May Seminar in Video Production

The Charles Center at the College of William and Mary supports May Seminars. A May Seminar is a gathering of 2-10 faculty members that is designed to encourage curriculum development or teaching improvement objectives. Usually these groups meet for a week in May.

The May Seminar I propose will provide 8 faculty with basic video production skills, including how to use a camera and microphones, as well as how to plan, shoot, and edit a short video.  The workshop will take place over 5 days.

The class has three main objectives: (1) to help faculty to develop technical proficiency to produce short videos; (2) to provide faculty a better understanding of the filmmaking process from idea conception to distribution; and (3) to consider ways to infuse these skills into their teaching and research.

The seminar will begin with hand-on demonstrations of cameras, light kits and microphones. Faculty will use equipment that is available to them in the media center. Once they feel comfortable with the equipment, faculty will be broken down into production teams of two on the second day and they will develop and plan a three-minute piece. They will become familiar with pre-production skills such as story development, character research, and scheduling. Following pre-production, faculty will then go out and shoot a project that they develop, using the new skills they learned. After production, faculty will be given a crash course on media management and work-flow, learning how to deal with organizing gigabytes of data. On the fourth day, after production, I will hold an editing workshop, introducing faculty to editing software such as final cut pro. Larger issues such as pacing and rhythm will be covered as well. On the fifth day, faculty will screen their works, we’ll hold a critique, and then we’ll discuss options for disseminating that media through marketing and outreach.

There is a significant need for faculty to develop a better understanding of how videos are produced. Students would benefit from this as often professors allow or even encourage videos to be handed in as assignments without understanding the processes that go into those projects. This workshop will provide a foundation for professors to realize the work and effort that go into video production. Secondly, there are direct benefits to a professor’s research. Many outside funding opportunities available require an outreach component of their work. Many funding organizations are supporting outreach efforts that include visual communication. With a more well-rounded understanding of the development, pre-production, production, post-production and distribution of video projects, faculty might have a slight advantage over those without any understanding of the medium.

If this workshop is successful, there is potential for developing more like it for other departments that might have interest in learning video production.