Content is King (or Queen)! . . . for Video
You’re no Kathryn Bigelow, ladies. And you’re no James Cameron, gentlemen. It’s their job to push boundaries with the armies of cinematographers and CGI artists at their command. When you’re brainstorming your application video clip, forget all the slick effects–unless that’s part of your prior training. Keep it simple and focus on the story.
Before you even start brainstorming content, make sure you’ve got the technical gear to make it happen. This will dictate what kind of story you can tell, and save headaches down the road.
Follow these two steps before you choose video:
1. Gather your equipment. You’ll need a camcorder, a tape or memory card, a firewire that will transfer the footage to your computer, and a computer editing program.
2. 30-second test shoot. Film anything for thirty seconds. Then practice transferring the footage into your editing program. Export the clip into a format the school will allow you to upload to their website. If you can get all that done, you’re ready to do video. Otherwise, just stick to audio.
As I mentioned in Part II of this series, make a list and then outline your clip.
Take a look at the sample video outline below. Let’s say that you choose to write about a personal hobby that makes you unique, like working as an electronic music DJ. I find it easiest to plan out a video clip in seconds. These times are approximate, but should give you a rough estimate of how to structure the video.
0 – 10 sec: Write a 10 sec. introduction that you would say directly to the camera.
Introduce where you are, why you are there, and why the activity is important to you.
10 – 25 sec: Write a 15 sec. narration. You will record this over a series of images that show an action in progression.
For example, as you explain how you learned to be a DJ, you could show images of yourself setting up your equipment, turning on the speakers and turntable, a close-up of you grooving with your headphones on, then a shot of a crowd dancing below you.
30 – 40 sec: Directly address the camera again. Use this as a transition to state how you have used this hobby to enrich the lives of others. If you change locations, you can film yourself walking into the new place.
40 – 55 sec: Write another 15 sec. narration. You will record this over a series of images that show an action in progression.
In this DJ example, you could explain what you learned about leadership through sharing this hobby with others. Let’s say that you started an after-school DJ class for disadvantaged kids. You could show images of yourself entering the school, talking to the class, then advising them at the turntable.
55 – 60 sec: Directly address the camera one more time. You can end on an image of you talking to the camera while the kids are grooving in the background. State why you love to be a DJ.
As you can see, you must be concise when writing for video. Use simple language and get right to the point! Above all, show a process so that you’re giving the ad comm a visual story to follow.
Stay tuned for Part IV in the series: Let’s Get Technical . . . with Audio.?
By Michelle Stockman, who worked in the Columbia Business School admissions office, has a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, and has assisted Accepted.com clients applying to top business schools since 2007. When not advising Accepted’s clients, she is a multimedia producer with works published by Agence France Presse, Economist.com, WSJ.com, the Times of India, and Hindustan Times. She is happy to help you with your application.
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