Whichever learning module you choose from our studios, it’s always good to know the production process we use. Our process is not entirely unique in the production world, but it does have a few distinctive nooks and crannies to ensure meeting budgets and schedules, and that the final product is the one you expected to see from the outset.
THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Two types of production occur in the digital media world. The first is a seamless, precision-based production, where everyone knows their role, what to expect next, and that all the pieces are in place when needed. Let’s call this THE BEAUTY.
The other type of digital production is THE BEAST. This is a production scenario where commitments to objectives switch in mid-stream, production elements change or go missing, creative directions flip flop, and team members decide to move in opposing directions. This is an expensive and frustrating experience. The end product rarely arrives with glowing reviews, relationships go sour, and everyone wants to forget the nightmare project as soon as their therapy sessions kick-in.
No one goes into a project saying the objective is to create THE BEAST. Yet, the downside occurs more often than not. The only way to avoid the “project from hell” is to gain control over the production process. Here’s the way XLRQSTUDIOS produces projects. The process is time tested, and when properly executed, makes for a product that everyone loves and enjoys, not to mention, the product does what it was intended to do.
PROJECT DEFINITION: Specifications
The first step in our production process is getting the project specifications right. You may have a very clear idea what you want, or you know what you need but are not quite sure how to get it. In either case, it is very important to get a set of project specifications in writing. Specifications may need to go through a few iterations until completed, and it’s a rare project that goes to completion without some change in specs. Change is necessary, but unnecessary change only ends up in delays, overcharges, and often a sense of frustration. The good news is that if your specifications are not complete, we will fill in the gaps.
As specifications are formulated, XLRQSTUDIOS creates a staging area web page for the project or series of projects. The purpose of the staging area is to provide a centralized online location for project media, including raw digital materials, versions of the training modules, and other supporting materials. The essential role of the staging area is to streamline the authorization process. One email with a link to the website goes out, and different members of the team can view or download in-progress or final production, authorize project milestones or final masters, or send the link to other interested company members. The staging area also has a FTP Link, used to upload large digital media files. If your company uses Dropbox, the staging area may not be necessary.
Traditionally, reviewing, changing, and authorizing each project element before production was always the optimum in efficiency. However, it’s not necessarily the most effective way of reviewing an in-progress digital project. It’s very difficult to visualize a complex array of digital media elements in its final form. It is one thing to look at a script, but much different to hear it before it is voiced, or envision it when it comes alive with a moving screen. It may sound counter-intuitive, but there are times we choose to do a portion, and sometimes a complete project before the review and authorization starts. Not every project is the same when it comes to determining the authorization method. Once we get a sense of the team members, XLRQSTUDIOS will recommend the best method for your company.
Pre-production is by far the most important aspect of producing any digital media product, including training modules, executive presentations, software training, or training videos. Pre-production fits very well into the carpenter adage of “Measure twice, cut once!” It’s important that all the production elements are ready before production begins. Production creates enough challenges on its own, and doesn’t need egging on by discovering production elements are not ready to go. We make a check-list, and make sure to check it twice, three times, or as many times as needed, until everything is ready for production.
Pre-production is a standard term in all creative productions throughout many media production industries. We use the term in much the same way for producing eLearning modules. Pre-production covers everything from specifications, contract, budget and terms, schedule and milestones, authorization process, staging area or Dropbox set-up, software licenses in cases where we need to access a proprietary software package, authorization process, graphic components, image bank, video clips, SME assignments, project management assignments, music selections if required, and any additional elements required for production.
The details aspect of pre-production may seem onerous at first, but once the process kicks-in and the product begins to take shape, everyone will find the time they spent in pre-production was indeed time well spent.
PRODUCTION & ITERATION
Finally production begins. If the pieces are all in place, the specifications were properly defined, and the authorization reviews occur on time, iteration begins. Project iteration is basically getting everyone’s feedback, making changes, and getting the project back on the staging area again for review, and possibly more iterations. Iterations theoretically take place until everyone says, “I think we got it!” The project is almost over. The source files are mastered in the proper format, put on the staging area or your company’s Dropbox, and you are ready to put the training module to work.