The making of BSS – the Movie

The making of BSS – the Movie

Chris (one of our Assistant Librarians) reflects on the making of the video that featured in the last post:

In BSS, we have recently produced a video and uploaded it to YouTube.  The idea is to give an introduction (a very brief one) to the work done in our section.

Having decided in principle that it was a good idea to produce a video, we were faced with some difficulties.  The work we do in BSS, though important, interesting and central to the public library service provided by the City of London is distinctly not photogenic.  Most of us spend a high proportion of the working day sitting at computers, working to a high level of concentration.  Secondly it is very hard to give sufficient detail to make the explanation interesting, yet not so much that it is simply underwhelmingly overwhelming.   Finally none of us who were involved in the project seemed to have much (if any?) experience of producing any kind of audio visual production.

A look around at what similar places had done was reassuring to an extent. There are plenty of library / bibliographic outfits who have produced superbly professional representations of what they do.  However they seem either to have invested in heavily expensive equipment or even have contracted the work out to professionals.  On the other hand there are plenty of other organisations who have produced something themselves.  We were clear from the beginning that ours would have to be done on a shoestring to the best standard we could but with no frills and relying chiefly on the message.

Cooperation has certainly been one of the principle ingredients – people willing to be photographed, to be filmed, to offer advice, to look up quickly how something can be done, researching websites for music and offering supportive comments when some of the results became showable.  There was no shortage of timely help and this undoubtedly had a good effect on the working relationships within the office.

Early on in the project, we agreed a format – basically a narrator speaking to still and moving pictures with a brief interlude of somebody speaking direct to camera.  We gathered pictures and video clips to add to an existing collection we had.  Having this collection made it comparatively easy to insert pictures at will, though some pictures which went in the final version were taken only days before the whole thing was completed!  Quite early too we drafted and settled on a script.  With this complete, we had a structure around which we could work.

From this point we produced a very rough first draft of the film – a crude recording of the script coupled with a high proportion of the eventual pictures.  This rough version we were able to show around and get some feedback.  Because responses were pretty positive, we were able to begin concentrating on the detail, like recording the narration and the video interlude properly, like finding appropriate music and working that in and creating captions and taking clips from the library catalogue.  Right up until the last moment of creation difficulties were emerging and being overcome, such as balancing the volume and tone of different voices recorded on entirely different machines and answering puzzles such as how you could allow someone who was speaking to camera to continue speaking but cut away from their face to show something else as they spoke.  The final version was only completed at 10.00pm the night before being shown to the two people heading our service.

It would be great to hear from others who have had experience of producing something of this kind.  It would also be wonderful to hear any feedback from those who have seen the film.

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