Have you ever wondered what it takes to produce and film a LearnKey course? If you have, today is your lucky day! We are going to share what our authors do while filming inside our production studio in Salt Lake City, Utah. We are going to be highlighting the work of Michael Meskers, the LearnKey expert behind our new Excel 2013 course, and freshly filmed Excel Formulas and Outlook 2013 courses.
Check out our course release schedule to find out when these courses will be available.
So what happens between deciding to produce a course and filming it? Well, it all starts with a good game plan, or officially called the course outline. Michael is a long-time LearnKey author and has filmed many courses with us, the most recent being Outlook 2013. Before arriving at the studio, Michael spent several months planning and preparing the look and feel of the course. One of his most important tasks during this time is to make sure all objectives are covered, allowing our students to prepare and pass industry certifications.
The next step is flying into the studio and getting to work early in the morning. When Michael walks into the studio first thing in the morning, there is a computer set up with the software he will need for the shoot that day. The studio crew then places a wireless microphone on him, which is followed by an audio check. Michael likes to warm up his voice with funny jokes and an occasional song, such as selections from Fiddler on the Roof. Once the audio check is good, we move on and make sure we are capturing the computer screen correctly.
Now it’s time for the fun part – we start filming. Michael is in the studio presenting the course information in front of our green screen with our camera man filming him. Back in the control room, the crew has the outline and the course objectives in hand. As he teaches, the crew is listening and checking off where each objective is covered. The crew is also watching sound levels and checking out the computer capture. If something goes wrong, we have to go back and do it all over again.
Once Michael has completed teaching the course, we go back and film the headshots. We place Michael in front of a green screen and then key out the headshots later with a cool background. Filming the headshots are usually the most entertaining time of the shoot. We love it when the author accidentally makes a mistake, which can give us the giggles. Michael is really good in front of the camera and rarely makes a mistake, but when he does make the occasional flub, it’s always funny, which is why shooting the headshots is the crew’s and author’s favorite part!
Now you know what goes into filming our courses. As you can tell, it’s a lot of work and a lot of fun.
How many wardrobe changes are needed for a short 3 minute promotional video? Well, in the case of David Clemons it took three. Three different shirts, two backgrounds and glasses off, just to get the best video that we could capture.
Being in the film studio is always an interesting experience. I realize every time how diligent and detail oriented our Salt Lake City crew can be. David Clemons and his colleague Oliver were in town for short time on a Monday morning. We had about three hours for Oliver to shoot a testimonial for LearnCast, and for David to shoot his version of LearnKey’s history.
Oliver’s shoot went off without a hitch; he was filmed in front of the blue screen as the crew already had an office type background picked out for him. Elizabeth McUen, or Liz our new production manager, was prepared with a barrage of questions that she directed at Oliver. He then responded with amazing detail and eloquence, he was such a great speaker that I was tempted to take notes. At the end of the shoot David added a few more questions for Oliver, we filmed for five more minutes and it was a wrap. The crew and Oliver made it seem so easy.
Then it was time for Dave’s History of LearnKey, a marketing video we requested to help promote LearnKey’s 25th anniversary. As Art Director of the marketing team, I had some input into how the shoot was organized, so I requested a different background. I wanted a white background “Apple-style”, instead of the blue screen. Dave’s cream colored shirt had looked great in front of the blue screen but seemed washed out in front of the white, luckily he was prepared with a few wardrobe options. I got the feeling that he’d done this before! He quickly changed into a black dress shirt and we started filming, filming… cut. The crew in the booth noticed that his cuff links were very distracting. Kudos to the crew! David graciously removed the cuff links and rolled up his cuffs and once again we start filming… cut. Five minutes into the take the crew decided the the stripes on the rolled up cuffs are distracting. So it was off to change to the third and hopefully final shirt, which luckily was a winner!
David was dynamic in front of the camera and shared some interesting insights into the birth of LearnKey. In fact he gave us 35 minutes of raw footage from which we’ll create a 2-3 minute video. Thank you David, for being such a great sport.
It’s a wrap, or at least the filming is finished. There is still a lot of work for the Salt Lake City crew to do before they send the footage to the marketing team in St. George. Once we receive the footage on a drive, Hyrum from the design team will spend many hours cutting and editing the film to create a nice little marketing piece for our 25th anniversary. I can’t wait to share the final product with all of our customers, and maybe Hyrum will blog about his part of the video making process!