Planning ahead for using video in Storyline

Mar 14, 2013

Inspired by Tom's blog post Convert your bullet points to interactive elearning with video, I'm planning to take the plunge to work out of my comfort zone and develop some interactive video in Storyline. This will be a module about communication skills in a nurse consultation.

We are going to develop our own video: at the moment the plan is to develop a 'best practice' example which I will annotate in Storyline then to film a more challenging scenario, perhaps with an angry patient, where there will be two outcomes to the consultation, depending on the choices the nurse-learner makes. So this will be a simple branching scenario.

I have a few questions for you lovely Articulate community:

  • What technical considerations should I think about to avoid problems further down the line - type and size of video files etc.?
  • Do you think our current plan will produce engaging elearning? If not, what would you do to  improve it?
  • Do you have any examples of using video in Storyline that you can share?

Any comments or tips welcome. This is quite a learning curve for me. Thank you.

4 Replies
Jon Denenberg

Hi Jane,

My company is investing more of my time in developing video content to embed into Storyline interactions for our training community. I have experience as a pro video producer and teaching video, however I am just getting started using Storyline, so I dont have any application-specific advice.

One thing that I did notice regaring Storyline is that it has a basic video editor built-in. Try your best not to rely on it. Not that it is not a great feature, it is, however it is not a specialized editing program and should only be used for minor tweaking if necessary. Use an editing program (Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, etc) to complete and finish your work. Then take the final video and export it exactly as you want it to appear in Storyline. Do not change the scale or dimensions of your video once in Storyline. If you find that you need to do so, then go back to your video editing program and change the dimensions (aspect) and scale that you require. Also, try to limit the times you convert or export your master video files. Every time you compress your video, you are degrading the quality.

One thing that you may want to try using the storyline video editor (that I will try myself soon) is to increase the "Contrast" settings before publishing. To do this, select your video in Storyline and select the "Edit Video" button under "Options". You will have to play with this several times before getting it right. SLIGHTLY increasing (key is slightly - less is more) the contrast can smooth out a video when it goes through compression.

If you are shooting in HD, you may be shooting at 1920x1080 resolution. As a Storyline newbie, I am not sure if there is a resolution limitation, but you will most likely have to scale down. Again, do this when you export the final video from the video editing program, and make sure to scale down evenly by whatever factor you decide (ie. 1920x1080 when divided by 3 = 640x360, etc.).

Thus far, my experience compressing already compressed video in Storyline is not that great. I have not yet developed my own personal formula for getting top quality pro video results. But the following are a few things you can do to help your image quailty: Limit the detail when you are shooting. Try to keep backgrounds as simple as possible. More detail will equate to more noise when compression becomes a factor. Also limit movement and animation in your videos. The more motion, the more noise when you compress and deliver over the Internet. Keep human subjects in the foreground of the frame (even try to fill most of the frame wtih your human subject) and again, keep backgrounds simple. solid colors work better than patterned wall paper for example. Also, tyr to prevent shooting in front of windows. You dont want outdoor light over powering your shot...interior lights cannot compete with the Sun. Also, do your best not to mix outdoor and indoor light. Try to use one or the other whenever possible.

Ironically, the most important thing is going to be your audio. Lousy audio will kill your video, regardless of the quality. If you dont have a pro camera, then I would suggest renting one that has "XLR" inputs, and rent a "Shotgun Mic" with a boom pole. You have probaby seen these on tv, when the sound person holds a long pole over the actors. You may want to rent a kit from a local rental house and hire someone to show you how to use the kit for the first go around. Then when you rent the kit later, you can use your in-house staff. Audio is key. If you do not have high quality audio, your viewers will tune out.

Hope this helps

Jon Denenberg

One more thing in regards to "will it produce engaging learning"...

Video is very powerful and can help with simluation and best practices as you suggest. However, make sure you shoot extra "takes". Even when you think you have the shot you want....take it one more time. Also, wear headphones during the shoot to make sure you hear what is getting recorded.

Bad audio will disengage an audience. I cant say it enough.

As far as improving your current plan, I dont know enough about it to comment. All I can say is storyboard it out as much as possible and read up on the "180 degree rule in filmmaking". Print it out and keep it on you when you are shooting. If you intend to do a scene where you cut back and forth between characters, you will need to know this rule.

One more thing. Always record at least 2-3 seconds of silence before and after every take. This will help in the editing process.

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