Avoiding a video nasty

Written by Martin Addison on 14 August 2013

Summer at Video Arts is traditionally the time when we create new video productions. For several months now, we've been planning three new programmes, trying to decide how best to deliver key learning messages in a way that's memorable and easy to apply. Our subject matter experts have been defining and refining the key learning points and developing scenarios, characters and situations to bring these points to life. We've been reviewing scripts and casting roles. All of this work culminates this month when our production crew will start filming the first programme. Then comes the challenge of editing and producing the finished training videos.

It's an exciting time. However, we're not the only ones who are making new learning videos. The fact that many of us can now record HD video on our phones means that many other people are doing it too. According to our research, 54 per cent of trainers are now creating their own video content for learning and 64 per cent are using videos from the Internet (hopefully complying with the law on using copyrighted material).

The best examples of homemade videos that we've seen have been short, organisation-specific instructional guides. Volvo, for example, is one company which self-authors content to highlight messages or lessons that are very particular to its business. Other organisations have used 'how to' videos to share good practice, for example by simply pointing a camera at someone operating a piece of equipment to show how it's done. 

If you are going to produce your own videos, there are some tips I'd offer. Start by thinking about what you want to achieve: what do you want people to think, feel and do differently as a result? What learning points are you trying to get across? Is there a memorable way to make those points that will appeal to your audience? Think how you can tell a story in a sequence of shots. Plan and script your scenarios. A good script will engage the audience; whereas clunky dialogue will distract them. The same thing applies to production values. Try to make your video look professional. Anyone old enough to remember Crossroads will know that poor production values can be very distracting!

To illustrate this point, some of our staff have recently had fun recreating three scenes from our classic films (you can see their movie-making attempts atwww.youtube.com/user/VideoArtsGroup). These DIY 'homemade horrors' show that it is difficult for learners to concentrate on the learning points if the acting, filming and lighting are not up to scratch, particularly if you're trying to incorporate humour to get your message across.

Once you've finished filming, edit your video to make it bite-sized and pacey. Then, share it - and that means getting it into a format that your learners can see. Making sure they can view it on their phones or tablets is a good start. If you're looking to create a few videos then you might want to license a platform that will help you upload and share your content. Because more User Generated Content is being produced in the learning space, we've enhanced our platform to let clients upload homemade content but there are lots of other options out there too.

Video is now such a popular learning tool because it can convey a learning message in a way that not only engages and entertains people but is also easy to remember. Making your own video content is certainly an option worth considering, if you can meet the learning need, produce it appropriately and make it accessible. Apply these tips and you'll avoid creating a video nasty.

About the author
Martin Addison is CEO of Video Arts. He can be contacted at maddison@videoarts.co.uk
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