I've been watching a lot of Blender video tutorials lately and I thought some of them were very good and some of them, while being produced with the best intentions, weren't. This got me thinking: what are the elements of a 'good' video tutorial? Maybe this checklist can help you when you're producing one.
- Plan. What are you going to tell? What is the level of your audience? Think of the story that you wish to convey. When writing a tutorial, I always try to give the reader a satisfying end result. No matter how simple, everyone likes to have something to show for their efforts and be able to say "I made this!"
- Write a script, but don't learn it by heart. I often write an outline, and never full sentences. Writing the full story always results in a boring mechanical lecture. Better make sure you have a good story in your head and a short bullet list to fall back to when you're lost,
- Decide which hotkeys or actions you will explicitly address and which ones you will take for granted. This kind of ties in to determining what level your audience is. Explaining too many hotkeys can be boring, but if you're creating a tutorial for new users you can't be too explicit.
- Prepare files. If you want to show a certain operation that requires a model, be sure to have one handy. It's much more interesting to see a demo on a good object than on a bunch of cubes.
- Short videos seem to work better than long ones (well, for me, anyway). I often don't have much time to watch something so I prefer 'atomic' tutorial that explain one thing well. That way I can quickly pick and choose what to watch.
- Edit your work afterwards. Don't leave mistakes or errors in. There's nothing more annoying than a 'whoops - that wasn't supposed to happen' or a 'as you can see, Blender occasionally crashes'. Also, you should always remove pieces that simply last too long such as rendering or baking a fluid simulation. Don't be lazy - make it a joy to watch for your audience!
- Work in multiple steps/edits. If you plan to produce your work in multiple steps, you have more room for error. Also, it's a lot easier to record in many small fragments than in one long one.
- Record the audio separate from the video. If you can, re-record the audio. While actually DOING the demo your mind will be focused on handling the computer and not so much on how to form good sentences or how to speak nicely.
- Let the mouse go if you don't need it. Don't keep moving it around, or - worse - keep changing the perspective. It's very distracting.
- Plan for improvements; keep the original movie files (blender/imovie/whatever). you WILL receive feedback and it's much easier to accept it when you're able and prepared to easily incorporate it. (This is a psychological trick).
- Add title, credits, subtitles. Doing so will make your work look much more finished and professional. Be sure to include your email address or URL - these videos may travel around the world and it's nice if people can find
- Use a good microphone and a quiet room to record. If possible, use a quiet computer. Record on the highest level that you can without oversampling.
- Normalize the audio level afterwards. Don't surprise your audience with loud passages after a soft one. Also, maximize the audio level without clipping it. This will ensure the best possible audio quality.
- Use good audio compression quality. I often find good audio more important than good video, but I guess that's a personal thing.
- This tip was posted by jcarney: "Get a De Esser for your microphone (one of those round thin screens placed between you and the mic.) It softens the consonants, so they don't POP when spoken. (B and P are the worst). You can do it in post, but getting right before it's recorded is still the best."
- If possible, offer multiple resolutions and fileformats. Some people will have slow connections, others fast ones. Try to serve everyone if you can.
- Find a good fast hosting service to host your file. If you don't have one of your own, consider Polorix.net.
This is just the first list of issues that came to mind and I'll gladly add more.