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How To Make Your Own Sales Training Video In Six Steps - Part 2

Step 4: Developing the Script and Storyboard

Your writer (whether in-house or outside) must be business-oriented, creative, humorous, human, and never condescending. The writer must be able to:

  • Identify with the culture and sophistication of the audience and understand adult learning styles.
  • Understand the training process enough to write a good overview, set clear objectives, develop good models of the skills being taught, and structure the sequence of learning.
  • Understand the business and corporate style enough to use models or examples that relate well.
  • Understand video as a medium well enough to write believable dialogue rather than straight narrative, using video to titillate, teach, and test.

The wording of the narrative and the examples of selling skills must show the people-side of the business. Any stiffness in wording should be changed. If the writer is not equally strong in all the foregoing areas, an unbalanced learning curve will occur, and the video will be less effective.

It’s generally a good idea to have the producer work with you as you develop the script and storyboard, if possible. (See the next section doe some suggestions in finding a producer.) Everything you write into the script costs money, and the producer can help you budget the production as you go along. Many companies, in fact, pick the producer before they choose a script writer.

The cost of producing your video will depend on many factors: locations of shoots, crew and equipment required, talent used, and incidental expenses. Avoid surprises by writing your production to fit within your budget. Asking a producer, “How much will it cost to produce a 30-minute video?” makes as much sense as asking a builder “How much will it cost to build a three-bedroom house?”

As the script is being written or immediately after it is complete, you must add visuals to the words or create the “storyboard.” How will skills be illustrated? What action is taking place? What exactly should the graphics look like? What should the set look like?

The presence of the producer is an absolute must for storyboarding, because their knowledge of visual methods of presenting information is invaluable. In 90 percent of cases, a two-column script with the words on the left and a written description of the visual image on the right is sufficient. In some cases where the action is very complex or multiple cuts are involved, you may have to illustrate the action with pictures and diagrams. This is quite time consuming and expensive, however, so avoid it if you can.

When you have the final script in hand, check back with the various sales representatives, sales managers, and company officers to get final approval. The best way to reach final script approval is to conduct a sort of “round table” reading with the writer, sales personnel, and management all present. Again, suggest that each person initial and date each page of the script. If the script needs a significant number of changes, you may need another “round table” discussion to approve rewording.

Step 5: Producing the Video

The right producer will be one with a sound business sense, creativity, and the ability to collaborate with you, your staff, and the writer. Contact local film and video associations or locate producers through referrals from others in your field. View some of their productions. Check their references. Check their equipment. There are three categories of equipment to choose from: “consumer” format (simple and inexpensive VHS equipment), “industrial format (3/4- inch), and “broadcast” format (2-inch or high-speed, ½-inch BetaCam or M2). The difference among the image quality of these three types of equipment is similar to the difference among Super-8 home movies, the 16mm movies you saw in high school, and the 35 mm movies you see at the movie theater. The preferred format for quality and ease of editing ins the ½-inch BetaCam. Most TV stations now use this format for their local news features. Check the rate cards. The busier the producer, the better the quality of the finished product, as a rule.

Establish regular meetings with your producer at important checkpoints: script and storyboard approval, budgeting, logistical planning, and postproduction editing. You want your producer to develop his or her own sense of “ownership” in the project. Before any filming proceeds, make sure you negotiate a contract to preclude the possibility of unauthorized price changes.

Selection of actors comes next. Always request final approval of the actors that the producer will use. The whole video will become ineffectual if the actors are not professional or are not suitably chosen. We recommend you use members of the Screen Actor’s Guild. On one occasion, a producer wanted to substitute an actress when the one we had approved could not fulfill her commitment. The character we needed was a strong, aggressive businessperson, and the new actress looked like a frail, victimized woman who had never worked outside the home. We knew that this substitution would create a casting mistake that could ruin the video tape. To avoid this kind of problem, make sure all members of the cast will be available on schedule.

Preproduction planning involves logistics, getting the shoot accomplished most expeditiously in terms of locations and talent. If you use expensive talent, you may want to shoot all the scenes with that talent first, even if you have to travel to several locations. Or you may find it less expensive to shoot all scenes at each location and keep talent hanging around, even if they’re not doing anything. Working out the shooting schedule may be quite a juggling act, because in nearly every case, videos are shot out of sequence. The cost of production will depend on the cost of crew, equipment, and talent (priced at hourly or daily rates), plus incidental travel and other expenses.

Shooting for graphics, special video effects, and studio art usually takes place during the same time frame as the action sequences, so that when you get to the editing step, you have all the raw material you need to work with.

Carrying out the actual shoot may be done in a number of different ways. In many cases, video segments will only be 30 seconds or so long, and actors can learn their lines while the lights and sets are being readied. A few run-throughs without taping is generally enough, after which the scene can be taped as many times as necessary to get everything right.

For longer segments, memorization can also be used, although it may be equally effective (and less expensive) to use cue cards, a teleprompter, or audio prompting. Many professional spokespersons use a pocket recorder with an earplug that can not be seen on camera. They record their dialogue into the recorder and play it back in their ear, parroting their own lines. This is very effective, because it is easy to change on the set (unlike teleprompting), it is suitable for long narrations, and the actor does not have to maintain eye contact with the camera. It also avoids the vocal inflections that typically go with reading.

Graphics are done in the studio, and may comprise character generations, computer graphics, digital video effects (DVE), and straight photographic art. Character generation is a simple method of “typing” words on the screen, and the cost is generally included in editing. Computer graphics may run the gamut from fairly simple to the incredibly exotic, depending on your budget, DVE include such devices as squeezing an image into a box and tumbling it around, flying through an image, and other phenomena familiar to those who watch the TV news. Photographic art refers your company logo or other artwork. Slides and film can also be transferred to video. Except for character generation, graphics are all priced separately, so be sure to include them when developing your budget. If you can’t include every special effect you want, take heart – this kind of thing can be overdone.

Step 6: Postproduction Editing

The first step is “off-line” editing, a simple procedure using two machines and a controller that is much less expensive tan an “on-line” editing suite. Off-line editing is where all the creative decisions are made regarding which segment of which tape to place where, with what kind of cut, dissolve, fade, wipe, and so forth to the next segment.

First, the raw footage is window-dubbed with a time code. This means that a duplicate tape is made which shows a time code and frame number in a small box in the corner of each screen. This tape is used for the rough off-line edit: segments are extracted and combined to produce a finished program with all the numbers that describe the footage. This is the tape used to make revisions and obtain the sign-offs you need for final production.

Once your rough edit tape is approved, you move onto the on-line suite. The on-line edit is a fairly mechanical process in which a computer takes the original tape, plus the numbered from the rough edit, plus information on what kinds of cuts and dissolves you want, and produces the final tape. Usually there are two options (with different prices) for on-line edit; two machine and three machine. With a two machine edit you have one source machines and one recording machine, so only simple cuts between segmented are possible, With a three-machine edit, you have two source machines, which make it possible to do fades, wipes, and other special effects involving dual image transitions.

Once your final tape is produced, the only remaining steps are transferring the tape to the distribution format (usually VHS) and making enough copies to distribute.

Generally speaking, if your planning is sound and involves the right people, if your treatment and script are well thought out and approved by the same people, and if your producer is creative and willing to work both for you and with you, you should have a final video tape that will meet your needs successfully.

Make Your Own Training Video, Part 1- Page 7 Marketing Your Sales Training Video & Summary
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