Updated: Jason Brewster – April 28, 2021
Understanding the Why
Producing video can be expensive and time consuming – the biggest mistake we can make is creating a video that has little to no impact.
So, the first step is to ask yourself and/or any stakeholders… “Does the video help meet the learning objectives?”, “Why video over other content formats?”, “Can we repurpose any existing content?”, and “What’s the purpose of the video?”
It could be to;
- Increase emotional impact
Note: A good rule of thumb to follow is if the learner needs to practice a task or memorise something, video does not add value.
If there’s a need to inspire, motivate, or demonstrate, video may be a good option.
In-House or External production?
Depending on the size, scale and resource available to you you will need to decide whether your project can be produced In-House or whether you will require an external production team (supplier).
If it’s the latter when you’re ready to find a supplier head to the Digital Marketplace and use the G-Cloud 12 call-off contract. This is standardised and will protect you from the contract spiralling out of control in scope and cost.
When working with external suppliers there are a few pieces of work to do up front that will help the commissioning process run smoothly.
- Have a clear idea of the intended impact of the video (see Understanding the Why)
- Specify the content of the commission
- Define the outputs
Firstly, you will need a script. Even a draft script or a script outline will help you determine what you need to start commissioning.
Here’s a useful checklist for you to consider and specify when talking to a supplier;
- Is the supplier producing, designing or both?
- What is the visual and narrative style of the video; Animation? Presenter? Drama?
- Be clear on the expertise you want, not just the intended output. Does the supplier need to be an expert in graphics and video? A marketing bias? An educational bias?
- The context of the video – Where will it sit? What will it sit around?
- What will it look like? Do you expect the supplier to provide mood boards for styles? Do you have examples to show a video style that you like?
- Should it adhere to NHS guidelines for colour? Have the NHS logo? Do you have NHS brand guidelines that you can share?
- Inclusion and diversity – How is the workforce represented?
- Is there visual diversity in the work? Specify a requirement to your agency and ensure you have a role in any cast or location selection process.
- Is there audio diversity? How do the voice-over artist and cast represent the audience?
- Is there a location diversity? What assumptions do you want the agency to make when representing place and space?
- Is there a diversity and representation of the roles represented in the wider system of health and care?
- How do the characters define themselves and their relationships?
- How will you represent non-visible differences in the workforce?
- It may not be possible to account for this in a single 3-minute video but is there diverse representation across the work being produced?
- A rough duration for the video. A marketing video may be 1-3 minutes in length. An educational video may be 3-7 minutes. If it’s longer than that you may need to review the design.
- The number of actors in the video (including voice-over actors) as well as characters.
- Do you want the supplier to create the storyboard? Do you know how many scenes you want? Do you need a scene by scene sketch?
- How will you work with the supplier? You will want to prepare for at least one round of edits of the storyboard and one round of edits of the post-production video.
- The video output should be a minimum 4k resolution and delivered as Mp4.
- Be clear about ownership of the material that you provide to the supplier.
- All imagery, audio and video appearing in the video must allow you full commercial rights without limitation to distribute and re-use the video as you require.
- The NHS should always own the rights to the video.
- Any IP that is not the commissioners should be detailed at the contracting stage and logged with what parts are outside of IP, who owns, licence for use.
- No credit to the supplier is to be used in the video or be required in any other material.
- If the supplier wishes to showcase the video, incorporate it into a showreel of their work or specify on their website that they work with you, then they must first seek permission and this should be flagged to the comms team.
- You’ll need to consider how people who are differently sighted access the video.
- The video should come with WebVTT Closed Captioning files to provide optional subtitles.
- A full-text transcript should be provided as a text-only alternative to the video.
- For video accessibility, you should follow WCAG 2.1 standards.
- Use NHS colours.
- Aim for a bare minimum of AA but ideally AAA accessibility.
- All text shown on the screen must be a specific size and colour contrast to be legible by as many people as possible.
The script is arguably the most important stage in the production process. You can have great looking graphics and well acted scenarios but if the words you hear are not impactful and don’t resonate with the listener, engagement and impact will drop.
Depending on the audience and subject matter, in general, a conversational tone where it feels as if the presenter is talking to you, rather than reading, is the most engaging for learners.
If the script is written externally then if necessary it may be worth having a prior conversation with the SME/writer to explain why a conversational delivery is effective. Emphasise the importance of engaging the audience, highlighting the effectiveness of accessible simple language, contractions, bridging words, natural pauses, and emphasising certain words. These all amount to a conversational tone and after all, if the video is more engaging, then it will have a larger impact.
Oftentimes writers may consume the content they have written in a different way versus how it will be consumed by the learner. If possible, have a face-to-face read through of the script with the writer. A script may sound robotic because the writer hasnt read it out loud.
Evidence strongly suggests the optimal video duration for eLearning content is 6 minutes or shorter.
Make time for at least one round of reviews during the scriptwriting process. Google Docs is a great platform for actioning script reviews. It allows multiple users to make live edits with the option of tracking changes.
Consider futureproofing content where possible. Not all content is destined for a lifetime of relevancy however make efforts in production so that the content won’t become obsolete within a reasonable period of time. For example, it may be a good idea for SMEs to not introduce themselves on screen. Instead include a text based title graphic that can be edited. Or be mindful of referencing a topical subject.
Tip: Within the script include clear direction and detail for the production team. This will increase the likelihood of the writer’s vision being honoured throughout the storyboard process.
Now you have the script, it’s a good idea to storyboard. Storyboarding will help you;
- Sequence audio, video, graphic, text instructions.
- Bridge the gap between pre-production and production day – so that all team members are on the same page, know the deliverables and what to expect.
- Have a clear project management plan.
- Plan an interesting shot list
- Document ideas and changes.
- Smooth out the editing process.
You may want to storyboard yourself, delegate or collaborate with a production team. Whichever option you decide there are a few points to consider…
Include the learning objectives at the beginning of the storyboard to help remind you and your team of the goals of the video. The content should only support the overall learning objectives of the video.
Clearly detail in the storyboard any additional video content that is learner facing; on-screen text, audio, graphics, and images. It’s important instructions are detailed and specific to help the production team clearly visualise what is required.
Storyboarding with Accessibility in mind
Have a conversation with the production team to let them know of expectations around accessibility. When including storyboard instruction follow accessibility best practices;
- Colour contrast of the text is high.
- On screen text should be well sized and positioned.
- If text is on a background image then use a colour tint or panel so the text stands out as clearly as possible.
- When displaying visual aids, do not use distinct colours instead use similar hues.
View the WCAG 2.1 guidelines for specific guidance.
Once the storyboarding is complete and the location chosen the production team should then provide you with a shot list and production schedule.
The production schedule should include the following key information:
- People needed
- Date and time
- Contact information
So you have the shot list, production schedule and you’re on location and ready to roll… Be sure to record on a tripod or steadicam at 4k resolution as a minimum. The benefits of recording in 4k vs 1080p is quadrupled resolution which will mean you can zoom in cleanly (bye bye jump cuts), footage will look great on 4k monitors and even if the content is viewed on a 1080p screen, shooting 4k will deliver a sharper and higher quality image… and you can give your futureself a pat on the back.
Depending on whether you’re shooting indoor or outdoors strong natural lighting is preferred over studio lighting.
Audio and location are both incredibly important. If you’re working with a supplier then they should advise on a suitable professional recording method. If not, consider using a professional high quality dedicated collar or tie clip mic.
It’s important to visit a location in advance to make sure the noise levels are manageable when recording with sensitive equipment. Ideally find a location that is dedicated to recording professional sound. If that isn’t possible then try your best to eliminate any ambient sound. Be aware of the following:
- Adjacent meeting rooms/offices
- Fluorescent lights
- Car/air traffic
Pay attention to details. Have the script on hand when on set and filming. Carefully follow the script during the recording being mindful of any mispronunciation or instructions that may have been missed from the storyboard. Make sure the audience isn’t distracted by any irrelevant details. How does the presenter look? Is the light and shadow ok? How is the presenter’s voice? Does the presenter need a drink? How’s the frame of the shot looking? Is there enough space in the frame for any onscreen text or graphics? This should be covered in the storyboarding process but it’s useful to be aware while filming. Allow for more than one take, this will make the editing process easier. Use a teleprompter for spoken word.
It’s incredibly important to hire a professional actor for most speaking roles. A professional actor will save you time on editing and ensure a more professional and engaging video. It’s important to note that the NHS is made up of diverse people, there must be an effort for actors featured in the video to be representative of the workforce.
Use the Vimeo Review collaboration tool when reviewing edited content. Version controlled video content can be shared and time-stamped feedback given.
Video Hosting is on Vimeo and video content is delivered on WordPress. To add video content to wordpress simply copy the URL link of the video in the video management folder on Vimeo and then copy and paste the code within a Vimeo Block on WordPress.
Post Production with accessibility in mind
Every video will need a text transcript adding below the video and a VTT file added to the video. Word text transcripts should appear as an expandable <details> with <summary> below the video. Add the VTT file within Vimeo. Use www.trint.com or any other transcription service to transcribe the video into both word and VTT format.
The files you export or receive will be huge. Before uploading to Vimeo use an open-source video transcoder to reduce the file size without affecting the quality – improving accessibility for mobile users or users with a slow internet connection.
Now, once you’re at the final review stage of the process you may find working through this video spec checklist useful:
- Title sequence
- Intro music?
- Start with fade from black over 00:00:00:15
- White NHS Logo overlay on the video
- On-screen text? Is the text emphasising key points? Is the text accessible?
- Graphics? Are they accessible and appropriate?
- Consistent audio levels?
- Use simple cuts between takes
- Fade to black over 00:00:01:00
- WebVTT file
- Word document without timestamps
- Visible in Vimeo
- Clear title
- Clear description
- Reference source of the programme in the description
- Reference anyone else’s work cited in the video description
- Allow embedding but no commenting or downloading
- Upload to the relevant folder on Vimeo
- Folder titled with the same video title as used in Vimeo and programme