Motion pictures have become something all of us are used to. We wait for our favorite franchises to come out, we frantically search for trailers and previews online and some of the most often used references come from movies nowadays, rather than from books. Granted that many films are based on literature but it it’s still the glamour of the big screen (and quite often of the 3D, 4D and iMax effects) that makes stories memorable.
Everything looks so easy when they do it, so natural and believable. And then there are those actor and director interviews and the public catches a glimpse of all the actual work and effort put into it. One look at the budget of such an undertaking and it’s clear to everyone that film making (the box-office kind) is anything but easy or inexpensive.
There is something to be said, however, about user-generated videos. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are expected to carry 72 percent of Internet traffic by 2022, up from 56 percent in 2017. The majority of people online are watching videos and it has become the preferred medium for both information and entertainment.
Course creation requires basic video skills
Instructional designers are no strangers to the power images have. The visual aspect has been paramount for any learning intervention from the very beginning. Yet lately this has evolved so much and so quickly that it’s no longer enough to use one or two video moments during a session.
In the case of e-learning, users find it easier to go through if a lot of the material is either film or animation. Static screens with lots of text on them are something of the past. In the face of this increasing appetency for video, L&D professionals need to get up to speed and become competent in creating relevant content fast.
On one hand, everyone has a camera in their pocket or purse. On the other, I have just talked about what an immense effort of people, time and money film making can be.
Luckily, there is a middle way between the two and individual cameras can produce very good material if the self-made directors-producers take into consideration a few simple tips. Creativity, however, is still highly necessary, since the artistic quality cannot be achieved simply by following the following sensible guidelines:
Three point lighting renders great effects
The first thing a director shouts out when beginning to shoot a scene is “lights!” because that still is the most important thing to take into consideration when you are trying to make something look a certain way.
Natural light is obviously the best (and cheapest) to work with but there are some things to consider: sunshine is nice but too much of it will spoil the image. When using natural light, it is best to film either on a cloudy (not borderline stormy) day, one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset. These are the times when natural light is the kindest.
If the filming has to be done inside – for example in the case of having to shoot something to do with an office environment, choosing a room with multiple large windows is one way to go. The other way involves using an old technique studios developed – the three point lighting.
- The key light is meant to bring light directly on the subject so that it is clearly visible in the take.
- The fill light is used in the dark side of the subject – depending on circumstance it can be dimmer or brighter.
- The back or rim light is basically used to add another dimension.
You can see more about how they work here.
Capturing sound separately works best
“Quiet on the set” is another usual thing heard in movie studios. Sound is very important and any director wants only the appropriate dialogue or relevant background noise to be captured on tape. A lot of really funny bloopers come from somebody opening a can of pop right in the middle of a love scene or a child asking for his binkie in what appears to be a violent tornado.
When doing a film outside a state of the art studio, one doesn’t necessarily need expensive microphones or mixers. It is, however, advisable that they use something else than the camera’s mic to capture sound. As far as effects go, there are numerous free libraries online and they are really rich both in content and quality.
What may prove to be a bit of a hassle is dealing with sound outdoors. Apart from the fact that it may take a long time to find the perfect location, nature is unpredictable. Adequate wind and weather protection is necessary for microphones and depending on the situation, lightweight foam windscreens only work if there is a whiff of a breeze. Anything more and semi-pro gear is necessary.
Composition rules always apply
As far as what to do once the camera starts rolling, it’s good to follow the basic composition rules. The rule of thirds still makes or breaks a good image. This simply divides the frame into a three by three grid thus creating intersections that are ideal areas to place the subject. It’s wrong to think it should always have a central position.
When designing video material that is intended for learning, user preferences should be taken into consideration and relevant elements placed top left.
It’s also important not to be fooled by the fluency of Hollywood masterpieces – there is a reason it takes years for a big motion picture to come out. In order to get the right story and the best images in the desired sequence, it’s advisable to shoot short takes.
They are a lot easier to manage since there are fewer details to pay attention to and is something doesn’t come out as expected it’s not a big deal to reshoot. This method also allows for increased flexibility – sequences can be eliminated or edited so that the overall film comes out looking like a clear mirror of the main idea and not like poorly executed stained glass.
Lights! Camera! Action!
As statistics show, people are very used to video content so they can easily discern between something that is high quality and something that is not. Making professional looking videos for training takes a bit of practice and knowledge but it’s not too difficult and by following the tips presented above your video making skills will definitely improve.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.