On Monday I stubbled across the Samsung Global Blogger competition- a competition to gather circa 100 bloggers from across the globe to blog about the London Olympics. “All one needed” for an entry was to make a 30 second vlog.
I looked through the some of the thousands of entrants, the majority of whom were in their early 20s. There was real variation of quality, but lots of the entrants seemed so confident in front of the camera. I’d only had a couple of attempts at creating vlogs (selling a caravan, choosing a new smartphone, reporting on a pipeburst), but none of these actually featured me!
As covering the Olympics with Samsung would be an opportunity of a lifetime, I thought I’d give it a go (with just over 25 hours to go till submission deadline) and started… bare with me through the suspense of it… I have learnt a lot! (see them right at the end)
1. [deadline -25 hours] I thought through why I wanted to do take part in this competition and scripted my vlog:
“Hi I’m Monika. I’m a mum, blogger and social networker and sailor, swimmer and canoeist
I remember watching my first Olympics with Misha Bear [that was Moscow 1980]…yes that was a long time ago… and through the years watching with tears in my eyes as the athletes from different countries lined up with camaraderie and the battle for the gold going hand in hand.
Please let me take you on this journey and let’s delve into this special world together, discover the inspirational stories behind the competitors, their endless hours training to take the stage for just one moment in time, the support staff, the spectators and the wonderful multifaceted city that is London.
What better way to do this than with someone looking to capture the inspiration for her own children too?!”
So I timed myself- that took about 1 minute 30 seconds to recite.
I went to bed, tossing and turning all night, dreaming of this competition.
2. [deadline -13 hours] I felt stuck, so I asked my friend Lizzie and Dadonthebrink for advice– how can I squeeze this down to 30 seconds? They talked me through it, what I really wanted to say, what my focus was, etc.
I rejigged my script in line with the feedback they had given. I timed myself- 46 seconds to read it.
I also talked to my friend Steph, who vlogs a lot, for tips.
3. [deadline -10.5 hours] I put on some make up, set up my little “recording studio” – on the kids’ little table I propped up one of their little chairs, onto that went a box… this was the tripod for my very basic Nikon Coolpix camera. I put my favourite armchair in front of a plain wall… my soapbox to tell my story from.
4. [deadline- 10 hours] Recording started. Take, after take, after take.
As Steph had suggested I was going to pick out the sentences that were the best and cut them together. When I finally felt I had enough footage, I slotted the SD card into my laptop & started loading Microsoft Movie Maker…but each time I tried to open even the smallest file on my laptop it crashed.
5. [deadline -8 hours] So I asked help with editing from Steph and transferred the files to her. In the meantime, I rushed off on the school run. After the school run we had a singing practice for this weekend’s Mothers’ Day, then a talk about Internet Safety at Little Miss’ school.
6. [deadline -3 hours] I got home.
By this time Steph had sent across her edit. She did a fab job at cutting it together, but to me I didn’t like myself, my articulation, my facial expressions… I seemed to be trying too hard.
Kids were in bed, so I decided to rethink.
I looked at my script again, cut a little bit more. Got it down to 36 seconds when I read it fast.
I set up my “recording studio” again. This time, as it was dark outside, in front of closed curtains, with different lights on in the room. I also used the Nokia Lumia 800 instead of my Nikon point and shoot (as the sound quality from the afternoon’s shoot was pretty rubbish. I thought a phone should be better… and it was a bit).
This time I knew I had to do it in one go, as I had no means of editing the clip.
7. [deadline -2hrs] Rerecording: I read, recorded, recited, rerecorded and rerecorded. Often holding my head in frustration at my tongue twisting, at forgetting my lines. I did this for just over an hour. I was ready to give up. It was time for a late night tea break.
8. [deadline -45 mins] I sat down again, thinking I’ll give it just one more go. I was tired and lost all confidence. I really wanted to do this, but felt I had no chance.
I closed my eyes for a moment, thought through what it was I absolutely had to say and asked Dadonthebrink to start the phone. The final take– Just one.
I DID IT!!! I did it in one go, it was under 30 seconds and I had 38 minutes to get my submission in.
Now the next challenge- get it off the phone onto my laptop (we uploaded it to Skydrive, from where I could save it my laptop) and submit the application.
…that’s easier said than done though.
Submission was a 3 step process.
9. [deadline -10 mins] I got to the last stage of the submission and realised there was a 30MB file limit for the video audition file & mine was 48MB.
After catching a breath, determined not to give up now, I looked through my program list. Finally coming across an age old file converter program. I gave it a go. It loaded ( this one hadn’t fallen victim to my many culls along the year as a lot of the programs in my program list had… “this shortcut is not valid”). It converted the file to an avi format taking up just 10th of the size of the original.
10. [deadline-4 mins] Application submitted!
You know what… I even forgot to put on make up this time (and my “beautiful” blotchy patchy pigmented pregnant skin shows):
If I could’ve I’d have had popped a bottle of bubbly to celebrate. Not that it’s such a fantastic entry, but I sort of got it in the end.
So why did I bore you with this account?
…because in those 25 hours I have learnt so much:
- Less is more- don’t try to cram everything in. Pick out the message you want to pass on. (I probably need to learn more on this point.)
- If you try too hard it’s going to show
- It’s the easiest to just be yourself
- Speak from the heart and not some script… it will sound so much more authentic (even if others don’t like it, you will like yourself for it, which will give you the satisfaction that you have done your best.)
- Practice, practice, practice. It should become fun over time. …though this was a painful birth, I can see that with time I will enjoy making vlogs more and more. I actually really enjoyed that last take.
- If you can, don’t do it under time pressure!
Have you done anything like this? I’d love to hear what you learnt, what tips you have, as well as get your feedback on my 1st attempt.
Is this type of video audition going to become more common in the future? Maybe even as a screening phase for job interviews?