How To Video
by Chelsea Suarez
As a course dedicated to improving writing for the professional writer, The Composed Business Apprentice: Writing for Business, challenges students to compose multiple formal business genres and diversify the style of their sentence structure and grammar for the purpose of conveying clear and concise messages.
For the “How to Video” assignment, the professor asked students to address a topic or strategy taught within the course and to develop a video that would display a step-by-step process on how to complete that task. By integrating business writing with 21st-century technology, this assignment stretched students’ creativity, professionalism, and cinematographic expression.
Prior to starting the project, the class viewed a number of “How to” videos in order to understand the component parts of this 21st-century genre and to lay the foundation of how to proceed with our own video production. Coupled with written exercises requiring the identification of each step given within the videos, students learned the process to develop transitions and provide detailed explanations in a succinct manner.
Adapting to the style of business language was difficult, so the task of applying it to a video was daunting. Therefore, using a meta-communicative point of view stemmed from the honest desire to help my fellow students with their own video submissions. Furthermore, the thought of using a text-only video was, from my own perspective, lacking in charm and personality; a language-heavy video without visual interest would come off as dull and easily forgotten among the others within the class, ultimately failing to provide assistance. I needed to catch my peers’ undivided attention. I then realized my greatest challenge in creating a video was not the actual creation process, but rather precariously juggling the attention of my viewers while simultaneously keeping them entertained in order to reach the goal of helping them achieve their own final products. I needed to take inventory of my own skills and apply them to the task at hand.
Although I was confident in drawing and producing visual art, I had to be conscious of its application, which turned out to be one of the biggest struggles faced when starting the project. I already had the vision of the video completed within my mind, but I had no clue of where to begin. During a brainstorm session, I broke the video down to its simplest aspects, pointing out any problems with any possible choices I had first before deciding on the path I would take towards realizing the video’s creation. A fully detailed drawing would take too much time and detract from the main focus at hand. A script that sounded too serious would sidetrack my audience. A software platform that didn’t combine my images and words as I intended wouldn’t deliver the correct message. To top it off, I had no experience with video editing.
I had to mix images with a sense of whimsy to keep the lesson light-hearted and amusing, which I thought would also make the video memorable. I sought out advice on the easiest software program for video editing, and after being unable to figure out an initial program, I was encouraged to try out Camtasia Studio. I found the multiple editing tools to be very user-friendly. I decided on a simple-line drawing style and a friendly straightforward voice, and the choice of an amenable software helped give the video a quick and to-the-point visual impact to accompany the easy-to-follow audio directions.
Though I knew what my video would cover, I faced the issue of actually putting it together. Prior to the project, I had never created a serious video before, and I was at a loss on how to start. Although I did not have an actual camera and microphone, I decided to use the only media-recording device available: my phone. With only a cellphone camera and a pen, I began my production and recorded each scene in a series of takes all while remaining aware of what scripted directions I conveyed during each transition so that the images could accurately mirror my words. After finishing, I increased the speed of each clip and merged them into one in Camtasia Studio, adding transitions and music to give the video the charm of a professional clip. To be accessible to all audiences, I also added subtitles below the video, which also helped my delivery of the instructions to be as clear as possible.
Finally with my finished product digitized, I felt a rush of certainty when I played it back to myself for the first time. I felt the most successful aspect of the video was in its editing—though the actual drawings took under a minute to draw, the transitions between each scene and the addition of the music made it appear higher in quality and more appealing to the eye. Camtasia proved to be my lucky charm: if I had used the more difficult program, I would not have produced such a simple and clear video. If I had the opportunity to recreate my project, and I had more time, I would challenge myself to add more detailed drawings as to make the video more visually exciting for my audience.
Seeing my simple drawings turn into an entire presentation gave me the self-assurance to say I achieved my overall mission of getting students not only to learn how to make a “How To” but also to pay attention to the level of effort they put into their own work. After all, if a project is meant to showcase your skills, why not make it shine as brightly as you can?
Chelsea Suarez graduated with the Class of 2016 from John Jay College with a degree in public administration. Chelsea chose to draw her video because she wanted to utilize not only a form that was unconventional but also show her love of art. She believed that using a quirky style would make my message just a bit more memorable to my audience, hopefully garnering a chuckle or two from them in the process. In the future I hope to make a career in arts administration, where I aim to further use my passion to spread art and its message to many more audiences.