Recipe: One-shot video

Time and location often challenges collaboration and rich communication. We often struggle to convey the details of our work when people are not present. A short, rough video can capture what is already “on the table” without the need for extra notes. Get others close to your thoughts and progress by sharing content and thinking in a One-Shot Video. 

This recipe comes from working with video in design research, participatory design and education for many years. While video is a powerful medium for documentation and communication of material practices of design, it can be extremely time-consuming to work with and the editing process gives the editor the last word on the content, rather than people in the video. 

The one-shot video format changes the role of video-making and its productive value in collaborative activities, as well as when working collaboratively over distance. The technique has become an excellent medium for tutoring over a distance, allowing a student or student team to present their tutor an up close look at their work-in-progress, whether rough sketches, physical materials or a combination.

One-Shot Video is a technique where participants use a smartphone to create a short video that illustrates their work in detail. The participant(s) are challenged to present their thinking as the video rolls over the supporting content in a limited time frame. One-Shot Video not only captures scripted performances, but it can also push participants to produce their best thinking constrained by a specific timeframe.

Serve to:
Students and teachers needing to communicate a complex topic quickly

10-30 minutes

Low (using smart phone)

Easy (once you get used to it)


  • A subject you need to communicate over distance
  • Material you wish to show   
  • A cameraphone or digital camera (quality doesn’t matter)
  • A video hosting service or site
  • (Optional) A learning or assessment activity that would benefit from a dialogic presentation


You can watch and One Shot Video of the method here: One-Shot Video. There’s an example One-Shot Video and further support materials at the end of this recipe.

  1. Prepare: Choose your material, identify who will speak about what, and what path the camera should take.  
    • Have an outline script or core message
    • Have something you will film as you talk about it
    • Think about where the camera will go 
  2.  Film in one shot while describing what you are showing: 
    • Overview: Outline the topic and the purpose of the video
    • The details: Talk through the specifics you wish to share. Give examples! Point to the material! 
    • Conclude: Repeat the most important point(s) to remember. Describe what happens next? 
    • As you film:
      • Hold the camera horizontally for best viewing 
      • Get close to the content
      • Point at what you are talking about
      • Keep it rough
      • Dare to rehearse
  3. Upload & send: Upload as an “unlisted” file on Youtube or similar platform or to your online learning system and share the link. 

Notes on ingredients:
1) Material + voice path: Works great for messy notes and chaotic work spaces, since the path of combination of video and your voice creates the structure. Try to choose a path before recording.
2) No talking heads: No need to show the person talking, other than during the introduction and/or finish, the visual material and your thoughts are the focus.

Cook’s tips:
As a teacher, try making a one-shot video in response to a student’s work.

Additional background & uses

When I worked at Interactive Institute in Sweden, I finally developed some support material for introducing one-shot video for practical purposes, both a video introduction and print material. This technique has been introduced and used by hundreds of students (Umeå Institute of Design, Konstfack, KADK, University of Southern Denmark), and professionals in a variety of projects and daily work practices over the years.  

And finally, here’s an example One-Shot Video:


Clark, Brendon. “Generating Publics through Design Activity.” In Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice, edited by Wendy Gunn, Ton Otto, and Rachel Charlotte Smith, 199–215. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013.

Clark, Brendon, and Melissa Caldwell L. “Design Anthropology On the Fly: Performative Spontaneity in Commercial Ethnographic Research.” In Design Anthropological Futures, 169–82. London ; New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Lilja, Niina, Arja Piirainen-Marsh, Brendon Clark, and Nicholas B. Torretta. “The Rally Course: Learners as Co-Designers of Out-of-Classroom Language Learning Tasks.” In Conversation Analytic Research on Learning-in-Action, edited by John Hellermann, Søren W. Eskildsen, Simona Pekarek Doehler, and Arja Piirainen-Marsh, 38:219–48. Educational Linguistics.

Lawrence, Jill, and Brendon Clark. “Building Alignment and Sparking Momentum with Tangible Future Scenarios – Dimensions.” Design Management Review 29, no. 2 (2018): 20–25.

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