Going out and making an idea into something funny, interesting, informative or impactful is the goal of any video. Letting loose and doing something that showed off what could be done with interactive video was the goal of one of my first assignments as an intern at Rapt Media, and it’s also what “Dylan’s Super Useful Fruit Hacks” is all about.
Like any video, it started with an idea. Every new Rapt Media team member has to make an interactive video so that they understand the workflow and can get excited about the technology. When I was presented with the assignment, I really had no clue what I was going to do, but I wanted to do something that nobody around the office had seen before.
During the first few weeks of my internship, I learned that one of the great things about interactive is how much more efficient and engaging it can make “how-to” style videos. After giving myself a few days to chew through some ideas, I landed on the concept of making a “how-to” video that didn’t actually teach anything useful, and, in fact, taught viewers a more complicated way to do a simple task.
There is a popular YouTube channel called “Useless How To” that essentially does just this, but I wanted to take things a step further. A lot of the tips on the channel amount to something that could be considered a cheap party trick, which still holds some amount of value. Trying to avoid this, I thought that complicating a simple process to the point of absurdity would be the best route to go.
I have some experience with the traditional linear video production process from end to end, and it translated well to all aspects of the interactive production process. Pre-production was definitely the most unique part of creating an interactive video, but it was certainly not insurmountable.
I started by figuring out how someone would go about peeling a banana with a potato – isn’t that something we’ve all wanted to do at some point in our lives? – and described the process in linear form. Once I had all the steps in place, I was able to quickly build a skeleton project in the Rapt Media Composer using blank nodes in less than an hour. I essentially built the entire interactive portion of the video before I even shot anything, which was extremely useful in figuring out my shooting schedule.
The greatest insight I got from this process was to think of my production as a series of discrete segments, rather than a single video in the traditional sense. For example, I planned out each shot of the “how to prepare the banana” portion without being overly concerned with how it will connect with what comes before and after it – I couldn’t be, because that’s variable based upon the paths that viewers choose to take.
With this in mind, I was able to develop a script and a shot list for each segment that I needed to move into production.
The interactive production process was nearly identical to that of its linear cousin, with a few additions. All the normal efficiencies that can be attained by having a well-planned shooting script still applied (e.g. shooting the intro and exit scenes back to back), so the whole process only took about three hours.
The only real unique aspect that this project required was to make sure that there was enough time on the end of clips to allow users to make their choice (otherwise the video would just pause on the last frame, which doesn’t look as good). I also had to get shots of the banana and potato sitting together on the counter, then a shot of me grabbing each for the first choice point.
Overall, this was a painless undertaking that I felt entirely at home with having created traditional linear videos before.
There was a decent amount of work involved in this portion because I created some original animations. Again, it was very similar to the traditional linear post-production process.
I first edited each segment separately in Final Cut and exported each clip as its own video file, which I then uploaded to the Rapt Media Composer and dropped into my blank nodes. Very straightforward.
I chose to create custom styled buttons for this project, which are baked into the video files themselves. I think that given limited resources, this method is the most accessible for someone with a background in video. All that needed to be done in the Rapt Media Composer was to place invisible buttons over the baked-in versions so that they were clickable. The alternative would be to create custom buttons with CSS, which tend to look better visually, because they’re not subject to video compression or resolution.
One thing to keep in mind when editing for interactive videos and exporting multiple clips in this way is to make sure that the volume is normalized across all of your clips. I ran into an issue where some of my clips are louder than others in the final interactive video because I didn’t pay attention to this.
Overall, the process of creating an interactive video should seem familiar to anyone with video production experience. I was able to use Rapt Media’s tools to plan and execute my vision without any outside help or instruction. In fact, the act of making the video interactive was the easiest and least time-consuming part of my project. Given this, even repurposing existing linear how-to style videos would be a breeze to do – just split it up into segments, make a skeleton project, and upload the clips.
The goal for this exercise was to get me excited about all the possibilities that interactive video brings, and it was wildly successful in doing so. Taking the opportunity to think outside of the box and come up with something that was both fun and educational was an awesome experience for me – plus, I even scored praise around the office. It’s safe to say that more interactive videos are definitely in my future.
Watch and interact with “Dylan’s Super Useful Fruit Hacks” here:
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