Going behind the scenes of the Principal’s Report

Abby Vickers

Despite the challenges faced in this year concerning the coronavirus cases, Principal Tim Schlotman and some key staff put together an informative video every week to brighten up these dark times.

How does the staff come together to come up with the ideas, props, and themes? What happens behind the scenes of these videos?

Those questions can now be answered.

Science teacher Kevin Williams plays an important role in the making of the Principal’s Report videos.

He explained that the first step in any creative process is brainstorming ideas. Williams, instructional coach Megan Steffen, and assistant principal Stacey Black come together and come up with different ideas for the theme of the week from various sources of inspiration.

Some examples of these sources could be things that are happening in the current week or month, a desire to try new green screen techniques, or a comedic urge to put Schlotman in a specific costume because it’s funny. Ideas are then added to a video planning Google sheet document as the staff thinks of them.

They also try to set each idea to a certain date on the sheet, which also includes which props may be necessary for the video so that they have a plan ahead of time. Williams says there are a few factors involved in choosing which video to shoot.

“We first think of what’s appropriate for the week,” Williams said. “Then it’s a matter of ‘What can we pull off? What do we have props for today? Do we think he’ll actually wear this?’”

Once the ideas are put into place, then it is time for the movie magic to happen.

“The set up is usually easy,” Williams said.

The shooting takes place in his classroom, so the first step is to move all of the student desks and set up the green screen on the wall, or sometimes the floor if there is a full body shot in the video. The green screen is just a large sheet of green paper.

Most of the videos simply require Schlotman to be put in a costume and filmed in front of the green screen, which usually only requires one take. Sometimes Schlotman will laugh when he starts filming and the video has to be restarted, but once he starts talking he’s fine, and the video runs smoothly, Williams explained.

The actual filming of the video is usually the easiest part and only takes a few minutes to do. The thought and editing process behind some of the videos actually requires a lot of thinking before and after the videos are taken, he said.

Williams, who is also responsible the editing, said that there are different factors to consider before, during and after filming such as the angles, the distance from Schlotman and the camera, the way Williams will create the illusions of people sitting on or behind objects, the length Schlotman should pause during a take, the techniques Williams will use to fix things in the editing phase, and more.

Williams said that his inspiration for the videos was a bunch of funny skits he and his siblings made with Windows Movie Maker that he would burn onto a DVD back before YouTube took off. He said he was glad that those videos never made it to YouTube because they were “super embarrassing.”

However, recently he had been wanting to get back into some video editing to make guitar videos, and Black had shown him some of the videos other schools were making early in the year. 

She told him she wanted to do stuff like that, and Williams told her that if he could get hold of some software, he could cut everything together and figure out the editing.

Once Steffen saw the first video, she was all about the idea and joined the team.

Schlotman explained that the admin team wanted to do a weekly update to keep the school community informed but that Black, Steffen, and Williams are really the brains behind the videos.

He agreed that “it is great fun making the videos” and said that people seemed to enjoy them. Schlotman said his favorite video would have to be the mountain climber video from Sept. 25.

The Principal’s Report videos can be found on the Boone County High School website or on YouTube. New videos are published on Fridays.