Video – Bring Out Your Inner Guerrilla

When is the ‘right’ time to use video in your e-learning... Well, is your course based around telling a story? Or showing people how to deal with difficult customers? Or are you struggling to bring the SME’s passion and knowledge across in words? If so, then video might just be the way to go.

Won’t it cost too much?

If you’re planning a Hollywood epic then yes. But a couple of characters chatting, no. The best rule for keeping costs down is ‘keep it simple’. Obvious really when you think about it. Replace your cast of thousands with a couple of characters. Ditch your sweeping panoramas and intricate sets for an office or a living room. Use places and props you can access for free – nice.

Talking heads?

Talking heads can be a great way to bring in expert opinions and infect the learner with your passion and enthusiasm. Keep it short and snappy though – no-one wants to listen to you droning on for five minutes in the middle of a course. 20-30 second sound-bites are generally about right.

And, action... should I shoot it myself?

Don’t fret about over producing it. It’s not TV.  Thanks to mobiles and YouTube, we are much more used to seeing amateur content than we used to be. Even so, if you have the budget, a professional cameraman will help bring your scenario to life, and make sure learners are watching the content, not your dodgy camerawork. Talking heads on the other hand can easily be filmed yourself with a decent DV camera  - we like the Flip cameras.  Frame your interviewee on one side of the screen, facing into the blank space (known as looking room). If you’re interviewing them, make sure they’re looking at you not directly into the camera. And be sure the audio is clear – there’s no point in them giving the most rousing speech if you can’t make out what they’re saying.

How do I cast my video?

You’re all set. You have your camera, your location (well your mate’s front room) and your Oscar winning script. There’s just one thing missing. The actors to bring it all to life. So what’s the best way to remedy this? If you have the budget, casting agencies will be able to help. They’ll generally send out a range of headshots for you to make an initial selection. If you can, use local actors to keep travel costs down. Of course you may not have the money for the pros. There are other options. Using real people can work – but it’s best to audition; you don’t want wooden acting ruining your beautiful script. Or sometimes actors from local drama groups will be interested, and can be just as good as professional extras.

Never work with children or animals?

It may not come up – but it does in our work, so we’re just sharing for good guidance: There are special rules around using kids in films, however small they are (the film not the child). You may well need a performance licence from the local authority where the child lives. Rules vary from one authority to another, but the licences do take a few weeks so it’s best to check out early if you’ll need one. As a rule it’s also a good idea to avoid filming during school hours if you can. Teachers get cross. Generally, filming animals doesn’t come up in e-learning. But we’ll let you know if that changes.