it would help people get a sense of who we are better if we could have our video recorded in an environment that reflects our interests and personality (as so many of the videos did well).

Next Steps
Next week I will be giving more specific direction regarding the next round of revisions on the video (as well as on the essays). But at this point in time, I simply want students to respond to one another's videos, individually (if they have not already done so); and to post their first-draft videos (if they have not yet done so).

If you were in class today (Monday, November 24), then the following is optional; for those absent, it is required. After viewing the playlist of videos (above) and after having commented on several individual students' videos (on separate blog posts), please respond to this post and create a small discussion on this topic: What's working / not working and how might adjust or improve our videos in terms of production and in terms of content? You may wish to use this form while watching the videos, and you also may wish to listen to the class discussion from today (recording here).


  1. The background environment of some of the videos could be improved. In a few of the videos the background was distracting and drew the attention away from the speaker, while in others the background's plainness highlighted the speaker but could convey a lack of personality. I like how Clark's background was personal and homey; it made him seem more relatable. Likewise, Darren had a Star Wars head thing in the background of his shot that reinforced his character as a normal person, and not just a devout Mormon.
    I think it would improve our videos to invite others to comment on our essays and share their similar experiences, as Taylor did in his video. This invitation encourages action and participation more than simply recommending that someone read our or a friend's essay.
    In Emily's video, she started with an attention grabbing line about how she is insane and then proceeded to explain her bald statement. This got me interested within the first few seconds of her video. In our videos, we could try to begin with an interesting statement rather than build up too it, although this probably wouldn't work with some essays.

  2. Excellent suggestions. Do others think that asking viewers to respond somehow (not necessarily just to read the essay) is a good idea?

    1. I think that asking for some type of response could be a really effective way to get more people to actually read the essay instead of just watching the video. When people are asked to do something they feel more responsible to follow through and actually give things a shot.

    2. Yes, I think as someone who posts a video like me likes to hear responses to it. I think they would gather much more responses over the video clip as they asked for responses in there video. I think Savannah is right with her last sentence in her comment as she said "When people are asked to do something they feel more responsible to follow through and actually give things a shot." I think that this is a good idea.

    3. I agree that asking for the viewer to respond in some way and interact with the content would be effective. The only thing though it has to come across sincere and interesting for the viewer to do something. People sometimes get turned off to things if they're asked to do some cheap survey or something that wastes their time. But if we can hook them with the video and make them feel like they genuinely want to interact with the content, then it will be effective

  3. Throughout watching these different videos I found that people typically seemed more comfortable and confident while talking about someone else's essay. I heard a lot more stuttering and a lot more pauses when people were trying to condense their own essay. I think this may be because we can more easily summarize someone else's experience because we don't have such a deep connection with it. The speaker also just seemed generally more comfortable praising and encouraging people to read their peer's work. I think that may be because the speaker doesn't have to become as vulnerable with their story and the piece of writing they have been working on. I think these emotions and presentations are something that we need to seriously consider when making decisions about our final product.

  4. I really enjoyed watching all the videos in a row. It was a lot better than I thought it would be. The only thing I have to critique them would be to be more enthusiastic about what we're talking about. Some of the videos were but others were kind of monotone and didn't make me want to go and read the person's personal essay. I think when we edit the videos we can do it more happy and excited because we want people to read and watch the videos we post.

  5. What's working I thought was more when people talked about others essays. I noticed that even in my own video clip I stuttered or paused in the video. I think that as the voices become more enthusiastic about others it is more fun to listen to. I enjoyed the video clip that was done at the BYU stadium. It made me want to look at it again. I think that putting your self in a different place to talk about it gathers more interest in the clip. I noticed that talking about your own wasn't working as well as talking about others. Adjust or improve our videos in terms of production and in terms of content would include being more enthusiastic and I think it would help if you went to a different place other then your bedroom or the couch to record your video. I think it will help with more people becoming more interested in your video clip.

  6. I agree with the comments above about our rough draft videos that we made. From my personal experience, I'm uncomfortable being filmed, and then talking about my own essay, it just didn't feel that comfortable and effective. I saw that in some of the videos that I watched when people were talking about their own essays as previously mentioned in the comments above. I feel like we need to really just believe in what were doing, being enthusiastic and just put our full effort into the making of these videos. I believe we are on the right track, just have to change those production items of the video, as well we need to invest emotionally into what we are talking about, like Dr. Burton said establish some ethos with the viewers.

  7. (my comment was deleted, so i am reposting)

    I enjoyed watching the stream of videos. However, i came to the conclusion that although we have a wide diversity of essay topics and peoples lives, the videos can end up being slightly boring. I think because the media has set such a high standard for us--its hard to complete, considering our lack of talent, time, and resources available. (As is the case with my video). I felt there was an adequate balance between personal essay and the Book of Mormon displayed in the videos, however, I was given the feedback to emit Book of Mormon references in my video. I wonder if by doing this it will bring in a wider audience pool than before.
    I feel that talking about our own personal essays have been effective and intriguing--even if it is a poor quality made moive--the content is good.

  8. Energy is definitely a key component in our videos and something we should probably try to increase to be more engaging. The monotone theme discussed in the other comments is something we can improve on, and maybe the way to do that is to highlight a part of the essay we each feel very passionate or to detach ourselves and discuss someone else's essay like Julia suggested.

    I'm still a believer in us talking about our own essays because of the personal connection and I worry when we're talking about other people's essays it can come across as being a little fake. (I recognize the same could be said when talking about our own essays though, and sometimes talking about our own essays can seem awkward)

    This is a random idea, but as I watched the videos I kept thinking about how our essays have unified us as a class. I feel like I know everyone in this class way more than any of my other courses because I've read your stories and connected with you. It would be very cool if there was a way we could show that unity in our videos.

    One way we could do this would be to create a video for our personal essay and also to create a couple videos with our responses to other people's essays and how reading them has affected us. By doing multiple responses we would hopefully ensure everyone in the class' essay had a response that could be linked with it and that the response would be genuine and not have the vibe of "I'm responding to this because I have to, not because it had a real effect on me." This could give the essays and the videos ethos- not only was the author affected, but so was I.