Video, film, and animation are all moving images that are recorded onto videotape,

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1 See also Data Display (Part 3) Document Design (Part 3) Instructions (Part 2) Specifications (Part 2) Visual Communication (Part 3) Video and Animation Video, film, and animation are all moving images that are recorded onto videotape, a computer disk, or other media formats. While film has always been an expensive, professional industry, video has been more accessible and less expensive for users. Film and video are separate media, yet with the popularity of digital video (DV) cameras and nonlinear video editing software, many of the differences in quality and usage are becoming obsolete. Video can be recorded with a video camera or captured by a screen recording software tool like Camtasia Studio to display moving images to the user. Animations were originally sequenced drawings that, when viewed in quick succession, gave the appearance of movement. Computer-based animation allows you to create movement of shapes, text, and other illustrations within web pages, videos, and other media. An animation is designed and then drawn from the data, or rendered, in a software program to illustrate full-motion moving images or three-dimensional concepts not possible in two-dimensional video. Animation can be effective when you need to demonstrate a process or procedure. Moving images are useful for technical communicators in many situations, and video and animation are often integrated into the mainstream workflow in many technical workplaces. Uses of Video and Animation Technical fields and industries use moving images for computer-based training (CBT) to illustrate mechanical processes, document safety procedures, provide technical information, and offer software training to users. Animation is sometimes used in conjunction with video in these applications. CBT programs may use animations to illustrate a concept or process, add an interactive illustration, or provide additional technical information to users between sections of live video. Video clips are short sections that can be included in a web page, presentations, and other 364 PART 3 VISUALS AND OTHER MEDIA

2 digital documents. Video clips are also quite common across the Internet for news and entertainment, appearing on sites such as cnn.com, sports pages, and YouTube. Technical communicators might be asked to create storyboards for a training video, to design and test the usability of educational software, or to help design videos and animations for software training purposes. As the hardware and software become less expensive and easier to use, full motion and interactive documents have become easier to produce in house and distribute to users outside the organization. The specialized types of video often created by technical communicators include videos used for education and training. Technical Training Videos This still frame comes from a computer-based training video created for the offshore drilling and refineries industries. When users select a link, the file downloads and a small window opens the video in an appropriate media-playing software plugin, such as Apple Quicktime. Conventional tools at the bottom of the screen let the user control the video playback. An instructional voice-over begins while the video clip plays for less than one minute Training video that demonstrates the safe handling of hydrogen sulfide (H 2 S) Features of Training Video 1 The video opens and plays in a small window. 2 Play-pause toggle control lets users stop and start the video. 3 Volume level control allows 5 Progress bar advances the users to set the voiceover volume. video manually by dragging the bottom bar, called scrubbing. 4 Rewind and fast-forward arrows help control the video playback. VIDEO AND ANIMATION 365

3 Video clips have a wide range in the window size and video quality. Most video clips use file compression to make file sizes smaller; these changes affect the size and the quality of the resulting clip. Video clips for the Web must be short and the files highly compressed for users to download and view using a media player. Even streaming video formats where videos begin to play while downloading, restrict size, speed, and quality. Video compression methods, file size, download time, hardware, network connection speeds, and media playback software all must be considered when planning for the final video production. In addition, most videos depend completely on good quality recorded audio here, of an instructor s explanations in order to make sense to a user (for more information, see Audio). Computer-based Software Training Software training programs, also called tutorials, combine spoken instruction and video to produce a useful training tool. Computer-based training is often distributed on DVD or over the Web. Most training programs provide a video capture of the software program in action with an instructional voice-over narration that explains what happens on the screen while the mouse moves and the selections are made. Nearly all software companies and training businesses offer software tutorials online to their users. Animation for Educational Applications Animation can sometimes illustrate what video or still images cannot. For example, animation can illustrate certain mathematical concepts such as threedimensional rotation processes so that students can learn the rules of rotation by seeing them in action. The example on page 367, created with Macromedia Director and 3D modeling software, is a module from the interactive CD-ROM, Introduction to 3D Spatial Visualization: An Active Approach (Wysocki et. al. 2002). 366 PART 3 VISUALS AND OTHER MEDIA

4 Educational animation about rotation Features of Educational Animation 1 Content sections are listed down the left side of the screen. 2 The current section is highlighted. 3 Written instructions (red text) rotation between positive and tell the user what to click and begin negative. the animation. 5 Clicking one of the axes (y in 4 Switch graphic, using + yellow, x in red, z in blue) starts the for positive, changes the rotation. Software for Video Technical communicators who create videos in house may find themselves functioning as producers and directors as well as writers. Video is inexpensive to make, videotape and disk storage space can be reused, and the cost of both digital recording equipment and computer storage continues to decrease. Video editing software makes it fairly easy to work with video files once they have been recorded and saved. Programs included with personal computer operating systems and entertainment accessories make DV editing fairly simple to learn. These programs include Final Cut Express, Movie Maker, imovie, and others. All of these programs allow users to make movies, which can combine video clips, still images, sounds, text, and animation. The following example shows the Windows Movie Maker editing screen where all the pieces of a movie are edited together on a timeline: VIDEO AND ANIMATION 367

5 The Movie Maker video editing screen Features of Video Editing Software 1 The large window displays the movie as it plays various media in sequence. 2 The timeline at the bottom shows each image in order of appearance. 3 The audio appears in its own 5 The photos appear from left to channel below the video. right for the amount of time listed on each item in this sequence. 4 Drag pictures from your collection onto the storyboard to create a sequence in any order. Media items like these photos of Mexico can be added, moved, edited, and enhanced using the timeline. Various visual effects can be added to each media item and for transitions (like a dissolve) between each kind of media, resulting in a complete movie. The final project, once compiled, edited, and saved, can be exported as a single file in various video formats and then linked to a web site or saved onto a DVD. Saving the video onto DVD has the advantage of holding large amounts of information and longer sections of video, eliminating the need to create small, highly compressed clips for the Web. Professional video programs like Final Cut Pro use these same basic techniques to create full-screen, broadcast quality videos. These high-end projects usually require expensive and powerful hardware, immense storage space, and sometimes, studio production facilities. Such projects may well require specialists a camera operator, a film editor, a sound engineer, and so on. Educational software and training programs that allow extensive interaction between users and objects might require a professional animator or an instructional designer as well. 368 PART 3 VISUALS AND OTHER MEDIA

6 Software for Animation and User Interaction Simple automated animations are offered in many desktop programs like Power- Point and Word to create text and graphics movement on a screen. DVD authoring programs that come with computers provide the basic tools for creating user interaction and automation. These built-in animation features are limited, however, and don t always translate well into other formats such as the Web. User interactions with text and other objects still need to be created with web programming tools such as Java or PERL scripts, or with more specialized software. Professional animation programs like Macromedia Director (used to create the rotation animation screen, above) allow users to create extensive user interaction and add many animated processes to training videos and educational software. Applications made in Director can be incorporated into a web site. Similarly, Macromedia s Flash allows users to design user interaction features and other animation for web sites. These programs are expensive, however, and require significant time and effort to learn. Some technical communicators will have the production and design skills for creating highly usable interactive software applications. They rarely work in isolation, however, and a professional quality project may also require other specialists in animation or graphic design. Guidelines FOR CREATING VIDEO AND ANIMATION Determine your audience, purpose, and context for using an animation or video. Decide what video and animation software programs you will use and how you will store large files. Decide whether your final application will be used as a stand-alone module, distributed via a web site, or saved onto a DVD. Determine whether you want to budget for in-house production or include specialists who can create high-end products. Produce and edit your video, movie, or animation, hiring specialists if necessary, and work together to develop the interactions your users need. Save your final movie files and associated media files to a large capacity hard drive, MP3 player, or DVD. Outline or storyboard the video or animation s content, sequence, location, and appearance. Involve your target users early and, if possible, involve them in the production process. Save only short video clips and animations on your web site. Provide links and explanations on your site for these examples. VIDEO AND ANIMATION 369

7 See also Audio (Part 3) Presentations (Part 2) Storyboards (Part 3) Technical Illustrations (Part 3) Usability and User Testing (Part 4) Web Page Design (Part 3) Visual Communication This section introduces the basic concepts of visual communication commonly used in technical and professional documents. These concepts include the following: Integrating visuals and text Visual persuasion Uses of color Integrating Visuals and Text A combination of visual elements with text is often the most effective way to communicate technical information. A picture alone can be worth a thousand words, but usually pictures, diagrams, and other figures communicate best when they are introduced and followed by concise textual explanations. The integration of visual and textual elements in technical documents is most often accomplished through the use of labeled figures. Other visuals such as tables, graphs, and charts that flow with the narrative of the text can also be effective. Another important element in combining visual and textual elements is the layout of the entire document, whether paper or screen based. (For a detailed treatment of these topics, see Document Design and Web Page Design.) 370 PART 3 VISUALS AND OTHER MEDIA

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