6th April 2017

Stitch speeds up social video production for the World Service

BBC journalists are using the new video tool for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


The BBC has been rolling out a tool called Stitch to World Service bureaux, to enable journalists to easily reversion visual materials in English as well as create their own videos for their audiences on social platforms.

Stitch is an in-house project from BBC News Labs, developed by Kirill Skorodelov. It is designed as a web interface with various video and graphics templates available, that can be used to create tailored visuals for platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, in a bureau's own language.

All editors or producers have to do to start using Stitch is log in with their BBC credentials and fill in a web form. They can then choose between two options: reversioning an existing video from their bureau or from the central English-language content hub by adding subtitles and graphics using the existing templates; or creating their own templates using the admin tool, which everyone else can re-use.

The tool's existing templates include: vertical, horizontal and square videos and video slideshows; static images with quotes; impact numbers, or photos with key figures written over the image; and 'vimages', which are pictures overlaid with audio.

More than 300 journalists from different bureaux have been using Stitch and their feedback so far has been positive. Since the reversioning process requires less specialised skills compared to editing using tools such as Adobe Premiere and Adobe AfterEffects, it has allowed smaller bureaux to "increase their video output by a significant amount", said Allison Shutles, engagement producer at BBC News Labs, in an email to Journalism.co.uk.

Enis Senerdem, social media editor for BBC Turkish, said he and four other people on his team are currently using Stitch after getting started with the tool in December, and the two templates they have been using the most are 'vimages' and the square, 45-second slideshow videos.

"We'll probably use [vimages] a bit more now because of the referendum in Turkey on 16 April, and the format will be handy as we're going to get some interviews."

It takes between five and 10 minutes to make a video with Stitch, Senerdem added, and because the process is faster and more flexible, his team has been able to produce more videos and consequently, increase engagement on social media. For example, he said that in the seven days prior to 17 March, video views on Facebook were around three million, a 20 per cent increase from the previous week.

Rafael Chacon, social media editor for BBC Mundo, has also been using Stitch in his team since it became available. At the beginning, the tool was just a way to quickly reversion material from the central hub into Spanish, he said.

It also gave him control over the videos, because "if you make a mistake, you can go back and correct it yourself and you are not affecting the work of anyone or wasting anyone's time".

But he soon discovered the tool's other useful features, such as the option to add subtitles and the other visual templates available that could be used without "sitting down and waiting to see what the central team offers".

"It keeps the look and feel of the BBC brand across everything, which is very useful.

"If I create an image with impact numbers, I'll post it to Instagram and then from there I will share it to Facebook, where I will add the link to the full story in the description or the comments.

"It's a visual way of attracting more people to a story that could be more complex. For example I did a story about Trump's tax returns, so this was a different way to promote it and get people's attention."

Even though he stressed the tool is "not an editing tool" and is not there "to create a more complex package with additional multimedia elements and footage", there have been instances where he has encouraged the video team to use it too, alongside the rest of the social media producers on his team, which operates on a rota basis.

"Sometimes I tell the video editor that [the central team] is offering something and he doesn't have to do it, so I can just provide the file and he can create the content easily.

"Sometimes it's not ideal because [Stitch] is mainly focused on social media, so the videos will probably be around one minute long. Other times you have material that is three or four minutes long, so you can use the shorter version to promote it on social media or simply because it works there."

Chacon said he is enthusiastic about the opportunities Stitch provides for individuals to create their own templates, which other people can then tailor to their specifications. "It's a way to try and centralise information," he added.

First published by Madalina Ciobanu, 31 March, journalism.co.uk. Read the original article here.

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