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Action! Digital film-making through the lens of the policymaking cycle

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One of the actions in the DH Digital strategy commitment to improve the development and impact of its open policymaking is:

'to develop a toolkit to help policymakers identify the most appropriate digital tools and techniques for each stage of the policy cycle.'

So, in July 2013, the DH digital team created a beta tool Digital policymaking.

I asked myself ‘How could a film contribute to this tool?’.

The beta tool was going to be launched at the Be Exceptional at Civil Service Live event on 2 July 2013 by my DH colleagues Rachel Neaman, Peter Howitt and Stephen Hale. I decided to film their 20 minute launch presentation.

Here is the process I went through, seen retrospectively through the lens of the policymaking cycle (with minor alterations to make it fit!).


Define the problem

How to:

  • encourage policymakers in DH (the target audience) to use the beta tool
  • create a film to help promote the beta tool from the footage shot at Be Exceptional - to primarily feature Peter Howitt
  • add an interesting visual dimension to the beta tool

Talk to people

I spoke to Stephen Hale before the event about arrangements, and what to expect at the event. I spoke to two other colleagues to line up to help with the filming. On the day I lost one colleague and a camera when he was called away to film a minister!

Analyse evidence (the film footage)

I showed an early short edit of how the shots from different cameras might look, to a colleague for feedback.

I created an audio version of the first 4 minute edit of the 20 minutes of presentation, and got feedback on it from Stephen Hale - some minor edits were needed in order to keep the focus on policymaking, and for policymakers.

Deliver policy film

  • produced a final edit
  • uploaded the film to YouTube and embedded on the beta tool
  • promoted the film on the DH intranet
  • wrote this blog (my first!)
  • will tweet this blog from @danatdh


Lessons learnt:

  • it was good to get a lot of footage (coverage) from 3 cameras
  • an initial audio edit was a good idea for editing from 20 minutes down to 4. I didn’t spend a long time working on visual transitions, fades, edits too soon in the editing process
  • combining Standard Definition (SD) footage with High Definition (HD) footage didn’t work well - the quality difference was too marked. Processing and editing SD and HD together was something I hadn’t done before and I decided it would have taken too long
  • the sound I recorded from the mixing desk (thanks to the sound engineers at the event for their co-operation!) into a digital audio recorder worked very well with a few crackles from the PA set up
  • still images used within the film need to be at 300 dots per inch (dpi), rather than the 72 dpi that I used

Equipment and software:

  • Panasonic HX-DC1 HD camcorder
  • Kodak Zi8 camcorder
  • Panasonic  SD camcorder NV-DS11
  • Zoom H1 digital audio recorder
  • Sony Vegas video editing software


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