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Digital Video for Cultural Organisations

This learning journey has been curated by AmbITion Scotland Lead Consultant Hannah Rudman.

Video. Digital films. Moving image. You night call it any of these things, but creating rich media content that blends the audio and visual gives cultural, creative and heritage organisations an aditional medium to communicate through. The availability of cloud-based online video channels that host your video content for free can give you additional channels to reach your customers and audiences, most of whom will have access to screen-based devices that give them a way of interacting with and consuming your content. This learning journey is not about using video to create a digital version of your artistic product for live streaming or on demand viewing – that’s the topic of a webcasting learning journey all to itself!

1 Why video for online engagement?

Making high quality videos to show off what your organisation or practice does is nothing new. But making video for the web needs a different methodology. Video has become a medium of conversation online, says @Documentally, so what can be said through video can be immediately relevant and engaging to our audiences. With online video platforms making it increasingly easy to upload, host, and display video for free, the opportunities are there for the taking.

Why Shoot Video For The Web?

Advertising revenue is down, newspapers are struggling and as the economy takes a downturn production costs are up, at the same time online readership and revenue continue to rise. So what’s the answer? Go where the eyes are. Whether you are writing, taking pictures, shooting video or recording audio you can build communities with your content. But only if you take it online.

Three years ago online video was something I mostly only viewed. I’d played around with recording and uploading video but this was a long winded haphazard affair involving hand coded xml files every time I wanted to add a video to my podcast. Then if I wanted to share it further afield I’d upload it to YouTube giving me the option to embed on a website or link to it in an email or forum.

Now it’s just as easy as sending an email. Many of the sites I visit today are either video conversational platforms or at the very least places where video is being shared and commented on. Video is now a medium of conversation.

Recently I have been asked more and more by companies “Do we really need to get involved in video?”

The short answer is “Yes.”

For me, engaging with online video is a no brainer.

The easiest way for me to explain why this shift from old analogue methods of communication to online ones is so important is to compare online video with TV. The buzzword for a while now has been Social Media, Social Media does exactly what it says on the tin, it allows people to have conversations on a new level of engagement, be it from an entertainment or marketing perspective. TV could not be further away from this world. The most interactive thing TV can offer us is the red button. Nowadays people expect a conversation with their content.

TV advertising is also fleeting and expensive. After the cost of creating your media, you pay for your slot and when it’s gone it’s gone. Online video on the other hand, can be made at a fraction of the cost, and if you spread it intelligently it’s viewable forever. Not only that but the viewer can comment on, respond to, and share it for you. This conversation around your content keeps it alive, relevant, and in the public eye way beyond other forms of old analogue media.

Online video is also instantly global, searchable, on demand and with viewing stats that are easily measured.

It really is a no brainer.

Whether you want content for your website, to launch a brand or product, produce video news releases, or just show the human side of your organisation, you need to have a presence in the digital world, you need to be using online video. If you want, I can show you how to do produce content cheaply and effectively. I can cover the kit, how-to shooting tips, file compression, uploading and aggregation, how to make your video visible, and loads more. Whether you wish to use some of the free solutions out there like Twitvid, Tokbox or Qik, or shoot HD on a hand held device, let me know if you want me to guide you through selecting suitable equipment to shoot, edit and distribute your video effectively.

Please, use this social network to ask your questions and I will do my best to answer.

4.7 billion videos are watched online in the UK every year. Make one of them yours.

2 Getting started

If tyou’re considering investing in digital video camera kit to make films, then watch this step for the info on the essential basics that you’ll need.

How To Get Going With Video Creation

This AmbITion Scotland How To… Guide explains the basics of choosing digital video kit to suit your content creation needs and budget options.

3 Making video podcasts for promotional and educational uses

This step shares the methodology for creating a video podcast in a day!

Museum video podcast-in-a-day

Last week I attended a daylong workshop at the CAM Conference sponsored by the California Exhibition Resources Alliance (CERA). The workshop was a Technology Salon for Small Museums and featured presentations throughout the day on how to use technology wisely and efficiently for marketing, interpretation, and in exhibits. It was hosted by the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University.

I offered to show people how to create video podcasts and use the video for both promotion and education. So we decided we would create a podcast during the workshop, with the goal of having it up on YouTube by 3 pm. Online video is the most important tool a cultural attraction can use, as it’s now the most compelling online content. In addition, one video podcast can be placed, for free, in over 25 outlets. That means one short video is out there in 25 different online spaces, promoting your museum 24/7.

Here are a few of the steps we went through to make this podcast a reality.

  1. Choose content. I asked curator Lindsey Kouvaris to choose three items from their permanent collection that a) would be interesting to talk about, b) could be used to talk about behind-the-scenes aspects of museum work, and for which c) she had permission to broadcast the image.
  2. Prepare still images. Lindsey sent me high-quality stills in advance, along with their museum’s logo, and the necessary credit line for the photographer. I pre-loaded these into iPhoto in advance, and created a title card with their logo. The still images can then easily be pulled into iMovie as stills, and you can zoom in on them.
  3. Choose music. I chose four options from Garageband’s library that I thought might work for this museum. Once I arrived, I had Lindsey choose the one that best suited her institution’s personality. See my handout for more on legal music use.
  4. Charge camera, double-check equipment list before getting on plane.
  5. Shoot interview. I start by telling a joke to get the subject comfortable, and make sure they’re looking at me, not the camera. Once I’ve set up the camera on the tripod, I start recording and then make sure I’m nodding and smiling a lot to keep their energy up and focused on me.

For this workshop, I shot the last portion of the interview in the workshop space, so all the attendees could see how I did it. Lindsey was a trouper! Then I began editing while the other presenters were doing their thing. At about 1:15 pm, I plugged my laptop into the projector and showed them the partially completed podcast (about half done at that point). The sound levels weren’t quite right, but they could see everything coming together. And by 3 pm, it was indeed up on YouTube. I also showed them another video piece, and the multiple locations it had been used. Here is the final video:

While this felt a little crazy to do under the gun, it was a fun challenge and I think it illustrated that video has become both accessible, affordable, and easy. Click here for the handout I created, which lists all the outlets where I place my video podcasts and details about the hardware and software I use. Before I left, Lindsey had already embedded the link in their Facebook Page. :)

Thanks to Rebecca Schapp and Lindsey Kouvaris of the de Saisset Museum for hosting, and to Adrienne McGraw and Lexie Smith Kliebe of CERA for putting together such a terrific day.

4 But what to video?

The unique, behind the scenes aspects to your organisation are certainly of interest to your audiences. See how Hoipolloi used video diaries to increase engagement and participation with their work, and increase the scale and reach of their “corporate communications”.

5 Is it ia video project? Case Study: Aldeburgh Music

Sometimes, you might want to use video as an integral part of an artistic or education project that you’re running. Young people in particular love working with digital devices that are native to them. Involving some video in a project might engage them creatively, or might give young people a change to watch your work on a channel that they’re used to finding their content on. AmbITion organisation Aldeburgh Music used YouTube as a channel to spread the word and source musicians for their youth orchestra.

Aldeburgh Music’s YouTube Orchestra

AmbITion England organisation, Aldeburgh Music, are this year a part of the Cultural Olympiad festival, with a project made possible and enhanced by digital technologies. Young musicians were auditioned virtually through posting auditions via YouTube. They come together for a time over the summer to form the Aldeburgh World Orchestra (AWO) and rehearse and perform in Snape Maltings and London.

In addition, Exchanging Worlds is a large-scale digital project that connects the AWO to Suffolk and the region, through the creation of audio/visual installations and an elite performance ensemble of under 18’s. Exchanging Worlds will welcome the world through a project that connects international AWO participants to a diverse group of Suffolk young people (including Primary School pupils, a Pupil Referral Unit, Juvenile Offenders, Further Education Students and Aldeburgh Young Musicians). Using the AWO members’ digital audition material, the Suffolk based groups will create a series of audio/visual installations. Groups will be facilitated, tutored and supported by a team of composers, artists, technologists and sound designers.

The project will culminate in interactive installations, live performances and a virtual online element later in 2012.

6 Is it a video project? Case Study: @Documentally & mobile filming

@Documentally filmed a day in his life – a day spent travelling to Manchester to speak at an AmbITion England event. One of his observations about videoing with mobile is that people are far more natural and open when faced with a tiny phone camera than they are when a big lens and mic are presented, and this lovely personal and reflective video proves it! As a case study, it reveals the type of video content and contexts suitable for filming via mobile.

Watching it Online: mobile video, HD video

{Article originally posted to AmbITion Extranet by Hannah Rudman}

Christian Payne made this excellent video – on his mobile phone – of his day in Manchester, speaking at AmbITion’s latest networking/training event: Digital Content re:connected.

Christian spent all day with his mobile in hand, capturing soundbytes and conversations. One of his observations about videoing with mobile is that people are far more natural and open when faced with a tiny phone camera than they are when a big lens and mic are presented, and this lovely personal and reflective video proves it!
Also check out the live blog archive and Twitter stream from the day. Over 40 people enjoyed the event live, with over 200 tuning in via the web stream.

Abandoning TV altogether, MSN and Endemol have launched Kirill, an interactive online sci-fi show. The Kirill series will run for ten episodes of three minutes each, following the stories of two characters living in a mysterious world. the content is free, bumpered with advertising – and as ever with online content, extremely context aware advertising – in this case, X-Box 360.

Produced by Endemol and Pure Grass Films the show will screen in High Definition through Microsoft Silverlight technology (Mac users get the plug-in via Firefox).The HD quality may be the missing link that some arts organisations have been waiting for the web to deliver before they were prepared to show video and audio online.

Kirill watchers will be invited to get involved with the show through character blogs, videos and audio films, which will be hidden across the web. Secret websites will also be created to help watchers decipher clues about the plot and characters. This looks like the mainstreaming of Alternative Reality Games – ARGs – into interactive and interesting popular content. Its a brilliant way to empower people to use the web creatively and fully.

7 How To... Edit Video (for beginners and intermediates)

This video How To… Guide explains to beginners and intermediates how to use the free softwares on PC (Windows Movie Maker) and Mac (iMovie) to edit video footage into films. Brilliant – go on have a watch!

How To… Edit Video (video tutorial for beginners and intermediates!)

A Guide to Editing Your Own Videos

Today it is very easy to create videos and slideshows using software already provided by computer operating systems. With a little know-how, time and effort, you an create professional looking media projects that don’t require you to be a professional editor.

When you buy a computer, you will already have free software that comes with your operating system:

AmbITion Scotland’s latest How To… Guide video tutorial will steer you through the basics of setting up a media project, importing media, editing, adding captions and titles, including music or narration, plus exporting your finished project to upload or stream online. Below the videos are a few tips on more advanced software, and on where to source rights free music.

Tutorial: editing using Windows Movie Maker

Tutorial: editing using iMovie


As well as these free video editing programs, there are a number of other alternatives that might be more suitable if you have more advanced needs – most are slightly more complicated but can do more sophisticated editing.


It is important to remember that music (just like any other media material that you use like photographs or other sourced video) is protected by copyright. When including music in your project, you must either secure permission from the music owner/publisher, or use royalty-free or copyright-free music. (You can find out more about clearing rights for digital content with AmbITion Scotland’s Copyright and Intellectual Property Guide).

There are some good sources online that provide libraries of music that you can use for free in your own projects:

http://creativecommons.org/legalmusicforvideos a good website for details about what you can and cannot do with music in a media project, plus has links to lots of music libraries

http://www.smartsound.com/royalty-free-music/ provides some of the best music in a huge variety of styles. It also has plug-in software to work with some of the more sophisticated editing programs including Pinnacle Studio.

http://www.musicmediatracks.com/ free music library

http://www.stockmusicstore.com:8080/storemusic/home.do free music library

8 Using video for engagement and education

Stellar Quines theatre company undertook an AmbITion Scotland development journey that included them experimenting with how to introduce videoing in the rehearsal process with the cast and crew to enable better audience engagement and interesting education materials. This video case study shares that learning.

9 Short films for online audiences - becoming expert

If you’re becoming more expert at making video, and want the challenge of creating a nicely shot and edited short film for your online audiences, this How To… guide, produced by the BBC for Arts Council England includes everything you need to know.

10 A new era - video as Public Service Publishing