ILV Design Part 2: Post-production Basics
Dec 14, 2023
In Part 1 of the ILV Design series, we discussed the importance of good production design for an ILV. Let’s move on to the post-production process now, which is where most of the magic happens. You will often find that post-production can take up to five times as long as the production of a short ILV. So it’s really important to understand all the elements you can use and optimize for learner engagement. That’s enough prelude; let’s dig in.
Onscreen Text/Text on screen (OST/TOS): This is the text that appears on screen to reinforce learning. This is not subtitles or closed captions. Use it wisely.
Use onscreen text as occasional, significant notes carefully curated from the content**.** If everything said by the speaker appears as text on screen, OST loses meaning. An ILV should not be an e-reading experience. On the other hand, no OST makes an ILV a purely audio-visual experience. Use it judiciously.
OST should stay on the screen long enough to notice but not so long that it loses its relevance. Ideally, a short phrase of 5-6 words can stay on the screen for 5-10 seconds.
OST should not occupy more than a fourth of the screen (either horizontally, vertically, or as a rectangular block).
OST should NOT be lots of text all thrown in at once. Anything more than 50 words should be avoided on display at once, except when it is really justified (for example a well-known quote, a poetic verse, an incredible statistic, a thought-provoking question). Ideally, OST should be small text chunks, regularly (rhythmically) replaced in pace with the spoken discourse (10-15 words at a time, for 8-10 seconds).
Typography: This is the font style and size used to put up the onscreen text.
Use the same font style and size for the same type of content throughout the module. For example, use one font style for theoretical statements and another for examples or case studies, to visually signify a change in type of content.
Change font style only when the text really needs to stand out, for example, to quote a person or organization, or to pose a question very emphatically.
Iconography: This refers to the style and number of symbols and icons used to represent different ideas visually.
Use consistent and familiar icons to visually hint and navigate between points. For example, use left and right arrows to move between screens, use a lightbulb icon to hint at an idea or innovation, home icon for a recurring theme or the central idea, gears icon to hint at the settings or structure of a system, pencil icon to hint at homework or writing, and so on.
When using novel icons, label them clearly a few times so that the icon-idea connection is well-imprinted in the learner’s mind before being taken for granted.
When designing an introductory video to a beginner-level audience, have a dedicated slide (like a legends section on a map) to announce which icons refer to which ideas in the context of the lesson.
Try to use icons already well-established for specific purposes, like gears for settings, a magnifying glass for search, and so on. In fact, this is a common practice in designing user experience (UX) as well.
Synchronization: This comes into play in many ways. Some important ones are listed below.
VO-OST synchronization: Onscreen text should appear in-sync with voiceover. Noticeable lags between the mention of a phrase and its appearance onscreen can distract the learner and be counterproductive to the learning experience. For longer OST chunks (if absolutely inevitable), it’s better to have them appear onscreen slightly before voiceover mentions. This ensures that the learner can follow the voiceover as a kind of audio highlighter while reading a text.
Audio-visual synchronization: Ensure that the correct images, graphics, icons, and animations appear on screen in-sync with the audio cues like voiceover and background music.
Idea-visual synchronization: Avoid broad, ambiguous visuals to represent ideas without formally introducing them. Common symbols like a pencil, tree, or globe are used to represent a multitude of ideas. Your assumptions may be very different from the learner’s experience. To be safe, always label the icons a few times at the beginning, so the learner knows what you want to represent through them.
Intent-content synchronization: If you want to negate or dismantle something, do not only represent the misconception. If only misconception is visually represented, the visuals and the audio/text tell mutually contradicting stories. the thing to be dismantled. Also show either both versions or only the correct or improved interpretation.
Signposting: Signposting means the practice of providing clear and explicit indicators to help learners navigate the content effectively. In visual design, this is most effectively done through crisp infographics, visual representations, or roadmaps of the key learning points of a section, chapter, or module. Think of it as the one-page printout a learner can use to retain information after finishing the video.
A good and memorable signpost should not have more than 5-6 elements at a time. For example, a signpost five stages of a design thinking process, four areas of personality analysis using the SWOT method, and so on.
For a concept with many more learning points (for example, the eightfold noble path, or the twelve zodiac signs, or the eight planets of solar system) find a way to come up with smaller clusters (like inner/outer planets, air/water/earth/fire signs, and so on), and represent these smaller clusters as signposts. These clusters themselves can together be shown as a signpost in the intro or summary sections.
The next time you watch an ILV, try to notice the interplay and deployment of these basic elements of visual design. Try to think of the degree and ways you can use these visual design elements to improve the learning experience of your own learners. We will be back soon with a few more, somewhat advanced visual design elements that can make your ILVs stand out. Stay tuned and happy learning!