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Podcast: Technology Conversations

Welcome to Technology Conversations, brought to you by the IT Training team, Center for Instructional Technology and Training (CITT). Here you will hear conversations from IT experts in different fields as well as discussions on how technology plays a key role in individuals’ personal and professional lives.

Episode 6: Multimedia Production

In this episode, we have a conversation with two experts in multimedia and video production, Josh Mills and Steve Zill of Video Production Services with CITT or Center for Instructional Technology and Training. They share the common tools they use at work, what to look for when considering a multimedia project, and how to maximize the resources they provide.

View Podcast Transcript

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Welcome to our podcast technology conversation, where we discuss technology related topics. From how to find resources for your technology needs, to how technology can impact our lives. My name is Anchalee Phataralaoha and I will be your host. Today, we have two experts in multimedia and video production, Josh Mills and Steve Zill, our multimedia specialists. So we are glad to have you here to share your expertise in multimedia production. To start off, could you please share with us your background and your expertise?

Josh Mills: Sure, so my name is Josh. I work in studio production here at UFIT. I've been at UF for about eight years. Before this, I worked in TV news. I started out here as a videographer and then eventually moved on to doing more studio and post-production.

Steve Zill: Yeah, so I have about six to seven years making videos in the higher ed space starting out at Santa Fe College, moving on to the College of Education at UF and now here at UFIT. And before that, I was making videos for a startup here in town that revolved around ecotourism. And yeah, I'm originally from Daytona Beach, Florida, just a couple hours from here and got my degree in advertising and visual arts here at the College of Journalism and Communications.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So could you share with us in a nutshell the video production or maybe audio production process?

Steve Zill: It really starts out with a consultation with an expert of somebody who has really lived in that world with that medium for a long enough time to know how to fit your message into the proper form. Because so many times it's like, you know what, it is good that it's in a text format. And that's actually the easiest way to digest the information. Or maybe, you know, this is a good format for an infographic or poster or something like that.

Josh Mills: It doesn’t need to be a video.

Steve Zill: Yeah, basically, sometimes it really doesn’t and especially information heavy things.

Josh Mills: Yeah, that's a big part of our process. One of the things that we really emphasize with our clients and all the people we work with, which are often faculty, is you don't have to have a whole video planned out in your head and know how to do all that. Like, we're gonna help you figure that out. Like, that's really our goal is the consultation thing. Like Steve said, we want you to come in and give us, what's your idea? What's your goal here? What do you want to do? And then we'll kind of take that and help you figure out how to put it together and how to actually make it into a compelling video. And like Steve was saying, sometimes that means maybe this doesn't all need to be a video. Maybe some of it could just be an article or a graphic or something else is breaking that up.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: With that, I suppose when they come in or maybe seek your help for any kind of production, do they need to prepare some way, somehow, or they can just come in as is?

Steve Zill: Yeah, there's no hard and fast rule. It's nice to have a vision for the project or even to know what type of video you want to make. Like, oh, it's a tutorial or just a welcome video. But, you know, that's not a prerequisite. Like you can come in and say, you know, I just have been kind of bored with my course and I'm finding engagements lacking. And I'm wondering how can I add some media that will get these students to engage more thoughtfully in discussions or something like that.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Any tools or particular software that you normally use? And if so, any favorites?

Josh Mills: Yeah, we mostly use the Adobe Suite, the Creative Cloud Suite. It's just a patchwork of different software and programs such as Adobe Premiere, which is our main editing software. Other people might use Final Cut or Avid or some of those other ones. I think it's mostly Premiere, Final Cut, and DaVinci Resolve for the big ones right now and iMovie. And then we also use Adobe After Effects, which is our motion graphics program. And so motion graphics is just moving graphics and that's actually a pretty big part of video production nowadays. It wasn't when I started. When I started, it was much more just camera and lighting focus, but now it's very multimedia. It's like, you know, graphics and text and pictures and all sorts of things kind of combine together. So we use the Adobe Suite. That also includes Adobe Illustrator, which is a graphic making program. And then there's also Adobe Photoshop, which we use for all manner of things. And we use all those in concert to kind of construct these very layered videos.

Steve Zill: And there are some fascinating tools within these creative cloud programs. For instance, in Adobe Premiere Pro, there is a tool that will lengthen your music soundtrack past its end. If you need a little bit more duration of the track, you can just grab the slider, slide it over and extend it. And AI software will generate these loops and melodies that fit the rest of the song and give you like that 10 seconds extra you need to round out the video.

Josh Mills: And the transcription too. That's huge.

Steve Zill: Right. Yeah. Transcription. I mean, you know, the click of a button, you're transcribing a five-minute video. And it's pretty accurate. You have to go back through and refine it. It's not perfect.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: What do you find is the most challenging or the most difficult project or task that you have come across?

Steve Zill: So one of the most difficult things we run into is jumping into the process without enough prep. That usually leads to a lot like heavy improvising and a lot of going back and fixing things later in a more tedious fashion than doing it ahead of time and having a plan. So that's why we really emphasize when you can have a script. But most of all, just come in and talk with us.

Josh Mills: Yeah, there's a lot of problems we can solve before we do anything that will make the whole process a lot more smooth and coherent if we go in with a good plan.

Steve Zill: Prep is important.

Josh Mills: A lot of it is just about getting everybody on the same page before we start something.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: With that, can you sum up three items? I would say the top three need-to-know items that you can pass to someone who would like to do an audio or video production.

Steve Zill: The top three things that people need to know before working with us is that the process will be consulting with us, prepping with us, and then communicating with us throughout the entire process. So it's not as much of a drop-off thing a lot of the times, at least with field productions. There's a lot of times where I need to check in along the way and share, review drafts, just to make sure that we're getting the details down properly.

Josh Mills: Yeah, and I think really the main point of all of these is the same, which is that we want to be involved in the process. We don't want to be viewed as just an end step for someone. Like, okay, I'm ready to make a video and then they just come and it's like a vending machine. You put a coin in and then we give you a video a week later. It's going to go a lot better if you work with us from the start and we help you kind of visualize everything and help you kind of figure out what's going to make this more compelling as a visual medium.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: With things keep evolving and changing, how do you stay current in your field?

Josh Mills: One thing I try to do to stay current is to look kind of outside of the sphere that we're in here. What are people on YouTube doing? What are streamers doing? What are content creators that are wildly outside of the academic sphere? What kind of things are they doing? And we've gotten a lot of good ideas from that. As we learn that stuff over time, we try to make sure that we pass that down to our newer folks because it's like, man, I wish when I was 22 and just starting out, somebody had taught me that because I knew the basics, but I didn't really know the more detailed things.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Where do you see this field heading to, let's say, 5 to 10 years from now?

Steve Zill: Well, just based on the current trends in video production, the form keeps changing. I think that's the main thing that's been, especially through the internet and social media platforms, which seem to just hijack attention spans. For me personally, the best thing that I can do as a videographer is try to master the forms that I'm seeing, like vertical videos with captions, making mini documentaries, having solid event coverage, and then in the higher ed space, you know, mastering the forms that are the most requested items like welcome videos or departmental promos or a tutorial video. Just mastering those initially and then trying to innovate and kind of break the patterns that people are used to seeing is really important to kind of add an element of novelty to these old forms.

Josh Mills: So what do I think video is going five to ten years from now? The thing that I think that's kind of fascinating about it is it hasn't changed that much in a hundred years. Only it's just gotten easier and more accessible and faster. We're still kind of doing the same thing that we were when cameras were invented. We just have better tools that make it a lot simpler and they're much more accessible to an average person. So that's why, you know, anyone now with a cell phone can basically produce a full video. And so, you know, for us, like for Steve and I, you know, we have to always think about, where do we fit in as these professional, you know, video production specialists that have been, you know, doing this for a long time and amassing all this, like, knowledge and technical skills and yet it's really easy for somebody to just grab a phone and film something. And I guess for me, where I see that growing in, you know, the next five to ten years is like, those tools are going to just get easier and, you know, the camera resolution is going to get higher and all, but that does have a diminishing return at a certain point. The only thing that matters is that it's compelling. We always talk about length of videos a lot and how, you know, oh, the videos need to be short and to the point. And that's true, but at the same time, like, what does that mean? And I think it's not so much the actual length of the video. It's that how long it is interesting for because you can make a short video that's not interesting. You can make a longer video that's really interesting because it has a lot of change of pace, it has a lot of compelling elements to it and so it needs to be as long as it needs to be and that's tough sometimes with the attention spans. But I think the mistake is just assuming that well the only thing we can do is we could just keep making them shorter. I don't think it's the length. I think it's just making it interesting.

Steve Zill: Yeah, and with the increase of everyone having phones and cameras I think that’s made a lot more rallying points for people to connect over a very specific topic in the world. And I can see that in the next five to ten years amounting to a higher demand for connection through these kind of blended courses that might not even be attached to higher education.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Thank you for joining us. It has been a very fun and informative conversation. That's it. We will see you next time for topic of interest in technology.

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