To create a successful e-learning project, you need a perfectly focused production process and a professional team who knows the methodology, has the relevant skills, and a good grasp of techniques necessary for creating engaging learning environments.
This guide encompassess over 7 years of our experience producing animation and e-learning video content for private enterprises and various educational institutions.
It contains everything you need to know in order to develop an e-learning video course with your team or with a video production agency 🚀
- Employee Training Video Production: Advantages of Video Courses Over Other Types of Educational Content
- Video Production for Corporate Training: Most Common Types of Videos to Choose From
- Live-Shot – One static camera – Two static cameras
- Slideshows – Recorded presentations – Branded, unified slideshows – Templated slideshows
- Animated Video – Custom animation – Animation toolkits – Templated animation – Screencast
- Combined Video – Live footage + custom animation – Live footage + screencast – Live footage + stock video
- Audio Podcasts
- Which type of video should you pick for e-learning courses?
- Implementation Options for Corporate Instructional Video Production
- How to Make a Corporate Training Video: Step-by-Step Production Process
- Pre-preparation stage – Business needs analysis – Setting up desired depth of skills & knowledge – Defining target audience profile – Outlining objectives and desired outcomes – Establishing evaluation methods – Shaping the e-learning course structure – Defining the methods of content delivery – Gathering information from subject matter experts – Instructional design
- Production stage – Development of visual stylistics and animation sample creation – Development of assets – Voiceover – Animation
- Post-production stage – QA – Editing – Compliance
- Effective Ways of Carrying Out Educational Video Production Process Successfully
- What Factors Influence the Final Cost of Video Production?
- How to Estimate Video Production Budget
- Which part of a budget gets eaten up by revisions?
- e-learning Video Project Timelines
- Important Aspects of e-learning Video Production
- How We Approach the e-learning Video Production Process at Blue Carrot
- Consider Blue Carrot Your Trusted Partner
- Bottom Line
Employee Training Video Production: Advantages of Video Courses Over Other Types of Educational Content
For a long time, the term ‘e-learning’ was used to denote basic PowerPoint presentations created for educational purposes. The initial idea behind the concept of electronic learning was to bring knowledge closer to learners — with the help of certain tools.
It later became apparent that the educational process requires a more holistic approach and the principle “if you want to learn — just learn“ doesn’t simply work.
People can’t study subjects effectively by just reading presentation text 👀
Today, the industry has moved away from thinking of e-learning as a standard PPT presentation. Instead, we try to approach it as digital learning or blended learning that utilizes different forms of educational content and delivery methods for the end user. The knowledge is no longer limited to textual lectures, as well. Some information is delivered to learners via LMS, workshops, seminars, etc.
MODERN EDUCATIONAL COURSE:
|Includes PPT presentation and textual lessons.||Utilizes multiple delivery approaches to provide knowledge to a learner — via audio, video, text, practical assignments, etc.|
In summary, every modern e-learning project that is created today follows the principles of didactic methodology — a teaching method that blends theory and practical activities to maximize overall engagement and help learners gain knowledge (or skills) more effectively.
👉 For example:
- If you want to learn programming — you should start writing code.
- If you want to figure out how a particular software works — you should watch a video explaining software and its features.
- If you want to dive into the world of art and architecture — you should physically visit a site you’re interested in, or take a virtual tour and review some pictures afterwards.
All these activities can be incorporated into e-learning projects with the help of video content. Also, when we compare animated video courses to other types of educational content, the former will outperform the latter here, due to the fact that you can explain complex concepts, convey larger amounts of information and appeal to different learning styles with animation.
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Animation works where other methods don’t. Imagine you need to describe the nature of global oil logistics, showcase how the microscope operates, or demonstrate how a tax system works in a particular country. The best way to do this would be with the help of creative animated sequences; here, your imagination is only the limit.
It’s also beneficial for learners, too, since they don’t need to go through dozens of pages of text-based presentations to figure out the mechanics behind a process or concept.
Videos are a great way of condensing large amounts of content and making it easier for learners to comprehend. Let’s say you need to demonstrate to learners how the data trend on the graph changes over a long period of time. Doing it via text or PPT slides may be close to impossible while, with a video, it can be visually conveyed using a short animated sequence.
The same goes for explaining complex topics that, in normal conditions, would require a 10-page long description — something like supply/demand theory, comparative politics concepts, ozone level monitoring, etc. By using animated videos, even the longest explanations can be well summarized in 60-90 second animated footage.
One of the most significant advantages of using video for educational purposes is that you can appeal to different learning styles at once. There are people who learn best through written words, while others absorb information presented to them vocally.
With the help of different design tactics, all these learning types can be effectively accommodated within a video. At times, even the kinesthetic learners — those who learn best by physically sensing what they’re studying — can benefit from videos (this can be the case for corporate training video production situations where a lecturer disassembles some mechanism or device on camera to explain how it works).
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Regardless of whether it’s a corporate training program or any other educational course, there are five types of videos to choose from: live shot footage, slideshows, animated video, combined video, and audio podcasts.
|Doing video for an e-learning project||Live shot footage||One camera
|Animated Video||Custom animation
|Combined Video||Live + custom animation
Live + screencast
Live + stock video
This is the simplest filming technique where you set up a camera and point it at an actor, speaker or subject matter expert (SME), and start shooting. The entire scene is filmed statically from a single angle.
The one-camera method works great when shooting content of a conversational nature that doesn’t require visual support. This can be an introductory video to a course where the lecturer presents themselves, gives basic information about the subject, or answers the learner’s questions.
If you are limited by budget or time, this technique may also work for you since it doesn’t involve any complex equipment (except the camera), and the footage can be edited relatively easily later on.
The main disadvantage of the one-camera approach is that some viewers may find it a bit boring. Plus it may not fit some learners as, here, viewers most likely need to ‘walk an extra mile’ visualizing and comprehending the verbal content they are presented with.
This is a slightly advanced approach where, instead of one static angle, the speaker gets filmed from two angles. Normally, there are two main reasons for doing so. The first one is to make footage more engaging (compared to a single-angle scenario) and keep the audience from getting bored.
The second reason is to make a scene more visually expressive. Filming wide shots and switching to close ups in the right moments helps to accentuate particular emotions and make learners feel more involved in the topic presented.
The two-camera approach is often used for those situations where you need to maximize audience engagement without using expensive equipment and complex montage techniques. Here, you can increase viewer empathy by drawing their attention to a particular moment and emotion on-screen, or make the transition between one idea to another less obvious.
|ONE CAMERA||TWO CAMERAS|
|Affordable, works well for simple, conversational content, doesn’t require many resources to produce||Relatively affordable, used when you need to highlight particular emotions or ideas on-screen|
This might be the easiest and cheapest way of embodying educational content. Recorded presentations are very similar to university lecturers — you get all the information in front of you with the lecturer’s voiceover clarifying key points and concepts. The only difference is that you can’t get your questions answered in real time since this ‘lecture’ is prerecorded.
This approach is very popular and is used in all situations where you need to explain something, educate learners on any process or demonstrate concepts in practice — fast and on a budget.
Here, the SME creates a presentation draft, records the voice and sends all the materials to a production team, which, in turn, takes source files, unifies them, and adjusts the narrative, if needed.
The main point of reworking the source materials — in this case — is to make the video course more structured and visually unified (multiple SMEs may be working on a single course, meaning that produced materials may differ drastically in style and tone).
Aside from that, such slideshows work better in conveying brand values — compared to basic presentations — as they are developed in line with branding guidelines and style standards.
Templated slideshows are a more advanced form of branded presentations. When working with the latter, the production team introduces some adjustments; however, the major part of the footage ends up based on the presentation provided by SME.
In this case, course designers produce a few sets of basic animation sequences and then combine them in different ways with the source files they get from the SME. As a result, you receive a presentation-like video that looks quite unique thanks to custom-made animation templates.
|Slideshow presentation + voiceover, used when you have zero budget for professional video production||Created by a production team based on the source files received from the SME; may include brand identity elements||The SME’s presentation, coupled with custom-made animation, makes a low-budget project look professional|
When you need to demonstrate the principles of work for a mechanical device or, for example, show how to determine the exact location of an object by synchronizing signals from a few satellites, there’s no better way to do this than through animation. It can heavily complement the footage and make the video course stand out.
Another reason for adopting custom animation in educational videos may be specific technical requirements which cannot be met using any other production approach.
In terms of budget, videos that come with custom-made animation require more resources to produce (compared to the live-shot and slideshow alternatives mentioned above). At the same time, this is the most advanced production method that allows for any idea to come to life on screen, irregardless of its complexity.
Animation toolkits like Vyond are often used to help optimize production costs (especially in those videos that include characters). These tools offer ready-made assets, animation libraries, templates, and sound galleries that help designers speed up the production process.
By utilizing such construction kits, it is possible to 1) achieve a more detailed level of animation and illustration without investing into production more than initially planned, and 2) come up with less advanced graphics but on a smaller budget. Either way, you’ll still need the help of a professional production team here.
This type of animation is used for projects where you are working with — and, as such, displaying — similar concepts. For such videos, there’s no need to create large volumes of unique assets since, from the very beginning, you know that the entire narrative will be wrapped around similar objects or elements with minimal differences between them.
👉 For more about templated animation videos, read our article here.
For templated projects, the course designers use stock animation or source assets from animation libraries. Thus, if you need a lot of similar animated content produced fast and on a budget — you should opt for templated animation.
Screencast is a simple screen capture that is normally accompanied by a voiceover. There are two types of screencasts, generally:
- Recorded — a basic screencast that demonstrates product interface and its functionality.
- Animated — a screencast enhanced with animation that helps to accentuate particular elements of a product.
Basically, screencasts are used to show the components or features of an app, take viewers through the software setup process, or educate them on the new capabilities of a product after an update.
|The most advanced and resource-demanding approach to animation production; allows implementation of any idea on-screen||Animation produced with the help of ready-made assets and dedicated software; used when you have a limited project timeframe||Used for projects with limited budget and timelines, where you need to create a lot of similar content fast||Commonly used to demonstrate software or app functionality; relatively affordable|
E-learning projects — especially large ones — often assume that course designers have to deal with large volumes of information, which is not necessarily homogeneous and, thus, may cover various concepts within a single subject.
This means one single approach may not work for effectively presenting different types of information on-screen. This is where combined video comes in. They are used when, within a single scene, you need to display a lecturer, some illustration (or video block), and/or animation overlay.
Live video shot from two angles allows for the presentation of the lecturer in the best light possible. Coupled with custom animation, it allows to work with concepts of any complexity.
The most effective way of combining these two types together would be to film a lecturer on a green screen ✳️
By merging live shots with animation, it is possible to present educational content in an interesting and engaging way. Blending in some motion design elements, as well, allows for the creation of dynamic, stylish, and novel videos.
This combination is commonly used in those projects (read niches) where the competition for viewers’ attention is quite high, which means course developers have to go the ‘extra mile’ to boost product appeal (both in form and content), and retain the audience as long as possible.
A mixture of live footage with screencast (presentation or whiteboard animation) fits those situations where you need to accompany the narrative with simple illustrations or basic animation. This can easily be a video about architecture where the lecturer needs to support their presentation with an image of an object, scheme or a graph.
This combination is similar in nature to the previous approach, with the only difference being that here, instead of static images, course designers couple live shots with stock videos. A few stock videos can be combined into final footage in a desired way, enhanced with branding elements and other graphical overlays.
|LIVE+CUSTOM ANIMATION||LIVE+SCREENCAST||LIVE+STOCK VIDEO|
|The most professional approach to video production, used when you need to create professionally looking courses||Used when you need to support narratives with basic visual imagery; relatively affordable approach||Adds motion to the scene; fits projects with a modest budget that still require animation|
This is a perfect solution for those whose budget cannot afford complex video production, and giving out educational content in plain text form is not an option too — obviously dedicating five-to-seven minutes to go through a single-page article is one thing, and entirely another making yourself read dozens of pages of textual content when going through a course.
Audio podcasts are the perfect solution for such cases. They can be easily consumed no matter the location or time — at the office, home, on the road, etc. Podcasts can even be accompanied by video footage that shows an animated histogram of the lecturer’s voice. This can give the illusion of motion and make audio content a bit more entertaining — all while keeping production costs at a minimum.
Even though the choice of a particular type of a video is usually based on available budget, characteristics of the target audience (TA), desired effects, etc. There’s one specific aspect that determines whether a particular type of video would be a good fit for your project or not, and that is the compatibility of a specific type of video with a specific type of information.
So, the ultimate recommendation when picking a type of video for your e-learning course would be to first assess what outcome you want to achieve with your video, and then match the corresponding tactics with your expectations.
Renting a studio with all the necessary equipment (green screen, camera, mics, lighting, etc.) is one of the most popular approaches to effectively shoot e-learning content. With this option, you basically get everything you need and are expected to pay for the time spent onsite.
In addition, lots of studios offer extra services. For example, you can hire their filming crew to help you professionally shoot all content. Script writers, producers, directors, videographers, make-up artists and lighting specialists will work on your video, under your supervision.
When renting a studio, your expenses might include: studio and equipment rental costs (studio rate per hour multiplied by number of hours spent in studio) + crew fee (calculated in the same manner, on an hourly basis).
👉 Reference point: It generally takes about one day to record 2-3 hours of educational content in a studio.
As practice shows, this approach works well for mid-sized projects with up to ten hours of video content.
This can be any indoor or outdoor area where it is possible to host a filming set. When it comes to e-learning videos, these are often recorded on site at universities or companies — in their own studio space. Such studios are often composed of rented equipment that has been sourced to shoot a specific project.
Sometimes, however, companies or educational facilities have enough budget to buy all the required equipment and set up a permanent in-house studio where they can shoot content whenever they like. Keep in mind that assembling a studio space can be a costly commitment, so we recommend following this approach only if you have a large project that requires dozens of hours of content to be produced.
Recording videos at home might be the least expensive method in terms of content production. All you need is good natural light, a web camera, and a tool like Descript for media editing.
You can also invest a modest budget into gear to make videos look more professional. For example, an extra $1,500 can get you a decent camera (Lumix G7), mic, 3-point light setup and a backdrop to be able to change your background during video editing.
There are two possible options here: involve a SME (this can be a member of your team, professor, etc.) or hire an actor.
Your SME — as long as your expert can perform confidently on camera, this is the best option of the two. The quality of presentation is extremely important in e-learning, as a lack of confidence from a narrator on camera can break the entire course (even if it was produced by a professional video agency with tons of animation).
So, when selecting an SME as a video narrator, make sure that they:
- Aren’t camera-shy
- Have clear pronunciation
- Have strong presentation skills
👉 To be honest, though, this complete set of skills can be a rarity and hard to find.
Hired actor — it is quite a common practice for course creators to hire an actor to read all narration text. The main benefits of this approach is that actors (compared to untrained SMEs) can better and more naturally act on camera, offer decent vocal skills, and are good at keeping audience attention.
Regardless of the type of e-learning video project you plan to develop, the process itself will always be comprised of three main parts: pre-production, production and post-production stages.
E-LEARNING VIDEO PROJECT DEVELOPMENT:
The production of every e-learning course starts with defining your business needs, i.e. determining what you are building the course for. Your goals can be anything — maybe you want to educate new employees on company policies, structure, or improve the effectiveness of a particular department within your organization, for example.
The same goes for creating courses for educational facilities. Proper goal setting helps to better pace the project and more accurately define the scope of work.
You need to define the level of understanding that a learner should receive after going through your course. To do that, we recommend utilizing the Bloom’s taxonomy technique that breaks down the cognitive domain in six different levels — the degrees to which you want your learners to understand or use concepts that are presented to them:
- Remember — the ability to recall facts and/or presented concepts. The key verbs that a category is defined by are: list, memorize, repeat, state, duplicate.
- Understand — the ability to explain ideas and/or presented concepts. Key verbs: classify, describe, explain, recognize, report, select, discuss, identify.
- Apply — the ability to use new information. Key verbs: execute, solve, use, demonstrate, implement, operate, interpret, sketch.
- Analyze — the ability to take apart or establish connections. Key verbs: differentiate, compare, contrast, distinguish, draw, test, experiment.
- Evaluate — the ability to examine and make judgements. Key verbs: support, critique, select, defend, judge, appraise.
- Create — the ability to use ideas to produce something new. Key verbs: design, develop, formulate, assemble, construct.
In this step, you’ll define who is the audience that we’re producing the project for? What do they already know? What else do we need to teach them?
👉 Pro tip: if you’re wondering how to create an employee training video, answers to the above questions may be found in recruitment profiles that are composed by the HR department for every candidate. Normally, after interviewing a candidate, recruiters enter all information they obtained into a separate document: candidate’s values, competencies, experience, expertise, motivation, goals, etc.
After you’ve put together an audience profile, it’s necessary to convert all your findings into course goals. If, during the process of defining a desired level of skills and knowledge, your goal is to focus on a particular category(ies), here you go a bit deeper and outline the actual objectives — with the help of key verbs that characterize each category.
Let’s say you’re producing a course on gender discrimination, then the ready-made list of objectives should look like this:
- Realize the effect that gender discrimination and gender based domestic violence causes on different groups of people, coworkers and working environments, in general.
- Study the global domestic violence problem, its nature, cycle, types, red flags, risk factors, stereotypes, etc.
- Be able to recognize signs of gender discrimination and gender inequality in the workplace.
- Recognize the importance of promoting and increasing gender discrimination awareness among employees for an improved company culture.
- Understand the importance and benefits of establishing gender equity policies within an organization.
The next step is to decide on an evaluation methodology for your course. You need to establish methods that will help you determine whether or not the course objectives are met.
For example, how do you know that the individual will be able to apply the received knowledge in practice? How do you figure that out? Are there any measurable or estimative indicators that will help you understand that? How do you know that the learner received a basic understanding of concepts? And how do you determine what basic understanding of concepts is?
Here’s an example of a questionnaire you can use to get answers on all the above questions and better understand the results that your course produces:
- Describe your general impression of this course. Which sections do you find most useful? What did you like the most/least about this course? Does it look similar to any other course you have taken before?
- If we were to compare your initial level of awareness about the connection between domestic violence and the working environment — have any changes occurred after watching this course? Which changes? Why?
- Do you think that the problem of domestic violence is more of a private or public matter?
- Do you think that each company should give its employees a helping hand in solving their domestic violence problems? If yes, then to what extent should a company be involved in this process?
- Describe your feelings when you see your colleagues try to help another teammate deal with his/her domestic violence situation.For employees: Describe your reaction if you were to find out that your company has started a social program focused on identification and prevention of domestic violence situations that may occur in employees’ families? In your opinion, why would a company take this step?
For managers: Has this course convinced you of the importance of implementing a social program focused on identification and prevention of domestic violence cases in your employees’ families?
- What is your advice for the developers of this course? What sections do you think they need to pay more attention to?
Once you have defined how you will assess course effectiveness, it’s necessary to outline your e-learning course structure. This will be your Table of Contents that will guide your production team — and then your learners — through the content of your course.
If we were to create a course on animated video design, then the structure would look like this:
E-learning course structure:
- Animation basics: styles & types
- Illustration basics
- Types of projects: case studies
- Animation designers: amateur vs pro
- Kalgera Video vs Talgue Video: style difference
- Camera work
- Web-friendly video formats
- Dividing illustrations into segments for further reuse
- Bad video vs good video
- Practice – Comparing two illustrations – Reviewing test assignment results
- How to choose a voiceover
- Sound design
- Illustrations: levels of thinking
Here, you’ll determine which types of content you will be utilizing in each section of your e-learning course.
👉 If you are not sure about formats, here’s a list of the most popular types of content used by course developers:
- Textual content
- Watch-Try-Do simulations
- Drag And Drop assessments
- Matching exercises
- Interactive elements
- Media slides
- Live recorded videos
- Scenario simulations
- Animated videos
- VR/AR applications
- Offline seminars
Now it’s time to fill up all course sections with actual content — concrete messages, factual data, explanation of concepts, and all other information that needs to be delivered to the course audience. In practice, all these materials are received from the SMEs and gathered into a separate document.
This is the final step in the pre-production process that includes copyediting, scriptwriting and creation of technical tasks for media elements.
- Copyediting — after the SMEs finish filling the document with all relevant content for the e-learning course (previous step), this file is then passed to editors for review, proofreading, adjusting narrative structure, etc.
- Scriptwriting — instructional designers break down the course into sections and compile a script scenario, providing narration text for every section/scene/slide. They also add visual references (videos, images, tables, etc.) where needed, and complement them with corresponding textual descriptions.
- Technical task for media — contains all the requirements for visual assets that will be present in a course. During the production stage, this document is then used by the illustrators and motion designers.
👉 It should be noted that a script scenario and technical task for media both have a strong effect on the overall budget of the project, as this is where instructional designers basically come up with a list of all the assets that need to be produced — the kind and quantity of these assets will determine how much time and resources a team will need to invest in the production later on.
Deciding on visual stylistics is the first thing that needs to be done when entering the production phase for an e-learning course. You need to establish some basic rules that your team will follow when producing all visual assets for the project.
Whether it is creation of illustration, animation sequences, or overlays for live-action videos, a unified visual strategy should be applied to any type of content that you work with.
When it comes to the particular rules, start with style-framing, and an animation sample.
Style-frame — an example of a finished frame that represents the overall look and feel of a finished scene.
Animation sample — animated sequence that demonstrates the dynamics and style of animation in a ready-made course.
Course designers then proceed to create the basic objects that illustrations or animations will be built upon. These can be brand identity elements (intro/outro, lower thirds, etc.), video templates (especially important when working with combinations), etc.
This step comprises all the activities connected with the production of visual assets for an e-learning course — storyboards, graphical elements, complex illustrations. It may also include 3D modelling and sourcing stock visuals from content marketplaces. Basically, you need to create building blocks that will then be used by video editors to put together a scene, slide or other section of your course.
Now, the word ‘asset‘ itself is a bit tricky. While animation designers will be busy producing animation samples, sound designers will be focused on sound effects and soundtracks; illustrators will concentrate on illustrations, textures and backgrounds; modelling artists render 2D/3D objects, and so on. That’s why it’s better to define the term ‘asset’ as an input material, instead of a particular visual element.
👉 NB! Do not confuse input material with input information. Technical assignments or guidelines are not assets.
Right after the narration text is ready and agreed on, the sound designers proceed to record a voiceover (V/O). The main function of a V/O is to set the rhythm and call the viewer’s attention to what is happening on-screen.
The characteristics of a professional V/O are:
- Voiceover tone perfectly matches the overall visual tone and dynamics of a video;
- Clear and loud enough, without any excessive noise and sound distortions;
- Reading tempo and speed are moderate, V/O has logical pauses and intonational accents;
- Absence of incorrectly pronounced words, names, numbers, etc.; and,
- V/O is well mixed with the soundtrack and SFX.
When it comes to choosing a V/O artist, there are two ways to approach it: sourcing an artist from a local studio (if your e-learning course will only be used in you local market), or looking for a V/O talent on freelance marketplaces like Fiverr or Bunny Studio (if your project targets a global audience).
Here are a few points that will help you select the best candidate:
- If you are looking for a V/O artist on a freelance platform like Fiverr, pay attention to the profile rating and client’s feedback. Top Rated and Top Seller are the badges you want to be looking for.
- Always check what’s included in the gig: how the sound file will be formatted, if background noise will be removed, how many rounds of edits are provided, who owns a copyright, etc. Take into account how fast the candidate responds to messages.
- Decide whether you need a male or female voiceover. The former will sound more formal while the latter will sound softer and more endearing. Remember, the final choice is always up to you. For example, at Blue Carrot we once recorded a male voiceover for a video course about violence against women — to demonstrate that a male audience is also concerned about this problem.
- Ensure that the V/O artist is an actual native speaker of the language your course is in, or someone who has mastered it fluently. Don’t forget about accents: if we talk about English V/O artists, then obviously e-learning courses targeted to the US market should include an American English V/O, while projects developed for European markets can utilize British English V/O.
- Check the V/O artist’s demo and pick those sections that sound relevant to what you’re looking for — you can even use them as references for a V/O. At this point, you may also ask a V/O artist to record a few sentences from your narration text. Most of the time, artists agree to record short samples for free.
- Find 2-3 words that would perfectly describe the tone of the V/O you’re looking for. Adjectives like confident, conversational, corporate, enthusiastic are among those used most frequently by course producers when looking for V/O artists.
- If there are some rare or unusual words, acronyms, specific terms, etc. in your narration script, it’s better to compose an additional phonetic guide for your V/O artist. This will increase your chances of recording a strong V/O on the first try.
The production of animation assets for complex e-learning courses demands a high level of tech expertise, so we always advise on delegating this process to a professional team or individual right away (if you’re not an animation development expert, yourself).
Here we recommend that you focus more on the management side of the process. The production of e-learning courses involves a large number of specialists and, while in this guide we go through each stage step-by-step, in reality, some processes may start to go in parallel across different teams. That’s why it’s particularly important to establish some rules and general standards that each team member will adhere to in order to deliver the content accordingly.
Also, you want to make sure that the production process is organized properly — everyone should be aware of: who communicates with whom, how the communication process flows, what area of responsibility each team member has, how the information stored, how the final results are reviewed and by whom, who is responsible for the end result, etc.
The better your internal processes are tuned up, the less time is wasted on trivial activities and spent more on work itself 💪
👉 Pro tip: if there is more than one production team engaged on the project, or you’re planning to staff up along the way, it makes sense to come up with some sort of onboarding process that will help new individuals (or new teams) to quickly get a grasp of what’s going on or has been done to this point. You can also create a reference note or document that will help a team quickly get back on track in case something goes off (process-wise).
EXPLORE OUR E-LEARNING CASES STUDIES:
Here, course producers review how well the produced result corresponds to the requirements set for the project in the early stages. If the project was carried out by you or your team, then the QA can be considered as a final step of the production process. If your e-learning course was produced by a video agency, then the QA precedes one more stage, which is editing.
Speaking of QA, if you work with a video agency, this is what you should know about quality assurance and how it is approached by a production team.
The whole process is composed of three parts:
- QA that occurs in between production steps — executed by a dedicated expert who ensures that developed assets correspond to technical requirements.
- QA which is carried out to ensure that the developed assets correspond to the course objectives and core messages, and interpret those messages correctly, and so on. Basically, the goal of this step is to make sure that the client gets what they have requested.
- Final QA — performed by a specialist to ensure that the project isn’t missing any source files, assets, etc. After that, the project gets sent to the client.
What’s special about this step — and what makes it interesting, and ‘unpredictable’ — is that here the client gets to see for the first time a video that a production team has been working on. Once the client gets a video for review, there are two possible outcomes:
- The client likes the result and makes minor recommendations like ‘adjust the color,’ ‘move animation overlay a bit to the right,’ etc.
- The client understands that some concepts — as discussed in the pre-production stage and realized in the video later on — do not work. At this point, the client may wish to change them.
Now, it’s important to note that, normally, major edits affect production costs and timelines. If requested changes are outside of the initially-agreed scope of work, the video agency will need to revise the budget to be able to make those changes.
At Blue Carrot, however, we always try to stay flexible and find ways to manage such situations with the resources we have 💡
In other words, editing can make your project seem a bit chaotic, or it can simply be another production stage that you complete in a matter of hours — it all depends on project specifics and how well the pre-production process was carried out.
In some countries, when creating content, universities or companies have to adhere to particular compliance standards enforced by the government. For example, in the US, all digital content must be 508 compliant. This standard provides accessibility guidelines for content developers that help to ensure the product they create can be accessible by people with disabilities. Technically, that would mean adding captions and audio descriptions to your video.
To ensure you don’t get overwhelmed with all the steps that need to be done during video production, here are a few tips which will help to ensure you won’t get lost along the way.
When creating a project, we recommend following one of three production scenarios that have proved to be quite effective in practice:
- A. The pre-production stage and video recording are carried out by you (or your team) while all post-production activities, such as editing, animation and sound design are outsourced to a video studio.
- B. The pre-production stage is carried out by you (or your team) while production and post-production stages are delegated to a video agency.
- C. The entire e-learning course production process is carried out by an e-learning agency.
Out of the three options above, scenario C can bring you the best results but it is also the most resource-demanding option. If, however, you have prior experience creating educational content, options A or B can generate equally effective results, while being inexpensive at the same time.
If your budget is limited, we suggest choosing between either A or B: A will get you a video of average quality, while B will fit those looking for a professionally shot video coupled with animation.
E-learning video production is a complex process that — depending on the objectives and needs of a particular project — can include different elements and additional stages. Three aspects, however, that influence the final budget, will always stay the same whenever you turn to a video agency.
Every time a production team starts working on a new e-learning project, they need to study the subject itself. From the beginning, you should accept the fact that course developers do not have deep knowledge in each and every subject by definition, so this part of a project timeline will always be dedicated to diving deeper into the new topic that is coming their way.
Hence, the more complex a course subject is, the more time it will take to design a course structure. Aside from that, more complicated topics normally call for more complex animation styles, which also affect the final cost.
The budget of your project will strongly depend on the type of animation you choose to produce, as well as its length. Apparently, animation overlays with fewer details will be less expensive to produce than custom whiteboard animation that includes characters, detailed backgrounds, etc.
Keep in mind, though, that there’s also a direct correlation between the style of a video and the audience it is produced for. For example, animation videos developed for young people come in bright colors and rich visuals, while, for older audiences, course producers offer more neutral colors and less actions on-screen.
When it comes to working with video agencies, additional requirements may include extra localization services (when you aim for several markets and, thus, several languages), production of subtitles (to make a project compliant), recording multiple voice overs, creating designs and content for handouts, preparing source files, etc.
👉 If you want to learn more about how to correctly plan localization for your video course, read our article here.
When estimating how much resources you need to allocate for project production, we always recommend you base your calculations on actual data for a real-life e-learning course which would be the closest reference to what you want to create.
Once you have identified your ‘base project,’ try to assess to which extent the result you are aiming for will be different. This may include a more complex animation, content-dense graphics, footage length, etc. All your findings can be arranged in a table:
|Base project||Estimation (your project)|
|Length||30 min.||45 min.|
|Imagery detalization||The same|
|Type||Live footage/stock video||Live footage/custom animation|
|Style complexity||—||More complex|
|Graphics density||5 illustrations per minute||10 illustrations per minute|
There is some information — like the length of the production process — that can’t be obtained this way. So, in order to identify the ‘unknown’ characteristics, we advise conducting a small test.
Ask the illustrator to draw 2-3 images in a required style. Once they’re done, review how much time it took to complete this task. Discuss with the illustrator how many images can be drawn in one day.
Assuming that, on average, it takes about three hours to draw two illustrations, with the daily capacity of eight working hours, he can do up to 12 illustrations a day, or one illustration per 1.5 hours. Let’s calculate the total amount of illustrations and time that can be spent creating these for your project:
- 10 illus. per minute X 45 = 450 illus.
- 450 illus. X 1.5 hours = 675 man-hours
The same calculations can be done for the reference base project:
- 5 illus. per minute X 30 = 150 illus.
- 150 illus. X 1.5 hours = 225 man-hours
Eventually, you’ll see that — for your project — you’ll need to produce three times more illustrations (compared to the reference), and allocate three times more time, which results in nine times more work and, thus, a project budget that is nine times higher.
How we estimate project budgets at Blue Carrot 🥕
This is how the budget for every new project gets estimated by our team.
- Analyze learning goals, subject complexity and desired outcomes
- Identify the desired type and style of an e-learning course
- Determine its length
- Add risks
- Identify price gap
- Create style-frame and get client approval
- Create animation prototype and get client approval
- Once we have a clear picture of the project, we can narrow the price range or even provide a fixed figure per minute.
To give you a reference example of how much resources go into production of different courses, here’s a sneak peek into a few of our projects:
An e-learning degree-program on Healthcare Ecosystem Development. This project combines live videos with animation overlays.
- Number of videos: 62
- Total length: 247 minutes
- Average length of each video: 4 minutes
- Total length of animation produced: 84 minutes
- Project turnaround: 2 months
- Team size:
- 1 producer
- 2 illustrators
- 2 motion designers
- Time spent on project:
- 262 man-hours spent by illustrators
- 428 man-hours spent by motion designers
- 150 man-hours spent by a producer
- Total time spent: 840 man-hours (10 man-hours per animation minute)
An e-learning course on the Opioid crisis. The course is made up of 2D animation videos.
- Number of videos: 9
- Total length: 31 minutes
- Average length of each video: 3.5 minutes
- Project turnaround: 1 month
- Team size:
- 1 producer
- 1 illustrator
- 1 motion designer
- Time spent on project:
- 72 man-hours spent by illustrator
- 57 man-hours spent by motion designer
- 34 man-hours spent by a producer
- Total time spent: 163 man-hours (approx. 5 man-hours per video minute)
An e-learning course on the Development of Democratic Society.
- Number of videos:11
- Total length: 55 minutes
- Average length of each video: 5 minutes
- Project turnaround: 6 months
- Team size:
- 2 producers
- 2 illustrators
- 2 motion designers
- 2 script writers
- 2 vector designers
- 1 sound engineer
- Time spent on project:
- 1440 man-hours spent by illustrators
- 1140 man-hours spent by motion designers
- 680 man-hours spent by producers
- Total time spent: 3260 man-hours (approx. 60 man-hours per video minute)
Up to 30% of production costs go into revisions. While the amount of work done by artists is relatively small, the majority of a budget goes into the producer’s work — i.e. the time that producer spends gathering information from a client; agreeing on what can be done (and what can’t) considering the available budget; converting these findings into actual tasks; assigning tasks to team members; overseeing the production process; making sure the results correspond to the initial guidelines and client requirements; sending a completed project for a review; implementing amendments, etc.
On average, all these activities increase the project duration by up to 50% of the total timeline spent producing a project. Why such a huge number? This is all due to the fact that different tasks consume time differently — you can spend a week producing assets for an e-learning project and another week just reviewing these assets with a client.
If your budget is limited, you want to make sure that you hit the mark on the first try. We normally avoid giving advice on cost-cutting techniques since this can be a sensitive subject and going too far with it may ruin the whole production process. Here are some insights, however, that can help you manage your expenses. Use the below tips to limit production costs and achieve the results you want:
- For a large project, give your team a bit more time. Stretching timelines will spare you the need to staff up in order to finish on time, and will make production more predictable and less expensive.
- Developing an asset library can also help to reduce the production budget. This way, you won’t need to create a custom illustration (for example) everytime you need one. Instead, you can simply take a template from the library.
- Do not skip the prototyping process, as prototypes allow you to better estimate final costs — before the work starts — and avoid jumping from one concept to another or adjusting the work scope during the production process (which can eventually blow your budget).
- Try to outsource the project. The budget hugely depends on the approach you choose for developing your e-learning course: executing it in-house or outsourcing. Carrying out the creation process with your internal team will cost more, as you need to ensure you have all the resources and specialists you need (and if not, hire them), and all the necessary equipment and tools are available, etc.On the other hand, with outsourcing, you can hire a pre-assembled team that will do all the ‘footwork’ for you. Budget-wise, this is also more viable — for example, e-learning production teams from Eastern Europe have rates that are up to three times lower, compared to their counterparts from US or Canada.
- Adjust the video type to your budget. Obviously, creating 3D custom animation sequences for your project will cost more compared to the use of stock templates. If you want your course to look a certain way, try to consult with a production team to see if there’s any way to adjust the style or type of your video without compromising quality or initial concept.
- Do not task a production team with things they can’t do. If your team specializes only in creating live e-learning videos with animation overlays, asking them to produce a complex 2D animation story will probably result in low-quality work. This, in turn, may even double your budget, as here you may need the help of another team (with relevant competencies) to redo the whole thing from scratch.
Review the team’s portfolio to assess whether the task you are about to offer them is within their area of expertise 🔎
Aside from project budget, the delivery timeline depends on numerous factors: type and style of the video to be produced, complexity of graphics, team capacity, number of revision rounds, etc. All these factors, however, will most likely always fall into (or derive from) one of the following groups:
The setup process often gets overlooked, especially when working on a large project. It’s a common belief that a few hours is enough to induct a team into a new project and, thus, this process doesn’t require additional attention. The reality is quite different, though.
In fact, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a month to effectively carry out the setup process. Introduction into the course subject, elicitation of project requirements, development of assessment criteria, sample creation and its further approval with the parties involved — all these steps need to be taken into account, especially when we’re talking about large projects and mass production of content.
E-LEARNING PROJECT SETUP:
|Lengthy process that involves multiple members of a team and determines how well the learning objectives will be met||Introductory 30-minute call with a team before the project start|
If everything runs smoothly, all parties are willing to collaborate, know what to do next, and ready to prioritize the common goal (i.e. meeting learning objectives) over all other needs, then there are high chances that the e-learning course production will be completed successfully.
On the other hand, when expectations are miscommunicated and unforeseen factors (brand name change, for example) pop up, the production team needs to go back to square one and redo half of all illustrations. When the communication process isn’t tuned up properly, then such a project will almost certainly fail.
Obviously, the amount of work to be done is what determines the length of a project timeline in the first place. The larger the project is, the more time needs to be spent on setup activities, studying the subject (by a team), structuring the e-learning or corporate instructional video production process, etc.
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You may not always be able to prepare for anything and everything during course development; however, the more nuances you understand, the less likely it is that your project will go off track. Here is an overview of some important aspects of e-learning course development, which often get overlooked, and our advice on how to handle those.
To ensure that project production doesn’t fall into the rabbit hole of neverending edits and corrections, it’s vital to set up clear rules for the feedback exchange procedure — between you and your in-house (or outsourced) team. Everyone should know how the review process flows and where one should be looking for new comments, questions, corrections and suggestions.
The where is especially important here since, for developing assets of different types (text, illustration, animation, etc.), course developers use different software environments, so feedback can span across several tools.
At Blue Carrot, we have an established method that we use to approach the feedback process, and you can use the following example as a reference point for your project:
- Script scenario — created in Google Docs and reviewed by the client there. All comments/edits are added and processed in this environment.
- Storyboards — The Boords platform is used for creating and storing storyboards. All feedback is processed there, as well.
- Video files — Frame.io is used for facilitating the review process for video files. This platform allows different members of a team to collaborate on a single file. You can also anchor comments in a timeline or add visual marks. Frame.io also supports multi versions, complex file structure, and allows set statuses for files.
If this is the first time you’re creating an e-learning course, we recommend establishing some basic data storage rules to be sure that everyone on the team knows where assets are stored and how to access them.
Whenever we get a new project at Blue Carrot, we create a separate storage space in the cloud. Normally, we use AWS or Google Drive services that come with a high level of data protection and strong backup functionality.
While working on a project, each member of our team is required to save a version of each asset they’re working on in the server. This is done to make sure that no file or idea gets missed, and to avoid situations where we need to roll back to an earlier version of the document.
Oftentimes when working on a large project, each team member has to go through hundreds and even thousands of repetitive tasks. This means that all processes need to be optimized well to ensure that producers, illustrators, motion designers, etc. do not waste their efforts on redundant work.
At scale, even the tiniest loss of time in any stage of the production process can result in week-long delays. So, in order to make the process efficient, you first need to figure out where potential lags can occur.
If a member of your team receives unclear instructions, they will spend additional time figuring out what to do with the task. Here, it’s important for your course producer to know in advance what needs to be done, which resources are required to complete the task, whether there are any nuances that a specialist should be aware of when working on this task, what the acceptance criteria for this task are, and what should be done with a file once a task is completed.
All this information will help a producer better outline the task to other members of the team, and grant access to needed materials, accounts, etc. So, instead of poorly composed instructions, they will deliver a high-quality assignment to their teammates.
In order to ensure that nothing gets missed during video production for corporate training or e-learning programs (especially in large projects), you need to ensure that QA sessions are carried out in between the stages. Here, the producer ensures that files, their contents, names, and structure correspond to the initial requirements.
Those teams who tend to skip QA sessions often find themselves in situations where different specialists start spending more time on allocating needed files, which will eventually stretch the timeline.
Large projects often demand teams boosting their resources, and thus adding more specialists to the production process. This is where another major issue may arise for those teams who don’t have standardized policies on how they store, process and exchange files.
So, whenever a new member joins a team, they will need to spend extra time wading through countless file duplicates, process variations, confusing procedures, etc. The only possible way to solve this problem (and to optimize the project timeline) is to standardize every key production aspect and create a checklist that will help get a new specialist (or entire team) all the necessary information about the project right away.
Oftentimes, clients decide to buy-out the source files to reuse them in future. Every asset during the production process goes through several stages and iterations, though, which means that the result you see on screen does not always coincide with what was created during an earlier stage of project development (and what is actually available in the source files, since there might be many different versions of source files for one video). For this reason, pulling out some assets from a final file may not always be possible.
In order for a team to provide a client with the required files, they will need to redo or even reanimate source files to ensure they correspond to their final iterations. This may result in an enormous loss of time and resources.
To prevent this from happening, it’s necessary to notify the team in advance — before the work starts — that they will also need to supply the source files after the project is finished. This will help them structure the workflow with that requirement in mind.
👉 For example, when working on one of our recent projects at Blue Carrot, we set up a file space on the client’s server, added several accounts with different access rights and organized a file structure there. Whenever a member of our team introduced changes to any asset or file on our end, these changes were automatically linked to corresponding files on the client’s server. Such an approach helped us to avoid situations where artists had to manually update each and every file or its version.
📌 Agree on every element/asset that can influence further production
The assets developed during the production process may be inherently connected, thus, it’s necessary that we know what we’re doing with these beforehand. For example, if there’s a need to tweak branding elements after the team has already developed 1,000 assets (that include those elements), these changes may send the project budget through the roof. To prevent that from happening, we sit down with the client at the very beginning to agree on everything that may potentially influence the subsequent development process.
📌 Get on the same page and standardize processes
We need to ensure that there are no misunderstandings between us and the client regarding how we will navigate project production, and how feedback is provided and processed, who the point of contact is, etc. Standardizing communication activities allows us to avoid contradictions during the review process where different people start suggesting diametrically opposed corrections to a single element, asset, scene, slide, etc.
📌 Explain the specifics of working process
A great deal of issues that occur during an e-learning course or employee training video production come from the fact that clients may simply not be aware of how video agencies pace their work. In the video industry, all production teams follow the Waterfall approach, meaning that they progress gradually, i.e. the project gets broken into a series of tasks and assignments that are carried out in a particular order.
This means that a video agency won’t be able to introduce major changes to concept, script scenario, modules, etc. without significantly damaging the budget once production is at the finish line.
📌 Work in close cooperation with the client
We always consider the production process as a two-way-street agreement — we become a part of the client’s team while they agree to cooperate with us as much as possible. We all work towards the same goal so, without the client’s full involvement in the process, it is impossible to deliver a quality product.
📌 Develop and agree on the test piece of content before sending the entire course into production
In a similar way as we agree on assets that may affect further development, we do a test run of a single file through all the stages — pre-production, production, post-production — including the final review stage. During this process, we make all the necessary corrections to the file (to ensure it corresponds to general acceptance criteria), and only proceed to mass production after this is signed off.
📌 Proactively work with client expectations
At Blue Carrot, we put a significant amount of effort into managing client expectations. We make sure that each client gets involved into the process, reviews all the samples and interim file versions, etc. Before entering each phase, we elaborate on client expectations and outline what the outcomes will be once we finish this stage. This is how we are able to reduce the number of corrections to a minimum.
This is an educational course produced by our full-service team for the International Republican Institute (IRI) on principles of democratic society development. The biggest challenge with this project was the short timeframe and large amount of work to be completed. For IRI, we produced 11 video lessons that included 34 min. of whiteboard animation, 24 min. of animated overlays, 5 min. of live-shot videos, and 26 illustrations.
Another challenge was the complexity of the subject itself. It was heavily based on political theory, which required our team to spend almost half of the entire timeline studying the basics and concepts of political science. To ensure that it didn’t hurt the schedule, we decided to produce all 11 videos in parallel. The IRI team was incredibly happy with the quality of work we delivered.
This is an e-learning video course developed for one of our partners from a top U.S. university. We were asked to enhance some pre-recorded lectures on the Development of Healthcare Ecosystems with custom animation. The production process was challenging, since the delivery timeline was quite tight and we had to develop 200+ minutes of content within a month.
Normally, it takes about 3-5 months for a video agency to produce such a large amount of content; however, we significantly increased the number of specialists working on this project, and were able to deliver the project on time, as requested. We always try our best to fulfill client expectations, which we proved with this task.
The team scaleup also imposed another challenge which required us to invest extra resources into the QA process to ensure that the content developed by multiple teams was visually consistent all the way through. We managed to successfully meet this challenge and produced a course that fully corresponded to what the client requested.
An e-learning development company LerNetz, based in Switzerland, approached us with a request to produce an employee training video for one of their clients. LerNetz already had a concept and a final script, and wanted us to help produce a series of video lessons for their explainer course. The end client of this project was an insurance company who wanted to educate its sales reps on a new advanced methodology that would help them sell insurance products more effectively.
We created six animated video lessons — 35 minutes in total — in full HD that were also blended with live footage that we received from LerNetz. The whole corporate learning video production process took us two months and involved several production teams. We also assigned several translators to this project since the course was meant to be distributed over multiple European countries. The LerNetz team was completely satisfied with the outcomes of our work.
The development of an e-learning project includes multiple stages and production nuances. To make sure you stay on the right track, we’d recommend you put your learning objectives first, have all your processes organized, know where you’re at in any given moment of time, and understand how any new changes affect the project scope, budget, and timeline. You should also make sure to have a professional production team by your side.
If you want to get more insights on how to produce corporate training videos or e-learning courses for your organization, get in touch with us!
We are always open to new connections and ready to assist across all stages of e-learning course production 😎