OEB is an annual conference in Germany late every year. 2018 was my third year to this very different event – focused a lot more on academia, education and bringing corporate learning into all of that too.

Also 2018 marked a difference in that Online Educa Berlin has been acquired by Closer Still Media, who also own Learning Technologies that run in London, France and previously in Asia, as well as more conferences in the United States.

At OEB I created several videos to give a sense of the conference and exhibition. This blog contains them all as well as a bit about how and why I made them this way.

Why do short highlights videos?

At the beginning of last year at the Learning Technologies exhibition I created a fair few walkabout and interview videos. And a few months later at the CIPD Conference I did a lot of interview videos. These were received really well, I enjoyed doing them and learnt a lot, not just from the people but the process too.

I could have continued with those formats of course, but I wanted to do something new. I didn’t have a plan for that ahead of OEB and perhaps I should have! It was literally on the preview day, as I was wondering around I thought it would be cool to take some videos and edit them together in a different way.

How to do the videos?

I took a few videos on that preview afternoon and downloaded a video editing app to my Android phone. After a play, it wasn’t easy to use, I couldn’t get some of the more advanced features I wanted, whilst remaining simple for me as I’m not trained in doing this as part of my job.

The next download was a free version of PowerDirector, and that fit the bill. I spent a fair bit of time learning how to put the video together, playing with text overlays, the theme that gives the colours, and the audio available to add on to it. This was the result:

Perfect? No! Easy? Not yet. But it was definitely creative, fun and different from what I’d done before and what I saw other people doing.

It also got me thinking about what people might want to see if they hadn’t ever been to OEB to get the flavour of it. I recorded lots of snippets of videos on my phone, panning from left to right and various directions. I didn’t know what I wanted or how I was going to us it. Again, not the best way to plan your videos, but I can tell myself I was being organic!

This is a tweet from February 2018 on feedback of the videos – thank you Natalie!

After the speakers welcome that evening and going out for dinner, I saw the huge sign on the hotel, the welcome desks and thought they would make a great welcome video. As is tradition, I recorded more than I used. Some of it was terribly shaky and got deleted. I wish I’d had even my selfie stick with me at the time, but made do:

The second edit was much quicker and by now I was on a roll and decided to continue to capture these videos. I knew I wasn’t getting interviews or lots of content about detail, but twitter was great for that and this gave a very different view.

By the opening key note the next morning I knew I wanted to capture things like the information screens so that people could quickly see what the topic was without me having to make notes, remember people’s names or put on overlay text. I also wanted some crowd shots to show people how big and busy the sessions were.

For this one, I recorded a lot! There were some quite long, minute or so, videos of not all that much happening, but I knew at some point there would be a great snippet of interesting physical footage I could use, such as Don Taylor catching the roving microphone foam box.

In the edit for this one I forgot to remove the audio from the tracks included. It was actually pretty cool in some placed to hear Don saying “welcome” or to have the speaker’s talking almost as background. I probably wouldn’t do it again though!

By the time I’d gotten to this video I decided to pay the £8 or something to remove the “by PowerDirector” note on the bottom right of the video and open up more music and transition options. I could also start editing these on my phone whilst in sessions. It’s largely drag and drop the videos, cut the bits you don’t want and so on. It takes a little while to do, but you can do it here and there and it gets quite a lot quicker once you know the buttons and options to use.

Part of OEB 2018 was the free Learning Technologies Germany exhibition and seminars I wanted to highlight this and what was available without paying for a Conference ticket. I really enjoyed trying to be creative with taking footage of people walking by stalls, showing crowds and the seminar sessions… but without making any one uncomfortable.

I really enjoy working with the speakers at conferences such as OEB and Learning Technologies and chairing their sessions. I knew that these sessions would be a challenge to film. Not only was I there in the main to chair those sessions, but also they were a lot of presentation and talking with a group. But some short snippets were put together and I think highlight just how popular the sessions are.

Again I took multiple videos, trying to pan from an interesting looking slide to the speaker, and use the clip that had them doing something more interesting, such as with their hands or turning towards me. If I knew a question was coming up I would pan to the audience and I experimented with zooming in – this was hard without a tripod as I would twist the camera!

The debate panel was a fun one to record – it was a huge area with different speakers. Elliott Masie is always great for some fun and his theatre background really showed in his presentation. I also know Patti Shank very well and enjoyed the amazing feedback she deservedly got for her presentation.

This last video was the opening session of day two and I made sure to sit front and centre to get the best position of the stage as well as not having to zoom in too much. I did more zooming here, with a lot hitting the digital cutting room floor. The ending was a bit different, which I filmed by walking up to the big screen. I reversed that bit of film to display the way it does. It was very wobbly but it was OK I think.

I’m very proud of all of these videos, and the first one for even starting to do this approach, something I’ve never done before. However it’s this last video I’m most proud of.

The reason I’m most proud is the conversation I had later that evening with Donald H Taylor. He was commenting on the video by the OEB videographers of the session he had hosted that morning. I clarified which video he meant, the one I had tweeted, and explained that actually it was me that had filmed and edited that all together.

I’m really pleased that Don was surprised. He thought it had been put together by, in my words, “professionals” and not something I’d done on the fly, with no planning, using my phone! That gave me a huge smile and vote of confidence!

I hope this gives you a little insight into what you can do with little or no money and just a phone (it was a Samsung S7). These aren’t professional grade amazing perfect videos, but I got a lot of very positive feedback and people asking for more. Let me know your thoughts and what you get up to!