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Instructional Design Promo Video

I worked at Unisys, a large technology firm with many government contracts. Most of my time there was spent at the U.S. Department of Agriculture working on UX and UI design for a complex financial application. I also did some special projects, once they realized that a couple of us UX professionals were polymaths and dabbled in motion graphics and instructional design. Always wanting to be able to provide additional services to customers, Unisys saw that we could put together a presentation to show our stakeholder customers what we could do for them with instructional content to augment the software applications we were building for them.

A colleague and I started writing and outlining, which led to some loosely written scripted messages. We figured quickly that a slideshow wasn’t going to be enough, and our script started reach promotional video length, 45 seconds to 2 minutes. I then set about planning the motion storyboard. There’s a point where you don’t know how far you can take things. You often think you have access to more content resources than you actually do. And everything you SAY in a script you’ve committed to producing content on screen to match it. And of course the first scripts don’t always have the right tone until you can say it out loud and start considering the imagery you’re going to put with it. Rewrites and rewrites.

I often start a script in a text file. I don’t need formatting and I actually kind of like the idea that it doesn’t have a spellcheck, as it forces me to revise it several times. Here you can also see the project folder I end up with after making a bunch of supporting content to pull together into one piece.

I mentioned access to resources above. So a video needs content, title work only goes so far. The problem was the actual instructional design work we had been doing was within a walled garden of government and private contracts with access restrictions. That and we had projects ongoing so displaying that in-progress work would be incomprehensible in many cases. So we went the abstract route. Instead of showing instructional content It became more an explainer video. What I wanted to convey is the more complex the software application, the more important instructional design was to users and support personnel. You can buttress good help documentation with video walkthroughs.

AfterEffects here pulling together all the disparate pieces including the audio. It’s pretty common to get to about 100 different layers so having techniques to navigate them becomes important pretty quickly.

I created a lot of 2D elements using vector software but I also wanted to add a little more dimension so I decided to create a sort of animated icon of an office building in 3D. Exporting a sequence of frames, I could use it in AfterEffects or other video software and apply overlays of the 2D elements I created.

The blender model of the office building before creating an animation sequence. Simple animation, either the object or the camera rotates and I just need to concentrate on the number of frames I need and the materials looking good. I can batch color correct afterwards, but I need to have enough visible content to work from.