Can You Have Too Much Media in a Project?

Thumb drive

After a first day of beneficial chaos, my classmates and I dominated the second day of content gathering in London on one of Elon iMedia’s project for public good.

Our faculty adviser, Ray Johnson, called it “the most productive day by a group I’ve ever seen.”

We’re back in the States now, and have an incredible amount of media to go through to create our final product – a digital prospectus for an elementary school in London.

We kept up a solid momentum for the last three days of the project and collected thousands of photos and videos. Now we have to turn all this media into a story, and it makes me wonder – can you have too much media on a project?

No. No way.

Here’s why:

  • A variety of media gives you choice and flexibility in storytelling.
  • You probably won’t regret not getting a shot or piece of footage.
  • You can give your client plenty of b-roll footage for future projects or as other sources of income.
  • You have plenty of places to find inspiration and stories.

Of course, a ton of media creates obstacles. You have more to comb through, it may be easy to lose focus of your final product and the sheer amount of material you have may eat up valuable time.

Here’s the strategy we’re taking on our London project:

  • We held a content and brainstorming meeting after two days to hash out exactly where the project was headed. We planned out our final product, so we knew exactly what we needed, but agreed we’d be flexible if we discovered any gems during the rest of the trip.
  • We created a shot list for video and followed it.
  • We created a log sheet for all media, so we know exactly what we have and how it might be organized.

These three simple steps have helped guide us and keep the amount of media we have from overwhelming us. That lets us concentrate on the important part of the project – the story.

To follow my journey in London, and the creative project my classmates and I produce, be sure to check this blog regularly. You can explore all the posts about London 2010 here. Also, please follow me on Twitter.

Image by svilen001.

Why Chaos Can Make a Storytelling Project Work

Buckingham Palace guards marching

Sometimes chaos can be the best thing for a big project.

My classmates and I discovered this today as we finished our first day on location at Barrow Hill Junior School in London. We gathered content today for a digital prospectus we will build the school as part of Elon University’s interactive media master’s program project for public good.

We arrived and received a warm welcome by the head teacher and staff at the school. We took a tour, brainstormed and attacked several different mini-projects.

As the day went on, some chaos was unavoidable. We all had landed in a new place (the school) today and an entirely different country less than four days ago. We all had to get acquainted with everything.

We did.

And the first day’s chaos – the rushing around, the meeting new people, the action of finally shooting something on video after mostly planning and brainstorming – felt wonderful.

We all have a hundreds of ideas flowing, and we can’t wait to see where the project takes us tomorrow.

Like I said, sometimes, chaos in a project can be an amazing thing. Welcome it, because it can fuel you and your colleagues like nothing else.

To follow my journey in London, and the creative project my classmates and I produce, be sure to check this blog regularly. You can explore all the posts about London 2010 here. Also, please follow me on Twitter.

Going with the Flow on a Storytelling Project

Tower of London tunnel

Every project has its challenges.

The winter term project I’m working on with my classmates at Elon University in London is no different. We knew that it would throw challenges our way, but the project hasn’t even begun and we’ve faced a major one.

It snowed in London a few days before we arrived and the school where we plan to shoot shut down for the week. It snowed again today, so we’re hoping the same thing doesn’t happen Monday.

To combat the uncertainty we’ve brainstormed ideas for possible new story ideas and solutions if the snow falls and we have to change plans. And we will probably have to ramp that up because it’s supposed to snow again tomorrow. We’ve also already shot one standalone project for the piece though, so starting the process felt good.

Ultimately, it’s about going with the flow.

You can do the same thing, no matter what kind of storytelling project you’re working on.

Go with this strategy:

  • Create a plan and a back-up plan for your project.
  • Go in knowing everything won’t work out.
  • Be ready to adjust at any time.

It’s a simple strategy, but one that can help you accomplish anything.

To follow my journey in London, and the creative project my classmates and I produce, be sure to check this blog regularly. You can explore all the posts about London 2010 here. Also, please follow me on Twitter.

The Strategy for a Storytelling Project with Unknowns

My classmates and I at Elon University have been huddled together planning some very exciting projects for public good.

My group heads to London tomorrow. We’ve brainstormed and brainstormed and discovered that many of our decisions about our project will have to wait until we get on the ground.

We will be creating a multimedia Web site for an elementary school in London – a digital prospectus, so to speak. We’d love to have more knowns than unknowns, but I think we’re learning that’s part of the excitement of this project.

It’s very journalistic in nature, even though it will serve as more of a marketing piece for the school in London. And that means reacting to what’s happening (with as much planning as possible) rather than following a specific schedule.

One of my classmates, and the Creative Director of our London project, Conor Britain, spelled out a great strategy for us yesterday.

He said that we will plan to create a good project, but once we get in London, we will discover how to make it great.

I like that approach – for any big storytelling project.

You’ll never know all the details. So plan all that is possible and be ready to be flexible.

To follow my journey in London, and the creative project my classmates and I produce, be sure to check this blog regularly. You can explore all the posts about London 2010 here. Also, please follow me on Twitter.

Planning a Big Storytelling Project: Have an Eye on the Story

Big Ben

Planning any large, group project can prove daunting.

However, with some creative thinking and teamwork, group members can accomplish a lot of pre-planning before any boots hit the ground. That’s something I’m realizing with one big project I’m working on right now.

The Adventure

I’ll be creating a digital prospectus for an elementary school in London with 10 classmates of mine. The project is part of the curriculum in my Interactive Media Master’s program at Elon University.

My 34 classmates and I will embark on four separate projects for public good around the world. We leave for London, Costa Rica and Panama in the coming days.

The Challenge

As my group members and I have planned how to attack our project, we’ve faced a few challenges. One of the biggest has been how to organize our creative teams.

We will develop a multimedia website for our client that tells its story. This will include photos, videos, text and more. To effectively gather the content we need, using all the technology available to us, we’ve split ourselves into three creative teams. Each team has three to four people.

The Solution

How could we divide our team’s talents and divvy up responsibilities without locking anyone into a role for good?

We took each person’s talents into account, placing a strong videographer, photographer and interviewer in each group. Then we developed a varied roles within each group for the members to keep in mind as they were out collecting content.

Obviously, we will have one person responsible for shooting video and one person responsible for shooting photos. The third role is the storyteller. When this person isn’t interviewing folks, he or she will be required to have an eye for what the videographer and photographer might be missing.

Are they missing any shots or angles? Who are the most engaging subjects or characters? They are a producer, more or less.

It’s not terribly innovative, but these roles will be interchangeable among group members, giving people the opportunity to try different tasks. And what could happen if we fail to have someone keeping their eye on the story?

I shudder just thinking about it.

To follow my journey in London, and the creative project my classmates and I produce, be sure to check this blog regularly. You can explore all the posts about London 2010 here. Also, please follow me on Twitter.

Image by et420.