Sharing Ideas Through Moving Images

Making Videos: From Consumer to Creator

If you're on this website, I guarantee that you watch online videos.  Aside from the embedded videos on this site, you are continually bombarded by pop-up ads.  You likely spend some time browsing YouTube.  You may find yourself binge watching Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime or Disney+ or...

You get the idea.  Videos are everywhere, and videos are popular.  Videos hold our attention and make us laugh.  They sum up complex concepts, provide personal connections across digital distances, and highlight all the adorable cats you've ever wanted to adopt.

Whether you're a student or an instructor, you're a consumer of videos.  As a creative writer, I of course love the written word, but I have to admit that videos often accomplish something that the novel cannot: they communicate across all five multimodal modes at once, transmitting information in an immediate and engaging manner.  If a good book is the deliciously baked pumpkin pie of your diet, then TikTok offers the chocolaty sugar high of a triple-espresso brownie bite.  A novel can be sweet and lovely and engaging for hours — just like that pumpkin pie I ate yesterday.  (yes...the whole was delicious.  Who needs dinner when you have pie?)  But when you're faced with the choice between a slice of pie of a small cube of chocolate ambrosia, it's very hard to say no to chocolate.

Because of this, short videos are now an important part of promoting longer genre — just check out the book trailers playlist from the Scholastic Channel.  Movie trailers offer intense, emotionally moving advertisements that entice audiences to part with $8 for a trip to the theater.    Hence, the importance of video.

If you're new to videos, then here is a quick introduction to making videos that look good.

Looking for a more advanced video tools?  This two-hour guide explains everything from equipment to staging to editing.

Book Trailers: How Video Promotes Text

To give a sense of how videos can help in any topic, consider book trailers.  Even the best writers must first draw in audiences to their books, particularly given the ways in which technology streamlines the process of writing and publishing.  Since time is precious, book trailer videos offer readers a quick dive into the themes and characters of a book — this helps audiences decide which books they'll choose to read.  And don't underestimate the value of this — reading a good book typically requires an investment of hours spread across multiple days.  If a one-minute video helps you make a good decision before you start reading, then you've saved yourself some time.  And maybe also $1.50 in library fines.  Not that I would ever leave a library book sitting on my nightstand for a three or four or ten weeks...

Mandi Lynn covers the easy way to make a book trailer.  Her overview here is very direct — she addresses techniques, copyright, and voice overs.  Additionally, note that her video style here is very doable for anyone with a smartphone: she's chosen an easy backdrop, taken a seat before the camera, and hit record.  Note also that she is not a professional broadcaster.  There are a few places where she pauses to catch her breath or say a word — the same "slips" that I make as as teacher in the classroom.  But it doesn't matter — she provides good information, the video looks professional, and it highlights the fact that video-making can be accessible for anyone.

Video: Example Book Trailer from Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond

Sayantani DasGupta's heroine Kiranmala comes alive in this trailer.  This is far more professional than I would be able to create, but it's an engaging illustration of how video can promote text.

Tips for Instructional Videos

For instructors, here are some resources tailored to instructional videos:

Making a First Impression With Your Introduction Videos by Steven R. Crawford, Ed.D.

How to Create a Storyboard for eLearning Content by Emma O'Neill.  An overview of planning your materials to ensure you convey your important points.  (This is also crucial for backward planning course design.)