7 Tips To Reduce The Cost Of Adding Video In eLearning This post is written for eLearning/Training Managers who are interested in introducing eLearning videos in their training mix and are wondering how to keep their costs under control.

Several months ago we looked at Typical Costs associated with building an eLearning Video (with films). Unfortunately, an eLearning video can be both difficult and expensive to make. But experienced providers of eLearning videos know the tricks to keep costs low. The question is – will these providers share these tricks with you, their client, to help you keep your costs low or will they keep the savings to themselves?

If you want your eLearning video provider to cut costs on your behalf, then this post is for you.

Below are 7 tricks to lower the cost of producing eLearning video with film-based content:

1. Limit the number of “shooting days”
Each day that you are filming, you are paying for everyone and everything – the film crew, the actors, the equipment, the location, the food, the hotels, the cars … everything. One way to limit the number of shooting days is to first calculate how much each shooting day is costing you. Then look at your budget.

Divide the latter by the former and you have your target number of shooting days. Give this number to your eLearning video vendor and ask them to come up with a plan to fit the available schedule.

If you have a vendor who invoices per-shooting day, be careful because it is in their interest to sell you as many shooting days as they can.

Remember that limiting the number of shooting days is almost always a question of planning and logistics. Force your vendor to be efficient.

2. Consider using semi-professional or amateur actors
When building an eLearning video, you are not aiming to win an Oscar. (though Jilbee was awarded one by one of its clients). Professional actors can be quite expensive … but not always. Make sure your eLearning video vendor is looking at inexpensive options and not just getting pricey actors and passing on the cost to you.

In your town there might be an acting school or an amateur stage group. You may even have employees who would love the chance to try their acting skills. Tap these sources and you will find pretty decent actors lining up to be in a film.

Tell your vendor that you will help them find actors (or even provide your employees for the role) and see how much they can cut what they charge you for the video.

And finally, use a director who has the skills of directing semi-professional actors.

3. Limit shooting locations
A large amount of time can be spent moving everything – people and equipment – from one filming location to another. This is timewasted. And you will be paying for it.

If there is a way to organize the different filming in your eLearning video so that it can all be done in a single location then take advantage of it because you will reduce the number of shooting days needed.

In a recent film shoot at a large pharmaceutical company in Germany, we requested the client to get all equipment and people into a single building where we could film the simulations they wanted us to include in an eLearning video. They delivered and we filmed all shots we needed in a single shooting day instead of the 2 to 3 days it would have otherwise required.

4. Reduce the number of “tourists” on the film set
If you are using an eLearning video vendor who is billing you on the basis of person-days, they are going to try and cram as many people on the film set as they can. And you will be paying for all of them.

They will tell you they need different people for handling the camera, for managing the equipment, for make-up, for directing, for lighting, etc. For a complex film shoot all these skills will be needed in separate individuals. But for most eLearning videos, you don’t need so many people hanging around the film shoot. We call them the “tourists”.

These “tourists” will make the whole filming process unnecessarily more complicated and in the process jack up the price you will pay for the eLearning video.

5. Build a detailed Shooting Plan and get it approved before you start filming
I recommend you follow a simple rule here – Unless your eLearning video vendor had a complete and detailed shooting plan with a list of individual shots written down, do not allow them to start filming.

Break this rule and your film crew is going to improvise on location at the last minute and you will not know what output you are going to get. And neither will they!

If you start filming without a detailed Shooting Plan several things can go wrong: Maybe the needed assets are not available on the day of shooting. Maybe the actors come without having practiced their lines. Maybe you do not have the right filming equipment, lights, etc. to film what you want. Maybe the location isn’t in the form you need it to be. The list can go on and on.

Remember one thing: Professionals plan. Amateurs improvise.

6. Get your assets in place on Day 1 and avoid a scramble at the last minute
This point stems from the previous one.Your eLearning video vendor needs to be very clear what assets they need from you in order to film what needs to be filmed. If this detailed homework is not done, you can end up with chaos on the shooting day, causing delays, increasing time spent shooting and sometimes even cancelling a shooting session and rescheduling it for another time with the needed assets in place.

For example, if you plan to film one of your employees in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), then you need to make sure they have the needed equipment at the film set prior to starting filming. Or if you plan to film an engineer repairing an aircraft engine, make sure that the equipment he/she needs is available on the shooting day.

7. Make ample use of ‘B footage’
A final tactic to cut cost is to use lots of ‘B footage’. ‘B footage’refers to that film footage which is used for setting the context and does not show the primary communication messages. ‘B footage’is easier to film that ‘A footage’because it requires less planning and has less moving parts. ‘B footage’ can be used to mask errors in the ‘A footage’ removing the necessity of re-filming an ‘a footage’ which has an error. And ‘B footage’ can actually be more interesting to watch than ‘A footage’.

So good ‘B footage’ can be your savior. So always ensure that there is adequate time set aside in a shooting day to film as much ‘B footage’ as possible.

Your eLearning vendor may suggest that you re-film something that didn’t go well. But insist on using B footage to mask the error and the end result might be actually better than what you would have expected.

So here are some tips and tricks to save costs and make stretch your budget for making eLearning videos.

I hope you found these useful. Good luck deploying videos in your eLearning.

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