I made a short feature film in high school about poker where I was the lead actor and I did the writing/directing and I wound up with a media management problem rather than a gambling addiction. I have been trying to find a cure ever since but my curiosities grow with my knowledge about video production and technology advancements. I can make virtual reality videos now! WHAAAAAT!?
After I graduated from UBC I wanted to do some traveling, and decided video was the best way to document my adventures. I started with iMovie and still use it a lot (effective videos do NOT have to be complicated videos). My editing skills didn’t drastically improve over time, just because I liked to keep things simple.
Then this thing happened. Turns out you can’t just keep traveling around without eventually needing to make money somehow. I was born in Ontario and my first job was with BlackBerry, but in Australia. That’s right, I went to the other side of the world and wound up working for a company whose HQ is an hour from where I was born. Yep. Just like I planned guys.
I mentioned I liked making videos and next thing I knew I was making a video documenting the day in the life of a sales rep (which was also my really hired for). It was pretty cool, I got to travel a few different cities and film with some coworkers.
Word spread that I was “the video guy” on the sales team. This was a legitimate title in 2010 because while there had been an entire industry of film production existing for decades, 2010 is when digital video recorders were going consumer mainstream and people were learning about video software.
So that lead to a lot of training videos on BlackBerry products. Australia is like Canada where people live in a concentrated area because of climate (80% of Canada’s population lives within 200 miles of the US border because any more North it’s coooold, like the vast majority of Australia lives along the coastal border because the middle is hooooooot) so there are a lot of areas in the country that weren’t being serviced because they were so far away and our sales team was only so big. This is also when I started to learn about Webinars and started hosting those.
Over time I wound up working as the Product Specialist for SONY Australia in their consumer electronics division. I was hired - in part - because I was “the video guy” and that was becoming a HUGE portion of that company’s training content. This is also when I was introduced to eLearning. People were writing java to get a basic PowerPoint to show up on a LMS.
I made a lot of videos like this, which seem super boring to me now. They are so long, and I’m not really well rehearsed. There’s no graphics to complement what I’m saying and…well it’s just bad by today’s standards. 8 minute videos used to be awesome for people, now they need to be 3 minutes or less on the same kind of material or it’s never going to be watched. Even 60 second videos have drop offs after the first 10 seconds.
So since SONY days (for the record SONY got out of the VAIO business a few years after I left, so these boring videos had nothing to do with that…I think) I have been making a living as a Content Development Manager now turned Instructional Designer in Boulder, Colorado servicing HP (It doesn’t count as cheating if it’s in a different zip code).
Generally I am a lot more behind the scenes than in front of the camera, just because I love my eLearning development role and making things look cool online. I don’t get to make a lot of videos anymore, but then I entered the UC Denver program and had a field day producing media content.
One of the more valuable lessons I learned in Producing Media for Learning was the term “the explaining voice”. Essentially a narrator of media content needs to be able to convey enthusiasm, caution, likeability, and many other states based on the subject matter in order to best convey their material to maximize understanding and therefore retention. If you’ve seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, you may recall the scene when Ben Stein is teaching. This is the opposite of the explaining voice, and why everyone in the classroom is falling asleep.
Our class was asked to make a podcast about a topic of interest to us and I chose the use of color in design. I was just learning about accessibility and color blindness concerns at the time and was trying to raise awareness and caution against easy traps in making a PowerPoint no longer accessibility-friendly.
Next, we really had to put our explaining voice to the test, because we had to make a video and covey a story to an audience based on a super confusing but totally grammatically correct sentence. That sentence was:
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
Buffalo in this case is an example of a homophone. My dog’s name is Sirius Black, so I had my actor and now I just needed some time, footage, and a lot of tongue twister practice.
This next video came with the project title “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and we had to try and replicate someone else’s video as best we could. Depending on what you wanted to copy, it was an opportunity to practice a variety of skills. For me, I had just finished my second ski season in Colorado and had A LOT of footage. So, I decided to try and make my ski footage copy someone else’s. Yes, this was partially an excuse so I could watch ski videos. I ask you watch the videos simultaneously for maximum effect (click each at as close to the same time as possible). I thought about making one video showing them side-by-side but I didn’t hear back from the author to get permission to do so. My video is on the left.
Our next project in this class was to create a 3-step video on something. I had been spending a lot of time in the outdoors around Colorado (not just skiing crazy awesome lines) and one of the go-to things every camper needs is a utility knife. I had mine for a while but realized despite the knife coming with an instructional guide on how to signal for help in an emergency and other useful tips, it didn’t mention how to properly sharpen the knife with the included stone. That’s a 3 step process, so I sought out making my video. This video is half the length of the SONY videos and now incorporates lower thirds and other graphic renders.
I hate to admit it but that’s my most watched video on my DanTeaches channel. No, not how to improve accessibility - how to sharpen a knife. I know I helped a few people though - especially Jack McGlasson.
This really was when I started to look into animation renders and experimenting with on screen call outs. Our final project for this class gave us the choice of a lot of different media to use, but I wanted to continue the momentum I had started and approached Roofnest, a company that just started in Boulder and were selling Rooftop tents that could go on top of a car’s roof rack and provide a pretty convenient sleeping arrangement for the outdoorsy type. COUGH COUGH That’s me.
I wound up creating an installation video for Roofnest to help battle all the customer queries now that sales were starting to increase. I met with the founder a few times, we sent scripts and storyboards back and forth, and I even felt bold enough to ask him to re record the audio in a better “explaining voice” since I knew he was capable of better (I still think that too). I wish so much I posted the video to my account, but it was great to see this video be so useful to the business. That video is approaching 8,000 views. I have since produced numerous videos for Roofnest.
With a pretty good handle on these kinds of videos - mainly live action videos with some graphics - I started to experiment in other ways. One class introduced me to the Pecha Kuca-style of presentations which is 20 slides, each 20 seconds in length. Knowing you can record videos from PowerPoint I created a video that was about the outdoors and preparing for a backcountry adventure (don’t forget the utility knife). Click here to download the design document.
I was enjoying these new presentation styles, and one I was learning more about was how to keep someone involved in a lesson by making that part of a story. I was taking a class during the holidays and thought it would be fun to create a narrative of some garden gnomes needing to bring food to their landscaping company’s holiday pot luck. It was a lot of fun to think creatively with this project because we weren’t allowed to use any animations or graphics. I used some stop motion effects. Click here to download the design document. If you’re still reading this blog post sorry to tell you it’s only getting weirder.
I had been making a lot of instructional videos at work and outdoor gear review videos in my spare time for TheDyrt and was getting bored of creating the same-old, same old. Below is a my first full stop motion video and also my first 360 video. To see my most recent video projects and those that highlight my work the best, please check out my portfolio page on videos.