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How to Plan for the 3 Phases of a Virtual Learning Video Project

As with eLearning development, all learning video projects are different. They do, however, have a set of best-practice principles. This blog post from LEO’s Executive Producer, Frank McCabe, is based on our recent ebook ‘Learning Videos: From Commission to Creation’ and will help you understand those principles and best practices in the video production process—whether you’re creating content in-house, using a vendor, or an approach involving a mix of the two.

There can be a huge number of “moving parts” in a learning video project but if they’re tackled individually and at the right time, they’re perfectly manageable.

The table below gives an indication of how a typical video project might be scheduled. This project runs over roughly eight weeks. This particular model would suit a scripted drama project that required 15-20 minutes of final footage. It reflects a low-to-medium level of complexity across all three phases.

A table showing the days and stages needed for a typical video shoot

What isn’t shown here are the design and scoping meetings that might precede day 1 of shooting. We’re always keen to integrate video design into the overall learning design of a project, so there will likely be further preparation time before pre-production begins.

This model is, of course, flexible. A three-minute documentary project would look very different. For one thing, the pre-production phase would be shortened significantly. It also reflects quick turnaround times by the client for sign-offs and approvals. In reality, it’s often not possible to achieve these speedy reviews.

More from the blog: 4 Ways to Tell Video Stories During Lockdown

Let’s look at each of the three phases in more detail.

1. What’s Involved in Pre-Production?

The pre-production phase encompasses a potentially huge range of tasks. Depending on how complex the shoot is, these might include:

  • Creating treatment documents
  • Writing scripts
  • Sourcing crew members
  • Dealing with agents
  • Casting actors
  • Budgeting
  • Shot planning
  • Recces
  • Drawing up call sheets
  • Finding locations
  • Booking accommodation/travel
  • Briefing the team
  • Hiring specialist equipment
  • Liaising with learning designers/graphic artists
  • Client calls

As well as covering off all the required bases ahead of the shoot, it’s a good idea to spend some time focusing on spotting problems before they happen. Time on shoot days is at a premium, so anything you can do in advance to make shooting your learning videos easier or quicker works to your advantage.

You might also like: ‘13 Tips for Filming Videos From Home

2. What Happens on a Shoot?

Shoot days are long—typically 10 hours with travel time on top. On a standard drama shoot, you can expect to be able to capture between five and eight minutes of final footage in that time. Of course, monologs and simple duologs can produce more footage than that, but you still need to film these multiple times from multiple angles, so they may not be as quick to shoot as you’d expect.

The number of shoot days can be dictated by a number of factors:

  • The number of locations/setups required
  • The length of the script
  • The complexity of what you’re shooting
  • The volatility/difficulty of the environment you’re shooting in

Non-drama shoots—such as interviews, talking heads, or documentary—can often yield more footage per day. How much will depend on what we’re shooting, but it’ll usually be around 10 or 12 minutes of final footage if it’s nothing complicated.

For either type of shoot, there are a number of things that can reduce these yields, including:

  • A high number of set-ups or locations in a day
  • Scenes with more than three actors in at once
  • Shooting in noisy or busy places
  • Shooting a lot of movement
  • Using machinery or difficult physical tasks within a scene

Related reading: ‘6 Types of Video Drama to Use in eLearning

3. What Tasks Are Involved in Post-Production?

Once the shoot is complete, there’s a sequence of tasks needed to bring what you’ve shot into a coherent and polished final form. These tasks might include:

  • Several versions of edit, in which the story is put together in the most effective way
  • Color grading, to give consistency across all footage and help establish the tone
  • Sound mixing to maximize the quality of sound across the board
  • Post-production visual effects such as graphical text, swipes, ‘rewind’ effects, and fades of footage
  • The creation of trailers and alternative versions
  • Incorporating footage into a wider learning course

Related reading: The Use of Audio in eLearning

A Final Word About Video Projects

Video can be a fantastic resource for ongoing learning strategies. No matter where video fits into your strategy, from blended learning programs to one-off training, it’s important to understand the process. From the best practices and timelines laid out above, we hope you’ve found something useful and are able to go in better prepared to your next video content project.

This blog features content from our recent ebook ‘Learning Videos: From Commission to Creation’. Download your copy to explore the opportunities, role, and production of video content in eLearning.

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