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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Writing and directing learning videos

Every now and again I like to do a post about some of the more 'bread and butter' pieces of work that comes the way of writers and directors. Fitting new ideas into a spec script is great, but can you do it with the day to day work? The kind that pays the bills! You can.

As we all know, even the biggest writers and directors often do paid gigs. It is a chance to fund personal projects and experimental ideas. Yet the skills we need for this kind of work is not very often discussed.

For the past few years I have created many pieces of video based learning, interactive videos and e-learning, for large companies across the UK.

There are so many formats you can use for these ideas - drama clips, interviews, talking heads, flash-based activities etc etc. So the one rule I use when thinking about delivering to the brief is this...

Your production should mirror how the audience would use the learning in real life.

But what does that mean? The photo at the top is from a shoot this week. The learning is around staying safe during international business travel; avoiding using dodgy taxis, not getting pick pocketed, staying away from scams.

So one way to do this would be have a presenter telling you all about it. Fine, the content would be covered. But that approach doesn't really mirror the event as the viewer would experience it in real life. 

So for this project we shot a 2 minute POV scene - walking out of a hotel, encountering a number of characters. You, as the audience, have to rate them on screen (using hi-tech giggery pokery) how risky you feel the situation is.

This way, you have kind of lived the experience as you learn. That way, if you face a similar situation in the future you know what to do. You have already lived it once before.

I feel this idea works because all audiences, everyone, remember things through association. Just go back to your old school, or get out a childhood toy to prove that is true. The whole idea of branding relies upon this. So use it. 

(photo by Chris Ferguson)

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