Back in the 1990’s, I wrote, directed and produced industrial and instructional videos. The objective of any tutorial is to get the information across without over-taxing the various limitations of the human mind and its attention span. Cross that line and you’ve lost your audience. With those things in mind, here is an adaptation of the rules of thumb we used…
The most useful tutorials:
- HAVE voice-over (see most available videos; and if you’re doing the voice-over in your second or even third language and you’re not sure the viewer will understand your accent, you have the option of supplying captions)
- HAVE ‘section cards’ at the beginning of each discrete segment of the video (see The Guerrilla CG Project)
- DO illustrate any theory or background covered (see The Guerrilla CG Project and Humane Rigging by Nathan Vegdahl)
- HAVE a related Blender file containing the final outcome of the tutorial (see Blender Cookie and Blender Guru among others)
- HAVE high enough resolution (1080p preferred) so the mouse pointer and what it’s clicking can be seen clearly
- MAKE the viewing fun without being frivolous
There was one set of tutorials I came across (don’t remember what software it was for) that had video bookmarks allowing the viewer to jump to any section of the video by clicking on a hyperlink. Cool idea.
Tutorials need to stay on topic. I’ve watched some where the author offers opinions of various things or talks about issues barely related to the topic. That kind of thing has its place, but why not do a ‘rant’ video as a separate thing? Then you can really let loose.
Also related to topic:
If a tutorial is about rigging (for instance) I’d rather not watch the model being built before it’s rigged. That’s a separate topic and, I think, a separate video: modeling. Starting from a default scene and deleting the cube is seriously going too far.
Even if a tutorial covers only rigging and weight painting, it’s better IMHO to make two videos, one for rigging and one for weight painting. And if part of the weight painting video is about how the tools work, each tool deserves its own section card as do each step of the actual process of weight painting.
Video tutorials should also:
- NOT back up and redo part of a process because the author went down the wrong road (this is really confusing because, if I’m following along, I have to figure out how many steps to undo to get back to the restart point)
- NOT say “I’ll pause while I figure this out” (if you don’t know the topic well enough to do the tutorial, wait until you do. And even if you do know it well enough and got confused because of new/moved features, this type of thing doesn’t elicit confidence in the tutorial)
- NOT use music except during intro credits, over section cards and during tail credits (personally, I love music and if I’m trying to pay attention to a tutorial with music, all my brain wants to do is listen to the music; I end up learning zip, zero, nada, so please, leave out the music)
When I watch tutorials, I can’t absorb the entire thing in one go. Take rigging again as a for-instance: I’ll watch the section on rigging a leg and foot, then go practice it (and likely re-watch that section several times) before moving on to the part about rigging the arm and hand. That’s one reason why section cards are important to me.
All this boils down to: Plan, record, edit.