Creating the Help Video on Youtube

An instructional video needs to be short, clear and easy to understand. This sounds obvious, but can be difficult to achieve. The Youtube video that the iPhone app links to was made by me (DrRogo), using all that my son, William, has taught me. You may be interested to see our previous efforts under the name of UCMSCI on Youtube. The experience developing these instructional videos proved invaluable. Our most popular video is “Understanding the p-value”.

Software: CS5, Screenflow, Audacity

We used Adobe Creative Suite 5, using Photoshop to edit the photos, Illustrator to make the speech bubbles, and Premiere to edit the video. The video capture of the game in progress was made by Shane (Rogowiz) using Screenflow. The music was edited using a fabulous freeware product, Audacity.

I would not recommend using such powerful programmes as in CS5 for something as straightforward as this. iMovie should be sufficient, along with Photoshop elements. Much of the time I felt I was teetering on the knife-edge of competence, and any moment I could do something stupid that would be irreversible. However, I never did fall off the knife-edge.

Process

A raw shot of Dr Rogo and Nick before editting

It took about five attempts to write and storyboard the video. At first it was going to be simply instructional, and we also toyed with a “Question and Answer” format, but finally came up with the idea of Dr Rogo helping Nick learn to play Rogo.  The photos of Dr Rogo and Nick were taken in front of a white sheet, as a video, and then still clips were taken out of the video and the white background was removed. The gold coin was a dinner plate, which was then replaced in the final clip.
I found that the screen capture video tended to be a little slow, but if we speeded it up, the sound changed pitch, so instead I removed little segments of video where nothing was happening.

Music

Once finished, The clip seemed a little sterile, so I added some music we had recorded Jonathan Petty playing when we were recording the music for the game itself. As Pachelbel’s Canon in D was written in the seventeenth century, there are no problems with copyright infringement.  (For a humorous commentary on Pachelbel’s Canon see this Youtube clip)

Decisions

Movie-making is FULL of decisions. Which background should we use for the puzzle? Which puzzle should we use for the demonstration? Speaking or no speaking? Hand or arrow pointer? What colour T-shirts? What music, if any? How to finish? Title sequence?  Credits? If a three minute sequence required all these decisions it is difficult to envisage quite how many decisions must go into a movie like Avatar!

The outcome

Here you can see the finished product. You may wonder why the still is rather blurry. This is because when you upload to YouTube, it takes three still shots from the video from which you can choose the title still. Unfortunately all three of the still shots were taken during transitions, so even the best one looks rather strange. In the tight time-frame there wasn’t time to change the length of the video, render it again and upload it again.

Apart from that, we are pleased with the outcome, and hope it helps people to learn how to play and enjoy our great new puzzle app.