Workshop 5: Light, Camera, Action!

Date & Time: 6 November 2020 from 1.00 p.m. – 2.00 p.m.

Conductors: Asst.Prof. Dr. Wankwan Polachan

The Strategy and Academic Development Section under the OAA organized its 5th workshop for the academic year of 2020-2021 entitled “Light, Camera, Action! : Tip on how to survive in front of a camera to create a successful online course”. In this sesssion, Ms. Polachan shared tips for working with the camera and how to master the speech and presentation on the day of filming.

In the world of online courses, videos have proved to be one of the most effective ways to teach and engage students in the learning process. A good video for online course requires one to put extra efforts into both content and video production. However, in addition to delivering good content and quality video, the delivery of good user’s experience should also be considered and executed. This means one needs a good plan to approach contents according to the subject and audience one needs to reach.

The first key feature of creating videos involve lighting. Before starting to record, it is important to understand the light angle and how it will make one look in the video. The basic tips include 1. look where your shadow lies. It should cast to the back not in front of you, 2. light should hit your face not your back as this will make you look like a silhouette, 3. avoid the angle that causes shadow around your eyes or your face, and 4. ensure that your videos have lots of light, the lighting will be set up from many different angles. Thus, it’s ok to feel hot. In fact, it’s suggested with the right setting one is supposed to feel very hot.

Next, one needs to know how to work with a camera. Normally in the classroom, one can look into the audiences’ eyes; how they interact to what you said. However, with the camera, there’ll be only the person and the lens. So, the best trick is to imagine the audience. Find the camera and look at the deepest spot in the lens as if one is making an eye contact with the audience to get the maximum possible connection and to channel one’s energy as much as when you teach in a normal classroom. It’s recommended to not look at the monitor nor keep checking yourself. The notion is that if you keep checking the monitor that means you don’t care what happened with you and the camera; you only care what you will be look like; which is wrong. The more important thing is how your content has been delivered and how to channel your energy to the audience that makes them remember you. The stiffness usually comes when one is trying too much to look good or smart in front of the camera. In a traditional classroom, things normally flow automatically because there’ll be no time for one to have a second thought. However, in an online class, one might suddenly think about ‘do I look alright?’, ‘how was my voice?’ during presentation. That’s when you ‘freeze and die’ in front of the camera, because when you’re doing so, you can’t see the truth which comes once you stop judging yourself. 

Another trick is to flirt with camera or act as if you’re having fun playing with something. With that the audience gets more attracted and put 100 percent of their attention. Remember that anxiety and relaxation is a good mix to bring fun and enjoyment.

The third tip is about energy. When one walks into their classroom, one walks from the front to the last row. But being in the studio means there is just one spot, black spot, and one cannot move around. When you work on this spot, you need to know with all your body language how can you send the energy to the camera. People typically expect the camera to come to you, but here the process is actually reversed. In fact, you’re expected to send everything to the camera. If you rely too much on video editing rather than working with it and channeling your energy at best, it means you stop communicating, delivering, or even working and put it in the hands of others.

The last tip is about how the script has been divided and delivered which depends basically on person. However, when you choose to go with full script and you’re not trained actor, the process would go from writing a script and memorizing to standing in front of a camera. This may cause triple anxieties. The way to deal with this challenge is to do the bullet point of things. In drama directing, one can’t deliver things in a bulk, you have to score the beat instead of shooting one after another. As if you are a musician, your song would be divided in bars. You need to know what tempo is for the first bar, what’s going to be the next beat for the second bar, and how do we go to the climax of the song in the third part. This is what we call ‘scoring or beating’. The same goes for the script. You should break it down paragraph by paragraph, beat by beat. Therefore, each time you finish one beat, it helps the production team changing the camera angle and it will be easier to put infographic, slides, or pictures in the post-production process.

‘Beating’ means the objectives; what do I want in saying this, what do I need, why am I saying this, are put before the script. It works like a punctuation or full stop but it’s bigger because it can contain more than one sentence. Each paragraph holds its own meaning. Instead of memorize the whole script sentence by sentence, you just have a vague idea of what this specific paragraph is about. With the objective written in your head, even you cannot recall the exact word/sentence in the script, you’re still able to perfectly deliver that paragraph. For example, one page of the script may be divided into 6 beats. Each paragraph represents each beat. The first beat is to welcome, greet, and build awareness of why must be this content. The second beat is about convincing the audience to join your class. In the third and the fourth beat, you emphasize even more, why this is matter. The next beat, you try to nail down there’s a prove why the audience need to listen to you. Then the last beat works like a large drum strike down in your head to conclude the reason why the audience should stay with you.

Scoring is very critical because it resists monotony when delivering the speech and at the same time it helps you changing emotion. No one can stand up and say things with one beat for two hours because the audience cannot take that too. You need a lot of cutting, changing the camera angle, news insert, lighting, or music to come in between.

In addition, it’s important to get the body, voice, and breathing in sync. Breathing will dictate your emotion and speech tempo which will eventually affect how you speak and how your body react. When you feel ownership of your body, it will show that you command the camera and are in control of the situation. Plus, find the right pitch of your voice. Recall the voice used in one’s classroom. Avoid repetitive hand gesture and let the body speak.

Daunting as it seems, one of the benefits of video is a potential connection with the audience. While text lesson, voice over screen/slides have their fair share of advantages, video can create much higher rate of engagement and learner’s experience. However, in this disruptive market where everyone goes online, it’s easy for the audience to shut you down if your competitors can provide something different, better even. Thus, to be able to compete in a world where ‘how to make it’ is not a question, but rather ‘how can you make it better’, you need to bring out the best content with entertainment and wow factor. Moreover, master the art of using body, voice and breathing and understand how they feed each other into the circle, practice beating the script, and the most important of all, remember that ‘practice makes perfect’ still works every time.