Donovan Group Insights

The Art of Educational Storytelling Through Video Production

Video is one of the most effective ways to tell your district’s story. Viewers are naturally drawn to visuals, especially ones that come alive on the screen. While video has an advantage over text and still images, district teams should continuously seek out video production techniques to make their stories even more engaging.

What’s the story you’re trying to tell?

Every compelling video starts with a solid game plan. Before you film, edit and finalize the video, your team must pin down exactly what story you’re communicating to the audience. The story will tell you what clips to gather, which editing style to use and where to post your video. Create the story first, and everything else will fall into place.

These steps will guide your team through the story creation process:

  • Identify the focus: Figure out which aspect of your school community you want to highlight in the video. It could be a specific club, program, class or extra-curricular, or it could be something more general like your district’s values or the overall learning atmosphere. Make sure everyone on the video production team understands what the focus is, so you can work together to create one cohesive narrative.
  • Create a storyboard: Once you’ve identified your main focus, the next step is to create an outline for your video. At this stage, you don’t need to have dialogue or video clips picked out. You just need a general idea of what the story will look like from beginning to end. Map out your video’s key components, such as the introduction, interviews, B-roll, voice overs, the closing shot and so on.
  • Find effective visuals: With a focus and a storyboard fleshed out, you’re ready to start assembling the pieces that will go into your video. The main priority is finding visuals that will help tell your story. Video is a highly visual medium, after all! The visuals could be anything from animated graphics to sit-down interviews to highlight reels from a recent sporting event. If it supports the story, go ahead and use it.

Filming techniques to elevate the content

The story is fully planned out. Now, you can start filming! Of course, not every video requires a camera. Maybe the best way to tell your story is through animations or video footage you already have on file. If you do plan to film, there are a few things you’ll want to know ahead of time.

Here are some filming tips to help you gather high-quality video:

  • Plan a filming schedule: Before you pick up the camera, plan what you’re going to film and on what days. Be sure to give yourself plenty of wiggle room in the schedule, too. Filming can take longer than expected, even if you just need a quick shot. Giving yourself enough time on film days will allow you to do several takes until you find the right one for your video.
  • Choose a well-lit area: Lighting is an important element to consider while filming content for a video. The person who’s in frame should be well-lit, but not to the point where they appear washed out. Try to avoid filming outside on days when there might be sudden shifts in cloud coverage, as this can create inconsistent lighting in the video footage. Good lighting will make it easier for your audience to focus on the message.
  • Reduce noise and distractions: Film in an area with minimal ambient noise, such as an office or conference room. A quiet environment is key for collecting clear, unmasked audio. Also, make sure there are no visual distractions that could draw attention away from the message, like heavy traffic or people walking past a window. A plain background is best for interviews and important announcements.

Post production tips for engaging video

Once filming is complete, your team can begin the process of editing footage and adding the final touches. This is where you really want to focus on engagement, as the music, animations, special effects, captions and video length all play a role in captivating your audience.

Keep these tips in mind as you head into post production:

  • Make the graphics simple: In addition to live footage, your video might include computer-generated images, logos, animations or other graphic design elements. Remember that these elements exist to support the story, not detract from it. Don’t crowd the screen, and keep animations to a minimum. By simplifying the graphics, you ensure the audience remains focused on your overarching message.
  • Use special effects sparingly: Similar to graphics, special effects are designed to engage your audience without distracting them from the video’s message. There’s a common misconception that more special effects do a better job of grabbing people’s attention. In reality, adding too many can make it difficult to focus on the message. Have fun with special effects, but not too much fun!
  • Add clear and concise text: You might choose to display text on the screen. If you do, make the text as clear and concise as possible. Watch the video for yourself—if you have to pause the video, that means the text is too long! Viewers should be able to easily read and understand the text with just a quick glance.

How and where to distribute video content

The final step in the video production process is putting your finished product out into the world. Distributing video content requires some thought and consideration because where you post a video will determine how much engagement it receives. To maximize engagement, you have to consider timing, your target audience and the platforms themselves.

Here’s how to develop an effective distribution strategy:

  • Get the timing just right: Share videos with your audience when it makes sense to do so. For example, if a referendum is on the upcoming ballot, you could post educational videos explaining what the referendum is and how it would improve your schools in the months preceding election day. You could also post videos illustrating your district’s mission and learning atmosphere in the weeks leading up to the enrollment period.
  • Post where people will see it: Visualize who makes up your target audience. The target audience may differ slightly depending on the message behind the video. Which platforms do they prefer to use? By posting on their most-used platforms, you’re ensuring the video receives maximum engagement.
  • Optimize video for each platform: If you’re posting on multiple platforms, you’ll likely need to create several different variations of the video. For instance, if the original video is a couple minutes long, it will have to be trimmed down to 60 seconds or less for YouTube shorts. Same with TikTok videos and Instagram stories—edit together the most important clips, so viewers can get all the information they need in a shorter amount of time.

Unlock more engagement with quality video

There’s an art to video production. You can make a video, or you can make an engaging video. Greater engagement is achieved by learning the ins and outs of video content that grabs people’s attention and entices them to watch until the end. Proper techniques aside, the key to compelling video is letting your passion shine through. Happy storytelling!

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