An Overview of Different Formats for Video Production (and their strengths/weakness)
This article offers suggestions and guidance for selecting a method by which to create re-usuable video learning objects. This list is not meant to be seen as definitive and will be evolving as we develop and learn new methods. Our general guideline, when choosing a technique, is to create the most pedagogically effective content with the highest quality techniques that we can afford (both time and budget-wise) to do. This does not mean that we can always develop with the technique we'd most prefer. We also often re-visit projects to make improvements after the first Phase is complete. Many of this projects take a few years to come to full fruition.
This guide contains:
Before you think about a video format, see "Before you begin video production" for more on what to consider before beginning your project.
Commonly Used Methods of Video Production (V4 - June 2019)
This graph depicts the effort involved by the Instructor and Education Technology Office Support Staff. The idea is to balance the amount of effort available to produce these videos, which is limited by budget, timelines, and human resources (and other things). The numbers do not indicate hierarchy or preference, they simply link each method to further details in the chart below.
- Document Camera (Example Video) - This format uses a system that is composed of an arm and a camera. It is a set up much like an overhead camera to film from above. It is also effective for small demonstrations. While this is noted as the least effort, note that all of these methods require effort - it's just a relative scale.
- Chalkboard (no graphics) (Example Video) - This format mimics the classroom experience, with the instructor speaking directly to the camera. To the viewer, it feels as though they are being spoken to directly and that the content was created for them (versus lecture capture). This requires a committment for on camera time from the Instructor, but requires little post-production.
- Powerpoint & Green Screen (Example Video) - This format looks incredibly professional but is entirely reliant on the effectiveness of the slides (well designed slides are a must) and the charisma of the instructor. The instructor/presenter is controlling the slides using a remote in this technique. This calls for a large investment of time from the Instructor (or teaching team) as the slides are incorporated into the video as is. They are not done in post-production.
- Chalkboard (with graphics) (Example Video) - This format expands on Option 2 by adding a bit of design flair. Anecdotally, it seems to spark interest and break up the content to help students pay attention. This requires no extra work from the Instructor (versus Option 2, but increase time spent in post production).
- Green Screen & Post Production (Example Video) - This format expands on Option 3 by relying entirely on post production to add in the graphics. This allows for perfect transitions and timing, reduces the pressure on the instructor because they do not have to control the slides, but requires a great deal more time in post-production. However, it tends to look the most professional. This is usually the most effective for shorter videos.
- Powerpoint with Voice Over (Example Video) - This format allows for the independence of the instructor to produce and record content on their time, as needed. Once the process is learned, it can be very effective (again, depending on the slide design) but it relies on the proficiency of the instructor. Since this format is often completed independently, it is one of the only methods that requires the Instructor to master some editing techniques themselves.
- Tablet Capture with Voice Over (Example Video) - This format maximizes one of the students favourite things - seeing the content generated (written, drawn, etc.) in real time. Unlike powerpoint, which can be difficult to pace properly, tablet drawing usually self-paces due to the simple restriction of drawing/writing time.
- On Location (multi-scene) Shooting with Post Production (Example Video) - This format has the most bang, when done well. It is the closest to a "real" movie that we get to. It is usually on location, with multiple cameras and staff, and requires the most amount of post-production and pre-production planning. It also is the hardest to get right. It can be quite easy to accidentally fall into the zone of cheap or cheesy and the students are usually the first to sense that. Filming in an uncontrolled environment is the most difficult process to complete while maintaining a high standard of professionalism. Because there are many mitigating factors, like sound, light, people, equipment, it requires thorough planning to achieve a quality film. This type of filming often requires multiple takes and even multiple days (if shots do not work out as intended). It is difficult to edit these videos, as editing requires re-shooting and it is difficult to reproduce the same environment for a seamless edit.
- Tablet Animation (Example Video) - This format combines a few really great things that we've seen used in the previous options; namely, hand drawn, real time animations with voiceover. It's a visually appealing, dynamic effect with only one's imagination (and artistic ability) limiting the content on the screen. It is, however, the most time intensive for both parties. The instructor contributes by visualizing and describing their content to the production team, who then spends many hours creating artwork to reflect this vision. It is ideal for core content that will see many terms of re-use.
- Motion Graphics with Voice Over (Example Video)- This format is heavily reliant on the EdTech Office for post-production. The Instructor will record content with preliminary visuals but final audio. We take the audio and re-imagine the visual content in a more effective and dynamic way. This removes the pressure from the instructor to produce graphics and allows them to focus on the content. This is usually an iterative process, as the Instructor will review and approve the new visual content. This method is as close as we've come to best practice for production, however it requires both a large amount of lead time for production as well as some funding to support the effort.
- Lightboard (Example Video) - A Lightboard is a 4x8 piece of glass, lit by LED lights. It mimics the benefits of using a chalkboard. The additional benefit is that the person on camera always maintains eye contact with the camera, generating a connection with the viewer and avoiding the dreaded "video of someone's back as they write on the chalkboard." The additional effort comes from preparation for both sides. The instructor spends more time planning out content and rehearsing and the ETO team spends more time in set up and post-production. You can see our full Lightboard Guides for more information.
There's more! Combined Video Techniques
In addition to using one of the above techniques, we can also incorporate many different techniques. (Note: Both of the projects below are intended for re-use and are part of the curriculum of several classes.)
- Green Screen Instructor + Graphics (Example Video) - This is a little bit different from the example shown in Option 5 (Green Screen + Post Production) because we toggle back and forth between having the Instructor on screen and then using voice over powerpoint. The benefit of this method, even though it increases post production, is that you get more real estate for content as needed. It helps also to increase interest by moving from scene to scene. They key to the success of this type of video, as usual, is the strength of the graphics. In this case, Alan had a very mature and well designed slide deck that we were able to incorporate into the video. If this is not the case, additional time should be allocated to developing a template for graphic design.
- Instructor Introduction + Voice Over Powerpoint (Example Video) - This technique is an example of combining Option 5 (Green Screen + Post Production) + Option 4 (Voice over Powerpoint). We shot a brief introduction wherein Michelle presents the learning objectives for the video, and then transition to her self-captured powerpoint content. This video is also enhanced with some graphics added in post production.
And finally...Commercial Applications for Video Production
In some cases, using a commercial video application can be effective. Be wary, however, of those that promise "quick" videos. Most still have a fairly steep learning curve and require some dedication to master. Some also come with a fee or other limitation. For example, the free version will only let you produce a video in low resolution or will watermark your video. It is recommended that you fully test the process (and the product) before spending too much time in development. And of course - you can always ask us!
- Videoscribe (Example Video) - The premise of this application is that it allows anyone to create their own whiteboard drawing videos. This is a very popular video style and you can see why - crisp, clear, and visually interesting. There are some pedagogical challenges - you don't want to separate the audio from the visual too much, but this style can certainly add some punch to your content. The proviso - this tool comes with limited library of pre-built graphics. You can purchase more or even hire a designer to help you create custom ones. Creating your own is absolutely doable but requires knowledge of illustrator (or other .svg creation program) and a bit of a artistic side (you'll be drawing your own images).