How I prototyped the videos of my first online course

As said in a previous article, I tried a few things before deciding how my videos in my online courses should look like. In this tiny article I want to share with you the prototypes I created to make my final decision.

Obviously as these are prototypes they are quick tests that are quite shitty but helped me feel what worked better and what sucked really badly.

The early prototypes

The first prototypes I made were done way before I wanted to create an online course. Back in the days, I tried to create video versions of my articles I publish on the Service Design Magazine. As I’m a bit shy I didn’t want to be in front of the camera.

Hand made shit
I really liked the idea of creating videos by hand. I really liked that I could create videos with tiny illustrations that were pretty similar than the illustrations I use in my articles. After creating this video I quickly learned that it takes a shit load of time! And therefore tried to look for something quicker. I’m no perfectionist, so to me such projects need to go fast. 

Mobile videos with Adobe Spark Voice
The second series of prototypes were made with Adobe Spark Voice. I really liked to create videos like this. Each video took me only 15 to maximum 30 minutes to create. It was quick and the quality was good enough. 
This format worked better as in the next weeks I created about 27 videos.

Mobile video the return

So months pass and we arrive now in the beginning of 2019. I decided to create my first online course and it had to have 100 videos! Okay, that was a pretty crazy goal but at the end it worked quite well. Knowing that I had to produce 100 videos meant I had to find a technic that was quite fast. But on the other hand, as I wanted to sell the course it had to have a certain quality that the videos made with Adobe voice didn’t really have. So I tried a few others things. 

Simple Animoji
The first prototype was with built with my new iPhone. I saw online a guy who created a channel named Animoji Karaoke. Animoji are these animated little videos you can create with your iPhone where you can enact an emoji. On this channel the guy took super well known songs and animated them with animojis. Really fun and the result looked really nice. So I copied the idea, and here what came out:

Still today, I kind of like the idea. It has this relaxed and casual feel that I like, but still looks quite clean. But I quickly felt that 100 videos like this would be quickly quite boring. A few ones can be fun, but watching hundred wouldn’t be as fun too watch as the range of emotions and movements you can do is pretty limited.

Animoji with human body
Another prototype I made was with the Animoji replacing my head and but adding my body to it. This idea was that it would give me the possibility to have a larger range of emotion has their would be more body language to read.

This was more expressive but lost the more “professional” feel. Still there was something I really liked with both of these prototypes: I was able to shoot educational videos without having a studio, lights or anything complex. Plus, as I’m pretty shy, it felt more comfortable as it wasn’t really me in front of the camera. 

Maybe I’ll use this idea for another series of videos.


So, enough with being nice with my shyness! I needed to try stuff where I was properly in front of the camera. I have to say I’m shy with a camera in front of me, but have no problems leading workshops or talking in public. So I thought: 
When I run workshops I’m usually standing! So maybe it will feel less awkward if I make the videos as if I was in a workshop!
So I tried to shoot a video where I would talk to people like I do in workshops. With my Italian hands moving everywhere and me dancing around.

I felt quite happy with this prototype. It felt more natural to me and I could play with my hands as I wanted. But after getting feedback from my good mate Loris, it became clear that the lack of “decoration” made this option a bit depressing. 

Sitting couch

Another prototype! Yep, I tried a few things. But you have to imagine that all this happened in just one or two days. It didn’t take much time. Now, the idea was to try something more casual. Like a conversation with a good friend at his place on the couch.

 It worked quite nicely! The whole thing felt less like a guy giving your orders, as it was the case in the previous prototype. But still, it was graphically not very interesting. 

Sitting desk

In early moodbards, I had for these videos I had screenshots of youtube videos from the guys at the Verge or at Beme. Basically, there was a guy sitting behind a desk who talked to you. So I quickly tried this one too.

To do this I had to move the table of the living room in the middle of the room so that I could have a nice background. Then I added a few books and my computer on the side to make the scene a bit more full. If you were with me in the living room at that moment it didn’t look like as much: 

The view of our living room turned into a recording studio

The installation was a pain in the ass. I had to move the furniture around and as now I was in the shot, I couldn’t just read my notes on my phone. I had to install a prompter system. I’ll go more in the details of how I record the videos in another article. But here how my first prototype looked like:

As I used a microphone placed on my camera, it also took the sounds of the train station which is just next to our apartment. Previously, with the Animoji videos, the sound came directly from the iPhone which was just a few centimeters from my mouth. Now the microphone was about 1.5 meter away from my mouth. 

In the end, this was the option I went with. The quality was fine, graphically it had a few details like the yellow touches and the books which made it interesting. And it this similar touch than a good youtube video produced by The Verge (obviously just a touch! it wasn’t as good). The one problem I had to solve was the microphone situation. So I had to buy a lavalier microphone that I could put on my shirt and therefore not record all the noise from the train station.

A fucking journey

Okay, what can we learn from all this? As usual, your first draft is shit! And it’s only after having tried not one, not two but many different things that you finally find something that works quite nicely for you. For me, it was standing behind a desk with a few objects and talking to a camera in the middle of my living room. 

Check my online course

All these prototypes allowed me to create an online course with 100 videos. This course teaches you principles, tips, and tricks to create a better customer and user experience in your services or products. As you are a pretty motivated reader and made it to the end I have a little gift for you. By following this special link you get a 30% discount on the course.

— Written on April 3, 2019

The Behind the Scenes Blog

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