Reflections on Video Bootcamp

It’s been two years since the launch of my library’s Digital Media Lab. What was once a storage room is now an active space for patrons to edit video, create music, design artwork, and archive their old media. We’ve settled into a good routine, using a mixture of experienced volunteers and Computer Lab staff to train and work alongside patrons.

But now it’s time to go bigger. If our library is going to function as this kind of creative space, it’s going to take a much larger effort on the part of all staff. We need to lead by example, creating our own media and initiating our own conversations with the public. But before we get there, we’ve got to learn the tools of the trade.

Enter Video Bootcamp.

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Following the Learning 2.0 model, Video Bootcamp is a six-week experiential program designed to guide library staff through the process of planning, shooting, and sharing short videos for the Internet. While largely self-guided, it’s made to function as a social exercise, encouraging ‘Campers to share techniques and learn from one another’s mistakes.

Each week focuses on a different aspect of the video production process. The idea is for each subsequent concept to build on the previous one, until they’ve created their finished video. Here are the steps:

  • Week 1 is all about The Big Idea. Participants must come up with the concept for the video, and explain how they plan to reach their intended audience.
  • Week 2 focuses on the logistics of creating the video. Campers flesh out the text of their video (either through an outline or a full script), and submit a shot list or storyboard that demonstrates how the video will lay out visually.
  • Week 3 is all about shooting the raw footage. Using Flip cameras, screenshots, and still images, staff will gather all the pieces for their video.
  • Week 4 is designed to give everyone a chance to get familiar with iMovie. They’ll take all their raw materials and assemble a rough edit.
  • Week 5 is geared toward fine-tuning. The rough cut gets trimmed, transitions and titles are added, and the finished piece finally emerges.
  • Week 6 is where the finished piece goes live. Participants are encouraged to comment on one another’s work, and reflect on their own experience.
We’ve finished one cohort of this program, and are now in Week 3 for the second group. So far results have been quite positive. We’re helping to seed our YouTube channel, and we’ve got several ‘Campers thinking about their next pieces. Our patrons have diverse tastes. In order to reach them, we’re going to need to create a diverse body of content. That’s going to require all staff to get involved.

In looking at the big picture, it’s easy to take inspiration from the creative endeavors of others. There’s a slogan nestled in the backmatter of the comic book Casanova, by Matt Fraction, Gabriel Bá, and Fábio Moon. At the end of the copyright page, they leave the reader with a simple message: “Stop Downloading. Start Uploading.” It’s a strong reminder of how much potential the Internet has as a purely creative medium.With a purely consumptive device like the Kindle Fire poised to command a significant portion of mind- and marketshare, this simple statement throws down a pretty provocative gauntlet. Video Bootcamp gives my library an opportunity to rise to this challenge. As more staff start thinking visually, we’ve got a chance to engage entire new audiences. Bootcampers can become strong examples to our community, and cement the library’s role as a creative space.

All content from our Video Bootcamp is freely available to lift, borrow, or adapt for your own projects. Questions? Feedback? Please post in the comments below.

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