10 Things You Should Know When Starting A Video Production Class

After teaching more than 6 years of Video Production, and coaching many new Video Production teachers both with and without previous Video Production experience, I have developed a top ten list of helpful topics to get teachers through the year. Every school is different both in their needs, expectations, equipment, hardware and software. There is so much to learn about your Video Production Program, it can be over-whelming. If you are brand new to this subject, just take it one day at a time, don’t try to learn everything in one day. Learn what you want to teach your students as you go. If you are more experienced, you may still need help clearing your brain from information over-load and finding your focus again. Either way, each month I will be writing about one of my topics in my top 10 list.

#1-Basic Curriculum (what to teach, when)
What should you teach and in what order should it be taught. I have had the best success with teaching some basic introductions to different equipment and software first. Then assigning a project where each step of the process is taught as we go. Take it slow, do what works for you. I’ll share what works for me..

#2-Know Your Equipment & Resources (obviously)
I don’t intend to teach you how to operate your specific equipment - that would be impossible, rather break down the equipment into groups and list the most important skills to learn when working with that equipment. There are some basic skill sets when it comes to camera operation, microphones, and a tripod. When it comes to your computer software, what should you focus on and how much do you have to teach starting out? Can you make computer graphics? Why do you need computer graphics?  How about the audio or music? Finally, do you have a studio for broadcasting to the school? How in the world do you take on learning a whole studio, let alone teaching it?

#3-The Production Process
Too many teachers I have seen just say, “make a video, and turn it in with a script by the due date”  not knowing there are steps throughout the process that should be taught, practiced and assessed. If you know the process of production, no matter what type of project you are producing and teach this to your students the video projects will look more professional than if the students rushed through to the end without guidance. Sticking to the production process will train your students how to properly and professionally produce quality videos you’ll be sure to be proud of..

#4-How to Group Students (Crews & Jobs)
Pending number of students and equipment available, many teachers seem to struggle with how to group the students in a way that they all have a job to do. What jobs should they have? How should the rotate or be assigned when doing the announcements? What about their video projects? This is another topic I get asked a lot about. I have actually done this several ways, but I have a list of ideas that could help you.

#5-What To Require in Your Video Projects (Tech Specs & Content)
I have a list of technical elements I require in all videos that could apply to any type of video. This list helps students because it provides them with a concrete check list and I can easily use it for grading. I don’t think it is fair to give a student a low grade on a video if you can’t give them a solid reason why. Just because you don’t like it as much as others is not a good enough reason. You must be able to show a parent how a required element was missing and how the student was aware of this from the beginning. Surprises, will only cause you headaches. If you didn’t state the requirement in the beginning, don’t take away points in the end.

The Content is a separate list and can very pending the project. This list can give the students a guideline but can also be graded more subjectively. This is how the ‘better’ videos can receive more points than others in the class. The final grade should be made up of both technical elements and content that were outlined to the students from the beginning.

#6-How to Format Your Announcement Show
Everyone has different requirements for school announcements that are set up by the Principal, school needs and class schedule but many teachers want some ideas about the content, the order and elements that could help the show be professional and entertaining for the student body. I have a format I follow with variations that could help you get a show off the ground for the first time.

#7-How to Assess Student Performance/Participation
Everyone struggles with this one! How do you grade each student when they are doing different jobs? How do you keep track and how often do you grade them? When they are working in groups, how do you separate the students who do all the hard work from the students who are  along for the ride? I have struggled with this one too. I have tried many things but I have come down to a couple of solutions that work for me.

#8-How to Assess Student Video Projects
When it comes to grading the final video projects, what should be graded? How do you do it? From physically taking the time to look at every video, down to the rubric used; I have some helpful tips.

#9-How to Pick Projects
Some teachers run out of project ideas. I actually think of my projects differently for my beginning level students than I do my advanced level students. I believe different styles of production should be taught first but look to my advanced students to produce projects that are needed by the school. I’ll tell you about the different formats I teach and why, then give you some ideas for various school projects.    

#10-How to Motivate & Inspire Students While Keeping your Stress Down
We’d all like to think that our elective class was the first choice of every student in our room. Unfortunately, this is never the case. Some schools have a tech wheel, so you always have students who don’t want to be there at all. Other schools are supposed to be operating under a program where students get to chose their electives. Either way, you will always have a student or 2 who don’t really want to be there. Even if they want to be there, you have to fight distractions seeping in from their lives outside your walls and the electronics that are burning holes in their pockets. I have some fun ideas that could give you a new light and new hope.

Misty_CUMisty Gentle started with long format television programs for Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, Florida. She worked her way up from a Production Assistant to Producer. Along the way, she worked in a variety of positions from pre-production through post. After that, she worked on shows for the Fox Health Network, Animal Planet, ABC, Disney, The Learning Channel, Discovery Channel and More. Misty has been a writer / director / producer for on-air promotions and corporate productions as well as 2nd assistant stage manager, Script Supervisor, Segment Producer, Associate Producer, and Post Production Producer. In the summer of 2008, she was Associate Producer for Nickelodeon's "My Family's Got GUTS". These positions have given her a broad understanding of production from show concept and development through post and delivery.

She began teaching in 2004 with a full television production program at the middle school level. After 5 years, Ms. Gentle moved up to high school where she currently teaches digital video production to 9th through 12th graders.

She holds a BA degree in Communications - Television and Radio Production and is certified as 'Technical Vocational Education - Television Production'.