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Creating Videos for Online Courses: Choosing a Video Type

Sep, 23, 2021
Tim Aleksandronets
CEO at Blue Carrot

Introduction

Not all videos for eLearning courses are developed the same way. Some are simply live videos shot by subject matter experts (SMEs) on web cameras from the comfort of their homes, while others are filmed in professional studios, have tons of animation overlays, and hundreds of hours of work behind them. 

Both of these examples have the right to exist and we can’t say that the latter is better than the former — they just serve a bit of a different purpose in terms of information presentation.

👉 So how do we pick the right video format for an eLearning course? Should I invest top dollar in filming gear and hire a professional crew, or can I simply put a camera in front of me and record all the material that I need?

In this blog, we’ll outline the different approaches and ways to create videos for courses, and will go through the production methodology to help you understand which type of video will suit your course needs best 👍

Summary:

  1. Making Videos for Online Courses: Live Production
  2. Using Animation and Screencasts to Make Videos for Online Courses
  3. How to Create Videos for Online Courses Once You’ve Chosen a Type That Fits Your Project Best
  4. Final Thoughts
  5. Consider Blue Carrot Your Trusted Partner

 

Making Videos for Online Courses: Live Production

One camera

This is maybe the easiest and cheapest way of creating digital videos for online courses. One camera and one person (the narrator or SME) is all that it takes to record a video. As for the role of a production team, their job here can include basic editing for raw footage: cut out all the mistakes, pauses, parts where nothing is happening, etc., add some branding elements, and adjust audio tracks. 

👉 This method is a best fit for those who need to produce videos for online courses but whose budget is quite limited. One-camera videos also work well for those subjects that involve lots of face-to-face communications (art, fashion, architecture) and, thus, don’t normally imply the use of complex imagery.

As to the drawbacks of one-camera videos — they might not suit all types of learners, as here the set of ‘visual’ tools being used is limited and, thus, would require an individual to do additional research on the subject or make an extra effort to understand the concepts they are presented to.

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Two cameras

The point of using two cameras instead of one is to spice up the footage a bit, outline important messages or emotions (with the help of different camera angles), and make the video more entertaining for viewers.

👉 This type of video costs more to produce due to the fact that, aside from additional filming equipment, it requires the production team to do a full montage instead of basic editing. This, in turn, will lead to a longer production timeline and higher budget, as a result. 

If you are interested in getting to know what else might influence the cost of production for an eLearning course, check our guide below:

WE PROVIDE E-LEARNING VIDEO PRODUCTION SERVICES FOR EDUCATORS, CORPORATIONS, AND COURSE DESIGNERS

Using Animation and Screencasts to Make Videos for Online Courses

📌 Screencasts

Screencasts are commonly used when you need to demonstrate product functionality or educate viewers on the features, for example. These videos are normally accompanied by a voiceover and are, basically, a screen capture with a minimum amount of animation used to highlight certain areas of a screen during narration.

📌 Recorded presentations

This is basically your university lecture, except here you don’t get a chance to interact with a lecturer in real-time. These videos are somewhat similar to screencasts with the main difference being that, instead of a product screen, the video demonstrates presentations with a lecturer’s voiceover.

The most prominent example for such a video would be a simple screen capture — in Notes app on an iPad — where the lecturer takes notes on screen in real-time (as if it was a regular whiteboard). Recorded presentations are used when you need to explain something, educate learners about something, and do so in the least expensive and fastest-to-produce way.

📌 Slideshow-like

Simply put, slideshow-like videos are an advanced form of recorded presentations. What makes these videos different from the previous type is that, here, the production team uses the presentation (created by an SME) as a basis for the future video — takes the source files of a presentation and unifies them, adjusts the story, adds narration text (where needed), etc. 

All this is being done in order to structure the initial presentation, and improve the delivery and the overall perception of the information that comes from the SME.

📌 Templated slideshow

With these videos, the production team first analyses all the available/appropriate scenarios for a video course, assesses the amount of information that needs to be processed and delivered to the learners, and develops a set of shots (screens) that then can be combined in various ways. Once that’s done, the team combines newly developed assets with the source files received from the SME, and develops the videos on that basis.

What makes this method of video production special is that here, with quite a modest budget, you can create video content for courses that will look like as if they were custom made, which, in turn, will affect the way the target audience perceives the end product — they will start to feel that the company has actually tried to do its best and create visually attractive learning courses.

📌 Animation

Animation is a great way to make your product stand out among thousands of video courses that utilize live footage only. Even if your course uses lots of live videos — an animation can still help enhance your course, moving it from a ‘tiresome’ and ‘monotonous’ speech to dynamic video training

When it comes to production costs, animation obviously requires course developers to invest more (compared to videos that are simply shot live). However, on a macro level, the use of animation can be fully justified — animated videos help to make cumbersome subjects easier to understand, allowing you to deliver core messages and complex concepts to learners more effectively. 

👉 Pro tip: one of the ways to ‘legitimately’ cut corners with the production budget is by using animation software tools — such as Vyond — that contain libraries of animation assets, templates, sounds, etc. These construction kits can help you create professional looking animation videos and save up a bit; however, here you will still probably need the help of a professional production team.

More information about this technique can be found in our article Template vs Custom Explainer Videos.

📌 Templated animation

A subcategory of regular animation. As you might have guessed from the name, such videos are created using animation templates, or ready elements taken from animation libraries. These can be stock animation or libraries that have been custom developed for the project. When working on videos for online courses, the producers are only using these assets. 

Apparently, if there’s a need for any additional elements to-be-developed, that can be done; however, in this case, the development of each extra asset will affect the production budget. To learn more about the process development of videos for eLearning courses, review our guide:

WE PROVIDE E-LEARNING VIDEO PRODUCTION SERVICES FOR EDUCATORS, CORPORATIONS, AND COURSE DESIGNERS

📌 Hybrid

This is a middle ground for those who want to receive the main advantages of animation for their videos (the ability to display complex concepts more effectively and hold viewer’s attention longer) but don’t want to produce entirely animated videos. This can easily be a combination of live footage with animation overlays or templated slideshows with custom made scenes (live or animation).

There’s also another point to combining different video formats — this approach allows for maximization of the audience’s interest and drastically improves the ‘digestibility’ of the learning content.

📌 Audio podcast

As the name implies, this is a basic audio podcast accompanied by a still image on a screen with basic information about the course name, module number, narrator information (name, occupation, etc.). The video may contain an audiogram — an animated histogram of the narrator’s voice.

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How to Create Videos for Online Courses Once You’ve Chosen a Type That Fits Your Project Best

Once you have decided which type of video suits your budget and project requirements, it’s time to actually create it. For each category of videos — live and animation — there are several ways to create content.  

Live

✅ Recording studio. Here, you basically rent a studio that is equipped with all the necessary technical gear for recording a video: green screen, lights, cameras, microphones, etc. Oftentimes, studios may also offer their video production services, i.e. you can hire their film crew to help you create videos for online courses. The filming crew would normally include a producer, director, cameramen, lightning specialists, make-up artists, etc. Here, studios charge clients for crew time (plus the costs of renting the studio itself). In one day, you can record about 2-3 hours of educational content. Renting a studio would be a good option for medium sized projects (up to 10 hours of video content produced).

✅ Location. Video shooting takes place at a specific location. In fact, it can be any location (factory, office, mountains, etc.) with the filming area being set up there. Most commonly, however, eLearning videos are shot in indoor studios (of the university or a company, for example). Such studios are normally assembled from rented or purchased equipment. Setting up a studio can turn out to be quite costly, so we recommend going with this option only for large projects that involve producing 10+ hours of video content.

✅ Home studio (remotely). This option became especially popular due to the pandemic lockdowns and ‘work from home’ agenda. At the same time, it’s one of the most affordable ways of creating videos for online courses. Here, your minimal setup would be a webcam and professional recording software (such as Descript). To make your videos look a bit more professional, however, we would recommend some investment into your gear. For around $1,500, you can get a pretty decent setup: camera Lumix G7, 3 point light setup, mic, and a backdrop.

Animation

While, in a nutshell, the production of animated videos is very similar to the filming of live videos — you have to have a scenario in place, write narration script, set up a scene, etc. — in practice, there are some differences. Basically, the development of animation for videos gets broken down into three stages:

1️⃣ Pre production. The producers first create a script and come up with a storyboard for the future video — a sketched out scene sequence that is based on the previously developed script. You can read more about the storyboarding process in our article here. The narration text is created here, as well.

2️⃣ Production. In this stage, the course developers hire a voiceover artist, set up/rent a studio, and proceed to recording the video itself. At the same time, the designers start creating all the required animation assets for the video. 

3️⃣ Post production. The final step of the whole process during which the production team edits raw footage, adds animation overlays, designs sound effects, and performs quality assurance of the end product. Then, your video is ready to go. 

The development of videos for eLearning courses is quite a massive topic itself and what we are showing here in this article is just a brief summary of video creation for online courses. But, don’t worry, we’ve thought about that, as well — by following this link, you’ll go directly to an article where we discuss all the steps and stages of video production for online courses in greater detail. 

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Final Thoughts

For obvious reasons, there can’t be a definite answer to the question of which format is better — all these types of videos can work effectively for eLearning courses, when done right. Here, we would rather advise you to focus on:

✔️ Goals you set before your course

✔️ Scenario or course structure

✔️ Budget

By assessing these three components altogether, you’ll be able to get the relevant answer 🙂 If you need further information on how to make videos for online courses, or if you need any kind of assistance with your project — we are ready to help! 

 

Consider Blue Carrot Your Trusted Partner

🔹 LerNetz

A 35-minute long video series produced by our team for LerNetz — an eLearning course development company based in Switzerland. They had a ready script and concept of a course, but were looking for help making videos for online training. The goal was to create a series of video lessons for an insurance company (the end client) that would help to educate sales representatives on how to sell insurance products more effectively utilizing the newly established six-step methodology. The video course had to also follow the exact visual style of the end client. 

In order to deliver video content within the requested time frame of two months, we set up multiple production teams and added several translators to the project (as the product was meant to be distributed over multiple European regions). As a result, we produced six animated video lessons in full HD that were well-mixed with live shot footage provided by LerNetz. The client was fully satisfied with the results we delivered. 

🔹 IRI

The International Republican Institute (IRI) approached us and asked if we could produce a video course for them on Democratic Society Development. The main challenge here was a tight delivery timeline for quite a large amount of content. We didn’t shy away, however, and took on the development of the project.

In less than five months, we produced 11 videos that totaled up to 60 minutes of elearning content: 34 minutes of whiteboard animation, 24 minutes of animation overlays, and 5 minutes of live shooting. Aside from that, we also created 26 illustrations at the client’s request. 

Another challenge was the course subject — to successfully deliver the project, our team had to cut through numerous intricate concepts and aspects of political science. This is why, half of the time, working on this video course was dedicated solely to studying the course subject itself. It did pay out well — we delivered the work on time and to the required specifications, leaving the client fully satisfied with our cooperation.

🔹 E-Learning video course for a U.S. university

An eLearning video course that was developed by the Blue Carrot team for one of the top U.S. universities. The client came to us with the raw footage of the lectures and our task was to put it all together to build an online course on the Development of Healthcare Ecosystems, which also had to include a significant amount of animation overlays.

One of the biggest challenges when working on this project was a very dense schedule — the client goal was to get all the work done within a month. That meant we had to somehow fit 3-5 months of work into just 30 days. We accepted the challenge and started working on the project in close cooperation with the client. 

We significantly increased the number of specialists working on this video course and were able to produce 200+ minutes of eLearning content within a month. As we moved through the project, we made sure to keep the content visually consistent which was especially important taking into account the fact that numerous specialists were working on different parts of the project simultaneously. As a result, we managed to deliver the job on time and to the client’s expectations.

👉 When making videos for online courses, it’s very important to ensure that you don’t miss even the smallest detail. It requires you to not only know all the ‘ins and outs’ of the process, but to also have prior experience creating eLearning videos.

Blue Carrot creates e-learning videos for educators, companies, and e-learning designers. Watch our e-learning showreel and contuct us by filling out the form below 👇

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