Training videos

I was in a couple of training sessions last week, which were taped. The idea is that new-hires could ‘attend’ a training session online or on DVD so that they don’t have to be in a conference room at a given time when they might have work to do.

They had a single Canon GL-1 camera. Point it at the instructor. Pan to the white board or the screen. The instructor has to search around for a screen? Oh, well. Oh, it was painful! I’d do it differently. For one thing, I’d use a larger conference room. Heck, I’m told there’s even a studio of sorts in one of the buildings. (The corporate message-type videos seem to be shot there.) I’d actually have some lights, rather than using the home movie approach of using available light. And there’s be two cameras and multiple takes. I’d have a script, or at least a written sequence of steps. They’ve done enough training that they should know what questions will arise and be prepared to answer them in the video. I could make some very useful videos that (at least within the restrictions of the subject matter) would not be boring.

Unfortunately the instructors have their own jobs to do, and there’s not enough video work for a fulltime crew. I suspect the argument would go like this: ‘Yeah, we know that taping actual training sessions is dull; but the information is there. It doesn’t matter how it looks. You just have to watch it. It would be nice to have professional-looking training videos, but we already have these. Why reinvent the wheel?’

You know, Canon Australia makes some pretty thorough training videos.

Funny. Of course I would have done it differently. It would be live action. I envision a couple, all dressed up and going to someone’s house for dinner. They’ve brought a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine. When they get to the door they have no clue as to how to let their hosts know that they’re there. I’d go into the Theory Of Doorbells; the different types, why we have them, etc. After instruction on how to use them, I’d replay the first scene with the now-confident couple successfully operating the doorbell.

This is why I don’t particularly like taping weddings, even with two cameras and postproduction. I want multiple takes. I want a little drama. With corporate training videos drama may be lacking. But I could do a much better job of presenting the information than simply pointing a single camera and turning it on, and then cuting out the really dead (but not the mostly dead) bits in post.

My favorite “training video” is the orientation film in Being John Malkovich, complete with obnoxiously fake employees, the cheap traffic stock shot, and the idiotic skit (“And I shall build a floor in my building, between the 7th and 8th, which will be scaled down, so from now on there shall be at least one place on God’s green Earth that you and your accursed kind can live in peace…”)

YouTube used to have some great training videos from the Fifties and Sixties, but I can’t find them now, Og damnit.


here are a couple.

I’ve just watched One Got Fat 1963 Bicycle Safety.

I just found out they don’t edit the video at all; just dump it onto CD.

[Dr. Zachary Smith]
Oh, the pain!