Does it really take a sound stage, a crew of about a dozen, professional actors and a live studio audience to produce an attractive and effective training video? Thankfully the answer is no!

However, it wasn’t always that way. For years the technology and know-how to produce well-made training videos was cost-prohibitive for many businesses. If you weren’t a big name company with an even bigger budget, procuring the talent and time necessary for this medium was nothing more than a pleasant dream.

These days many of us have cameras in our smartphones comparable to, or better than, the clunkers our parents used to film home videos when we were young. Many social media platforms have their own easy-to-use editing software and with mobile and microlearning trending, training video production feels more accessible to corporate training teams and staff than ever.

Is Training Video Production Right for Me?

There are fewer barriers to training video production in today’s learning and development landscape. Video streaming services and internal Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are full of homegrown recordings aimed at educating staff or customers. Your company may have dabbled in video production in the past, or you may be considering it for the first time, and are not sure if the investment will pay off in the end. 

Training videos provide a number of benefits to the agencies that employ them as a part of their overall staff development strategy. Now that the tools for training video production are within reach, the next decision you have to make is whether or not this medium will serve your staff well. Start by examining your agency’s needs and goals for staff learning and the materials you have available. Then compare your findings to the handy list below. 

If the question is more of a “how” than an “if,” you’ve come to the right place! Our ultimate guide on training video production gives you everything you need to get started with an in-house/outsource blended approach to achieve your goals.

plan-for-live-action

You should consider using training videos if you:

  • Have content employees need to access on demand
  • Need to formalize compliance, technical or certification based training
  • Have a remote or global workforce
  • Want to share core content that is unlikely to change
  • Have messages that contain concepts or communicate emotions that need to be experienced rather than read
  • Want to add a personal or branded touch to employee education

Scripting

writing a script for live action -min

Don’t worry, having a screenwriter on staff isn’t necessary to get the quality content you need for your video. For your lecture script, you want to select a writer who, first, understands your topic well. This person will be able to explain the subject matter thoroughly and provide examples or analogies that can help the viewers make important connections as they learn. Don’t be afraid to introduce scenarios or tell a story. These are common ways to lighten up dense subject matter or make theoretical concepts more relatable.

Next, you want your writer to, well, be a good writer. Good grammar, sentence structure, and plain language are important. The flow of a script is very different from reading an article, job aid, or whitepaper. It’s being narrated for your training video and should sound conversational and easy to listen to. The best way to check for an understandable tone is a table read. Have an employee, unfamiliar with the material, read it aloud for a few others. This will allow you the opportunity to wordsmith sentences that sound too lengthy or awkward word choices before they are narrated or filmed.

Next, you want your writer to, well, be a good writer. Good grammar, sentence structure, and plain language are important. The flow of a script is very different from reading an article, job aid, or whitepaper. It’s being narrated for your training video and should sound conversational and easy to listen to. The best way to check for an understandable tone is a table read. Have an employee, unfamiliar with the material, read it aloud for a few others. This will allow you the opportunity to wordsmith sentences that sound too lengthy or awkward word choices before they are narrated or filmed.

Lastly, you want to follow a formula. Having a formula for your recording will clue learners into what to expect each time they access a training video. Most videos start with a simple introduction. Having the speaker give the name of the video or introduce themselves sets the tone for what comes next. After the introduction comes the content. Content can take many forms depending on your audience and your topic.

You could consider a demonstration for a practical skill or jump right into policy for compliance training. The key here is small chunks that will hold the viewer’s attention. Once the content has been covered, it’s time to engage your learner with questions. This could be a formal quiz or an informal reflection exercise. Engaging your learner is key, so choose your action style wisely. This will be the first time your viewer has been asked to apply what they’ve learned watching your training video–make it count.

A good script is the foundation of your training video and at the heart of eLearning. Spend as much time as you need in this stage to refine your message, your learner will thank you.

Production

Production is the next step in creating your training video. In plain terms, this is the stage where you gather all your equipment, film your segments, and use a bit of elbow grease when editing to give you a completed product. To help you prepare for this stage, we’ve detailed a number of key considerations and best practices that will take the guesswork out of training video production.

The right tool for the job.

How much money you spend on your tools is up to you, but the tools your company needs for in-house training video production are fairly standard across the board. You’ll need:

  • A camera. Whether you choose to invest in a DSLR camera or start out with a high-quality cellphone–don’t forget your tripod! Shaky camera work is great for gritty action films, not so much for eLearning.
  • A microphone. Lapel microphones are what we recommend for lecture videos. They don’t pick up other ambient noises like the air conditioner. If you have a panel or group talking, select a microphone that can be omni or multi-directional. Relying on your camera’s built-in microphone won’t give you the quality you need in many cases.
  • Video editing software. Editing software comes in all shapes and sizes, from web-based applications to traditional software programs. Before you purchase a subscription or license, make sure the program provides the features you need and that your team can get up to speed with the tools in the program easily.

If your learning and development team plans to produce lecture style videos on a regular basis, then investing in a no-frills lighting kit and an inexpensive teleprompter will make the resulting video even crisper.

Choose the right feel for your message.

If your learning and development team plans to produce lecture style videos on a regular basis, then investing in a no-frills lighting kit and an inexpensive teleprompter will make the resulting video even crisper.

Safety training, workplace culture videos, and official addresses prepared by the CEO don’t all have to look, sound, and play the same. When you’re planning your production, take into account how you want your viewer to receive your training video.

Should they feel empowered to make things right for their customers? Should they be excited to get out there and sell a new product? Maybe they’re learning how to navigate a difficult process and it’s important to encourage them along the way. Embrace the opportunity to be genuine and pour in all the energy and emotion the situation warrants.

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Location. Location. Location.

Where you shoot your video is just as important as what you shoot. Be careful when using an office full of personal touches. The visual clutter from knick-knacks and overgrown plants can distract learners as they try to focus on what’s being said. You also want to be wary of going to the other extreme.

A bare office creates an echo that’s hard to remove when editing. The best location is one with lots of natural light that has some inviting feature about it. An inviting feature could be a single attractive painting in the background or an uncluttered scenic view. A learner should want to rest into your training video, not run from it.

If one is good, two is better.

When you’re shooting your footage, always record more than one take. It’s rare that a take will be perfect the first time, so many in-house training videos are the single run that’s closest to passible. 

A “passable” take that feels a bit weak to the training video production team will also feel weak to the learner. Believe it or not, the malaise felt during production still lingers on in the final product, making it hard for the viewer to be enthusiastic. 

After all, if the people making it aren’t excited, why should they be? A sure-fire way to minimize the malaise is through multiple takes. Shoot the same sections over until you get a sharp take or from multiple angles and splice them all together to get a more dynamic training video.

Animations

The script is complete. The lecture component has been produced. All that remains is that one idea that no one is quite sure how to explain. Your company’s learning and development team has been scratching their head trying to figure out if they should record another employee drawing it out on the whiteboard or if they can somehow work a slide into the video that sort of explains what they’re talking about. Everyone’s been working hard but no one can move forward until the unexplainable is somehow…explained!

Enter animations. Animations are more than just bullet points appearing on a slide or fancy transitions between sections in a training. Animations also provide a way to communicate concepts and ideas that are difficult for traditional videos because of their inherent limitations.

Animations excel at:

  • Showing relationships. Explaining a supply chain or the input-output relationship in a product-driven business is usually the domain of complex flow charts. Animation simplifies complex relationships like product fulfillment or life cycles.
  • Demonstrating mechanical knowledge. A two-dimensional drawing of an engine on a page isn’t as engaging as an animated engine. The learner can see all the moving pieces as a unit or individually without needing to know how to reassemble it.
  • Simulations. Finding employee volunteers to role-play situations on camera might be tricky. Animating situations like customer interactions still gets the learner the example they need, without the camera-shy colleagues.
  • Intentional diversity- representation of your workforce and your customers is much easier with animation. The characters you choose can be any age, size, shape, or ethnicity.

If you can think it, chances are it can be animated. Let’s say you wanted to open up a lecture video with an analogy. You decide that you need to show someone climbing a sheer rock face with a partner to illustrate the importance of teamwork when facing a challenge.

Finding two employees skilled in mountain climbing might be a stretch and purchasing stock footage is likely expensive. Animation can show the ascension of the two climbers just as well, but with much less cost.

Live-Action Training Video

CCRN Academy, a company that specializes in certifications and continuing education credits for registered nurses, wanted to provide engaging courses to their community for an incredibly difficult certification. The challenge wasn’t that there was no content on the subject and that they would need to start from scratch. It was the opposite.

critical care academy

The market was flooded with hundreds of hours of content, however, most of it was recorded webinars. Dry speakers that droned on and on and made a demanding topic even harder to learn. CCRN wanted to be different. 

The courses they had in mind were much more advanced and dynamic than what was available but they needed rapid development to get their product into the hands of nurses immediately.

The Problem

To solve their problem, CCRN followed the same processes outlined in our guide. They started with a script. Selecting appropriate staff members they worked out the essentials of the content, vetted it among their peers, and settled on much more approachable dialogue for their videos.

Our Solution

The next step was production. Using in-house staff, CCRN recorded the lectures with a bit of staged lighting and a plain background. They knew they wanted to take their raw files to the next level with creative final edits and animations, which meant keeping it simple from the start. 

Using the script and recorded materials, we took their videos across the finish line by providing storyboard animation and training video refinement

The result

CCRN’s ambitious vision became a reality. Through our partnership, they were able to rapidly create multiple microlearning courses for a complex certification. The final product was interactive and cutting edge when compared to the programs offered by their peers in the industry.

We hope you enjoyed our guide to training video production. NinjaTropic would love to partner with you on your video and animation journey. Contact us today for a personalized consult that’ll be the beginning of your own success story!

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