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Weaseling Your Way into your students' hearts


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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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Weaseling Your Way into your students' hearts

  1. 1. Weaselling your Way IntoYour Students Hearts<br />Screenwriting and movies for education and training<br />Gareth J Johnson<br />Weasel Televisual Enterprises<br />(and University of Leicester )<br />
  2. 2. FILM 1<br />
  3. 3. Creating movies for training, education or promotion<br />Considering the educational power of humour<br />Going from script to screen<br />Some of the practicalities<br />…Fade In<br />
  4. 4. All role-playing will be me only<br />…no, I’m not going to make you work with puppets<br />Feeling The Fear<br />Role-playing<br />Puppetry<br />
  5. 5. Started filming in 2007 for fun<br />Bought a camera and editing software<br />Moved on to developing short films<br />Started using videos in (some) teaching and training<br />Made freely available<br />Genesis of the Weasel<br />
  6. 6. Where do humour and librarians meet?<br />A powerful a communication tool as rhetoric or repetition<br />Makes it engaging<br />A key goal for any education or marketing<br />Makes it memorable<br />Audiences will remember serious points made <br />Makes it digestible<br />Sugar coating for difficult topics<br />A Comedy Tonight<br />
  7. 7. How can this be educational?<br />Breaks the ice<br />Change of focus, raises attention levels<br />Re-enforcement of core message<br />Provides respite for the speaker<br />Available for local and distance learners<br />Won’t click for everyone<br />Neither do other forms of instruction or promotion<br />Another weapon in the arsenal<br />Educating Weasel<br />
  8. 8. A video short should contain 1 core concept<br />Concept encapsulated in 25 words or less<br />Start simple with message then plot then dialogue<br />Choose your artistes with care<br />Dull inflection/intonation bring death on swift wings<br />Availability can be the key factor<br />Get someone else to film it if you can…<br />Block out plenty of time the first time<br />Video: Planning<br />
  9. 9. Remember the hook<br />The opening line has to grab the audience’s attention<br />Get someone else to read/review the script<br />Spot the best bits and polish your diamonds<br />Helps avoid major clangers<br />Write for your audience<br />Brevity, clarity and punch<br />Basic screenwriting techniques will help<br />Not a simple migration of words to screen<br />Use or adapt a template style or format<br />Keep thinking message, message, message<br />Video: Scripting<br />
  10. 10. A need to make use of a visual grammars<br />The lexicon of movement and reaction<br />Show don’t tell at the heart of best practice<br />Fewer words and more movement<br />Don’t over rely on cliché<br />Bookshelves back drop can be a major turn off<br />Talking heads looking straight into the camera<br />…but can be a handy visual shorthand<br />Breaking the rules<br />What works for me, might not work for you<br />Experiment – it might just work<br />Video: Finessing<br />
  11. 11. FILM 2<br />
  12. 12. Outline a movie concept in 25 words or less<br /><ul><li>Think about the central message
  13. 13. Think about your audience & stakeholders
  14. 14. Use the plotting template</li></ul>Group Exercise<br />Plan 2 or 3 scenes (or more) in detail<br /><ul><li>Think of locations, situations and actors
  15. 15. Think about practicalities of the shoot
  16. 16. Script the opening line(s) of dialogue</li></li></ul><li>Screen writing formats<br />Useful as a guide but don’t follow strictly<br />See references and handouts for suggestions<br />Writing effective and engaging dialogue<br />Two heads can be better than one<br />An interrogative between two speakers is best<br />Question and response format works well<br />Rules of thumb on the page<br />1 page/1 minute<br />The Speaking script and the shooting script are strictly two different entities<br />Script to Screen<br />
  17. 17. Videos are a non-trivial creation exercise<br />A 3-5 minute movie might well take<br />Plotting, scripting, planning 1-2 hours<br />Set up, shoot and re-shoot 1-2 hours<br />Editing & polishing 2-3 hours<br />May not be consecutive periods<br />Helps if are relatively close together<br />Need for script approval can increase times<br />Timing is Everything<br />
  18. 18. Be wary of information overload<br />Tempting to cram too much in - <br />One or two core messages only<br />Remember clarity, pacing and engagement<br />Shooting tips<br />Always consider simple backgrounds<br />Avoid busy backgrounds<br />Make sure it’s well lit<br />Shoot once, shoot twice, shoot thrice<br />Be prepared for reshoots after rough cut<br />Your Name In Lights<br />
  19. 19. Keeping it on track<br />Complex/long scripts make for more time consuming shoots and editing<br />A little each day is a more manageable approach<br />Good editing can save weak movie making<br />Can sharpen by trimming dead air<br />Daily rushes & rough cuts<br />Screen to a small audience & listen to their feedback or comments<br />Be prepared to make (minor) changes or reshoots<br />Outputs in multiple formats<br />Lower res for web, higher res for DVD & archive<br />Editing: Saving It In The Mix<br />
  20. 20. Get someone else to read the script out loud<br />Do multiple takes of every scene<br />Be aware of backgrounds and lighting<br />Use what ever software you are happy with<br />Make & watch a rough edit as quickly as possible<br />Produce low & high quality final versions<br />Back up your original footage<br />The Golden Rules<br />
  21. 21. Keep thinking…<br />Message, message message<br />Fade Out…<br />
  22. 22. Contact<br /><br />0116-252-2055<br />Twitter<br /><br />Videos<br /><br />Facebook<br /><br />After the Film<br />