Students – how to plan a video

Some assignments ask you to create a video that potentially includes live-action video, location shots, still images, animation, narration and music, and presents them as a coherent experience. You’ll need to do some serious planning to get that finished by the deadline!

Start by creating a detailed project plan:

  • What is the objective of the video? What are you trying to communicate? Pay careful attention to the assessment criteria and any other guidance provided by your tutor.
  • Are there constraints? For example does it have to be less than six minutes or work on mobile phones?
  • Who is the target audience? Always design it with them in mind; what do they want to get from viewing the video?
  • What is the video’s sequence and script? Draw a storyboard to quickly develop your ideas. This is just a sequence of rough sketches showing each shot in the video, along with notes about what the script for each shot needs to cover. You can then work up the detailed script and practice it to make sure your video is the correct length.
  • What resources are required? Make a list of what you need; script, video shots, photos, graphics, audio and overall visual design.
  • Do you have the skills and software needed? You must design within your capabilities, although pushing at the limits of your abilities is more fun. Have a plan B for a simpler video in case your grandiose ideas prove much harder than you thought.
  • Who does what? If this is a group project, agree who is responsible for specific parts of the project, including the all-important project manager to keep it on track.
  • How will you collaborate? Agree on the communciation and project management tools. Use Google Docs or another collaborative tool like Trello to keep track.
  • What is the timeline? Split the project into phases with deadlines, but build in some slack at the end if possible. Or work frantically overnight just before the submission date if you prefer…

Fail early and learn quickly

Make a practice video as soon as possible and learn from your mistakes. Was the sound and lighting OK? Could you edit it using the software you have chosen? Were you able to demo those really creative ideas you had at the start? Could you save it as an MP4 or M4V file?

Don’t rely on being able to get all these things right just before the deadline unless you are an experienced and confident videographer with nerves of steel.


Finally, a word about copyright. Don’t use images, graphics, photos, music or video you do not own (i.e. have created) unless you have permission to use them. Search for resources that have a Creative Commons licence, and make sure you acknowledge all your media sources, just like you would cite sources in an essay, like this:

Gaudi building in barcelona
Casa Batlló – Barcelona – Andrew Booth

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