1. Lockdown story gathering: Zoom filmmaking

    Last month on the blog we covered using Zoom for making Q&A films. These serve a purpose and are great for quick updates or where you want to show discussion, but we also wanted to show you how creative you can get. Here is part two of our look at Zoom’s filmmaking potential.

    Back when lockdown began I casually volunteered on Facebook to run a film club for my friends’ kids. I thought it would help my friends out with the home schooling juggle and also take the children on some journeys around the world while they were locked in. It’s been so much fun! The week after Easter we went to Ghana to see where chocolate starts its life, on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse we visited a garment factory in Bangladesh and we’ve check in on Indian cotton farms, assistance dogs in Banbury and young carers in Bath.

    Two of my regulars to film club were Annabel and Matthew, the twin children of two ex-colleagues from VSO. For our last film club I suggested that rather than watch anymore Mile 91 films we work on making their own film. I talked them through how to plan their story and how to shoot great B Roll and off they went. A week later we came back together, they briefed me on what they wanted to talk about and I interviewed them. I edited the final film on KineMaster which is the App we use on our smartphone filmmaking course.

    Before I go on I will let you into a secret – this is the first film I have ever edited and I only attended our filmmaking course 10 days ago. We talk about it a lot, we’ve delivered hundreds of places on face-to-face courses and already booked nearly 40 people on our new virtual version, but no, I had still never attended myself!! With Ben busy on editing jobs and delivering the course to actual paying clients I didn’t think I could bug him to edit this film for a blog post so I sneaked into the Zoom room and followed a course he was running. So here you have it, my first edit and with no help from Ben – it turns out the course really is as good as I tell people it is!

    Some tips if you are going to record your own Zoom interview:

    Record the active speaker screen

    Log in to your main Zoom dashboard and within settings  > recording > Cloud recording make sure you have ticked the ‘Record active speaker, gallery view and shared screen separately’ box. When you are editing you will work with the active speaker MP4 file and you can edit your questions out. Make sure you don’t make noises of encouragement during the interview or your face will suddenly flash up as the active speaker.

    Don’t record the participant display names

    You should also untick the ‘Display participants’ names in the recording’. I did this but then failed to save the changes and so when I downloaded the recorded the name displayed was Annabel and Matthew’s Dad’s. I was able to Zoom in at the edit stage but this can mean you lose a little of the clarity in the recording.

    Clean your camera and boost your wifi

    The Zoom recording will only be as good as the camera on your respective laptops and the internet coverage you have. Make sure the camera on the laptop of person you are filming is clean and that nothing is covering it. To prevent occasional wobbles in speech and that ‘your internet connection is unstable’ message from popping up try to reduce the amount of other activity on both of your networks during the interview.

    I hope you enjoy Annabel and Matthew’s film – I think they did an amazing job on planning their story and shooting their B Roll – I’ve told them to remember me when they’re on the red carpet in a few years’ time!  

    Our smartphone filmmaking course is running fortnightly throughout June and July for individual places and we can also run it as an in-house group booking.

    To keep in touch with all our news, top tips and guest posts on our weekly blog you can subscribe here. Next week we’ll be exploring how Dogs for Good has been scaling up its user generated content.

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