Training videos designed to educate
Still River Films has had the pleasure of working with Control Techniques. They are a leading manufacturer of motor control and power conversion technology for commercial and industrial applications. Distributing proprietary knowledge within the workforce is a common goal of many businesses. It’s an essential element of getting the team up to speed quickly. This case study highlight’s some of our thinking behind the digital classroom and how lighting influences the education experience.
What is the digital classroom?
Over the course of time, it’s amazing how many people think that recording a lecture is straightforward and simple. If we are to make the education experience a key objective, then recording a lecture is far from being easy and simple to capture. Every detail needs to be considered and we believe that with good lighting, the education experience in video training is enhanced significantly.
The centre point of the education experience in video training can be best described as the digital classroom. It’s a place where students can choose when to learn and take that learning (if permitted) with them. Thus the computer and other devices like iPads and iPhones are quickly becoming the ubiquitous method of study. This medium stretches far and beyond the traditional classroom of tables, chairs and blackboards. Websites such as Lynda.com have become popular in recent years offering an extensive library of video training covering a vast number of topics. Individuals and small businesses are now also selling their specialist video training through their websites. And businesses are now using the medium to distribute learning internally. This is a profound shift in how we access learning. This makes it even more important that the education experience is considered when developing video training for the digital classroom.
The problem with the real world is that it is noisy and unpredictable. This is the complete opposite of creating an environment that is suitable for study. The traditional classroom prevents students from being interrupted, be that with people or mobile devices; eliminating virtually all distracting elements that can disrupt the learning process. Creating an environment suitable for study outside the traditional classroom is hard. If the student has a dog which pesters them to throw the ball every 3 seconds, or a phone that beeps every few minutes, then it becomes impossible to make any meaningful study. To keep students engaged means creating video content that attempts to keep them focused. It takes people just 3 seconds to decide whether to watch a video on Facebook. This is the new normal in today’s digital world. Our attention spans (or distractions) are becoming more constrained as the volume of media increases.
Our approach to training video education
Dealing with these challenges means that any video training needs to keep the viewer engaged. It starts in the very first few seconds where first impressions count. It should be exciting and be as story relevant as possible. These brief few moments allow the student to settle down and prepare for the topic ahead. Sound quality is critically important from the very outset. All of our dialogue goes through a post-production process to make the sound crisp and clear. The clearer the dialogue, the easier it is to understand.
The second most important aspect is lighting, especially when recording a lecture. Lighting allows us to set the mood, eliminate distractions and put the light where the viewer’s attention should be. This makes lighting a major component in creating the digital classroom. Part of its role is to remove visually distracting elements. It can be argued that if the training video feels too normal or to real to life, that this becomes a form of distraction. This is where a high production value really counts. Students need to believe that the information is vitally important. A nicely produced video not only emphasises its value, it’s also more engaging. If the video production feels normal, especially for a lecture, it will degrade the student engagement and learning experience.
The most common problem in many office locations is that there’s plenty of light. Not only does it hinder the digital classroom experience, it is also the wrong kind light. Therefore, the first problem is to deal with an overwhelming quantity of light. The second problem is the projector. Although a projector is a bright light source, it is surprisingly not as bright as you think. It’s hard to make the projected area appear dominant when the room is filled with light. Thus, managing camera exposure under these conditions becomes a hard to solve issue.
On this particular video production for Control Techniques, setting the mood involved controlling various light sources to create our very own lecture theatre. First and foremost was eliminating the natural light coming into the room. This combined with powerful spotlights allowed us to create the optimum visual appeal.
Sound and lighting are not the only challenges to be faced in capturing a lecture professionally. Probably one that is not so obvious is a digital effect known as moiré. Recording projected content is not as straightforward as it might seem. Digital video cameras have a sensor that is organised into a grid of dots. This is true for digital projectors as well. When these dots don’t line up properly, as will most likely happen, you’ll get the unwanted moiré digital artefact. This distraction will pull the student out of the digital classroom. We developed a series of techniques to avoid this unwanted effect from happening.
Our work with Control Techniques is a great example of how to professionally light any type of room. Our proven techniques in capturing these kinds of events mean we have the right know-how, to produce engaging content and video training for the digital classroom.
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