In previous blog posts [Part 1 and Part 2], we’ve given you an inside look at the development process of our E-clip for Social Motion Skills. I am happy to say that the final video is ready for launch (stay tuned!), and we couldn’t be more proud of the result. As this project is a little out of the box for us, in the sense that it is not strictly a learning event, we thought it might be interesting to share some of our takeaways. Lubos, Tim, and Rick put pen to paper (rather, fingers to keyboard), and I have compiled some of their thoughts here. Without further ado…

Lubos – Strategist

Lubos approaches his work in a structured, organized way…;and his lessons learned reflect that (bullet points!).

  • Learning and marketing aren’t that different.
    Most of our deliverables are instructional, so a promotional video is a bit out of our skill set… or at least, that is what we thought. As we progressed, it became clear that the principles we apply in learning design are not that different from those applied in marketing. Telling a story is always a way to get people interested and explain why something is useful, in both learning and marketing. An emotional hook is essential to make people care about the information they are being exposed to, whether they’re learning a new skill, being convinced to buy a car, or learning about a fantastic organization filling an essential social need.
  • Brilliant clients allow for brilliant results.
    This is not really something new, but this project really brought home the extent to which the level of client enthusiasm and support can make or break a project. Wendy Dawson, the founder of Social Motion Skills, gave us the information, resources, and logistical support that we needed to make this project successful. Her implication, both on and off camera, was crucial to the quality of the final product.
  • Teamwork is key.
    Again, not really new, this is just the kind of project that shines a light on an essential truth. Lubos said it perfectly, “At the end of the day, we trust in our team to make the best effort in order to achieve a common objective.”

Tim – Filming/Graphics/Animation

Tim is our in-house animation expert, so filming live footage was a new experience for him. Lately, he has been focusing on the framing and composition of his animations, and found that applying the same principles to video footage provided some really great results. He did his best to stay away from shots that seemed too “flat” and to utilize depth to increase visual interest. For example, when filming two subjects in the same frame he would position one in the foreground and one a bit farther back to narrow the distance between the two focal points.

Rick – Filming/Graphics/Animation

Rick has filmed some interviews in the past, but they have all been stationary, planned, and easily controlled. By contrast, this project was “chaotic, busy, and far from controllable.”” He relied on his knowledge of layout and composition to inform his shots, and was able to fill in a few gaps thanks to a high-school film class. Because the filming conditions were something of a free-for-all, and the surrounding environment was constantly changing, he found that relying on “the rule of thirds” allowed obtaining the best results. The rule of thirds is an elementary design tool, essential in terms of visual balance. He created a virtual grid by aligning what was being filmed with specific sections/intersections; using this technique helped bring all of the random footage together into a cohesive group of shots.

Team Takeaways

Did I mention that Lubos likes structure? He planned out the filming schedule, developed a questionnaire, and was in all respects ready to conduct the interviews with the kids. Except it didn’t go at all as planned; we were trying to have them respond within the confines of the narrative that we developed, and it just wasn’t working. It felt unnatural, both to us and the kids. Once we let the kids define the narrative, things just clicked. Tough as it was for Lubos to let go of his beloved structure, it was the right choice for the project, and props to him for coming to terms with that. Tim and Rick had similar feelings with regard to the filming. They realized that over directing tended to make the shots feel contrived, but allowing things to happen spontaneously let them capture some truly great moments.

Finally, I think we all felt privileged to be associated with this project. Beyond any professional lessons that we have come away with, we are so impressed by all of the people at Social Motion Skills – administrators, staff, and (most especially!) the kids – and hope that this video will contribute to their continued success.

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