My thoughts on how to make a solid video tutorial.

  • giaks
  • 04/29/2012 04:01 AM
I dug my notes up on video tutorials recently and I was hoping to share them with all of you if any of you are interested.
*I wasn't really sure where to post this, and according to the description Anomalies is the place for that.

General Rules:

1) Plan out what you're going to cover and in what order...Don't stray from the plan.

-To keep the video informative with a clean presentation.

2) Run through your video at least twice before recording, maybe even three times.

-To refresh your memory and lend to a more confident presentation.

3) Use "us" terms rather than "me" terms.

-Involve the viewers...I = we, my = our, I'm = we're...etc.

rather than saying

"I'm going to select the grass tile, then I'm going to make sure I have the fill tool selected..." or
"...and there you have it, your first map."


"we're going to select the grass tile, then we're going to make sure we have the fill tool selected..." and
" we have finished our first map."

4) Be confident.

-If you've run through your tutorial a few times this shouldn't be a problem. This is mostly an attempt to cut down phrases like "this should..." and turn them into phrases like "this will..."(while practicing if "this should..." turns out to not, then you'll know not to even say it)

5) Keep it Simple...however don't assume the viewer is an idiot

-There is a learning curve to everything, but if you have to open a project file to start your tutorial there is no need to tell the viewer how to open a project file...if they don't know, they are watching the wrong tutorial video(unless that's what your video covers)

6) Assume the viewer is participating

-This plays off of almost all the other rules. you need to be prepared, nobody wants to watch a tutorial video where the mouse cursor is running all over the screen frantically trying to figure out what it should be clicking on to make the digital magic happen. Smooth, solid tutorial videos with stream lined mouse clicks that are clear and well paced...a visual massage is always better then a visual attack.

7) Be generic...also don't be afraid to be generic.

- This rule goes hand in hand with rule #5. If you are making a tutorial on editing and importing sprites, don't use a bunch of effects only found in some adobe program. Use generic effects, even though they might be simple...they will apply to everyone. If the viewer wants more complicated effects they can look up program specific tutorials. Maybe this is just rule #5 restated...cause there is no need to tell the viewer how to open an image to be edited...if they don't know, they are watching the wrong tutorial.

Cosmetics of a Tutorial Video:

1) 10 second "theme" songs at the beginning of the video

- WHY -

More than 10 seconds begins to drag out...after all people are here to watch a tutorial.

The idea behind this is that people know and recognize sounds, and more over equate them to feelings and ideas.

Chimes on school loud speakers(idea: pay attention, feeling: authority)

Beeps on drive through employee headsets(idea: pay attention, feeling: dread)

At the grocery when they announce "attention shoppers"(idea: pay attention, feeling: well that depends on what the bakery special is for the next 5 minutes)

10 seconds is enough time to make a jingle that is catchy and to both catch the attention of the new viewers, and give the returning viewers the feeling of familiarity.(people like familiar things)

2) 5-10 seconds of "Today we're going to cover..." while fading example screen shots of the "finished" product.

- WHY -

This gives the creator of the video a chance to showcase their work while inspiring the viewer...rather than a audible hook like the 10 second theme, it's a visual one.

This appeals to the silent singularity inside of people, the side that when standing at the sidelines of a basket ball court watching players dunk, imagines themselves dunking the ball...the side, that if left alone on the court afterwards, without the fear of society's gavel...may even pick up the ball and attempt a monster dunk.

Digitally, the dunk is represented by the screen shots of the "finished" product. Since the viewer could be almost anywhere chances are good that society's gavel won't play a part. This allows their imagination to run wild while viewing the images.

*see 'General Rule #2,3'

3) Overview

- WHY -

This simply names what programs, files, projects and the sort will be used in the tutorial. Much like how a cooking show lays out ingredients, these are the digital ingredients used to make the product presented in the tutorial. As to save on video playtime, this can even be done via text form in the description box.

4) T3..."Turtle" Tutorial Time

- WHY -

Why not? This is what the viewer is here to watch. The creator of the video must assume that the viewer is "following" along. As such they should be taking a slow but steady pace only covering the relevant material.

The mouse cursor is the connection between the creator of the video and the viewer. Where it goes, the viewers eyes follow. Slow confident cursor movement is not only easier for the viewer to follow, it also allows the viewer time to absorb what's happening on screen. This, combined with the tutorials vocal track create what I refer to as a "magic wand". The cursor carries the viewers attention, while the vocal track ignites the screen around the cursor. If the cursor is hovering around the left side of the screen, it's going to be hard for the vocals to ignite something on the right side of the screen, because that's not where the viewers attention is. However if the cursor circles the subject matter of the vocal track once or twice or even just moves to hover above it(depending on the area of screen demanding attention), that area lights up.

5) Summary and Reaffirmation

- WHY -

This is somewhat of a winding down. The creator of the video should simply be restating key points of the tutorial in the order presented to refresh the viewer's memory and bolster their confidence, as well as to encourage them to continue to improve and build upon the skills presented to them.

6) Next Time!

- WHY -

The viewer was put in the mood by the theme, hooked by the introduction and awed by the presentation, finally they were patted on the back and encouraged to keep working, keep building, keep practicing, keep creating, and keep on keeping on. This makes them think about watching more tutorial videos by the same creator. If they already keep current with the videos, it will build anticipation for the next video.

Finally a quick personal note:

Recently I was presented with the opportunity to share my thoughts on video tutorials...
I dug out my notes and reviewed them, decided that my present view on video tutorials was the same as my past view...and sent them off in an email.

Shortly after I was presented with another opportunity to express my thoughts, this time via a little bit of mapping. After a few screen shots and 30 minutes of scrambling for just the right words to describe what was running through my head, I came up with the idea to try to make a tutorial video instead, this sounded like a good idea at the time. I figured the video would not only help me express my thoughts on mapping but also allow me to actively apply my notes on making video tutorials. It turned out alright, though not as good as I had hoped.

To make really solid video tutorials, I'd like to add one other personal step. Practice...but ya know, different from the practice listed in the rules. It's hard not to get caught up in the moment. I found it hard to use "us" terms, to keep my mouse speed slow and steady...etc. not because I wasn't thinking about it but simple because I wasn't practiced at it. so keep practicing, make more videos, make more maps, make more games, make more custom sprites, make more music, and don't forget to love more(make more love just didn't seem to fit)...cause no matter what it is, you will get better with practice. notes go on in more detail, however they start to transition into other subjects as well. Things like aggressive words vs. passive words, and voice tones...these things, though they do apply to video tutorials, aren't really key in my opinion.