Video production for schools – The Key Techniques
Producing video for any business, organisation or individual often requires a unique and tailored approach. Companies, businesses and organisations all have different needs and also very different ways of working. The physical logistics of producing video for them will vary from project to project so it’s important that as a video production company we can respond and react accordingly. This is never more true than when we undertake video production for Schools , colleges and universities.
So if you’re a school or college producing your own video project or an agency working for a school/college client here’s some helpful advice and tips based on our experience gained throughout a few very busy years in this sector.
1 – Planning (lots of it!!!)
When approaching video production for schools we’d suggest scheduling twice as many pre-production meetings than you would on an equivalent corporate video shoot for a company or business. This is due to the challenging nature of filming within schools and will allow you and the client ample opportunity to cover all concerns or considerations.
2 – Safety
One of the obvious factors is safety. If you’re moving video equipment around a school building you need to ensure that it’s done safely and with zero risk factors. This element may influence your filming schedule for each days shooting. A good approach is to do any kit moving either at break times when the school building is quiet or when all the students are in class.
Conduct a thorough safety assessment prior to shooting to check you are aware of all potential risks and hazards that filming may create. Once you are confident that the shoot is safe, you can focus on capturing the engaging film content that will make the final film a success. There are a number of ways you can achieve this.
3 – Camera Choice
Video production for schools is perfect for cameras that can be built with a small form factor. Taking a huge great studio camera such as a Sony PMW700 into this type of shoot simply doesn’t work. The size of the camera would present issues when moving around, but more importantly the reaction that younger children have to a large camera like this means that you get very little honest footage as everyone in the room is constantly camera aware due to the physical size of the kit.
A better approach you could consider is to use either a DSLR type camera (5D etc) or a RED Dragon with minimal build. These 2 options give you a lower key camera that can be used a lot more subtly to capture footage of students that has a natural feel.
Using a more compact camera allows you to capture natural moments like this.
4 – Capture the Joy of Learning
For video production for Schools to really work you need to capture some moments of wonder on the student’s faces as they learn, and have fun in school or college. A great way to do this requires a structured approach and a slight element of staging. That’s not to say that you won’t be capturing real moments – you’ll just be doing it in a way that ensures you work efficiently and effectively.
This is achieved in the following way, – (here’s the brief – You need to get some shots of a great lesson in action – you need to see the teacher explaining and the enthusiastic responses and expressions from the students)
To do this set up at the rear of a class and observe the lesson for a few minutes. Once you identify the part of the lesson that gets the desired response from the students you should then position the camera where you know we’ll get the best images. Then ask the teacher to re-run that few minutes of the lesson a couple of times. You can change the camera position to give multiple angles and with a little direction and encouragement you’ll get the shots you need.
5 – Shoot at the Children’s eye level
Another great tip is to always shoot at the students eye level, especially when woring with younger students. This brings you into their world and allows you to really capture them engaging in their work and activities. You’ve also got a much better chance of capturing one of those “moments of magic” if you’re shooting at a lower height as your closer to the subject and action.
Filming at the eye level allows you to capture “moments of magic”.
6 – Expectation
If you’re planning to include lines, script, or interview comments from the children in the films you need to very flexible in your approach. Working with younger Students can be very unpredictable so have a good idea of what you are looking for vocal wise but also have a back up plan.
7 – Crew
It’s really useful to pick a crew who either have children or who have experience working with younger people. Getting the best results will rely heavily on how comfortable the students feel around the crew (especially if doing interviews) so using a director and camera operator/s who have good rapport with children is vital.
8– School Staff
It goes without saying that teachers are VERY busy in their working day. If you’re planning on shooting teacher interviews then schedule these after the school day is finished and focus on getting the action shots during the normal hours.
9 – Shoot outside
This sounds obvious but once school children are in their school yard or outside environment they tend to really let off steam! It’s a great opportunity to capture great action footage of them at play and will make a great addition to your final edit.
10 – Be Low Key
Finally, your goal when undertaking video production for schools should be to create a tailored production plan that will successfully realize the brief set while maintaining zero disturbance on the ground (ie in the school). If the children within the school get too over excited by having a film crew on site then your whole shoot plan could unravel pretty quickly. So keeping a calm and low key approach goes a long way to getting the most from the available shooting time and capturing the joy of learning effectively.