What to Require in your Video Projects | Print |
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Written by MIsty Gentle   

What do you look for in your student videos? Do you spell it out when you introduce the project?

Or do you say, “Go make a video” and make a rubric upon grading? Be honest with yourself. How can you also improve the quality of your students’ videos? By simply making a check list of Required Content and Technical Elements to present to students with a clear explanation including ‘how to’ tips, your rubric will be set and will make production and grading a whole lot easier.

The compiled list for each project not only helps students by providing them with a concrete check list, but you can also use this list for grading. I don’t think it is fair to give a student a low grade on a video if you can’t give them a solid reason why. Just because you don’t like it as much as other’s is not a good enough reason. You must be able to show a student, parent, or principal how a required element was missing and how the student should have been aware of this from the beginning. Surprises will only cause you grief. Easy rule: If you didn’t state the requirement in the beginning, don’t take away points in the end.

I have a list of Technical Elements I require in all videos that could apply to any type of video and I will share those in a second. But, understand that Content is a separate list that can very pending the project. This list can give the students a guideline but can also allow for more subjective grading. This is how the ‘better’ videos can receive more points than others in the class. The final grade should be made up of both technical elements and content which is outlined for the students in the beginning of the project. To be fair, they will need constant reminders as they work through production.

The type of video project you assign should drive your list of required content. This should be presented in the pre-production phase and incorporated in their script writing. For example: commercials should be persuasive by presenting a problem, solution, and product information (in any order). News Stories or Feature Stories should have strong, attention-grabbing intros, filled with interviews, sound bites, and/or voiceovers that expand and explain the topic in more detail, ending with a captivating closing that leaves the viewer feeling informed and satisfied. Here are some examples of things that could apply to all videos: good writing, story-telling, pacing, flow, beginning, middle, and end, and maintaining a clear purpose and meaning. You could also require a variety of shots, angles, types, or b-roll to be planned out ahead and written into the script. More ideas can be found on line, by searching video contests. Take a look at these guidelines, objectives, rules and judging criteria and work them into your own projects.

Once students begin production, you need to remind them to stick to their planned content and give them an outline of some technical expectations. Starting with camera work: composition, clarity, steady shots, lighting. Then begin to discuss audio - proper use of microphones and headphones to capture good, clear sound. Take the time to make sure they understand how to work your equipment - starting basic and building for more advanced skills with each project. My first year of teaching Video Production, I spent a week on basic camera techniques and proper use with hands-on activities that included manual focus and white balancing only to get outside for our first shoot day and my students did not know how to start recording! That’s right; I skipped the most important step because I assumed everyone knew how to press the red button. The lesson here was, “Never Assume”.

When you begin post-production, you need to constantly remind them to stick with their original script idea so they don’t leave out important content. As obvious as this seems, I am always surprised when students think they don’t need their script and leave out crucial content. Then, give them a list of technical elements you expect to find in the final video. For example: in all of my projects, I expect them to be set up properly, with the correct screen ratio and saved in the correct location on the computer. I require a 5 second slate with title, student name, date and TRT at the beginning and credits at the end with dip to black transitions between them and the main feature. I also require the final audio levels to be balanced and set at -12. Guide them in your expectations with each project for suggested number of shots, transitions, effects, graphics, music, sound effects, etc. - since these elements vary per project.

This may seem like a lot at first. I know firsthand how busy we are as teachers. We often feel rushed and skip steps like these because we just want to finish a project by a certain date. But, I feel strongly that by following these tips it will not only make it easier on you, it makes it easier for the student to accept the grade earned for the final project. The best pay off is that it will also improve the students’ skills and raise the over-all quality of the videos produced.

Misty Gentle started with long format television programs for Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, Florida. She worked her way up from a Production Assistant to Producer. Along the way, she worked in a variety of positions from pre-production through post. After that, she worked on shows for the Fox Health Network, Animal Planet, ABC, Disney, The Learning Channel, Discovery Channel and More. Misty has been a writer / director / producer for on-air promotions and corporate productions as well as 2nd assistant stage manager, Script Supervisor, Segment Producer, Associate Producer, and Post Production Producer. In the summer of 2008, she was Associate Producer for Nickelodeon's "My Family's Got GUTS". These positions have given her a broad understanding of production from show concept and development through post and delivery.

She began teaching in 2004 with a full television production program at the middle school level. After 5 years, Ms. Gentle moved up to high school where she currently teaches digital video production to 9th through 12th graders.

Ms. Gentle holds a BA degree in Communications - Television and Radio Production and is certified as 'Technical Vocational Education - Television Production'.



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