Firstly I believe that all trainers, be they corporate or self-employed, should be technically capable of using the internet to aid learning and development. I’m not saying you need to be a coder or flash programmer, but you do need to be able to find your way around web based applications and software and have a solid appreciation of the cloud and Learning Management Systems.
This leads onto video. Video is not new. Many of us use DVDs on our courses, YouTube clips and online video to present ideas and concepts. But how many of us actually create video and use these clips on our courses or in our blended learning delivery.
Learners consume video every day. The ubiquitous use of Smartphones and Tablets mean that everyone has the capability to devour video. People now prefer to watch a video than read a web page, YouTube is the second most popular search engine, after Google, and is particularly popular with the Generation Y. And video can paint a thousand words.
More importantly video can capture a presentation and can be consumed by thousands of people simultaneously. Can be paused, re-wound, replayed. Can you do that with a live trainer?
Video is great for eLearning, can be delivered via your LMS, is engaging and expected by the tech savvy learner. If we don’t provide video, we’re falling behind the curve.
Let’s take a look at how. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how easily it can be learnt.
How do I Create Video?
There are essentially two ways of creating video. Outsourcing the whole project to a dedicated production firm or DIY – do it yourself. Outsourcing is where most firms go but this option is hugely expensive and will only allow you to produce limited footage but the output is always first class.
DIY is less expensive and gives you far more control. There are three ways you can do this. Equip a studio with all the equipment you need, use your Smartphone or use your laptop or PC webcam.
Your Smartphone will produce decent video which can be edited using software to produce a reasonable final result. Do get yourself some sort of tripod. For a couple of pounds you can buy a tripod that’s specifically designed for Smartphones. I picked one up this year from eBay and use it for learners to record their own videos on my courses. The tripod stops the jerkiness that will occur without.
Smartphones can be used “selfie” style to record you talking about your topic on location if you wish. I’m often seen walking my dogs self-recording myself sharing a selling tip or idea. It adds realism to the footage, integrity that studio video doesn’t have. The major downfall is sound, it’s just second rate. You can buy lavaliere microphones for £50 that solve the problem and give your video professional sound. But these are fiddly and remove the portability advantage of the phone.
The other problem is transferring the video onto your PC or laptop for editing. Many Smartphones upload videos to cloud storage and since video sizes are enormous, this process can be very cumbersome. It’s best to tether your Smartphone to your PC and transfer the footage by cable.
These come installed in tablets, laptops and can be purchased for a few pounds for PCs. They produce good quality footage and are easily edited because the files reside on your PC after recording. But the outputs just look like webcam videos. People don’t look at the camera when they record themselves, preferring to look at the screen and the output looks stilted, just a trainer talking to the computer.
Backgrounds generally are poor, maybe a bookshelf or a blank wall.
You can record your Skype output easily enough. For £20 you can buy software that will capture your Skype video conversation with someone and output it as a movie file.
I’ve done this very successfully when interviewing experts or SMEs. Recently I interviewed on Skype, for an hour, the UK’s most successful protection salesperson. I used the software to capture the interview and created a series of clips which had both of our images side by side. The audio was OK and it had a sense of excitement and edginess which made it very engaging.
If you want to be able to produce a wide variety of videos, then you really want to invest in a studio with the capability to record video at will. Later I’ll show you six types of video which will add variety to the mix and you can only do all of these if you have a fully kitted out studio.
Ideally your studio should be large enough to house all the kit, should have the ability to control outside lighting and should have an element of sound proofing as well. Corporate trainers will be thinking of a spare room, self-employed cousins will be thinking of a spare bedroom, garage or study.
Depending on your budget you can sound proof the walls with carpets or specialised wall coverings and buy blackout blinds to obscure all outside lighting. Or you can just close the windows and ask everyone nearby to keep quiet.
You do need a minimum of equipment to be able to produce video and here’s your shopping list in no particular order:
- A giant whiteboard to produce whiteboard style videos
- A green screen background to produce Chroma Key or green screen video
- A camera. Spend well here, opt for a prosumer model, but most modern camcorders will produce really good HD video. Make sure it records to an SD card so you can conveniently transfer the final footage to the PC. Don’t use the on camera editing tools, use software on your PC.
- Tripods for the camera.
- Autocue device such as a tablet. You position this using a gadget that attaches itself to the tripod so the autocue is just below camera level. Autocues are useful if you haven’t memorised the presentation or talk that you’re videoing.
- Lavaliere microphones wirelessly connected to your camera. Sound taken from the camera is second rate. Your learners will forgive you for second rate footage but will be less forgiving with lousy sound. You can buy a directional external microphone that sits on top of the camera but a lapel microphone allows you to move around and still pick up excellent sound.
- Lighting. This is the most important aspect in creating truly professional video. As a minimum you’ll need two or three hard “barn door” style lights that can illuminate your green screen and whiteboard plus softer lighting to illuminate your subjects face and body. Google lighting and you’ll find dozens of companies that’ll advise you. I spent around £300 on lighting.
- Editing software for your PC. These are not expensive, around £100. Don’t rely on your PC’s free offering, these don’t have the features you need. More on this later.
- A very powerful PC that can cope
What kind of videos should I create?
I’m going to share with you six varieties of video that you can produce in your studio. Remember variety is key to learner engagement.
Everyone likes an expert and you can very easily interview an expert and record the footage. I mentioned using Skype earlier but an alternative is to studio record the interview. You can fix up the camera with a directional microphone and just interview your expert with both of you in front of the camera.
A more engaging way is to video your head asking the questions and then switch the camera and video your expert’s head providing the answers to the questions. Ensure you position the camera so it stays to the left or right of the eye line of the two people talking, giving the impression of a seamless interview.
With your editing software you can cut the clips and sequence them in the correct order.
My favourite and very professional. I’m sure you’ve seen these. A trainer appears to the left of the video screen with an ever changing background. Backgrounds can be movie clips, photos, descriptive words or animations and these all add to the message and provide a visual aid to the learner.
Essentially you create a green backdrop to the trainer speaking to the camera. Cover the back wall with a green cloth or buy a stand that’ll allow you to drape a green cloth behind you. When you edit the clip on your PC, you remove the green image which makes the clip transparent. You then add your new background to suit. Render the whole thing to a finished video and you have green screen video.