Key techniques for instructional videos

Posted on in research, articles with tags film-making.

A formal academic research essay, written during my studies at Broadcasting School.


This research asks what makes for a “good” instructional video, given the background of varied attitudes towards such videos. It discusses and expounds an existing theoretical model of informational design in this context. Illustrations are provided by referencing two studies which attempt to correlate various aspects of design with learner engagement and outcomes. The research is put into practice by exploring, proposing and discussing recommendations for training videos from a variety of sources.



On Cognitive design:

Once consumers have been guided to relevant information, is it comprehensible? Does it sink in or do their eyes glaze over?

On Affective design:

While good physical design of any text component includes a careful choice of font, there is also an affective effect in play. For example, the use of Comic Sans as a font in anything other than a cartoon environment is likely to evoke feelings of contempt in many readers. This is the same effect as when unsuitable clip-art or unjustified use of strong language attracts attention for the wrong reasons.

On Cinematography and visual storytelling:

Reknowned cinematographer Joseph Mascelli wrote that “non-theatrical films should be as pictorially beautiful as possible within realistic confines” (1965, p. 169). Do high art or beauty have a place in a utility video? Perhaps not, but beautiful pictures may yet yield some mileage as an affective tool to increase confidence in the film, that the film-maker knew what they were doing.


The original version of this essay was submitted in completion of the 700 level Major Project Research Essay for the Bachelor of Broadcasting Communications Degree at the New Zealand Broadcasting School.

This version has been slightly improved based on marker feedback.