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
- 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?
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
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
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
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
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
Step 6: Postproduction
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
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.