Weaseling Your Way into your students' hearts
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Weaseling Your Way into your students' hearts



This is the talk given along with my workshop at this year's CILIP Umbrella 2009 conference at the University of Hatfield. It deals with making simple library videos using humour and available ...

This is the talk given along with my workshop at this year's CILIP Umbrella 2009 conference at the University of Hatfield. It deals with making simple library videos using humour and available resources. The author is happy to repeat the workshop at other events!



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  • Film intro from Randy before this slide.
  • Use Data protection as a worked example
  • What you’ll be taking homeKey points to consider when shootingIdeas and concepts to develop furtherBut time is limited so on with the show…
  • Silence in the Library as an example of what you can do with a little imagination…
  • It’s the best way to spot when things just don’t work (or where you might have used a phrase that sounds wrong)everything (2 or 3).  Seems laborious but I’ve lost count of the number of shots I have to redo because the audio quality or image wasn’t right.  And with live actors it can be quite hard to get them back for a re-shoot.– it always looks darker on film/video; and whilst shots to camera with the subject backed by library books might look a nice idea it can make for distracting composition on the eye.  Simple colours/walls can make for better visual clarity– I’ve a personal favourite (Corel’s Ulead suite) but you can get just as good quality videos with even Windows Movie Maker.(don’t worry about sound effects, redubbing or credits/titles etc) and then watch it with someone else.  Does it hold together still?  Can you trim anything for time or does it need just one more brief scene?  If you’re playing it locally or want to burn it for DVD, the quality will really make a major difference.-
  • Question every word of the script – does it have to be there? Could it be briefer?  Clearer?  I generally do at least two or three rewrites from a script draft; and if time a final polish.

Weaseling Your Way into your students' hearts Weaseling Your Way into your students' hearts Presentation Transcript

  • Weaselling your Way IntoYour Students Hearts
    Screenwriting and movies for education and training
    Gareth J Johnson
    Weasel Televisual Enterprises
    (and University of Leicester )
  • FILM 1
  • Creating movies for training, education or promotion
    Considering the educational power of humour
    Going from script to screen
    Some of the practicalities
    …Fade In
  • All role-playing will be me only
    …no, I’m not going to make you work with puppets
    Feeling The Fear
  • Started filming in 2007 for fun
    Bought a camera and editing software
    Moved on to developing short films
    Started using videos in (some) teaching and training
    Made freely available
    Genesis of the Weasel
  • Where do humour and librarians meet?
    A powerful a communication tool as rhetoric or repetition
    Makes it engaging
    A key goal for any education or marketing
    Makes it memorable
    Audiences will remember serious points made
    Makes it digestible
    Sugar coating for difficult topics
    A Comedy Tonight
  • How can this be educational?
    Breaks the ice
    Change of focus, raises attention levels
    Re-enforcement of core message
    Provides respite for the speaker
    Available for local and distance learners
    Won’t click for everyone
    Neither do other forms of instruction or promotion
    Another weapon in the arsenal
    Educating Weasel
  • A video short should contain 1 core concept
    Concept encapsulated in 25 words or less
    Start simple with message then plot then dialogue
    Choose your artistes with care
    Dull inflection/intonation bring death on swift wings
    Availability can be the key factor
    Get someone else to film it if you can…
    Block out plenty of time the first time
    Video: Planning
  • Remember the hook
    The opening line has to grab the audience’s attention
    Get someone else to read/review the script
    Spot the best bits and polish your diamonds
    Helps avoid major clangers
    Write for your audience
    Brevity, clarity and punch
    Basic screenwriting techniques will help
    Not a simple migration of words to screen
    Use or adapt a template style or format
    Keep thinking message, message, message
    Video: Scripting
  • A need to make use of a visual grammars
    The lexicon of movement and reaction
    Show don’t tell at the heart of best practice
    Fewer words and more movement
    Don’t over rely on cliché
    Bookshelves back drop can be a major turn off
    Talking heads looking straight into the camera
    …but can be a handy visual shorthand
    Breaking the rules
    What works for me, might not work for you
    Experiment – it might just work
    Video: Finessing
  • FILM 2
  • Outline a movie concept in 25 words or less
    • Think about the central message
    • Think about your audience & stakeholders
    • Use the plotting template
    Group Exercise
    Plan 2 or 3 scenes (or more) in detail
    • Think of locations, situations and actors
    • Think about practicalities of the shoot
    • Script the opening line(s) of dialogue
  • Screen writing formats
    Useful as a guide but don’t follow strictly
    See references and handouts for suggestions
    Writing effective and engaging dialogue
    Two heads can be better than one
    An interrogative between two speakers is best
    Question and response format works well
    Rules of thumb on the page
    1 page/1 minute
    The Speaking script and the shooting script are strictly two different entities
    Script to Screen
  • Videos are a non-trivial creation exercise
    A 3-5 minute movie might well take
    Plotting, scripting, planning 1-2 hours
    Set up, shoot and re-shoot 1-2 hours
    Editing & polishing 2-3 hours
    May not be consecutive periods
    Helps if are relatively close together
    Need for script approval can increase times
    Timing is Everything
  • Be wary of information overload
    Tempting to cram too much in -
    One or two core messages only
    Remember clarity, pacing and engagement
    Shooting tips
    Always consider simple backgrounds
    Avoid busy backgrounds
    Make sure it’s well lit
    Shoot once, shoot twice, shoot thrice
    Be prepared for reshoots after rough cut
    Your Name In Lights
  • Keeping it on track
    Complex/long scripts make for more time consuming shoots and editing
    A little each day is a more manageable approach
    Good editing can save weak movie making
    Can sharpen by trimming dead air
    Daily rushes & rough cuts
    Screen to a small audience & listen to their feedback or comments
    Be prepared to make (minor) changes or reshoots
    Outputs in multiple formats
    Lower res for web, higher res for DVD & archive
    Editing: Saving It In The Mix
  • Get someone else to read the script out loud
    Do multiple takes of every scene
    Be aware of backgrounds and lighting
    Use what ever software you are happy with
    Make & watch a rough edit as quickly as possible
    Produce low & high quality final versions
    Back up your original footage
    The Golden Rules
  • Keep thinking…
    Message, message message
    Fade Out…
  • Contact
    After the Film