In a previous post, I wrote about the concept of safety-training videos, discussed their benefits and tried to bust the primary obstacle to making safety-training videos, and why it may be useful to make your own instead of using stock video training resources.

Now that we’ve given you the tools and ammunition to approach you own safety-training video series, this is where you get to become Alfred Hitchock and actually be a director of this blockbuster masterpiece that will keep your workers educated, informed, engaged but most importantly – safe.

[Image courtesy of Bill Rice from Flickr via a Creative Commons license]When it comes to shooting training video, it isn’t just picking up a camera and shooting – there is a whole process and plenty of things to consider – not the least of which is the time investment.

The Storyboard

As you develop the title and the objective of the video, you will then need to create a storyboard  based around the objective. If it is about a certain procedure or a certain way to use a piece of equipment, you will have to think about each step, put each step in order and collect images, graphics or video about each of the steps and – if necessary – develop the narration explaining the steps. If you will use narration for the video, it is best to record the narration first since it will drive the ordering and structure of the video so everything makes sense and fits together.

Once the narration is written out, that would be the time to start spitballing image ideas (video clips, graphics, tables, still photos) that can fit with the narration. One way to do this effectively is by breaking up pieces of the narration and putting them on one side of a whiteboard, and on the other side you put a suggested visual image that would fit that piece of narration. When you mention video clips, you can convert those into a shot list, or shot sheet.

Getting the Shots

When you are going to shoot video it must be noted that if a certain event or procedure takes some time from beginning to end, editing for time would be wise. Rather than run through the entire procedure at once, break it down into smaller components and get three perspectives – wide-angle, medium and close-up. And yes, this will likely mean doing the same step three times and getting video in each of these perspectives. This however, will make editing easier later, so you can easily find the perspective that will work best for getting across the point that you need to convey. Having the right shot is best when you create your shot list during the storyboarding phase – if you mention the shot you want that will best convey what you need, that may simplify your process altogether.

Setting Up the Narration

It’s one thing to have a great script written up for your training video, but if it can’t be heard or understood on the video, then how effective would it really be? A couple of thigns to consider when getting the narration done – the room where the recording will take place, and the voice being used.

First, it’s a good idea to find someone who has a clear, strong voice and has good diction. The person should be easy to understand when talking, and should be able to read the narration  with very few mistakes (it might help to type out certain words phonetically, as they would be pronounced) and few unnecessary sounds (like clearing the throat). You will still likely do some editing later, but the clearer the audio, the easier it will be to make edits that are impossible to notice on the final video.

Second, if you do not intend to have background noise in your audio, make sure you record the audio in a room that is as close to soundproof as  possible. If you will have some background noise, make sure it is minimized or the narrator’s voice is loud enough to be easily heard over the noise.

Video Equipment and Editing

When the narration is done, you have the guidance for shooting your video and editing it for the final product. Technology, and the free market, has created a wide selection of digital cameras (both video and still cameras with video capability) that can do the job we’re talking about here, with quality high-definition video, at a variety of price points. You can get the professional-quality video you’d seek in a camera priced as low as $350-$400. But as you really want to minimize shaking, you should also have a tripod on which to rest your camera for your various shots. Some cameras shoot very well in ambient light where an additional lamp is not required, but that can be entirely up to you based on where you plan to shoot the clip.

When you are done collecting your video clips and graphics, you move to the editing process. Video clips from a camera are stored on a small memory card, which can be transferred onto a laptop or desktop to be used with video-editing software. You don’t have to be fancy here – some very cheap (or free) software is available like Apple’s iMovie, Windows Movie Maker by Microsoft, or even VirtualDub. Each of these are similar to each other in that they set up a timeline, and you can place video clips, images, text and the recorded narration files at  the appropriate points on the timeline – and even review the video in real time before final production, so you can see how everything looks and sounds. You can add other effects like fade-to-black or other special effects during this process. Once you have checked everything on the timeline, the video will then be created by the software and saved into the proper format for viewing – and you could select a format like .wmv in case your video will be part of a PowerPoint presentation.

Cost Awareness

If you do not have the equipment or software to do in-house videos already, then you will likely need to do an initial investment of $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the camera and equipment purchased and the editing software used. The other cost factor is time – you may have to expect to spend about 1 to 2 hours developing a single minute of video, on average. In other words, if you are looking to create a 30-minute training video, you may have to invest up to 60 hours of time creating that video – from storyboarding to setting up the shot sheet, to recoding narration to getting the video shots to editing and final publishing. The good news is, once that investment is made up front, your training video could be used for years – and if there are changes in procedure or regulations, as long as you have the original video stored, you would only need to shoot new video and narration and install it into the appropriate place on the original video with editing software – you won’t have to start all over from scratch, in other words.

I am hopeful that you find this information helpful in determining whether investing in an in-house training video or video series would be worthwhile for your business. This could be especially helpful for those companies with a lot of employees where you can’t have them all available for a single training session, or if you are in an industry with a lot of staff turnover where you don’t train just once a year. Video can be very effective in getting through to your workers based on our ability to retain more visual information than verbal or auditory. And when it comes to safety, getting a point across can mean the difference between productivity and closed doors due to heavy losses.