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Video Calls for 2020 Season?

A member reached out to me recently and inquired on whether there would be any videos created and posted on this site addressing the problem we, as representatives of the man at the North Pole, now face in this time of caution and limited in-person contact.

This upcoming season of 2020 will be the most unusual yet for us representatives, and this issue isn't regional but rather international. COVID-19, the fear that accompanies it, the riots, the looting, the safety and comfort of our loved ones and clients, and the aftermath of everything else that is going on will affect representatives of gift-givers throughout the world. I believe the ripples created from the events of this year will be felt for years to come.

Though workers deemed "essential" continue to work, many of us with any ties to online work or education have had to utilize video calls and emails more than ever before. I am currently in my senior year at university and have the blessing of having job security in my department of Online Curriculum Development A/V (Audio and Visual). While at this job I have learned much not only about creating helpful content (and I hope the videos on this site stand as a testimony to that or else I have failed), but also examples of decent looking videos (again, a testimony). I am indebted not only to my employment, but also to the past 4 years of college which have been devoted to a degree tailored to video production.

As such, I am placed in a unique situation in the world of Christmas performers. I have this online resource for all who care to join (and a lot of responsibility goes along with that), and the knowledge needed to make aesthetic, professional-looking videos which I gained through thousands of dollars put to good use for 4 years of video education.

Do these combined facts appeal to my sense of duty? Do I feel obligated to teach all I have learned so other representatives (who may be considered my competition, let's be honest here) will also be able to represent the man at the North Pole? Or is this season one where those who are stuck in their ways or unable to produce decent videos are weeded out to make way for others?

I have my opinions on each of these questions, and I still have much thinking to do on these opinions before I can grasp what is happening and make informed decisions for myself.

Now comes the real question many have inquired about (member and non-members): Will I make a few videos covering how to produce quality video calls?

What a loaded question that is. And, in all honesty, I feel that many of you will be at a disadvantage when it comes to producing video calls or video messages for clients.

My videos look the way they do because of the gear and college-education-knowledge I've gained in how to use this gear correctly. It would be unfair to try and teach the basics and expect you to master a professional standard by Christmastime. Even if I was to set out and teach basics on this site, it would still cost a bit of $$$ to get the gear and set-up good enough to look professional on your end. And that's a good chunk of change to put up up front without knowing if you'll even enjoy doing it or get booked by clients to provide this service.

As I'm moving at the end of July (the same week of graduation) I have yet to solidify anything further in the cards than the videos that are currently on the site (I'd love to be able to commit, but I can't guarantee anything just of yet). Yes, we are moving, but I don't know if I will have time to make additional videos to be included into Season 1 of The Jr. Claus Workshop before the Christmas season begins (remember, if we're going to be doing video calls, my time will be spent experimenting and prepping my own website and services for clients, I can't commit to also making videos and teaching all that right now).

I also happen to know many other resources exist online for learning how to do decent video calls. As well as lighting set-ups to properly light oneself and a green screen, there are videos on how to utilize different focal lengths and get a professional and cinematic look on YouTube. Trust me, there's a lot (a lot of my supplemental material from university was used and found on YouTube).

But just because I can't guarantee tutorials here on this site, doesn't mean that I am against making and sharing some templates or backdrops here on this site for the members here (specifically those who have bought a plan to support my ongoing efforts). I would be open to creating some simple backdrops for use on OBS or Zoom (I'm currently in the beginning stages of developing my own branded presentation format, backgrounds, and set-up to provide the most magical experience I can for my clientele).

As such, I've already provided a simple template and assets for the Sleigh Ride video on this website for patrons to download and use for this upcoming season. I will make a few more before Christmas in hopes that they will be useful to others. When it comes to video production itself, it may take a while to get things arranged on my end.

But in the meanwhile, I can tell you a few things that will help you if you want to do good-quality video calls for this Christmas season.

First, use YouTube as a resource. Many youngsters are using YouTube as a platform and make tutorial videos on how to make videos look more professional (most of this has to do with camera position and the lighting, I can't stress that enough).

As when starting the Jr. Claus Workshop on YouTube, I wanted things to be easily accessible with a simple Google or YouTube search. This aspect of the internet has been really helpful in my study of film and I've learned a lot just by watching a massive amount of videos (if you have time and patience, it'll do you some good).

Second, do research on your own and create your own special custom backdrop if you want to stand up. You don't have to have one that hangs, just a nice room you decorate for Christmas will look just fine in the background (and on that same note don't sit with your back right up against a wall, we want space between you and the wall, as much as possible).

And third, you don't need a fancy camera to make clients happy. The most important skill you can develop and turn into a habit is to know how to make things look and sound professional. You can use any old webcam so long as the audio sounds good and have a stable internet connection. Without good audio, a video will fall a part.

There's many other aspects and details I could cover, but to prevent the "drinking from a firehose" analogy, I feel that the three things listed above are probably the most important for this upcoming season.

Should you want more instruction tailored to being a Christmas performer or a representative of the man at the North Pole when it comes to video calls or video messages, I would be happy to help where I can. I want to help, and if my situation allows it when my family and I get down to Texas, I will help.

I'm not against the idea of holding zoom meetings or doing simple screen capture tutorials to showcase my process of doing things. These would be made available to patron members of the Jr. Claus Workshop. These kind people are the ones who make this site and producing all the media for this site possible. For those not wanting or willing to become patrons, perhaps I could do some consulting via a video chat or phone call for a fee.

My Conclusion

I didn't predict going down this route. When the idea for this website was born and I began producing all the episodes for Season 1, doing video calls for Christmas 2020 was only on my mind in the capacity of a FaceTime call to some of my clients here in Rexburg and the surrounding area so they could see THEIR Santa Claus representative for Christmas (even though he'd been stationed elsewhere).

I never dreamed that after all my hard work producing these videos more interest would be given in producing video calls and video messages than becoming a better Santa Claus representative all-around. I didn't expect everyone to want to jump on the bandwagon I've been studying for over 10 years. But there's value in that, and I'm glad I have this opportunity to perhaps provide for my family through this.

While I'm making up my mind and brainstorming (as well as packing up the wagon and traveling across the country) start doing what you need to do now to get ready for the 2020 season. Take this time to develop and become a better representative for the man at the North Pole. If that means doing hours and hours of research and professional development in how to get better videos, put your shoulder to the wheel and start learning. If it means reviewing books and other research material to better yourself, do it.

I feel like here's a good place to recycle our closing line from the YouTube Jr. Claus Workshop series.

"Remember, it's never too early to start preparing for Christmas."

Yours as always,

Santa Stuart

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