To document how I did it and as a reality check for myself how much time I actually spent on it, I thought it would be a good idea to share the production process of this video.
Stage 1: from idea to footage
For the blogging competition I take part in I wanted to create some kind of video. When we were going to London for a few days, knowing that I would talk to a lot of people, I thought it would be cool to do mini-interviews with them on the EU, the EP and the elections. Only during the conversations I had with Mark on the first night it felt right to do it. During the rest of the conversations it just didn’t feel right to actually film on this particular topic. Most of the people I spoke to don’t have politics or the EU on their radar and the reason for us to catch up was on completely different (professional) topics, so why ‘waste’ time on it.
So I ended up with footage of one mini-interview. I had to repurpose this material. Hey, didn’t Mark ask a question at the end of the interview?
Time spent: not much. I was in London anyway, was meeting Mark anyway, needed to play with my new camera & mic anyway. Let’s say 10 minutes for the interview and 10 minutes for transferring the footage to my harddisk.
Stage 2: researching
So I took Mark’s question seriously and started digging several websites on information how the European Parliament works, and how it fits in with the different bodies within the EU. I spent a lot of time searching, fact checking, reading and thinking. It is not easy to unravel a topic like this. My knowledge on the EP was practically zero, and surprisingly enough, my network’s knowledge as well. Thanks Twitter buddies! Of course I could have asked for help from fellow competition-bloggers, who obviously know more on the topic, but by just using the information I could find online, I actually mimicked the kind of information search the average person has to do to get to the facts.
Time spent: this is a rough estimate, but I guess about 4 hours on searching and reading.
Stage 3: combining the material into a story
I collected a lot of single line facts during my search. I combined those into a story that sounded sort of comprehensible, with beginning and end, cause and effect. Now I could have stopped right there. I produced a written document that I could have published as a blogpost. Maybe make the text a little bit more vivid, but is was pretty much bloggable (and I almost did!)
Time spent: 2 hours
Stage 4: recording talking head (= myself)
I didn’t feel comfortable at all using myself as the storyteller, but I guess all of us hate their own voices when hearing them back on tape . Since this was a one-woman show I had to read my story in front of the camera myself. I set up my camera and microphone in the spare bedroom (lot’s of books there, so less sound-reflection) and started recording (and re-recording). I didn’t take the time to learn the text by heart, therefore you see me looking up and down from the paper (the reason why proper studio’s use autocue). Now it’s not an ideal situation, having to combine three roles in one: cameraman, sound producer and storyteller.
Time spent: one evening, 3 hours. (If I spent a little bit more, especially reviewing the material I shot, I could have avoided some not so pretty shots and slips of the tongue.)
Stage 5: importing material, creating animations and editing
This is the most time consuming stage of the production process. This is where it all happens! I had the story(line) on tape: the text that I wrote and read out loud. What I did was take it one paragraph at a time.
First, I imported the best audio bits of the first two or three paragraphs into iMovie. I then started to think how to mix that with material from Mark’s interview. I selected some parts of the interview and inserted that as a ‘cutaway’ (a new feature in iMovie ’09). The intro was the easy part.
After that came the actual explanation how the EU and the EP work. Bit for bit I imported the story and then figured out how I could visualize the explanation. Keynote to the rescue. It’s possible to create a slide with animations and then export it through Quicktime as a .mov. I imported the exported files from Keynote into iMovie and they were ready to use for editing. This was my first attempt creating animations so it took some extra time to figure out how it worked. I just took the simplest forms to create the figures. I’m not a proper graphic designer
After lot’s of hours I ended up with the rough cut of my video. It then needed music, titles and a good review on its flow. I cut out, reordered and added some parts. I searched Jamendo for music that would fit in, but ended up using a short jingle from the iLife library (that came with iMovie ’06).
And then it seemed finished!
Time spent: about 24 hours.
Stage 6: exporting and publishing
Exporting movies from iMovie (or any other editing programme) to a format that you can redistribute can be a time-consuming process, especially when you’re exporting movies longer than a minute. I have played around with the exporting settings enough now to know what the proper settings are for using it on YouTube/Vimeo/Viddler/Blip. And since I’m in the possession of a brand new Canon HV30 HD camera, the exporting times trippled compared to my old Sony TVR-20E
I hit the export button in iMovie and went to do something else, because the computer would be busy for hours (even the MacbookPro)(and the heat!).
Once exported, I had to upload it to YouTube (I chose this one for the potential exposure). It took another hour or so (depends heavily on how busy YouTube’s servers are). During this time it’s not possible to do any other intensive things on the internet. Loading webpages seems to take forever (fibre optics are coming soon to our neighbourhood!).
Time spent: let’s say 3 hours (making everything in order, checking progress, adding the correct info on YouTube, writing blogpost and checking the comments on the competition site).
I spent nearly a full ‘standard’ working week (36 hours) on this video. That’s a lot for working on something without any real reward (I might win something in the competition, but probably not).
The reason I did it was that it fits in with: 1. what I like doing – researching and editing (the topic not so much), 2. what I need to learn/or want to get better at – practicing with filming/using audio/editing, 3. the competition I signed up for – I’m not in it to win it, but thought it would be a good incentive to gain more knowledge on the EU etc. For me this was practice.
Now that I realize how much time my ‘amateur-plus’ (or does this qualify as pro-am?) video actually costs to create, I know that I’ll treasure the quality stuff I come across the Web even more (more hours = more quality)!