m_clapboardKeep in mind that these are merely suggested  tips to help guide your videomaking.

Key Steps to Producing A Great Contest Video

These steps and tips include:
  • The key elements that go into a great video
  • How to come up with a great China video idea and research your topic
  • How to conduct interviews and find quotes to provide different angles on your topic
  • How to then put it all together
  • Some excellent C-Span videos tips are featured below. While they’re tips for documentaries, they’re still very applicable to your video creation effort.

All the best with your planning, shooting and editing!  .


Step 1. Decide to Compete Solo or as a Team

Your first step is to choose if you want to work solo on your video project, or as a team. A team has up to 3 members maximum (including yourself).

Things to Consider:

  • What are some quick *Modern* China topics of interest to you? Check out our Video Topic Ideas section.
  • If you might team up, consider the following while recruiting teammates:
    • Team Dynamics: Think about your strengths and what strengths others may have –t hey could be valuable members
    • Common Interests: What common interests might you all share, that would
    • Vision, Leadership & Commitment: Important elements to have for an easy production effort.
    • Roles & Time Consideration: Here are typical roles to consider dividing up. Of course, one person can play more than one role. Assign responsibilities and get your team committed.
      • videographer
      • scriptwriter
      • location manager
      • sound manager
      • video editor
      • technical support
      • director
      • actors/interview subjects
      • interviewer/narrator
      • adult mentor/advisor


Step 2. Select a Video Topic

  • Narrow your China-related topics down to two choices that fit the theme.
  • Criteria: Are they topics you care about? Fun to do? Easy to Do?
  • Do quick research to see what’s the latest media coverage on with your topic and make some notes. Check out our China Primer
  • Consider: What kind of experts could you interview? How does this issue affect your peers, your community and your future?
  • If on a team: discuss the best group options & feasibility; then vote
  • Make your selection and move on.


Step 3. Research Your Subject Matter & Draft a Treatment

  • Get a well-rounded understanding of your subject matter –research facts & opinions
  • Use reliable sources for current and in-depth information.
  • Aim to include several different perspectives / viewpoints on your topic
  • Brainstorm on and/or jot experts’ names that you discover– make a quick chart of potential quotes, interviews, and soundbites you might want
  • Explore locations and events that that might illustrate your topic well
  • Organize your information and properly cite your sources. Be consistent in your citation format.
  • At this stage. you may wish to write a short “treatment” –a one-two paragraph synopsis of your video’s topic.
  • It’s handy to refer to the treatment throughout the production process to keep your project focused.


Step 4. Plan Your Content: Writing a Quick Script

  • Before production, you may wish to create a script outline, including storyboards illustrating specific shots.
  • Some people combing scripting with storyboarding in one step
  • Create a script outline of your video and the voice-over messages you want to convey
  • Think of the soundbites & interview clips you want to weave in support your message points
  • Scripting helps make planning your shots and interviews easy
  • RESOURCE: Scripting Basics by Lee Lefever


Step 5. Visualize Your Video: Storyboarding

  • Storyboarding helps you put together a clear idea of what content goes where in the story you are telling in your video
  • Your storyboard will include key shots and visuals you want, and the order you want put them in
  • Do some quick sketches & descriptions of each shot you’ll be integrating — so you’ll know what footage & interviews you still need to get
  • Your storyboard should include locations to scout, people to be interviewed, events to capture, situations to show, documents or still photos to include, artwork, and quotations to show
  • Details are paramount — the more detailed your storyboard is, the easier it’ll be to edit your final video
  • RESOURCES: Storyboarding 101 by Lee Lefever


Step 6. Strengthen Your Video: Multiple Viewpoints — Find Experts to Interview

  • For a more powerful and credible video, you need to have multiple viewpoints.  It’s always effective to include experts on camera with different viewpoints, sides or angles on your topic
  • What angles do you want to cover in your video?
  • Compile a list of several potential interviewees info — name, title, organization, location, email, phone, and some viewpoint notes.


Step 7. Contacting & Setting Up Interviews with Experts

  • To contact multiple sources, draft an email that explains who you are, your project and why you want to interview them
  • Ask friends & family to help with introductions
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you don’t know — you never know who’ll help you out
  • If you don’t get an email reply within a few business days, try calling them on their phone number.
  • Note – not everyone may respond to you


Step 8. Preparing for Your Interviews

  • Research your source to get his/her stance on topic – help assess level of expertise & know
  • Prepare well by drafting 3-4 some good questions that are specific to his /her area of knowledge and experience
  • Make sure these questions require more than a simple one-word answers
  • The goal is to get the most of your source to make your video really compelling
  • Don’t forget to get signed Release Forms that grant you permission to include your interviewees, copyrighted materials and your filming locations (where needed) into your video.   These Release forms can be found online — here are examples (personal, materials, and location releases).


Step 9. Technical Prep & Setup on Interview Day

  • See the C-Span video on the right for technical prep tips.
  • Video quality is very important in the judging.
  • Consider the location’s lighting levels, best camera angles and using non-distracting backgrounds.
  • Recording technique for Smartphone – shoot horizontally only, if possible
  • Tripods are great to use!


Step 10. Conducting Your Interviews

  • See the C-Span video for tips.
  • Treat your interviewees with grace and thank them well
  • Listen well to what they are saying so you or your interview can ask relevant follow-up questions


Step 11. Shooting & B-Roll Video Footage

  • Gather some great original B-roll footage that will impactfully engage your viewer
  • B-roll is that footage that accompanies and/or iillustrates what you say or points you’re making
  • Shot variety is good to have. Consider basics like lighting, framing, positioning, camera steadiness, camera distance, peed of camera movement, sound, how many seconds you hold a shot, etc.  See tips here.
  • Interviewing tip: think carefully about your Q&A, the preparation, position, location and appearance of the interviewee.
  • Careful planning helps yield better video footage for your final video. More B-roll is better!
  • Don’t forget your RELEASE FORMS for your interviewees, materials and your location


Step 12. Video Editing Software

  • Smartphones usually have great editing software that comes with it — Apple’s Camera, or consider upgrading your game with Filmic Pro and others here in our Great Video making tool kit  page (plus free music, sound effects, animation tips and more).
  • Also see this C-Span video for tips:


Step 13. Video Editing Tips

  • Keep your clips organized when in the editing
  • Make sure your video flows well and audio levels (yours and interviewees’) are similar
  • Editing is a critical phase of video making– like writing process, your video footage as the words you will use to tell your story.
  • What order will you arrange the story? Which pieces work well together? What piece should be left out? How will it end?
  • You may also realize you are missing some pieces and need to shoot more video.
  • Determine your strategy of transitioning between scenes and which segments need voice-over narration.


Step 14. Copyrights & Fair Use

  • Be careful with other copyrighted material
  • Your video has educational purpose — and is thus is considered fair use.


Step 15. Citing Your Sources

  • We ask you to cite your top 3 works you’ve sourced and used.
  • Include these works cited in the credits of your video and also in the Video Submission field.


Step 16. Final Edits & Getting Feedback

  • Enlist your teacher, and/or, friends and family to view your video and give feedback about what worked well, and what needs improvement.


Step 17. Final Checklist & Submitting Your Video

  • Make sure your video addresses to this year’s contest theme, inspires your peers to learn more about modern China, and includes other viewpoints
  • Your video is 3 minutes long or less
  • Review the Vimeo uploading steps and all final steps.
  • Make sure you have Release Forms for any persons or works owned by others that appear in your video.  
  • These Release forms can be found online — here are examples (personal, materials, and location releases).
  • Have these on file and scanned, in the rare event we need to see them.


Step 18. Judging

  • Once your video is submitted to us, your video then enters the judging phase.