How not to produce a promo video :)

On a good day – when I've planned exactly what I'm going to cover in a video, have rehearsed the order and phrasing in my head, and have all the images prepped and ready to go (and there's a strong following wind), I can record somewhere up to about an hour of video.

For my new Udemy course – The Art of Black & White Photography – things went a lot more slowly, mostly because I knew I'd be talking to a partly new audience. When I'm recording a video for our tutorials I don't always explain something I've covered in a previous video or tutorial, I take it for granted that either people will know it already, or, if they don't, I can refer them to the relevant source.

For my Udemy course then I tried to make sure that I explained everything, and explained it in a way that made sense in the context of the course as a whole. Now it's finished I'm fairly sure I managed to do that, but it took me twice as long as usual – I only managed about 30 minutes a day – and then only because I was working at least ten hours a day.

And the promo video took even longer!

The whole thing needed to be finished by end of business on July 31st, and I managed to get pretty much everything done by the 30th. That left us a whole day to produce the introductory video. Easy. Well, no.

The day got off to a bad start after we decided to change the music for the opening section. This took almost three hours of searching through royalty free sites to find something we liked. Video recorded: zero seconds.

We then started on the opening section: music, an opening slide, some images, and a closing slide. This should have been straightforward but it took two hours to sort out timing the slide transitions to the music then another half hour to put it together.

So, five and a half hours and 59s of video. Progress, kind of.

After an rather tense lunch we started on the middle bit, the bit where I explain what's covered in the course. I spent about an hour drafting it out: probably about ten minutes worth of video, detailing everything I was going to cover. Libby read through it then gave me that look: the one that says "have you gone completely f****** INSANE?", then said "you're trying to sell this course, not garble you way through whole thing in ten minutes" ... only she phrased it a bit less politely.

Yep, that's another train coming!

At this point we realised that the sun was setting, and we hadn't started on the direct-to-camera section. As we don't have any continuous lights this needed to be recorded outside, but the light was so bad that we ended up dragging a table, chair and laptop across the road to sit under a tree at the side of the road. Everywhere else the light was either too harsh or too dark.

An hour later we'd pretty much nailed it, but not before we'd had to re-record it at least ten times because of passing cars, dogs, trains, a wobbling table, and curious villagers and donkeys, all of whom stopped to say hello as they wandered past, whether we were in the middle of recording or not. So, nine hours in and we had one minute and 26 seconds.

Things picked up from there, and, the rest of it went OK, but slowly: it took us until 2.00am to get it finished. Two minutes and 49 seconds of video in around 14 hours: that's a rather unimpressive 12 seconds an hour. If the rest of the course had taken that long to record, even working a ten hour day for seven days a week, it would have taken five and a half months to record: the kind of timeframe that might work out if you're producing a Hollywood blockbuster, but not for a five and a half hour post-production course: me, Libby and the kids would have ended up living out of a cardboard box, scrumping apples, and rustling the neighbour's goats :-)

Anyway, a tense day, and a very long one, but we got it done, and while it certainly won't win any Oscars, we're pleased with the result. We'll also be a lot better prepared next time round :-)

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