From prayer letter to video story

 

The video above came about through strong communication among Wycliffe Global Alliance partners. Let me walk you through the process.

Jurek Marcol, director of the Biblical Missionary Association (Wycliffe Poland), wrote a letter about working with Roma people in eastern Slovakia. He sent it to the Wycliffe Global Alliance Prayer team, who recognized it as a potential story and sent it on to our Communications team.

I emailed Jurek, asking his permission to produce a story for Wycliffe.net. I also asked him some follow-up questions:

  • What is the name of the village where you have been working, and in what part of Slovakia is that?
  • How did Wycliffe Poland become aware of the Roma people in this village?
  • You mentioned that most of the village attends church about 12 km away. Is this a Roma church, or mixed? Do they walk there? Or how do they get there?
  • Are they reading the Bible in the Slovak language, or a Roma translation? What is the status of Bible translation in their Roma language?
  • Finally: Do you have two or three photos we could use with the story?

An evangelistic gathering among the Roma people in Bezovce, Slovakia.

Jurek emailed back the next day with detailed answers, plus even more contextual info about the Roma in Slovakia. I already knew some of this, having reported stories from Slovakia in 2016 about the Old Testament translation project happening there. But Jurek’s information brought me up to date.

Next, I edited Jurek’s piece for clarity, style, and to add the new information he had provided. I kept the piece in his first-person voice (“I”). That is not something we always do, but in this case, he was telling the story from his personal experience. It made sense for me as the editor to stay out of the way.

Jurek also sent me close to 20 good photos — photos of their team’s work in Ukraine and then of their more recent work in Bezovce, Slovakia.

Assembling video pieces

With the written story done, and a good supply of photos, next we tried something additional. I emailed the story back to Jurek, and asked if we would be willing to shoot a cellphone video of himself reading it. He was happy to do that, so I sent him our tips for shooting smartphone video of yourself — including the important point of shooting the video horizontally, to match photos and screen formats.

Jurek sent his video recording back to me a few days later via Google Docs. Now I had the pieces to turn this into a video story. I work in Adobe PremierePro, but the process would have worked equally well in iMovie, Adobe Rush or any number of other video editing applications:

  1. Start by creating a track with Jurek’s video of himself reading the story.
  2. Overlay relevant photos to match what he is talking about in the story. This is called B-roll, and it transforms a video.
  3. Add some transitions and effects, such as slowly zooming or panning in some of the photos (this is sometimes called the Ken Burns effect, named after the famed American documentary filmmaker).
  4. Add the Global Alliance and Biblical Missionary Association (Wycliffe Poland) logos at the beginning and end.
  5. Add music. It plays very softly behind the story, but it provides continuity. I downloaded the track, called Mirage, from Facebook’s free Sound Collection — though there are many other free sources.
  6. Export the video, then upload it to The Alliance’s Vimeo page.

I am not the best video editor, and the result certainly will not win an Academy Award. Jurek’s written story would have worked just fine on its own. But accessible technology and communication tools helped bring this story to life. All it required was a little knowledge of photography and videography from the person living the story. Certainly it also helped that Jurek speaks English … but even if someone does not, you can use a translator and then add subtitles to the finished story in whatever language you want.

With travel limited, God’s stories don’t stop happening. As we seek creative ways to identify and report them, a simple video like this is another tool worth trying.

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