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Ceora Ford for Apollo GraphQL

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Behind the Scenes of Our "What is GraphQL" Video

Everyone has their own learning style. Some people prefer to read educational content. There are some developers who like to skip the reading and go straight to building and breaking things. Lots of people really enjoy video content. Then there are people like me who switch between all learning styles and content forms depending on the subject.

The developer experience team at Apollo realized we wanted to focus more on creating video content. It’s our job to create educational content that will appeal to developers and we want that to include videos. We recently released our first of many YouTube videos called What is GraphQL.

It took a lot of hard work from the whole team. I wanted to talk about the process we went through to create and release this video. Our process is going to change and evolve over time. We’ll probably look at this first behind-the-scenes view and marvel at how much we’ve improved!

So let’s pull the curtain back a bit and go over how we went about creating this video!

Coming up with ideas

Of course, everyone on the team had a ton of ideas for our videos. GraphQL is such a broad topic and there are so many creative things you can do with videos. To narrow down our focus, we had to think about a few things.

Videos can be hard to update and edit post-release. Apollo and GraphQL (and just tech in general) are constantly changing. It’s inevitable that some content will become deprecated in the long run. So for our more polished, high-effort videos, we decided to stick with concepts that are relatively constant and stable.

What is GraphQL fits this really well! The fundamental features of GraphQL probably won't change any time soon. Plus, what better way to kick off our new video initiative than starting from the very foundation of everything!

After deciding on what our first video would be about, we went on to write out our script.

Creating the script

Scripting is not easy. It reminds me of what it’s like to write a talk or an article. Coming up with the script and storyline for the video was a painstaking process. We wanted to be sure that our video was technically sound and worded just right. So we edited and edited and edited some more.

Of course, at one point and time, we had to stop ourselves. We weren’t aiming for perfection. We wanted something that would be really good and useful to the community. So after we finalized the script, our video team came up with some creative concepts to help us really get our ideas across.

Next, we assigned lines to different team members. We wanted this video to reflect the people who make up the developer experience team at Apollo. If you’ve watched the video, you probably noticed how we switch up between narrators to do this. All of this was written into the script and gave each of us a chance to rehearse our individual lines so we could be prepared for the next step.

Filming our video

Now onto filming. We got our fancy cameras and fancy lighting and started filming. And then we were done!

If you’ve ever filmed any kind of scripted video content, you know it wasn’t that simple. We had to learn how to properly set up all our fancy video equipment. After we figured that out, we had to get everything in just the right spot. This took a lot of adjusting. We had to make sure our microphones, lights, and camera angles were in the right place to give us the results we wanted.

Now we press record... and suddenly I can’t remember any of my lines. Remembering what I had to say was much harder than I expected. Once I could finally remember without messing up, I had to say my lines in a bunch of different ways to convey the tone we were going for. I had to make sure to look directly at the camera and smile.

We eventually got enough good takes to wrap up filming. Each of my team members who are featured in the video went through a similar process. Once each of us finished recording, our video team expertly stitched everything together, adding in amazing graphics and effects.

What’s next?

At the end of this process, we were able to release our video to the world! And the results have been amazing!! I'm incredibly proud of our team and I'm glad to see our hard work paying off.

Now we’re working on our next video. We’re already planning ahead for future concepts by gathering ideas and writing scripts. We would love to hear from you if you have any suggestions! Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Keep an eye out for our next video and in (the most non-cliche way possible) subscribe to the Apollo GraphQL YouTube Channel so you'll know when it drops!! Thanks for reading.

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