Videos bring a feeling of real life into eLearning – be it a recorded lecture, product demo, or a realistic branching scenario. Filming an interview-style shoot requires the subject to have notes ready; multiple filming angles for variety and visual interest; and a shorter length overall. A scenario-based shoot will require coordination between actors and film crew.
While anyone can point and shoot a video on a smartphone today, filming videos for use in eLearning courses is different and requires preparation.
If not executed well, a video shoot could be a harrowing experience for the people involved. While different types of video shoots will require slightly different preparation, most can benefit from the below 5 tips.
1. Prepare Comprehensive Content Before Filming
Do not even consider booking a filming shoot if you do not have all the content created. Content creation is 99% of the filming. There needs to be a fully created story, with details that may not actually be mentioned in the video at all (but are important for the actors’ understanding). You will also need:
It is better to have extra content available, than to have to come up with something moments before the filming. Sending this content out to the involved parties is imperative for a seamless filming shoot.
2. Communicate with Everyone
There will likely be many people involved in the film shoot. At the very least you will have a videographer and one actor. But it is more likely that you will also have a few actors; a subject matter expert; an eLearning expert; a videographer; a manager of some kind and possibly others who may have a vested interest in the process. No matter if you have 2 or 20 people involved in the shoot, communicating with everyone is imperative.
Emails, phone calls and video conferences leading up to the filming day that discuss the schedule and expectations will ensure all parties are aware of the details. Particularly important is to discuss the roles everyone will play during the filming. You do not want someone to think they will be the director, if you plan for them to be an extra.
The actors should be well prepared for their scenarios, and understand their roles meticulously. But, the actors should also have a working understanding of the others’ roles too. This way they know their cues during filming, and, should anyone have a crisis preventing them from attending the filming, you can switch another actor into place.
Communicating with everyone prior to, during and after the shoot will ensure all parties feel prepared and included. Most obviously the actors will need to know about the filming location and schedule.
3. Know the Space
Before you begin to prepare for filming, you need to know the space you will be using.
How large is it? What constraints exist (props, number of actors, shooting angles)? How are the acoustics? Can you shoot movement?
Seeing the space in person is best; photos can skew your perception of the size of a room. Even if you know the size of the filming area, be sure to visit it with the videographer. The videographer can explain the required lighting and cameras, which may reduce the shooting space significantly.
Introduce the space to as many of the involved parties as possible. While you may want to limit traffic through a location, it is good for everyone involved to see the constraints that may need consideration.
The space may also have an impact on how you organize the day, which needs to be noted in the filming schedule.
4. Create a Detailed Schedule
The schedule will act as the Holy Grail throughout the filming. Everyone should receive a copy prior to filming and again on the day of filming (people often forget to bring documents). Create a schedule that includes time for setup; discussion; transitions between scenes; refreshment breaks; and buffer time for when changes occur.
The schedule needs to include details such as props and people needed for a given scene; as well as some basic direction to the videographer regarding shooting angles. Keep the schedule clean and easy to read at a glance; colour coding works great when you have multiple actors involved in different scenes. There should be a place for notes somewhere on the schedule to mark down changes, lessons learned or to note reminders. Using a clipboard to check off and write on the schedule will help the director. Having it on a clipboard also ensures the director does not lose the schedule and notes throughout the day.
Here is a free download of the schedule template we use at Artha.
5. Appoint a Director
There can only be one person in charge on a film set. Regardless of how many important people are involved in the video shoot, there needs to be one director who has final say. Many people can provide requests, insight, and instructions about the filming shoot, but one person must be the communicator between all people. When you get multiple people talking to the videographer about their vision, they can become confused about whose vision to follow. Rather, have the director gather all parties to discuss and decide on one vision, with the director then chatting with the videographer.
The director will also act as the conduit for all parties: getting actors prepared for the next scene; implementing the subject matter expert’s input into the script and ensuring the videographer has the correct information. When changes come up, there needs to be one person to handle the transition.
A bonus tip: be ready for changes!
Inevitably, things will need to change from the original plan. Nary a filming shoot will go precisely as had been planned, so be prepared and flexible to allow changes based on sound reasoning.
The director should discuss any changes with all parties and have a final decision made as efficiently as possible. Try not to fall too far off track from your schedule and make sure to involve the actors in all changes so they are prepared and comfortable with expectations.
So much of what makes a filming experience successful is the preparation prior to the shoot. Knowing how to prepare and understanding the expectations will help you to navigate through what could be an otherwise nerve-wracking experience.
If you have been thinking of incorporating video into your eLearning project, but you just don’t know where to start, follow these tips and book a demo today!