One-Shot Video

One-Shot Video is a technique where participants use a smartphone to create a short video that illustrates their work.

Participants wrap up an activity by collaborating on a presentation of their experience, allowing for up-close engagement with any content generated and requiring that they structure their ideas into a focused description. Filming in one-shot results in a video that is purposefully rough and improvisational, making sure the viewer understands that this is work in progress.




Working together, participants voice opinions, speculate, change viewpoints, and even contradict themselves. They also write down information, and use documents, presentations, objects and/or other material to make their points. Handheld video capture allows for interaction with this material, drawing attention to important elements, and telling the story about how participants’ conclusions were shaped.


What seems most relevant at the end may be different for each person so each should speak about the elements most important to him/her. In preparation for filming, participants agree on where to film, and rehearse what they'll say, further reinforcing their understanding of the experiences and opinions.


This rich collaborative expression becomes content which can be shared with others and used to kick-off future meetings.


The One-Shot Video technique is born out of Brendon Clark's 12 years working with video in design research and participatory design theory and practice. While video is a powerful medium for documentation and communication, it is extremely time-consuming to work with and the editing process gives the editor the last word on the content, as opposed to the people in the video. A turn to the short, one-shot format changes the role of video-making and its productive value in collaborative activities.

Underlying the development of the technique is a focus upon the “performance” of filming live. Participants are challenged to present their thinking as the video rolls over the supporting content in a limited time frame. In performance theory, there are two forces at play: All the behavior in a performance has been performed before, it is “twice-behaved behavior” (Schechner  1985:36), and, not only is every performance unique, but something new may come about through the performance (Turner 1982).

One-Shot Video is not only a technique for capturing scripted performances, but it can also provide a push for participants to do valuable work to produce their best thinking within a specific timeframe. Earlier ideas and discussions can be filtered and scripted with a potential audience in mind, as well as the future. Sometimes this association is loose, and at other times more intentional. It is often once those who created the video are far away from it that they truly appreciate the richness of their work.

Integrating One-Shot Video in Your practice

Making and viewing One-Shot Videos has been valuable in a wide variety of activities and work practices. We encourage and support others in finding interesting ways to bring more value and greater continuity to their work efforts through video practices. If you wish to discuss this further, feel free to contact Brendon Clark brendon.clark [at]


Schechner, R. Between Theater and Anthropology. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985.

Turner, V. “From Ritual to Theatre: Human Seriousness of Play.” New York: PAJ Publisher, 1982.