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We approach Training videos as much as possible as documentaries, with human interest stories, powerful images, strong music, and restrained use of narration.

Training videos need not be didactic, boring, or burdened with information better provided on web sites or in accompanying print materials. They do need to be good television. The least promising subjects safety issues in home wiring, how to choose a nursing home, loans to small business in developing countries -- can be interesting and informative if they are produced with sensitivity and imagination.

Like documentaries, training videos should have integrity, be frank and honest, and acknowledge unpleasant realities. People tune out propaganda. Make a video for nursing assistants that does not recognize the difficulty of the job and the need to raise pay, offer more training, and create more realistic work loads, and they will not believe anything you say.

What experts and the narrator say has much less impact than what real people say and what the audience sees for themselves.

Training videos can't cover everything. They should dramatize the important points, be a point of departure, leading to discussion, further reading, workshops with experts. The aim is to engage people and motivate them , not survey the whole field.

Spending money does not guarantee quality, and economies are possible. But sponsors should recognize that their audiences will compare their video the voice or onscreen talent, the writing and editing, the technical quality -- to broadcast television. As in print or websites, compromised bargain basement productions are no bargain at all.

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