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case study: Reeds Online

video production
audio recording
copywriting

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video for a maiden voyage

who

Reeds Nautical Almanac is the annual compendium of navigational data for Atlantic seafarers of all stripes, starting small and evolving steadily for over 80 years to become the trusted tome it is today. Bloomsbury Publishing launched the digital version as Reeds Online, with live feeds, communication tools and personalised route-planning.

what

An ex-boss connected to Bloomsbury contacted me to create an instructional video introducing Reeds Online. The catch? I had only three days to turn it around – from first idea to published product – taking in script-writing, screen-capturing, voiceover-artist-recording and video-producing along the way. And get it up on YouTube. Loads of time.

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how

I set sail without delay on a shopping spree for the best screencasting software. Capturing mouse movements was the key to showing off the almanac as quickly and easily as possible. We went with Camtasia for its all-in-one screen recording and video editing options.

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For the visual look & feel I would keep things simple: the spotlight would stay on the screenshots with the deep nautical blue of the current branding serving as title screen backgrounds.

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I auditioned several audio tracks but it was felt music might compete for attention, so instead I focused on finding a voiceover artist ready to roll in a day’s time. I was lucky to engage an easygoing male voice with a comfortable sound.

Next port of call was logging in to Reeds Online itself and getting to know the ropes. I needed to pinpoint the important parts of the interface and discover how Camtasia could demonstrate them using zooms, arrows, highlights and so on.

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To demonstrate the Almanac’s Route Planner, I had to create a passage. Having been on holiday to Findhorn in Scotland, I chose to call the route ‘Round the Head’ and sail from Findhorn to the small town of Anstruther in Fife, home to some good old mates.

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I’d been supplied with notes describing the product and a user jouney. My biggest task would now be to transform these notes into a concise and comprehensible script.

The tone of voice had to be instructional but not too technical.

The user journey had to be clearly illustrated by the screen movements.

The clock was ticking.

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Once the script was written I added colour coding to make it easy for the voiceover artist to follow, with highlighted text to indicate key moments in the screencasting sequence. This would also help me prepare and practice my mouse movements for the screen recording.

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I was finally ready to create a series of screen sequences that matched mouse movements to text, and designed some basic storyboards.

opening title on navy blue

cross fade to sailboat with welcome text overlay, start voiceover

welcome text fades / background blurs, overlay list of product features

cross fade to first shot of Reeds Online interface

zoom in to Updates

Home Page section title slides in from left

zoom in to Search by Port

zoom out slightly and move left across screen to show Home Port display

zoom in to Weather tabs

launch synoptic charts popup and scroll through several charts

zoom in to My Boat, type text into form fields

Route Planner section title slides in from left

zoom in to Route Planner, type text into form fields

zoom in to launch weather and tidal data popups

demonstrate slider on tidal flow popup

zoom in to show passage timelines with personalised data and Save Route button

closing title slides in from left

cross fade to sailboat with closing text overlay, end voiceover

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Now it was just down to doing the work (while downing barrels of coffee):

  • practicing and recording screen sequences
  • rehearsing and recording voiceover artist
  • editing and adding audio to video
  • fine tuning video timeline to match voiceover
  • adding titles and text overlays
  • creating transitions and video effects
  • rendering video
  • publishing to YouTube
  • and getting some sleep

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