Watching Videos From Other Colleges Will Make Your Videos Better – Part 2

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by on August 13, 2016 Lessons

In case you didn’t read part 1 (posted almost a year ago) let me summarize one possible outcome of watching the work of other higher ed video producers: differentiation. If you spend a little time doing research, your original idea will improve. If you don’t already have an idea, the research process will lead you to one. Here’s a recent example of the former:

I received an email request to make a video that welcomed new parents to the university community. Here are the key goals and messages that developed after the first client meeting.ParentsMessages

It didn’t take long to come up with a fairly straightforward concept. As new parents help their students move into a first-year dorm, we’ll ask them how they’re preparing to say goodbye. We’ll pair those answers with advice from current parents, which will also be recorded during move-in. Parents offering transition tips is a simple demonstration of parent network value. We record the first week in September.

I found Harvard Commencement: Meet the Parents on a routine sweep through the Crimson’s YouTube video gallery. Parent videos were top of mind, so I clicked on the thumbnail image of a mother-daughter embrace. The first sequence of home video footage is under a minute, which is impressive given the timespan that’s covered. We get to watch the first few days of baby Katherine Kulik’s life in her mother’s arms. A couple clips later and she’s at the dinner table on her father’s lap, already dexterous enough to use a fork. She’s blowing out two candles on her birthday cake by the fourth shot.

Narration provided by the girl’s parents begins at the 17-second mark. After introducing themselves, Maggie and Bruce share what they’ve treasured most about raising their eldest daughter, as well as their hopes for her education and beyond. At the video’s midpoint, we join the Kulik family on college graduation day. Over images from commencement, we hear how the college experience has changed and prepared Katherine. The video concludes with parting advice from mom and dad.

There’s nothing specific that I intend to emulate. Watching this video just reminded me that parents enjoy talking about their children. So I expanded the list of interview questions. Initially, I was only going to ask 5 and 6.

Where are you from?
Tell me a little about your son/daughter.
Is he/she your oldest?
How are you holding up?
How have you prepared yourself for saying goodbye?
What are your hopes for your student in his/her time here?

I also thought that it might be better if these questions come from a current parent, so we’re going to cast one as the video’s “host.” Many years from now, when I’m dropping my firstborn off at his freshman down, I’ll be an emotional wreck. I’ll be much more open with someone who’s been through the drop-off experience than a university journalist.

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