How video storytelling helps schools communicate

It might have taken weeks of lockdowns to open many people’s eyes to the power of video communications, but it won’t be a temporary adjustment.

For schools, who have had to adapt quickly to constantly shifting parameters, online video has proved a key tool for effective communication with plenty of scope for use in a post-pandemic world. Virtual open days, subject showcases and video announcements are here to stay, but bright, concise, inspiring storytelling remains crucial no matter what the medium.

Fortitude videographer Thom Airs recently completed a collection of videos for Headington School in Oxford, including using drone and stabilised footage to dramatically but succinctly show off the institution’s latest building – an art and design hub known as the Hive.

Short attention spans

The essence of good storytelling is to keep your audience engaged. In the endless scroll of social media those online attention spans are notoriously shorter than anywhere else, making it imperative you first grab the viewer then deliver your message in a streamlined fashion.

Schools should not forget these basic principles, but the education sector does have an advantage over many other businesses jostling for attention. Parents – particularly those actively looking for a new school for their children – are generally seeking out information rather than having it served upon them. They are naturally invested in learning more and are willing to set aside time to absorb information, which allows for longer – though certainly not baggy – videos with a wider scope.

Who is viewing and where?

At Fortitude, we know that preparation is vital for video production and always host a pre-filming consultation. We will always ask, where is this video going to sit and what is its purpose?’. A virtual prospectus’ that sits prominently on a school’s homepage can be handled differently to a building update or subject showcase designed to be shared on social media or with relevant stakeholders.

A virtual prospectus is not an invitation to create a one-hour documentary, but it does afford a school the chance to showcase multiple subjects and members of staff. In contrast, a shorter video like the one Thom created for Headington can maximise modern filming techniques to deliver an insightful and inspiring snapshot. If your school has a new flagship building, video – particularly aerial and motion-controlled footage – is the most dramatic and effective way to show it off in seconds. Quite simply, no other medium can match it for instant impact, which makes it perfect for cutting through on social media to drive parents to your website or spark further engagement. 

Dramatic techniques

At Fortitude, Thom is a Civil Aviation Authority-qualified drone operator allowing him to safely and legally undertake aerial filming work. Showing off previously unseen angles and creating super-smooth footage can immediately capture an audience, but the techniques aren’t just limited to aerial work. The same technology used to stabilise drone-mounted cameras can also be used indoors, and Thom uses market-leading gimbals to produce gliding walk-throughs and perfect pans and tilts. We also offer timelapse and hyperlapse (moving timelapse) videos, which can be a great way to display work in progress or create an eye-catching sequence.

Fortitude’s advantage

All of the camera technology in the world is no substitute for good storytelling and messaging. Everyone at Fortitude has a journalism background, and Thom is no different. His experience as a print reporter and editor is something our clients tell us they really value. Thom has the interview skills necessary to get the best on-screen footage from contributors and put them at ease in the process. Many video-production companies need to send a camera operator and separate interviewer to create a talking head’ video. At Fortitude, Thom can expertly do both, asking the right questions at the right time to get the most engaging footage. 

But it’s not just during filming that a journalistic mindset is a real asset. Thom’s experience as an editor on a national magazine means he has a keen eye for what material is essential and what can be cut. When difficult decisions need to be made as hours of footage are chopped down to create a five-minute video, this skill is what helps us really hone our productions. Attentions are easily lost online, so razor-sharp editing is essential to maintain a video’s pace and purpose. 

Storytelling excellence

Julia Mullen, director of marketing and admissions at Headington School, said: Thom was an absolute pleasure to work with. He spent time with us before the job to understand the brief which meant our filming time was efficient and productive. He clearly understood the edits we asked for and produced what we needed ahead of schedule and to a tight deadline. 

His journalistic background meant he had an excellent understanding of the importance of storytelling in what we wanted to produce. We were delighted with the outcomes and would definitely work with Thom again.”

Get in touch 

If you would like to discuss video and how it could help your organisation please get in touch here.

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