Sure creating Interactive Videos with Rapt Media is drag-and-drop easy, but the planning process of realizing your vision can feel daunting. How long should your clips be? What sort of experience are you trying to create? How much “interactivity” is too much? The list goes on (check out our Interactive Video Tips series to learn more about some of these questions), but with a little pre-production preparation and direction, you can easily build a successful Interactive Video (IV) experience, resulting in increased viewing time, engagement, and replay value.
Here’s what you need to know before ever pressing record on that video camera…
Define your overall goals
When planning your Interactive Video, the first thing you need to ask yourself is what is this project for? Is it for entertainment purposes? Are you trying to sell products? Is it for education, training, or customer support? It may seem like an obvious first step, but if your goal is to send a 20-second-long e-greeting to your favorite aunt, maybe using an IV creator isn’t the right tool for you. You wouldn’t use a crane to build a birdhouse, so make sure it makes sense to be using IV software before starting your project.
Know your tools
Knowing the capabilities and limitations of your video equipment and software will save you time in avoiding post-production headaches when building your interactive project. For example, the Rapt Media editor wasn’t built to be used as your primary video editor (at least for now) – its greatest functionality is in quickly and easily adding clickable buttons to branching video clips.
Likewise, if you plan on using menus with custom buttons in your project, you’d need to create them outside of the editor before uploading them into your project. Software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are great for creating graphics to incorporate into your videos. Knowing you have the right tools to accomplish your project’s goals will eliminate any guesswork in building your IV, thus saving time and resources.
Define your IV’s goals
With a firm grip on your production capabilities, a good first practice is to establish your IV’s initial and end goals. For example, if you’re making an IV to showcase a product, you could make your starting goal highlight all the features of that product, and have the intro video end on a menu prompting viewers to click on one of the five features of your product. Having laid out those goals, you now know that you have five initial paths in your project that you need to create content for.
To keep things simple, let’s say your end goal is to have viewers purchase the product by clicking a button in the video that directs them to your checkout cart. You’ve now plotted a clear path for your IV, giving you a basis on which to build the content that will dictate your viewers’ experience.
Connect the dots
Now that you know how you want your IV to work, it’s time to map out the different paths that will lead your viewers from A to B. This is where your creative strategy really comes into play. Think of someone commuting to work. Their starting point is home and their end point is work, but they can get there by walking, biking, driving, or by bus. Each commute method has a different experience, and different people have their own preference for which works best, yet they all end at the same place (some happier than others). The same goes for IV. As with any video, you want to have viewers watch through to the end. The advantage of IV is you can control how your audience gets from A to B, directing them through well thought out paths, in turn influencing their “commuting” experience.
Fill in the blanks
Roadmap in place, it’s now time to start creating your content. Production for an IV can be similar to the production for a linear video; you just have to keep in mind your IV goals and paths. Here are some useful tips and techniques to consider when producing your IV:
Leave space in your frame for a menu button or icon
Including a consistent “menu” button or icon throughout your project that takes your viewers back to a main menu is an excellent technique for providing flexible navigation options for your audience.
Incorporate a “timeline-style” navigation menu
Using a consistent timeline graphic throughout your project that advances based on where your viewers are on one of your paths is a useful way to show your audience their progress in their IV experience. If you plan on including a timeline graphic, make sure you compensate for the frame space it will occupy when filming your video.
Use seamless transitions
A slick way to transition between video clips/choice points is to freeze-frame the end of your first clip, add your choice points, then start your second clip from where you froze the first one. To make this seamless transition work for multiple choices, use one or two seconds of the clip after your freeze-frame at the beginning of each new clip before the scene cuts. This will create the effect of a seamless transition.
Assign “default paths” to your choice points
IV is a relatively new concept, and even though creating paths and choice points in your project might seem obvious to you, it’s not always that way for your audience. Assigning default paths to where you have choice points ensures that viewers will find their way through your IV, whether by their own accord or by one you’ve chosen for them.
Use a “countdown” graphic with your choice points
Using some sort of countdown clock or stopwatch graphic during one of your choice points creates a sense of urgency to your viewers in regards to deciding where to take the video. This helps encourage engagement and adds an extra element of interactivity.
With these tips, and planning ahead for your IV, you’ll be able to make a well thought out and smart Interactive Video. There’s still a lot to learn and discover as far as solidifying IV’s place in online video, but the IV that changes the world is just around the corner – maybe it’ll be yours?