By Alyssa Bradley, Media Production Specialist
“Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”
Now, while I’m no crime-fighting vigilante that dresses like a bat, this quote from the film Batman Begins really resonates with me, especially when it comes to the creative process. I’ve found that there’s often a great deal of pressure placed in creativity because we assume that failure is the worst possible outcome and it must be avoided at all costs. However, failure can often lead to the greatest learning opportunities. The promotional video we recently produced for the Online Master of Science in Food Safety Program is one example of a misstep that required us to develop unique solutions to learn from our initial failure. With a fantastic group of individuals shaping and molding it, we were able to create something truly rewarding that we are really proud of.
Our typical process for creating video content in the IT Video Production Service is fairly formulaic. After we receive a video request, we have a quick consultation to learn more about the client’s needs. After this, we agree upon a cost and timeline estimate and then we move into production. With this structure, the client usually only takes part in the consultation and final review. However, every client has their own unique way of thinking, working, and communicating, and we are happy to adjust our processes to best accommodate their needs when necessary.
Making Food Safety 1.0
Back in December 2016, I had an initial consultation to create a short promotional video for the Online Master of Science in Food Safety Program. When we started production, we had two problems. First, our timeline was a bit aggressive, as the video needed to be complete in two weeks to be ready for the recruiting season. This was not an entirely unfair request though, as the way we decided to create the video could technically be done in this timeframe. Second, I wasn’t on the same page with the client, which I didn’t realize until sometime later.
Being completely transparent here, we failed. Ultimately we were able to deliver a video on time, but the client was less than happy with the product, and understandably so. My misinterpretation of their vision resulted in a video that did not capture the client’s expectations, and the limited time restricted edits. Making sure we are aligned on time and vision are two things I usually confirm at the start of a project, but this time around I misjudged. We were out of time to meet the original deadline, but our client was gracious enough to let us try again and make something for the next recruiting cycle.
So, this is where we learned to pick ourselves back up.
We held a meeting to assess what went wrong, how we could fix it, and move forward. As we were discussing the failed video, these conversations led me to suddenly realize that I had trouble interpreting the client’s vision because of a communication barrier. They were able to articulate what they weren’t looking for, but it was much harder to communicate what they were looking for. Once this revelation was made, we could move forward by adjusting our process to better serve our client. We decided to approach this by creating visual aids, in which the client could easily see and then pick and choose their preferences. So using our original script as a guide, we (quite literally) went back to the drawing board and began storyboarding.
Making Food Safety 2.0
After the storyboards were complete, we walked through the script with our friends at Food Safety, going through it line by line together. As we went, we presented our storyboards and discussed possible shots for each piece of the script. Having these drawings in front of them allowed the clients to see what we had in mind and provide clear feedback. We scrapped some boards and kept others, taking thorough notes along the way. This technique created a great collaborative energy, with the added bonus of providing our client ownership in the creation of their piece. By the end of the meeting, we had a clear vision for the new video that everyone was confident in. This new video had many different elements that would be tough to visualize, so we decided to create one more visual artifact before jumping into full production. This led us to try something completely new and create a “demo video” of Food Safety 2.0.
Inspired by animated storyboards that you commonly see in the development of films (called animatics), this demo reel is a “sketch” of the final product. It provides a clear demonstration of pacing, aesthetic, and tone, three things that are incredibly hard to verbally communicate. It includes icons that aren’t fully animated, photographs instead of video footage, and placeholders where our student interviews would be.
We met with the group one final time and presented this demo video. It was received well, and only a few small changes were suggested. Because so much work was invested in development, this allowed the rest of the process to run smoothly and efficiently. We filmed on site, with a clear picture of the shots we needed, and then edited the video using the demo as a template. With that, the video was complete!
While we didn’t enjoy failing with Food Safety 1.0, we took it as an opportunity to learn, improve our process, and develop something better. This failure taught us about how we can better engage with our clients and adjust our approach so we can meet our clients’ vision. For future videos, we’ll have a better sense of where to pause in the consultation and ask more questions, or even identify when to take the extra step and create a demo video. While this level of involvement is not the default for every video we make (nor is it the only way to make quality video content), if you choose to collaborate with us, know that we will be happy to work with you in whatever way best fits your working style.