Written by Erica Walker, lecturer
In GC3400 class this semester, students had the unique opportunity to experience real-world video production. When it comes to lab assignments, I find that students, like everyone really, fear things that are not controlled or controllable. Due to it's nature, video production has more unknown factors, more moving parts than probably anything students have encountered so far.
For this assignment, the class partnered with the athletic department to create promotional videos for the Men's Basketball Team. Because we would be filming student-athletes, the scheduling is dependent on their availability and is neither known in advance and nor set in stone once announced. Student-athletes are extremely busy and their time and attention is pulled in many different directions. This week, we added both a demand on their time and bit of organized chaos that the student-athletes hopefully enjoyed.
Each video was conceptualized, planned, shot, edited, and presented by groups of three students. In all, there were 11 videos being produced by the class. During the pre-production phase, studens learned about different methods of planning out their final video such as scripting, storyboarding, and developing producer's notes. We also talked about how to organize their limited access to the location and talent to ensure that they get the most important shots for the final edit. As student Ciara Hautau said "I believe the biggest learning experience [of this assignment] was learning how to collaborate ideas and visions within a group. To have your own vision is one thing, to integrate multiple brilliant ideas into one video is completely different." During this phase, we utilized the breakout rooms and writable walls in the Digital Media + Learning Lab in Tillman. When the assignment was first presented, the athletic department told students that they were looking for something creative and out-of-the-box and students began with the pre-production phase prepared to rise to that challenge.
Then the first roadblock came in to view. We were not sure how much, if any access we would have to certain players, coaches, and facilities. In class we discussed flexibility and having a good backup plan as well as how to most efficiently use the time we were allotted with the players. The evening before the shoot, the players and coaches availability and the final locations for the shoot were announced. Some scripts were modified before arriving on set to accommodate these new developments. Others would end up being modified on the fly, just as they would be on a live film set in order to keep the production moving.
Students arrived on set a few minutes before the first player arrived and got straight to work setting up lights and microphones, some of which they had not had the chance to work with prior to production day since we borrowed extra resources from all over campus to have enough equipment for such a large shoot. The GC3400 students worked beautifully with the talent: making them comfortable, explaining what they were looking for, and guiding them through the process of bringing to life their groups' script. The student-athletes and coaches were very generous with their time and found both humor and patience when opportunities for learning or equipment failures interrupted the quick pace they are accustomed to with professional interviews.
You would think that by the second day of shooting, everything would be smoothed out, but it turned out that the players schedules were much tighter the second day and the location we had used previously was no longer available as the building prepared for a large public event the following day. So, day two of location shooting brought it's own hurdles in the form of different locations and shorter blocks of time with the talent. But again, the students used problem-solving to find ways to work effectively and still capture enough footage to realize their final video plans.
As we like to say at the end of a shoot, "That's a wrap!" Following production, all the students began the post-production phase. Students dove in to learning the editing tools in Final Cut Pro as they pieced together their video in the hopes of winning the coveted Godfrey Award (think Emmy's or Oscars). The winning video team would also have a chance to be recognized on the floor during a basketball game and their video shown on local television to advertise the season.
We owe a huge thanks to Mike Money and Phil Sikes of the athletic department for working with us to arrange the players schedules and the shoot locations in Littlejohn. We also appreciated the efforts of Coach Brownell, Coach Honnold, and all the players for participating in the shoot.