Initial Publication Date: December 6, 2013


Video production pyramid - pre-production Using an iceberg metaphor, the media piece can be considered the tip of the iceberg, while pre-production forms the the bulk of the work and the foundation of the project.

The pre-production phase of a video project includes research, analysis, synthesis, writing, and planning. It is the foundation of a media project and can be tailored to fit many curricula and learning goals.

Media pieces about climate change science can be considered a culminating phase of the scientific process, in which data, concepts, and ideas that are informed by scientific research are communicated to a larger audience. In that way, even original scientific research or laboratory exercises can be integrated into media projects. Alternatively, for shorter or less advanced projects, students can be provided with an accessible, brief description of scientific content and focus their pre-production work on understanding and conveying science concepts in a compelling manner.

Through pre-production research and learning, students must gain sufficient mastery of climate change science concepts to convey those concepts in creative and compelling ways. Working collaboratively in small groups, they also research and create visual and audio assets, pair those assets with their script through a storyboard, and plan production work.

Key questions to consider

Throughout the pre-production phase, students should be encouraged to think about key questions:

  • Who is their target audience? What type of communication approach and aesthetic style will appeal to them?
  • What information does their audience need?
  • What is the core idea that they want to communicate?
For public service announcement (PSA) videos, an additional question is:

  • What behavior are they hoping to change (what is their 'ask')?

Components that are unique to media production

While many components of pre-production are similar to conventional assignments (e.g., researching the scientific literature or other sources of information, synthesizing key ideas, writing assignments), media production also includes visual and audio communication. A storyboard (e.g., click here for a storyboard worksheet) pairs key elements of the script, or narrative, with sketches of the visual components of the media piece - e.g., what will the viewer see (sketch of visual component) and hear (script) during each part of the piece? A shot list, which lays out scenes and types of shots (e.g., close-up, medium shot, long shot, etc.), is important to ensure that the production and post-production phases are both effective and efficient. These components of pre-production incorporate critical thinking, creativity, affective processing, time management, collaboration, and social learning.

Explore more media production resources created by or used by the CAM Project.