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Spoken word poetry video

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Spoken word poetry video by Jodie Jackson

I was recently commissioned to produce, film and edit a spoken word poetry video. Working as a BBC trained videographer, I possess all the skills to deliver high-quality video production. In this case study, I explain the process behind a production.

Publish the Positive

I was contacted by Jodie Jackson who was studying for a Master’s degree in positive psychology. Jodie was looking to create a video to support some new research that she was publishing. She sent me two links to examples of existing YouTube videos that had inspired her and that she wanted to try to emulate. After a series of discussions on the phone and sight of the proposed text which was to be illustrated in a video, we formulated a plan. My brief was, not only to film and edit Jodie speaking the words of the poem on ‘Positive News’ which she had composed, but also to collaborate with her on the creative input required to bring the words to life.

Making London look like a warm summers day

The project was to be completed and submitted within a very short time frame as Jodie had a fixed date for the launch of her research. One of the challenges was to find a suitable location to record her piece to camera. As we had no access to free studio space, I decided that filming in a natural environment would work well for the main theme. So, on the next sunny morning, we headed up to Hampstead Heath with all the kit required. The sky was very cloudy, so I had to concentrate on recording a series of takes during limited bright periods to make sure there were enough sunny shots and good performances for the edit.

Editing with stock video footage

Then, once I had imported the footage into my edit suite, I set about downloading many of the stock footage video clips which Jodie had identified as wanting to use in the edit. One good advantage of using these stock video clips is that you can download low-resolution watermarked versions for replacement with high-resolution versions when the final versions have been agreed. This means that you can edit them in with all your own suitable footage and also to try new shots without incurring any additional cost. Jodie had also selected a music track from an online production music source that she wanted to use as the backing track for the video.

To help to illustrate the spoken words, I also sourced some video footage from NASA who allows you to use a lot of their content for non-commercial projects as long as you credit NASA. This included their wonderful ‘sunrise’ picture to illustrate the words that ‘a new day is dawning’. I also found some old black and white footage, that was listed as being in the public domain, which aptly illustrated the words ‘mental pollution’.

Editing of text captions onto video

To help ensure that the words of the poem could be understood by as many people as possible, I added text captions to the video. Adding subtitles to a film is very time intensive as it is so important that the words on the screen completely match those being spoken. Also, you need to ensure that visually the text is very clear, regardless of varying backgrounds and also that it is not intrusive to the viewer. The text for this video took quite a bit of fiddling with to make sure it looked as good as possible. In order to improve the clarity of the subtitles, I also edited in some translucent soft black underneath the text to help it stand out from the video.

Sharing the latest video edit on Vimeo

During the development of the video edit, I uploaded the changing versions to Vimeo so that Jodie could view them privately and comment on the edit and advise me of any changes as required. Once Jodie had signed off the final edit, I then purchased and downloaded all the high-resolution watermark free stock video footage and then edited it all in to replace the low-resolution versions used during the editing process.

Spoken word poetry video

Once completed and, after a final check, I delivered a YouTube compatible 1920 x 1080 version of the video. Jodie uploaded this to her own YouTube channel where it has had a very successful launch, linking with her ‘Publishing the Positive’ research. If you would like any help with your spoken word poetry video production please get in touch.