Video record this!

Recording workshops or speakers is pretty easy these days, and sometimes it seems like an easy fix. Digital video is very accessible and doable by novices. Video cameras are cheaper than ever, and getting better at dealing with low light, so that you need less setup and materials. Recording is also simpler than ever, with far fewer settings and no dangerous chemicals, so that an educated novice can set up and record. My MacBook has the software for video editing, and sites like YouTube make video omnipresent in our online surfing.

There is still lots of room for experts in recording and editing, but the point is that it’s easy for a confident novice to do a basic job.

The advantages to providing online video are tempting. The videos are accessible to a distributed population. This is particularly tempting in a country with vast spaces between urban centres and long winters that make travel expensive, dangerous or at least uncomfortable. They’re accessible to people who have difficulty getting child care (this is particularly important to my users, many of whom have children with autism), or people for whom English is not their first language. The ability to stop, rewind and watch again is invaluable to any one who gets interrupted on an ongoing basis, or needs to review to make sure they understand.

Easy, right?

I have just a few questions, however. I want the videos to be useful and engaging. I want our viewers to learn from the videos, to recommend them to their friends, to provoke new ideas and actions. And my job, in part is to ask questions:

  • What can I add to a recording to make it more engaging?
  • How do we measure success? How do we know it’s helpful for users?
  • How long should the blocks of video be?
  • What do we cut, and what do we keep in the editing stage?
  • How do we frame the shot? How many different views or angles to we need?
  • What are the potential technological limitations of our users that we have to account for?
  • How do we prevent people from downloading and sharing the videos?

How much will all this cost?

These are questions that won’t have a definitive answer and so I’ve volunteered to host a discussion about these questions and more in an online community. I was honest with the organizer, and told her that I was volunteering so that *I* could learn (grin).

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