Using Video to Record Train-The-Trainer Deliveries

One of the better uses of video that has been very helpful for many of our clients is also quite easy to accomplish and inexpensive to perform. Plus, it is extremely helpful in allowing national or global launches run smoother and faster, saving everyone time and money. Recording your train-the-trainer sessions is a great way of making sure that everything that is being taught to your students is easily accessible for later use. We record these sessions on camera. The main focus is on the SME and any sort of documentation that might be projected that correlates to what is being discussed. Occasionally, the camera will focus on other people in the classroom who might be asking important questions or providing other useful information. We use professional microphones to record clean-sounding audio from the SME who conducts the class. Other various microphones are set up around the classroom to ensure that any questions or comments that the students have are also captured.

This is extremely helpful when having to do transcriptions, when referring back to changes to the course files that were made on the spot, and for anyone who was not able to attend the TTT sessions to review after the fact. It is very beneficial to the team because everyone knows that the information will be available to them if they need to refer back to it for any reason.

Once the sessions are finished, our production specialists take all of the audio and video, and create video files that contain all of the recordings. These videos can be organized by date, specific module number, or any other topic that you desire. They are then posted on our servers and made shareable by links sent out to users. These links can be shared with anyone who needs them.

The great thing about these videos is that set-up time, crew size, and equipment are minimal. This factor keeps costs down, and in the long run, will more likely save your company money by making sure that all of the information presented during these sessions is widely available to you and your team.

How to Enhance your Training with Large-Scale Videos

If you have a great story that you would like to tell, with many key moving parts, and you want to make a visual impact, spending money on videos is a great way to capture your audience’s attention.

These types of videos are usually used when you have a large-scale product or service to promote, in-depth instructional training with a focus on key actions or processes, or just something that you wish to utilize for entertaining people. When shooting a production of this scale, you will most likely have, at a minimum, 2–3 cameras shooting all of the action. You will want to capture sound from multiple sources and lighting the scene needs to be precise. This step requires a large team of people working behind the scenes to keep your production running smoothly, on time, and within budget. You might also have to hire actors, a casting director, a makeup person, production assistants, and more staff members to help the shoot run smoothly.

Pre-production is a key factor in making sure that your actual production runs smoothly, and it should never be overlooked. These shoots can last for multiple days, at multiple locations (perhaps even on a sound stage), and might require permits to shoot. To ensure that everyone involved is on the same page and knows what to do, it is essential to create a script and storyboard. This step will make sure that every shot that is crucial to telling your story is covered. You don’t want to end up in the editing room looking for a particular shot that is needed, only to find out after the shoot has wrapped that it wasn’t captured. That can ruin a production and cost much more money in the end.

There are also a bunch of other factors that you might need to consider when producing a video of this caliber. Shoots like this one can start before sunrise and end at night. Those are long hours that your crew has to work, and at some point, they are going to need to eat. Don’t forget to account for catering costs for the entire crew for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if necessary. There also might be travel and lodging costs included if your shoot is in a remote location.

We did a massive project for The National Safety Council that was going to be distributed to a large, external audience. This high-quality deliverable was focused on skill-based training where the visuals were very important and had to be exact. We had to show a variety of locations for all of the various scenes that we were shooting, so it involved a multiple-day/multiple-location shoot. To make sure that we captured all of the action happening in each scene, we used three professional cameras and had microphones on everyone in the scenes. It was a large undertaking, but the videos turned out to be an excellent tool that NSC now uses to train their clients in saving lives.

We will be wrapping up our series of posts next week when we discuss how recording your Train-The-Trainer sessions can not only be beneficial to your budget, but also to your employees as well. Keep following us on Twitter at @EnvisionGroupC for updates.

How to Enhance your Training with Mid-Range Videos

In our last post, we discussed how to create Quick and Easy Videos that could be used in sales, marketing, and training. Today, we are going to discuss taking it up a notch and producing a mid-range video that requires a higher budget, but produces a high-quality video that can really bring your program to the next level.

Videos like this one are great for instructional, marketing, and course development purposes, and a majority of our clients choose to record their videos using this format. If you are looking to add video to your eLearning course, these types are great for adding content and a more branded touch to the training. These mid-range videos are shot with a limited crew (1–2 people usually), and involve a bit more equipment and time.

These videos might consist of multiple subjects and discuss a wide range of topics. B-Roll footage might be shot to add additional content to the video. All of it would be done with one or two professional cameras, microphones, and lights operated by our videographers. Depending on the complexity, we might include a producer to help guide the production and make sure that all key points are captured. These videos can usually be shot in a day, and rarely exceed more than one location.

Pre-production is key for videos like this one. You want to have your location already scoped out prior to shooting, and you need to verify that your subject is prepared for any questions that might be asked. If you decide to shoot with two cameras, one will be set up to capture a wide shot and one will be set up to capture a close-up. This helps the editor have options of camera angles to use during editing. It also allows him or her to edit out mistakes or long pauses that the subject might make.

Our third post in this series will discuss large-scale videos and everything that goes into creating something that will have a visual impact and be the main focus of your development process. Keep following us on Twitter at @EnvisionGroupC for updates.

How to Enhance your Training with Quick and Easy Videos

One of the greatest misconceptions about video is that it is expensive to produce. And although production costs can start to pile up as certain productions grow in size and scope, with proper planning and implementation, there are ways to keep production costs to a minimum. In the next few posts, we are going to begin discussing the various types of videos that your company can produce in relation to your budget. Today’s topic is Quick and Easy Videos.

Quick and Easy Videos

Some of the most informative videos can be produced for next to nothing by using the bare minimum equipment and spending time on pre-production. Everyone now has a high-definition camera in their pocket, and it has become acceptable to use smartphone technology for video recording. The cameras on the vast majority of smartphones shoot in 1080p HD. Some of them even shoot in 4K. Why hire a camera crew when you can shoot it yourself? Explainer videos are some of the easiest videos to create because all that they require are a subject matter expert and a rough outline of their talking points. As long as you can find a nice, quiet place to shoot, someone or something to hold the camera, er…smartphone, and decent lighting, you can produce a nice video that can be used for a variety of projects. An example would be showing good/poor technique (like with sales videos for example), setting up scenarios, and talking head videos.

Maybe you are looking to introduce yourself and your company to a potential client? Maybe there is a project that you or your team is working on that you want to explain to other people? Maybe you just have a sales pitch that you can’t make in person?  Or maybe, you just want to add some video to your training? All of these scenarios can easily be recorded and shared for almost no cost. Remember to frame your shot horizontally, NOT vertically, and position your subject properly in the frame as outlined in our Video: Interview Recording Principles and Tips post.

You also will want to speak clearly and loudly enough so that the camera’s microphone can hear you. Outside noise, air conditioners, fans, and other people can easily be heard, so making sure that you are in a quiet space is key. If you really want your sound to be professional, you can purchase a microphone that can plug into your phone, but it’s not essential if you are trying to cut costs. You can view a list of some of the best smartphone mics at the link below.

9 Best Smartphone Mics | April 2017

The final step for a project of this type would be to edit the videos together. This is where the majority of costs for a project of this scale come into play. However, if you shot everything properly and provided clear instructions or a script, our editors should be able to quickly develop a final product for you that will help get your message to the masses. They will add your logo, name and title graphics, or even PowerPoint Slides to the video to help enhance it. These are simple, inexpensive ways that our editors can spice up your video and keep production costs low.

Keep following us on Twitter at @EnvisionGroupC for Part 2 of our blog series on various types of video productions to enhance your eLearning and training materials. We will be discussing mid-range video production and why it can make the best impression and impact.

Making The Most of Your Location: A Guide to Lowering Production Costs, Part II – Changing the Scene with the Click of a Mouse

In our previous post, Making The Most of Your Location: A Guide to Lowering Production Costs, Part I – Creative Location Selection, we described how we halved production costs on a large-scale National Safety Council (NSC) video training shoot by utilizing a hotel and a school rather than a studio or multiple sets,while still capturing everything we needed in a way that was interesting and engaging. When it came to videos that were strictly procedural videos, such as CPR and use of an automatic external defibrillator, we wanted to make sure that these sets were interesting and engaging as well.

We needed to portray various settings that NSC’s clients could relate to. We wanted their clients to see multiple backgrounds, including backgrounds familiar to the airline and construction industries, as well as daycare centers, schools, and warehouses. Although we could find various props to help enliven the various scenes, repeatedly changing the scene takes time and money. That’s when we realized that we could completely change the set with one simple solution.

Whether it is a schoolyard, an airport, a warehouse, or a construction site, we needed to come up with something creative, that wasn’t really seen before in training videos, and that was cost-effective. That’s when we decided to use rear projection to set the scene.Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.20.48 PM Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.10.52 PM Rear projection isn’t anything new; it has been used in film for years. Actors are placed in front of a semi-transparent screen and behind the screen you project whatever image it is you need to set the scene. This allows the image to shine through the screen, creating a background. You light the actors from the front, and when shooting it looks as if the actors are wherever you want them to be. For instance, when we were shooting the child CPR scenes, we projected an image of a playground, which any teacher could relate to. We projected a shot of a warehouse for adult CPR because many of the people who will watch this training series are warehouse workers. We ended up using over eight different backgrounds for these particular training scenes and all we had to do was change the picture that was being projected. If we had to change the set pieces for each of the different environments, it would have really kicked up production costs. This way, we were able to completely change the look of the set with one click of the mouse.Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.21.09 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.14.26 PM Feedback on this project has been outstanding. Many people within the NSC complemented us on how the scenarios captured the real-life situations perfectly, and that the various set backgrounds we used in rear projection was something they had never seen before.

The NSC wanted to take their training material and make it exciting and fresh, and with some clever thinking and proper planning, we were proud to be able to help them achieve their goal.Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.12.35 PM Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.10.23 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.11.30 PM


Making The Most of Your Location: A Guide to Lowering Production Costs, Part I – Creative Location Selection

Envision Group Consulting has been privileged to work with the National Safety Council (NSC) on a large-scale training program to develop a wide-ranging series of training videos. These videos covered everything from the proper technique for CPR, to using an automatic external defibrillator, to how to respond to a series of emergencies. We had the challenge of coming up with various case scenarios in which our subjects were in need of emergency care: heart attacks, shock, broken bones, choking, and poisoning, as well as many other situations. We needed to shoot all these scenes in order to capture everything that the NSC wanted addressed, in a way that was interesting and engaging. This was no small feat!Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.10.32 AM How do you take an extensive training series, with hours of information that needs to be recorded, and make it fresh and compelling to the viewer? You want the videos to portray real-life situations that people can relate to, and you want them to stay focused on what they are watching. You have a certain budget, as well as a set timeline to record all of the necessary scenarios. We were up to the challenge! With some outside-the-box thinking, ingenuity from our video department, and a lot of hard work, we were able to plan a video shoot that would save on production costs and make sure that our final product was engaging and informative.Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.59.00 AMOne key way we saved on production costs was by shooting at one location that could provide multiple sets all in one place. The alternative was shooting in multiple locations, which would have added many hours of setting up and tearing down lights, sound, and everything else that goes into it. Yes, there are studios throughout Chicago that would allow us to do that. But those studios are not cheap and they really only have a few different sets to choose from. Instead of shooting at a studio, we realized that if we rented a business suite at one of the leading hotels in Chicago, we could to shoot everything that we needed to shoot at one location. We had a living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and hallway, and we were even able to shoot outside of the hotel. By shooting everything at one location, we cut the setup time in half, getting double the active shooting time in a day. If we hadn’t done that, the price of the shoot would have doubled.

Since a big part of the NSC’s training program is dedicated to pediatric training, it was only common sense to shoot at a school. Again, this provided us a great opportunity to shoot different scenes without changing locations. We could shoot in a cafeteria (allergic reaction), a gymnasium (asthma), a science class (chemical reaction), a playground (broken bone), and a locker room (heat stroke), all without having to pack up all of our gear and move to a new location. Yes, we had to change rooms, but since everything was in the same building, the time it took to move equipment and set up the next shot was minimal.Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.25.03 AM By shooting at the hotel and the school, we were able to capture everything we needed for the scene-based segments. But what about the videos that were strictly training sessions – the segments that were straight procedural videos, such as CPR and use of an automatic external defibrillator? The NSC wanted to make sure that these sets were interesting and engaging as well. This proved to be a bit more challenging, but we love a challenge, and once again were able to come up with something that was better than shooting on a stationary set.

In Part II, we’ll dive deeper into how we managed to portray multiple locations while shooting in the same room.Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.21.50 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 12.27.20 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.19.18 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.23.24 AMScreen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.59.36 AM

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More Than a Dozen Tips for Writing Awesome Audio Narration Scripts

More Than a Dozen Tips for Writing Awesome Audio Narration Scripts

As many e-learning developers can attest, there’s a lot of work that goes into writing audio narration. From organizing and refining the content to getting it proofed and formatted for easy recording, it seems that most of the time that goes into producing audio for e-learning is spent in writing the script and getting it ready for recording, rather than actually recording, editing, or syncing audio files.

So what are some ways you can make the process of writing an audio narration script a little more streamlined and a lot less time-consuming? Here are more than a dozen tips and pointers I’ve picked up that can help.

Before You Start Writing

Does your project really need audio narration? Sometimes Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and stakeholders expect us to add audio narration to courses because they see e-learning as a platform for delivering narrated slideshows or animated lectures. But audio narration is so much more effective when it’s used supportively—to explain or describe on-screen visuals—rather than read them, verbatim to learners.

How can you get to the bottom of what kind of audio (if any) your course reallyneeds? Here are some tips and resources that may help:

  • Debunk the auditory learner myth. One of the reasons that some folks give for narrating on-screen text is that it supports “auditory learners.” Unfortunately, the notion of “auditory learners” isn’t really backed-up by any science. Check out the research explored in this article by Mike Taylor, Redundancy Principle: Should You Duplicate Narrated Text On-screen?
  • Put SMEs into the learner’s shoes. Struggling to convince your org that reading on-screen text isn’t effective? Try putting folks into the learner’s shoes by asking them to compare and contrast a course the contains narrated on-screen text with a version of the same course that doesn’t use narration, like in this example from Tom Kuhlmann.
  • Propose other ways of using audio. Audio doesn’t always have to be used as narration. For instance, background audio can give your courses a great sense of atmosphere and mood. And using audio for scenario-based learning can really help learners emotionally engage with the material.For more creative ideas on other ways to use audio in your e-learning, check out this article from David Anderson, How to Use Audio to Enhance Your E-Learning Course.

Writing Your Script

Once you’ve sorted out your audio needs, identified that audio narration is necessary, and finished storyboarding or prototyping your project, you’ll eventually reach the stage where you can start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, as it were). Now you’re ready to start the process of writing an audio narration script. Here are a few pointers for making this step of the process a piece of cake:

  • Start with a content outline. Have a long-winded SME on your project? Instead of trying to rewrite the SMEs content right away or asking her to cut out information she may feel is crucial, try asking her to outline the key talking points. You can suggest that the SME add some notes or comments about what absolutely must be covered under each key point or elaborate on how a talking point will drive performance. Not only is this a great way for helping SMEs to simplify and streamline information themselves, it can also be a helpful strategy for pulling SMEs out of the “learners need to know absolutely everything” mindset.
  • Nail down the tone you’ll be using and then stick with it. Nothing is more jarring than a course that looks fun and inviting, but feels and sounds deadly serious. If your course is on a serious, high-risk matter, make sure the tone of your writing is appropriate for that subject matter. And if your course is on a less critical topic or more light-hearted topic, give yourself a little more leeway for keeping the tone easy-breezy.
  • Decide if you’ll be writing from a first person, second person, or third person point of view. It can be hard to follow who’s on first when the point of view keeps changing. As you’re scrubbing your script keep both the tone AND the point of view in mind, and make sure both are consistent throughout. For an easy explanation of these writing perspectives and how they’re used effectively, check out these handy tips from Grammar Girl.
  • Keep your writing conversational. No one likes to feel like she’s reading a textbook or is being lectured by a robot. To keep things more conversational, use relatable words and phrasing. Use contractions to keep from sounding too formal or stilted. And for some more writing pointers along this line, be sure to check out this article by Trina Rimmer: 10 Tips for Becoming a Better Designer.
  • Get to the point—quickly. Speaking of struggles with streamlining content, one of the things everyone struggles with is the urge to explain everything. When it comes to scriptwriting, you’re better off cutting to the chase, since listening to someone speak can make you want to tune out. One good rule of thumb: write with only one key idea per sentence or one big idea per slide or page.
  • Avoid stating the obvious. One of the easiest ways to streamline a narration script is to avoid restating things that are obvious to learners. For instance, instead of telling learners to “Click the flashing Next button to continue” on every. single. screen…point it out to them once at the beginning and then rely on visual cues from there.
  • Don’t forget about transition statements. Transition statements help people see how all the dots are connected when moving from one thought, chapter, or topic to another. One example of a common transition statement for e-learning is something like, “Now that you have a better understanding of X, let’s shift gears to see how X applies to Y.”
  • Point out on-screen text that must be read. Some courses, like certain types of compliance training, may require a lot of on-screen text. Instead of adding all of that text to the script, just refer to the on-screen text in the script, inviting learners to read it for themselves. You can also give folks the option to download a transcript or listen to an audio version of the script to make sure the information is accessible.
  • Keep the 100 to 1 ratio in mind. When you’re writing and editing your script, keep in mind that 100 words is equivalent to approximately one minute of recorded audio narration.

There are so many more great tips for writing awesome audio narration scripts for eLearning if you just click HERE.

How to Record High Quality Audio for E-Learning

Here is an article I found written by Tim Slade at eLearning Uncovered. It’s very informative and discusses the steps in recording great sounding audio for e-learning. It also gives a few examples of the types of programs and equipment that you would need to use, without having to spend a fortune.


We all recognize the sound of poor quality audio when we hear it. Whether it’s unwanted static, an echo, or ambient room noise, bad audio can distract your learners from the content in your e-learning course and prevent them from clearly receiving your message. Although I am a big fan of using professionally recorded narration, the cost alone can prevent this from being an option for many people. There’s also a perception that creating top-quality audio yourself is equally costly.

The truth is, recording and creating high quality audio for e-learning doesn’t require professional-grade tools, special training, or a multi-thousand dollar budget. All it takes is a few simple, cheap, and sometimes free tools and tips.

Here are five tips for recording your own high quality audio for e-learning.

1. Choose a high-quality microphone.

Microphones are like cars. No matter how much—or little—money you spend, a car will get you from point A to point B; however, the driving experience between a $10,000 car and a $50,000 car differs greatly.

The same is true for microphones. A cheap microphone will record audio just like an expensive one, but the quality won’t be the same. This is very important, as you can rarely compensate for bad audio recording quality after the fact.

Does this mean you should purchase a top-tier microphone like this one for $4000+? Not at all! I think the sweet spot for a quality microphone, at a consumer price, would be this Snowball USB Microphone by Blue Microphones for $70. I use this as my everyday audio recording microphone, and it serves me well.

high quality audio for e-learning

2. Use a noise-cancelling device.

Even a quality microphone won’t eliminate ambient room noise, static, and echoes. As a result, you should consider using a noise-cancelling device with your microphone. Because most of us can’t afford to cover an entire room with acoustic foam to create a recording booth, there are several cheaper options.

In my case, because the Snowball USB Microphone is encased, it already has noise-cancelling properties. Another option is to create a smaller version of a recording booth. A popular option is this Porta-Booth Plus, which you can purchase for $189.00. If that’s still outside of your budget, I’ve also seen people construct their own table-top recording booths, like this:


If none of these options work for you, you can also try recording your audio in a walk-in closet! The clothing will help dampen outside sounds and echoes.

To read the remaining steps, please click HERE

7 Tips To Repurpose eLearning Content for Mobile Learning

This is a great article that I thought was worth sharing:

How To Repurpose eLearning Content for Mobile Learning


The world of eLearning is constantly evolving and changing. As eLearning professionals, it’s important to stay up to date with current eLearning trends, so that we can provide our learners with the most memorable and meaningful eLearning experience. Learners tend to be on-the-go more often than not. Therefore, in order to reach them and offer them the chance to develop skill sets or broaden their knowledge base, the learning must go with them via their mobile devices. So, the big question is: how do I convert my existing eLearning course to a mobile learning course? More importantly, how can I repurpose my eLearning course content, so that I won’t have to spend time and money to create an entirely new mobile learning course?

  1. Create a mobile learning course outline before diving into the repurposing process.
    Before you begin converting your content, you’ll probably want to develop an outline that maps out the entire mobile learning course. Consider any existing learning materials that you want to integrate, as well as new ones that you feel that should be added to your new mobile learning course. This outline should also feature your core learning objectives and goals, as these will serve as a guide moving forward. An added benefit of creating this outline is that it will give you the opportunity to gather all of the content you currently have and critically review it. Then, you will determine if certain parts still have a place in your mobile learning course or they should be left out. Also, if you are working with a team, make sure that you are all on the same page and that the project’s goals are well defined and communicated to all of you. This can be achieved by holding regular meetings (virtual or otherwise). Get their input on which eLearning elements can easily be integrated into the mobile learning course, as well as how much time they require to complete their respective tasks.

To read the remaining “7 Tips To Repurpose eLearning Content for Mobile Learning” by Christopher Pappas, please visit



17 Strategies to Survive Working From Home With Children

Here’s a great article from Allison Martin on working from home with children:


Younger kids can be a handful when you’re trying to get things done. Photo: Rob Briscoe

If you’ve ever thought working from home with small children beats driving to the office each day, you may be sadly mistaken. My children are definitely the apple of my eye, but they can be a handful anytime I sit down to complete an important task. It’s almost as if they have an internal switch that flips on any time the cover of my laptop opens!

Before I made the decision to enroll my youngest son in child care, it was quite a struggle to balance running a business with an infant in tow. After years of following all sorts of tips to minimize distractions, I finally figured out how to successfully accomplish tasks without pulling all my hair out.

Here’s a comprehensive list of tactics I’d suggest if you’re having a difficult time working from home with children:

1. Be realistic

If your children constantly demand attention during non-business hours, do you really expect them to sit in a corner with a pile of crayons, coloring books, or an iPad for hours at a time while you work?

Even as an adult, I am sometimes easily sidetracked during work hours by phone calls, text messages, email alerts, social media (the ultimate time-suck), or a light bulb that suddenly goes off in my head — just to name a few distractions.

And remember, you are the main attraction for your little ones.

Click here to read the remaining 17 Strategies to Survive Working From Home With Children by Allison Martin


Compressing Video for Use in Articulate Storyline

Trying to find the right settings for video compression can be a tricky thing when it comes to streaming media.  You want the video to look as clean and clear as possible without losing any quality, but you also don’t want super large files that take forever to load over internet connections. Where is the happy medium? It all depends on your project and what sort of files you are compressing to.  In this blog we are going to be discussing using Flash Video Files (FLV) within Articulate Storyline.

We used FLV files for our project because we shot our subject on a green screen. The green screen allowed us to key him out and onto any background that we wanted and create an alpha channel on the video. The alpha channel is really a mask– it specifies how the pixel’s colors should be merged with another pixel when the two are overlaid, one on top of the other. Storyline accepts .mov files with alpha channels, but it converts the .mov file to an MP4 file and gets rid of the alpha channel, rendering your file useless. If you are not using an alpha channel on your video, compressing to MP4 files works great.

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Scott Downey, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, shot in front of green screen for an eLearning presentation.

Since we shot our subject in 1080p HD (1902×1080 pixels) and our module slide size was 756×571, we decided to resize the video in After Effects (where we created the alpha channel) to fit the new dimensions of the Storyline slide.  We then had to convert and compress the footage to an FLV file. This is where you want to make sure that the quality of your compressed footage meets that happy medium.  We found that compressing the footage to 1200kbps kept the quality looking great and kept the file size down quite a bit.  We could have dropped the compression rate down to 1000kbps or even 800kbps, but the audio and video would go out of sync and the quality of the video was starting to suffer.

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Scott Downey from Purdue University with the green screen keyed out and edited on a new background using an alpha channel in the FLV video file.

Overall, it really does depend on your project and what sort of footage you are using.  Someone standing and talking to the camera won’t have as much data information to process as footage of a basketball game or a concert. It takes more data to process footage that is changing rapidly, so you might have to tweak your settings a bit to see what works best for you.

Remember to consider your audience when creating FLV files. Apple products such as iPhones or iPads do not read FLV files, so you have to be sure that anyone who is viewing your eLearning Project is doing so on a device that is compatible. If you are using alpha channels, this is a very difficult thing to navigate around, so be careful. But, if you are just creating video files without alpha channels your best bet is converting your footage to MP4 files and publishing your files with the HTML5 option selected.

10,000 Film Clips Now Available for Free in New Public Domain Database

This is a post taken from The Creators Project blog.

For filmmakers, designers, photographers, and just about any kind of creatives, the public domain is an important resource, full of copyright-free materials that can be used and remixed to create new art. The legal intricacies of copyright and public domain, however, can be daunting, and finding specific pieces of footage, for example, from organizations like the US National Archive can be a tedious and user-unfriendly experience. Today, royalty-free video marketplace Pond5 launches the Public Domain Project in order to solve this problem, opening up to the public a massive, thoroughly-organized treasure trove of about 80,000 copyright-free video clips, photos, sound recordings, and 3D models.

The project includes digital models of NASA tools and satellites, Georges Méliès’ 1902 film, A Trip To The Moon, speeches by political figures like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr., recordings of performances from composers like Beethoven, and a laid-back picture of President Obama playing pool (below). Since they existed solely in physical form within the National Archives, about 5,000 of the film clips had been nearly impossible to access for most filmmakers. The Public Domain Project directly digitized the footage themselves and combined it with 5,000 more copyright-free clips, making an easy-to-use marketplace that unifies a huge portion of the country’s historical resources. Artists can pick and choose from the helpfully labeled and tagged files to find just the right picture or clip to give their work some historical context, or to create a whole new artwork with its own unique meaning.

Alongside the freshly accessible materials, Pond5 produced a handy explanation of the public domain to help artists ensure their ideas fall within the legal realm of each different kind of public domain. While using the free picture of President Obama is fine for an editorial about presidential recreation, for example, it would not be legal to turn it into an advertisment for billiards tables.

One of the coolest things about this project is that, as with nearly any free resource, people will almost certainly find ways to use the Public Domain Project in ways we can’t predict. We’d love to see projects like a supercut of vintage space footage, a film remix in the style of Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, or even a modern take on the nuclear bomb montage from the end of Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. All the clips are embeddable and many are byte-sized, so we may even see them sprout up as new memes and reaction GIFs, and hopefully many more projects we haven’t thought of yet.

Below, check out some royalty-free images, courtesy of the Public Domain Project:

President Barack Obama whistles along to the music as he shoots pool with Col

President Barack Obama whistles along to the music as he shoots pool with Col

A Trip To The Moon (1902), Georges Méliès, Screencap


Apollo 11 Bootprint


Matty McIntyre, Chicago AL


The Orion Nebula

Visit the Public Domain Project to scope out the selection for yourself.


There is a new video compression codec arriving in 2015, but what exactly is H.265?

This post was originally posted at

One of the key new codecs for all of us in 2015 is H.265; also called HEVC. The reason media professionals need to learn about this is that it will, fairly quickly, replace H.264 as the codec of choice for the web.


HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding) started development in 2007, with the standard formally published by the ITU-T on June 7, 2013.

What publishing this spec meant was that H.265 was firm enough that developers and hardware manufacturers could finalize their initial HEVC products. However, finalizing a spec is not the same as releasing a product.

After the initial flurry of press interest, the HEVC spec continued to evolve. 2014 saw the release of the second version of the standard supporting higher bit-depths, 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 chroma sampling and scalable extensions. Work is continuing on support for 3D video.

According to Wikipedia, “On September 29, 2014, MPEG LA announced their HEVC license which covers the essential patents from 23 companies. The license is US $0.20 per HEVC product after the first 100,000 units each year with an annual cap.”


Video files are huge. Even compressed video files are enormous. H.265 was designed to reduce cellular network congestion, improve compressed image quality, and decrease bandwidth costs when streaming media.

NOTE: According to tables supplied by ITU-T, at the same bandwidth, we should see a file size reduction of around 40%, when compared to H.264.

Additionally, H.265 supports image sizes up to 8K (8,192 x 4,320 pixels).

Another big benefit, to producers, is the H.265 supports parallel processing, something that H.264 does not natively support, which means that compression will take full advantage of multiple processors, cores, and graphics processing units (GPU) allowing us to compress files far faster than we can today.


The overall roll-out is slow. First, because AVC and H.264 are well-entrenched in hardware decoders. Second, because in order to use HEVC we need full support for encode (compression) and decode (playback). There’s nothing worse than compressing your latest opus only to discover that your clients can’t play it.

Currently, a number of devices support, or have announced support for, HEVC decoding (playback) including:

  • iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
  • Android Lollipop
  • Windows 10 (scheduled for release in 2015)
  • 4K Blu-ray Discs (summer 2015)


Currently, the following software supports H.265. (This is not a complete list.)

  • DiVX
  • Handbrake Mac (v.0.10)
  • Main Concept TotalCode Studio
  • Sorenson Media Squeeze Pro
  • Wowza Media Systems

Adobe has said that they don’t have plans to support H.265 for the next 3-6 months. (However, that may change around the time of NAB when Adobe traditionally releases a major upgrade to all its video products.)

Apple Compressor does not support H.265, though Apple supports H.265 in FaceTime. While Apple does not comment on future products, the fact that they added HEVC to FaceTime means that they are doing more than just thinking about adding support. Again, I would expect Compressor to add this codec within the first half of 2015.

Telestream has not released support for H.265, though it demonstrated HEVC support at NAB 2014 for its Vantage products. While Episode does not currently support H.265, again, I expect that to change; perhaps as early as NAB 2015.

MPEG Streamclip and Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate do not currently support H.265.


Wikipedia has a good writeup, though it gets more and more technical as the article progresses. However, if you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see a number of related websites that can be helpful to learning more.

Jan Ozer wrote a nice technical overview for on the technical side of H.265. has a variety of tutorials and demo files here.

Jan Ozer, again, with a look at the software currently supporting H.265.

Using Video in eLearning

With the cost of video cameras and editing software coming down in price, it’s easier than ever to include video in your eLearning projects. Below is some useful information to read if you are thinking about taking your eLearning to the next level.

Pros and Cons of Using Video in e-Learning

Whether or not you choose to use video in your project will depend on many factors, including time, budget, and subject matter. Whichever way you choose to go, there will be advantages and disadvantages.

  • Reduces the reading load
  • Various forms of media can help keep learners interested/engaged
  • Helps visual learners retain information
  • Great way to demonstrate interpersonal and behavioral skills
  • Expensive and time-consuming to script, record and edit videos
  • Low quality video is more distracting and detrimental than useful
  • Uses more bandwidth and takes longer to load

When you should use video

Although the cost of developing video for e-learning has gone down significantly over the years, it is still a time and resource-intensive undertaking. As such, you should only use video when there is a clear instructional purpose behind it. Here are a few examples of when video might be a good idea:

  • To model behavioral or interpersonal skills
  • To demonstrate how to, and how not to do, a specific task
  • To reduce the reading load for learners
  • To emphasize an important concept or point
  • When you need more emotional appeal than photos and text alone can deliver

High-level steps for using video

If you’ve decided you will be going ahead and using video in your project, here are the high-level tasks you will need to accomplish.

  1. Decide which content will be presented through video
  2. Decide if you will Do-It-Yourself or hire a professional videographer
  3. Script and create a shot-by-shot storyboard
  4. Schedule videographer, actors, location, and sound and lighting technician
  5. Record the video
  6. Edit the video using editing software
  7. Compress and render the video
  8. Insert video into e-learning course
  9. Provide learners with software requirements for accessing the video

Key considerations for using video

Below is a list of some of the basic considerations you will want to look at when planning your video project.

  • Scripting and Storyboarding: Has the script been written and vetted? Scriptwriting may seem easy but it can actually be quite difficult and time-intensive to create realistic dialog. Do you have a storyboard for all the shots you need to capture when recording your video? Do you need a close-up shot of a product or of a specific technique? Have it planned out, shot by shot.
  • Video Equipment and Technology: Do you have the equipment needed to shoot videos? (Camera, editing software, microphones, lighting, backdrops, etc.). If you don’t currently have the necessary equipment, will you be purchasing (new or used) or renting the equipment? What are the price differences? If you are hiring a professional, which equipment will he/she bring?
  • Location: Where will you be filming your video? Do you need a sound-proof location? Can you film in a public space? Do you need to book the space, or make arrangements to make sure it’s quiet? Do you need to purchase a back drop for the room?
  • Actors: Will you be using employees or paid actors? If you are using paid actors, do they need to be a certain age, ethnicity, gender, etc. Do you need to schedule them a few weeks in advance? Do you have any backups in case someone doesn’t show up? Do the actors need to be wearing any specific type of clothing (business suits, casual jeans, etc.) and how should their hair and makeup be done?
  • Lighting: Professional looking videos are well lit to avoid shadows, darkness, etc. How will you accomplish this?
  • Sound: You may need a professional sound technician who has wireless microphones and the equipment needed to make sure all the sounds are crisp and clear.
  • Final editing: Do you have the software necessary to make edits to the footage? If not, will you hire a professional to do this? What are the costs and timeframes involved?
  • Logistics: Now that you’ve got your equipment, location, actors and sound and light technicians all sorted out, you need to schedule everyone to be in the same place at the same time for at least a few hours to do the recording!

Managing Video File sizes:

One of the biggest disadvantages to using video in e-learning is the amount of space/bandwidth they use. Even when compressed, video files are not exactly tiny. However, there are a few basic things you can do to manage your video file sizes:

  • Chunk your videos into small segments
  • Compress your videos
  • Limit the width and height of your videos in your courses (of course, don’t make it so small you can’t see the screen clearly!)
  • Host your videos online (YouTube, or similar) and link to them or embed the YouTube videos directly in your course (this might only be a possibility if Internet access is available, and there might also be a security risk to consider)

More hints, tips, & advice:

  • Write a script, and make sure your subject matter expert (SME) reviews and approves it.
  • Consider hiring professional voiceover talent or contact local acting students. If your budget doesn’t allow for this, better start doing your vocal warm-ups!
  • Keep your instructional designer and SME informed of any last minute changes, so you don’t accidentally alter course information.
  • If you don’t have access to a professional studio, use a USB microphone. Digital input gives you higher quality audio.
  • Restrict noise while recording or consider using a studio. It’s difficult to edit out ambient noise or interruptions post-production, so aim for the cleanest take possible right from the start.
  • Remove distractions. If you’re doing this from a home office, make sure any children or pets are in another room. If you’re at work, hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your office door.
  • Control mouse motion if you are screen recording. A wandering mouse cursor is surprisingly distracting in this type of video.
  • Choose the right file format. The MP4 video file format is accepted by most e-Learning authoring tools and is supported on nearly all modern computers, tablets and smartphones.
  • Keep videos short, no more than few minutes, so get to the point quickly!
  • Use closed captioning for hearing impaired and for clarity
  • Make sure your e-learning authoring software and LMS are video compatible.
  • Consider how easy/difficult the use of video will make it to edit and maintain the course down the line
  • Articulate Storyline automatically converts all videos to .MP4 during the Publish, so even if you embed .FLV or .SWF files into your course, they should play fine on iOS devices.
  • Practice, practice, practice!

Thanks to and