Tips for Conference Blogging – Part 3 – Blogging with Video

Filed as Features on January 31, 2007 11:18 am

For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of blogging a conference is the opportunity to capture and post video on the blog. Video can add a dynamic element to your blogging, and it can help make the event come alive for your audience. In this closing post on conference blogging, I’ll share a few steps involved in blogging a conference with video. Is it as easy as shooting some video and posting it on your blog? Yes and no.

When I blog a conference with video, I like to ensure that the video clips I shoot will lend themselves to quick, self-contained segments of no more than 2-3 minutes in length. I tend to plan blog posts in advance of shooting the video, with a goal in mind for the topic each post will communicate.

I also tend to keep things simple by using the interview format for my videos. I typically interview one subject at a time, asking simple, single-topic questions connected to the topic I want to post on the blog.

For example, if I’m interested in blogging about podcasting on university campuses, I’ll find an interview candidate from a university who can speak to this topic, and then I’ll ask simple questions like “Tell me howpodcasting got started on your campus,” “What do you see as the future of podcasting on your campus?” or “How is podcasting being received by students and faculty?”

So let’s look at the steps involved in blogging a conference with video.

1- Decide what topics you want to blog, then make a list of potential interview candidates.

2 – Contact potential interview candidates and let them know know the site or sites for which you’re blogging. Be sure to ask permission to conduct the interview and post a version of the interview on those sites. Get approval via email or on camera, and let your subjects know the questions you plan to ask on camera, and make sure they’re comfortable with your approach.

2 – Plan the question or questions you’ll ask during the interview session. Ask your interviewees open-ended questions, and keep the questions simple and straightforward. Avoid posing lengthy ormulti -part questions. Before the camera starts rolling, do a dry run by asking your subject the series of planned questions and listening to their answers. Some subjects will be nervous on camera, and this will help put them at ease. From this you might also get a sense of follow-up questions you’d like to ask during the interview.

3 – Pay attention to lighting, sound quality, and camera position and stability when you’re shooting the video, but don’t make things look too clinical.

Choose a well-lit, out-of-the-way hallway or an unused conference room to conduct your interview. A quiet location will make for a less-distracting video. However, there may be times you want to capture the hustle and bustle of the event as part of the backdrop to an interview. In this case, choose a well-lit spot where viewers will be able to see people milling and mingling in the background. An exhibition floor is a common setting for this kind of interview.

If your camera has a microphone jack, get a simple clip-on lapel mic (they’re available at many stores for less than $20), and use it. Your audience will appreciate the improved sound quality.

If you have the ability to carry a tripod to the event, consider doing so. I like to shoot some interviews holding the camera in my hand, and others with the camera mounted on a tripod. Holding a camera steady during an interview takes practice. The key to keeping a steady camera and a consistently framed shot (meaning you have control of the space around the interview subject) is to keep your eye on your video camera’s monitor, not your interview subject. Also, zooming in an out lightly on your subject during the interview helps add visual interest.

4 – Edit your video using your favorite video editor, and then upload it to the web. Take the time to include titles in your video and be sure to mention the name of your subject any and identifying information, like the university, company, or website. Compress the video and make it no wider than 400 pixels. (I shoot video in in 16:9 format, so I make videos 400×225.) Upload the video to Google Video or YouTube, using the code they provide to embed the video in your blog post as a Flash player.

5 – Tag and annotate your video on your blog. Once you’ve uploaded the video to one of those sites, you’re ready to create your blog post. Paste the code you got from Google Video orYouTube , and then preview the post to make sure the video appears. Make sure you then indicate in your blog post where the video was shot, who’s appearing in the video, and what they had to say. Also add your own commentary. Don’t forget to tag your posts, as I’ve covered earlier.

6 – Email your interview subjects a link to what you’ve posted.

Interested in seeing some examples? Here are two – one with Nancy Prater of Ball State University, and another with Matthew Winkel of The College of New Jersey. (Note that in the latter, I used a different approach to video hosting. I host the Quicktime video on a regular web server, then provide readers with a link to it.)

Dan Karleen video blogs conferences for Syndication for Higher Ed and New Communications Review. He is also a video correspondent with Berks.TV.

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