Behind the Scenes with WR! Video Production (Part II) 

Water Rocks! has recently released its final music video for 2015, called Use Less Water. Last week I shared the first five steps in the music video production process in my blog post Behind the Scenes: Water Rocks! Video Production (Part I).  Now that we have a song and video concept ready to go… let’s continue the journey below!

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Once the pre-production is complete and the concept for the video is established – in this case, a campfire sing along – it’s time to really dig in and start nailing down the details. That begins with scheduling a filming date with the Water Rocks! team and videographer Alyssa Dreeszen.  At the same time, the Water Rocks! “talent scouts” are actively recruiting actors and actresses to help out with the video shoot…  thankfully, we have interns that are eager to help out, as well as connections with a number of middle school and high school students in the central Iowa area! Other preparations include securing a location for the video shoot (in this case, Hickory Grove Park near Colo), costuming, props (think lawn chairs, tents, kayaks, camping gear, and more), campfire-forksaudio equipment (music is played from an iPod connected with a boombox), musical instruments, transportation, and of course FOOD to feed the masses during the video shoot! These responsibilities are shared amongst members of the Water Rocks! team (often Jackie, Nate, and Ann) – hopefully nothing will get forgotten! But when it does, we make a stop at Walmart and pick up critical pieces like campfire roasting forks.

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From start to finish, the video shoot itself typically takes anywhere from 3-5 hours. Program Director Jackie Comito and videographer Alyssa Dreeszen work closely together in planning out the “plot” or storyline for the video.  Once everyone is on site, we usually run through the song 5-8 times in its entirety with Alyssa filming different angles throughout – some of the full group, some closeups, from a variety of different perspectives. The videographer also captures supplemental footage called B-roll.

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For an outdoor video shoot like this, timing is critical in terms of the natural light!  Generally early morning and later in the day, when the sun is lower in the sky, are the best times … this also allowed us to transition into the evening hours as the sun set to get the great shots of everyone gathered around the fire making s’mores.

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After the live video shoot, we enter the post-production phase… that is all in Alyssa’s hands!  Alyssa reviews all of the different video footage that she filmed, and begins the time-consuming editing process in terms of selecting shots and syncing them up with the music. I’m simplifying the process greatly, as this is a very lengthy part of the video making process!  Once Alyssa has a complete draft of the video ready to go, she sends that to the Water Rocks! Team for review via Dropbox. We will watch and offer feedback – then Alyssa creates a revised draft, and we go back and forth again in the refining process.

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While our videos with Water Rocks! are certainly FUN, each one also has an educational aspect to it as we strive to help young people better understand water, soil, and natural resources. In addition to the song itself, the Water Rocks! team creates enhanced learning activities to accompany each video, which can be used by teachers and parents to help students dig in deeper in exploring the content of the music video. Available as free downloadable PDFs on our website, these activities are highly interdisciplinary and range from simple science experiments to writing activities to artistic endeavors. The activities are also aligned with educational standards in the Iowa Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Multiple team members are involved in the process of developing the enhanced learning activities as well, including staff members as well as student interns.

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All of the pieces are complete, and now we’re ready for video distribution!  Each of our Water Rocks! music videos is posted on our website, YouTube, and TeacherTube. Further, we have compiled a DVD of Water Rocks! Music Videos, which is distributed free of charge to each classroom that we visit during the school year. This was done at the request of classroom teachers, as many schools are not easily able to view videos online due to school firewalls and/or slow internet connections.

That’s it for the video production process.  Next time you watch a 3-4 minute video, you’ll have a little more insight into how it all came to fruition – many hands involved over many weeks and months!  So take a look at Use Less Water and let us know what you think! And if you have an idea for a future song/music video, let us know – we just might run with it.

Ann Staudt

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