On Tuesday afternoon I went along to Sadler’s Wells for a digital seminar called The Power of Online Video. Here’s some of the blurb that had enticed me:
With support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Sadler’s Wells will host a half-day seminar on the role of video in the communication strategy of small and mid-sized arts and non-profit organisations
I couldn’t make it in time for the start, but I arrived to a packed Lilian Bayliss studio in time to catch the tail-end of a panel session on ‘Video as part of your online strategy’.
After a short break we returned to the studio for a panel discussion around ‘Creating and Distributing Digital Video for the Arts Sector’, moderated by Time Out’s Dance Editor, Lyndsey Winship.
Kate Vogel, a Producer at Tate Media, was first up. She had come from a broadcast background but had taken the view that it was possible to do more interesting forms of documentary filmmaking for other organisations. She talked about some of the material they’d produced and showed a recent video of Moby at Tate Modern.
Maya Gabrielle is a Digital Content Producer at the National Theatre. Recognising that the seminar had been promoted to small and mid-sized organisations, she spoke about two ways in which they produce relatively cheap video content.
Firstly, she showed One Man, Two Guvnors – Video Diary #1 which had been filmed on Flip cameras handed out to staff directors and some cast members, with the resulting footage edited together in-house. She explained that the loss of visual quality that comes with filming in this way is offset by the ability to show audiences something they wouldn’t ordinarily have seen.
Secondly, Maya spoke about NT’s partnerships with The Roundhouse and the RCA. In return for films being made about their productions, NT provides young filmmakers with inspiration, access (to artists, the theatre and a different creative process) and a platform for showing their work. She stated that many other organisations could do likewise if they were to approach local colleges and universities.
Bonus item: the vocal warm-up exercises from the National Theatre on iTunesU are surprisingly popular, apparently.
David Kaplowitz gave some tips for making a good video and discussed the blurring of roles that is happening between filmmakers, writers and directors.
Above all, David was keen to emphasise the importance of pre-planning. Clarity at this stage can avoid the common mistakes of pieces that are too long, not focussed enough on the subject at hand and not in touch with what the audience wants.
Guy Ruddle is the Head of Visuals at Telegraph Media Group, although he was originally hired from the BBC as their Podcast Editor. He spoke about the role of video and how they use it to improve their storytelling, as well as the degree of coordination required by the art and tech/video teams.
It was cheering to hear that, of the 11m video views per month (on a ‘bad’ month) that the Telegraph serves, the ‘arts’ category ranks second, only behing ‘news’.
There were some smart questions for the panel afterwards about how to resource digital teams at organisations and the outcomes that video can achieve. The choice quote from this section came from Maya Gabrielle and related to the role of social media and online communities in all of this. She said:
If you’ve made a beautiful piece of content but not created an audience for it, you’ve wasted your money
It’s fair to say that provoked a fair amount of head nodding and note scribbling.
The seminar then drawing to a close, we retired to the pub to carry on the conversation.
UPDATE. Videos of the talks have been uploaded to the Sadler’s Wells YouTube account. Click the links to hear from Kinglsey Jayasekera, Richard Cohen, Patrick Johnston, Tom Laidlaw and Maya Gabrielle.