The Academy won’t be calling anytime soon

by sarahtwonames

As part of our first assignment for the Squared course, we Squares (go branding!) were tasked with creating a short video introducing ourselves. Given that I quite like the YouTubers Jenna Marbles and Laci Green, and that l’m a visual person, this was something I’d always wanted to have a bash at. I am now cured.

The other two parts were to make a single PowerPoint slide about our daily digital interaction and to start a blog. The slide was not an issue as uni has left me well-prepared. It also didn’t involve getting up close and personal with Le Front Nationals (France’s largest far-right party) website. Have a look if you want to have nightmares. The blog was not a problem either as a) I blog as part of my unpaid work, and b), I am still in uni-mode which stipulates that unless you have written it down somewhere (ideally in a well-respected journal), your opinion counts for nought.

So, onto the video experience. Thankfully, the lovely Squared team had given us a couple of “how-to” videos, so I wasn’t completely at sea. I took the executive decision not to look at previous alumni’s efforts as I wanted to avoid hijacking ideas; I am always intrigued to find out what my brain produces when left to its own devices. I also probably would have cried upon seeing the alumni’s vastly superior skillz.

What the videos didn’t tell me was that Windows Live Movie maker is a moody and capricious creature. I decided to have a look at this mardy digital beastie before I even attempted to make my video. A good thing too. What ensued can only be termed “shenanigans”. The software isn’t the most intuitive thing in the world (“Wait, what?! Where did that menu go?…That button is CLEARLY mislabelled”), but once you learn its behaviours and understand its habitat, it is possible to tame the beast. But don’t even try to understand the “Add music” function. The only piece of advice I can give is just add the music in order and don’t question why. I’m sure wise men have gone mad trying to fathom that mystery.

Figuring out Windows Live Movie maker also flagged that my beloved digital camera’s mic wasn’t up to snuff. Cue Dad’s magnanimous loan of his super shiny camera with all the bells and whistles. And very good lenses. So good that my vanity kicked in and decreed that it didn’t want to broadcast its blackhead count to the masses. On with the slap. And avoidance of close-ups.

When planning my video, I took of advantage of the fact that I would be filming in chunks (I am not a one take wonder) so I shoved in a couple of costume changes and gratuitous showing off of my photography. The bit-y nature of my filming also lead to a lot of jump-cuts being created in the editing process. I shall choose to call them an homage to La Nouvelle Vague film directors, not a testament to my own filmic ineptitude. The fancy animated transitions (thank you Movie Maker) did cover them up. A bit. Where Movie Maker really excelled was in my final section. That captioning tool is ace.

The only real thorn in my side in the video process was the subject matter: me. I enjoyed the planning and editing (the filming involved too many stop-starts for my taste), I don’t mind talking about myself, but I discovered that I HATE seeing and hearing myself. I LOOK TWELVE. I SOUND LIKE A TOOL. A TOOL WITH A REALLY POSH BACKGROUND. (I do live in Surrey and I did go to a private school, but I live very near Croydon and neither of my parents went to uni.)

For all the cringing I did whilst making this video, it has been very informative. I have new found respect for YouTubers. I especially appreciate all the effort they put into producing seamless videos and the fact they are willing to put themselves out there, laying themselves wide-open for the trolls. At the time of writing, I am yet to post my video up. I am anticipating some nasty comments about my speaking voice.

It has also made me marvel at the effort that must go into making YouTube videos for big brands. Particularly at the attention they have to pay to communicating a message in an engaging way. If my video is a flop and the message falls flat, there is nothing on the line; I have no need to go viral. If a company’s video fails, that’s a lot of money, time, and potential exposure down the toilet. And if the video was taking advantage of a particular meme, the moment has probably been lost if they try to reshoot. The results are even worse for the company if the video is so bad that the masses rise-up and create a lot of contagious bad press, turning attention away from the product/service and dashing any hopes of creating brand advocates.

My new found knowledge has made me appreciate this all the more:

p.s. I should probably let you have a look at the final result. No flaming.