Three tips for Tutorial makers

These are three pieces of advice that I think are most important for a tutorial maker… Just as an aside I have been using blender for 18 years now.

#1 TURN ON SCREENCAST KEYS.
This addon had been part of blender for years now and it still amazes me how many people post video tutorials and just naturally assume that the viewer can see what keys they are pressing or what mouse button they are clicking. It’s like they think the viewer can read their mind.

#2 DO NOT ASSUME EXPLAIN.
Just because you know how to do something in blender does not mean that your viewer knows how to do it. The screencast keys mentioned above will show the viewer a lot so they will not get frustrated. But those of us that know blender so well just do things automatically without thinking of it. So we just ASSUME that everyone that uses Blender knows how to do those things.

#3 USE STANDARD BLENDER
Use the standard Blender Foundation Latest Stable version of blender when you do your video tutorial. The version without screen adjustments or themes or you favorite interface addons or colors. AND PLEASE NO DEV versions or special builds. Just because you like a theme or screen setup does not mean everyone does. If you just use the standard “out of the box” blender version you will get less questions of the type “My screen does not look like that.”

Ok I know some people are going to disagree with me. A LOT of people are going to be quite upset with me. But I think that these three simple things would go a LONG way toward lessening the reputation that blender had that it is hard to learn or has a steep learning curve

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I don’t see why anyone would disagree with these points, they are all perfectly logical and good points for tutorial makers to follow.

I also think tutorial makers need to make it very clear at the beginning of their tutorial, just what skill level this tutorial is made for. That way beginners won’t start and get lost and frustrated in the middle of a tutorial and give up.

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For me i would nearly state every tutorial as beginner… It depends on how good the tutorial is. Maybe thats me but i am also not near the beginner level in blender…

No. No, no, no, a thousand times more no. That add-on should whither and die (no offense to its makers, it may have served a purpose once, but that purpose is now long dead). This point No. 1 directly contradicts both points No. 2 and No. 3. Instead of teaching what keys to mash, teacher should show what tools to use and where to find them. Keys are preference, and should be a preference. Practiced users will assign their own keys to things they use the most, and it’s up to them to figure out what they are. Already in “Standard Blender” (point No. 3) there are three default keymaps. Would you also suggest everyone to just use the ‘Blender’ one? That will never work.
There are cases of hard-coded keys to which there’s no alternative. In that case, a good teacher would explicitly explain what key they’re pressing and why, and if there’s a UI hint for that key, point it out.
But remember, it’s not “S, X, 0, Enter”, it’s “Scale zero times on X axis”. If after hearing that someone doesn’t understand it, they’re watching a wrong tutorial. You can’t expect every tutorial maker out there to do kindergarten.

And, to the point No. 3, or rather, to the sub-point of using default setup I can also say “No”, and a thousand times more “No”. Some defaults in Blender are atrocious. Some are subject to preference. The program strives to be customizable for a reason. Locking anyone to a particular setup directly contradicts that goal. I’m not resetting my preferences just to record a 2-minute clip on “how to model that spiffing thing”.

If you’re going to post tips for tutorial makers, how about tips for tutorial watchers?

  1. Turn on your brain.
  2. Don’t assume, ask.
  3. If something doesn’t look or behave like it does in your setup, RTFM first, ask questions later.
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ArtAvenue: Not only tutorial makers but addon makers that post their addon with little or no instructions on how to use it. They just assume that since they can use it that anyone can use it. Well the creator of the addon naturally knows how to use the addon because they wrote it. But what good is that addon if someone totally unfamiliar with it can not get it to do what the author says it can do? That frustrates me so much.

It reminds me of a Differential Equations professor that I had in college. He would come into the classroom and turn his back on the students and start writing formulas and proofs on the board. He would just write for 40 minutes and would not take questions. Then five minutes before that class was over he would turn around and say: “Thus is should be intuitively obvious to even the casual observer” We (the students in the class) were just sitting there glassy eyed because he lost us 3 minutes into the lecture.

He was a brilliant man but should not have been teaching undergraduate calculus. I suspect that the only reason he was teaching the class was because he got to use the research facilities at the university and the Board of Governors required him to teach at least one class in order to do his research.

I agree and add one thing that makes me skip a tutorial, specially if not in my native language.

  • Bad sound and no clear speaking.
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This. And then they argue with you when you say it’s confusing.

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I do agree with that except for the last one. When I was beginning Blender and it’s shortcuts, I made mistakes where I would accidentally change the 3D view to something like the graph editor, UV editor, etc and I had no idea what happened, and because windows don’t work with the undo, little young me would actually completely bail on the project because I had no idea how to change it back. I couldn’t ask anyone either because I didn’t know how to word it so I couldn’t Google it, and the manual is better if you understand what you are trying to learn like the fluid simulator or cloth sim, which the manual was more than enough, but not aimed towards the absolute beginners like the screencast tool is used for.

Heh, when some of us started there wasn’t even much Internet to go around. Strategic dialing up with all links prepared was a thing :slight_smile: But I do remember that at least around 2.49-2.50 transition era the UI customizability was touted nearly everywhere.
Nowadays it’s pretty thoroughly documented. So, RTFM it is.
And honestly, if we’re talking free tutorials, it’s just unfair to expect a person to inconvenience themselves more than they already have to to do the recording. People work in their comfort zone, and UI is a big part of it.

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That was part of a much longer document that I outlined but had not typed in the text yet. Well I have typed in about 50% of the text. But everytime I start to work on it I stop because I know once I post it a LOT of people are going to be P.Oed and I might actually get banned. But it is based on observation and using blender almost everyday for 18 years now. I will see some feature talked about here or in an addon posted, but the person does not explain how to use it very well. There is one particular addon that is very popular and has been for 5 years now. There was one feature I really needed but I could never figure out how to get it to work in the way that the author had posted in his thread here with a demonstration through an animated gif. When I asked the author about 5 years ago to explain a bit more he implied that anyone could use it and there was nothing he could tell me. Well he continued to upgrade that addon and about every 3-6 months I would go back and try to use that feature and get frustrated and stop. About 3 months ago he upgraded the addon for 2.8x and posted a new anim gif. He added 8 words to the text in that gif that he did not have in the original one 5 years ago and just like that I finally could use that feature.!!! A simple addition of 8 words was all it took.

Hey I’ve made two now, and they were…fun to make.

I’m just pleased when the tutorial has clear and clean audio. Screen Keys are nice I guess, but I never really look at them during a tutorial. In terms of watching others’ tutorials–I’ve kinda got my own way of doing a certain thing already (or create a way during the tutorial) and stick with that.

I don’t veer very far from standard key binds…there are so many swell ones to learn!

Tip #4

WRITE.

I know that suggestion will go against every fiber that anyone that is under 40 years old has. But when you write something you tend to think about your subject more then if you just press the record button on a screencast program. I have lost count of how many “tutorials” I have seen on YouTube where I can tell that the person just pressed record without practicing or thinking about what he was trying to present first. You hear a lot of “AHH” , “Like” and “Thingy” in the video. I do not think there is any object on the blender interface called a “Thingy”

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And you shouldn’t. Most viewers are beginners who stick to the vanilla version and frankly even pros don’t change more than like 0.01 percent of Blenders say what 10,000 key bindings. They are not likely to watch your tuts either, let alone be confused by a different key. Catering to the 1% gets you nowhere.

Lol yeah, writing really seems to be a lost art nowadays. I’d even go as far that many topics dealt with in video tutorials could be summed up in a paragraph with a picture and could still be much better understood that way.

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I agree, and disagree. :slight_smile:

Depending on the style and communication skills of the tutorial creator. Nothing is better than someone on video that walks me through it in a quick, clear, concise manner. I can see where the mouse moves to, I hear him saying the menu item names…If you want to get brownie points, do a quick write-up tutorial in addition to the video!

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Personally, I hate the keyboard shortcuts on screen…it’s distracting. If the tutorial maker is nice enough to say what keys he’s hitting then that’s enough. If not, then I can go find it myself. I don’t want to be trying to pay attention to every little keystroke that pops up in the corner of the screen. I’m trying to watch a damn tutorial, which is taking up the other 95% of the screen.

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I was generalizing so this is just fair haha, but yeah a graphic/text combination would be definitely cool to have (I would incredibly thankful for images of node setups for example instead of watching 10 min video over and over again).
That’s why i like Price, he offers both mostly and actually explains concepts going beyond merely spoon-feeding people. I think video shines most when it shows effects, eg. in smoke sims, where small changes in settings can make for massive differences in outcome.
From a learning point of view it would probably be great to experiment on its own until you find a solution but as for me I have just a pretty weak laptop so it takes me ages to test everything through. I’m kind of reliant on other people showing me a good starting point.
If you do youtube there’s also some room for explanations in the description space. I’ve seen people use it for good effect.

Understandable. They come to fast and like 9 in 10 are obvious anyways. If only we find a way to just the few important ones :frowning:

I would add a caveat to this…
Leave out anything that’s not about the actual subject at hand. For instance, I’ve lost track of how many times I fire up a tutorial video about fill in topic here and then have to either skip ahead or sit through anywhere from two to twenty boring minutes of:

  • delete the default cube,
  • model something that will be used to illustrate the topic, and
  • sort out a bunch of collection/group nonsense.

If the tutorial maker really feels all this is necessary, here are two ways to handle it:

  1. add a Jump-to-time marker that goes to where the actual instruction begins for those of us who’ve already deleted the default cube 100k times, or
  2. do all the prep in another video and supply a link to that.

And then there are the word whiskers. When was the last time you watched a video where the tutorial maker did NOT say “let’s go ahead and” about fourteen gazillion times.

Not that I’m complaining. :slight_smile:

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I love the idea of throwing in a marker for when the actual tutorial starts–dig it.

However… :slight_smile: … I’m probably not everyone’s cup’o’tea because I have a bit of banter and chatter in and around my video tutorial. I definitely waste time by leaving everything in. Personally, when I watch tutorials, I like people who are real and not robots. But there is a fine line between getting work done and hamming it up for the camera…so there has to be a middle ground.

What I’m on the fence about, because I think it’s overused are the jump cuts. Slicing out every bit of dead air, uncomfortable silence, fumble of words, and so forth…keep some of that in there. In makes me more connected to the teacher. My opinion.

Pet peeve of mine: if you’re going to create a video tutorial–use a microphone. Instead of doing a silent tutorial with your amazing taste in BG music, maybe just do a PDF style image and text tutorial? It’s 2020, if you’re creating an online video tutorial for 3d modeling, you should be able to handle audio with that video. If you don’t speak the language or are super shy…stick with PDF style tutorials, and leave the video classes for those that go the extra step. I feel slightly annoyed when I open a video tutorial and I have to listen to Lincoln Park and a small mouse moving around with no explanation.

Just my honest two cents. Trust me guys, there are a TON of great quality tutorials out there. Free ones. Go find them!

Take care all!

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Totally agree with this. I would have mentioned it if I hadn’t gotten so distracted with what I was talking about. :slight_smile:

I prefer tutorials with no music. I damaged my hearing when I was kid so background music runs together with the voice-over, turning it all into one mish-mash of noise. I’ve had to give up on some tutorials because I couldn’t make out what the person was saying. The rest take a lot of concentration to separate the two.

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Yes. I’ve made over 100 tutorials(mostly Zbrush, 3ds Max, some UE4 and Substance, and recently Blender 2.80 for Max users) and preparation and notes(I am over 40 :slight_smile: ) are something I find important. I usually try and plan sections and even break larger tutorials(and certainly the few paid ones I’ve made) into disgestible and logical sections.

Note - this is something I learned as I went. My earliest tutorials were much more unprepared, but I would never do that now.

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