I Know, Let’s Make A Video!

Back in the 1930s, a young Andy Rooney and Judy Garland made feel-good films for Depression-era audiences. One of the kids would tell a sad tale about someone in the neighborhood needing new glasses, new false teeth, or an operation. Andy or Judy would say, “I know. Let’s put on a show. We can charge everyone a nickel to get in. Mrs. Jones has that barn in her back yard, and we can clean it up and use it for our theater.” Whereupon a group of scruffy neighborhood kids would miraculously be transformed into a troop of professional thespians and performers, the barn would sparkle, people would come from miles around, and they’d raise the money for the new glasses, false teeth, or operation. Nowadays, that scene plays itself out all too frequently like this. A group of professionals — let’s call them water quality professionals — is discussing some problem. Communicating something important to a lot of people seems to be the answer to their problem. One of the group’s members says something like, “I know, let’s make a video! I just bought this great new video camera, and my new computer came with some editing software. It can’t be that hard.” Unfortunately, it is.

Like many complex processes in which the real heavy lifting takes place on the front end, making a good video is relatively easy to do, but it is very hard to do well. It's a country mile from a C-minus to an A-plus, but A-plus is what people are used to. This paper outlines a process the authors have used successfully to create seven video productions together over the past 12 years. The subjects water quality professionals deal with deal with are complex. Furthermore, they are not usually subjects that would excite the average person without the producers going to extraordinary lengths to make them both informative and entertaining. Telling these stories requires skill, talent, and money. The process can be broken down to three major steps and several important sub-steps.

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