Video Prototyping


One Bus Away is a transportation app that provides up-to-date information about bus times. This post covers the process of making a short product video that demonstrates some of its functionality.

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Considerations

There are other use cases for OneBusAway, especially related to planning ones route before departure. For this video, I chose not to focus on these cases. I felt that creating a moment of crisis and allowing OneBusAway to come to the rescue provides a more dramatic and engaging storyline. Knowing how the app functions in a crisis allows the viewer to infer more typical use cases, and it is hopefully clear that the crisis could have been averted by using the app in the first place.

Storyline

The video storyline follows a bus traveler who has somewhere to be, misses his bus, and unbeknownst to him, the following bus is delayed. After some trepidation, the traveler consults OneBusAway and discovers the delay. He uses OneBusAway to find an alternate route with a bus that will be arriving soon, and quickly relocates. He successfully catches the other bus, and makes it home in a timely fashion to take his dog for a walk.

Storyboard

I began by conceptualizing the story arc and then outlining the specific shots needed in a story board. Even though I didn’t stick to the storyboard completely while shooting, having it as a general guide was quite helpful. Specifically, it allowed me to not shoot the entire scene in order and get all the shots from specific vantage points in one take.

Storyboard Part 1 Storyboard Part 2

Reflections

Quality

I’m generally satisfied with the quality of the video. However, the changing light at the end of the video detracts from the overall quality. (This was difficult to avoid shooting during a Seattle winter.) Even after some color correction, color grading, and exposure post production, the final shots of the video leave a lot to be desired due to their darkness. The saving grace is the changing time of day helps add to the storyline, however I was ill-equipped to be shooting at night. Also, the shot of the protaganist getting off the bus was rushed and impromptu. I filmed him getting on the bus, and then ran to the next stop in time to capture his exit. As a result, the shot was poorly framed and out of focus. Better planning could have remedied this problem.

Audio

The audio played a critical role in understandability. I chose an upbeat song and made equalization edits and timing rearrangements so it would fit the video and help establish mood. The intro music sets the theme. The relocation montage has a separate music motif designed to create a sense of urgency, and the resolution switches back to a more positive and upbeat vocal section of the song. In an effort to make the narration as understandable as possible, the entire song was equalized to to make space for vocal narration. The audio is compressed, equalized, and processed with a de esser plugin.

Narration

This was the first time I’ve added audio narration to a video of this nature, and I found writing copy that was simultaneously compelling and non-vapid to be one of the more difficult tasks. Additionally, writing and editing the narration so that it fit in with the overall story arc and flow was quite a challenge. I don’t believe I succeeded completely because as there are large gaps with no narration and others where the narration feels rushed.

Video