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T356 PSA Exercise

OVERVIEW: You will contact a not-for-profit group, agency or organization and create a professional-looking public service announcement (PSA) for them. The finished length should be exactly 30 or 60 seconds. (29.5 & 59.5 seconds are ideal.) You will produce the PSA in Studio 5 during your assigned time slot. After producing the PSA you will:

  • Copy the PSA as a Quicktime file and place on a data DVD for both your client and to turn in for class (You'll need to make 2 discs).
  • Post a copy to YouTube or Vimeo
  • Follow up with an email to your instructor, AI, and your client organization with a link to the posted video.
  • Turn in a 1-page critique

NOTE: Unless these four elements have been carried out, NO points other than pre-production will be given.


Pre-production: You will first need to find and contact an agency to produce a PSA for. Then you'll need to talk with them to determine what their particular needs are and who they are trying to reach (target audience). You need to work with a real person and non-profit organization- this is major challenge of this exercise. Once you have connected with an organization in need of a PSA, you can then submit your proposal.

Follow this link to a page with real-world clients who would like PSAs produced for them.

Here are a few past examples:

Outline the scope of the production with them. Note that we do NOT have any agreement to air the PSAs. All we are doing is producing them. If they would like to air them on Comcast, CATS or IUSTV they will need to carry this out themselves. The client will be given a copy of the PSA for their own use (E.g. website) and we will be posting them on a video sharing site.

Once you have an idea of their needs and audience, you'll submit a program proposal, describing your organization, the contact person, the PSA's objective, and your production approach or strategy.

You will then work with your client organization to create a 30 or 60 second script. Please note that it is NOT a good idea to pack it with 30 or 60 seconds of dialog. Pictures, graphics, and music take some time to process. For example a 60 second script might contain only 50 seconds of actual dialog or narration.

Sample PSA proposal:

Client organization: Monroe County Animal Care and Control.

Contact: Dr. Jo Liska, Director MCACC (email - phone number)

Objective: After watching the PSA, viewers will want to come down to the shelter and adopt a pet.

Target audience: Bloomington & Monroe County residents

Production Design: This 60-second PSA will feature an on-camera spokesman from the shelter and B-roll of pets who need homes. During the production Dr. Jo Liska will appear on-camera talking about the pets in need of loving homes. We'll go to digital still pictures of the animals and close with a graphic providing the phone number and location.

Production notes: I will visit the animal shelter next week with my digital still camera and take pictures of pets in need of homes. I'll then transfer these images into the Chyron CG one week before my production.

Production: You will produce your 30 or 60 second PSA within your scheduled time block. On the day of your production you should have

  • Graphics pre-loaded into the Chyron (All PSAs should have at least two graphics. Don't wait till your time slot to download your graphics- do it ahead of time & make sure they work.)
  • Music (or some added track)- cued & ready to go either on a CD or pre-loaded, ready to go.
  • Talent (If applicable)
  • Props (If applicable)
  • miniDV tape (So you can record a copy of your work)

Post-production: After you produce your PSA you must carry out a number of things

  • Write a 1-page critique, which is due in the class the week following your production.
  • Get the clip off of the Summit
  • Bring into your favorite editor (Premiere, Avid, etc.)
  • Clean up (trim off slate, excess black, etc.) and make any needed changes
  • Output an HD version (same as source/sequence)
  • Create an IUBox folder called T356/PSA and make me, Jessica and your client collaborators.
  • Send a followup email to your client organization (copied to both your AI & instructor) with a link to the video clip on IUBox. You should also thank them for the opportunity to produce something for them.

Miscellaneous notes: You may use cameras from the production lab with advance permission. If you wish to check out a camera, fill out a special request form available through the Production Lab website. You might need Ron Osgood's permission. (osgoodr@indiana.edu 855-5096)

It is strongly recommended that you base your production around a 30 or 60 second cut of music from the production lab. You, your talent or your narrator should practice reading the copy out loud over the cut of music to make sure it fits into the given time contraints. Also try visualizing the timing of camera shots, transitions and graphics over the piece of music. The more time and effort you spend in pre-production, the better your piece will be.

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