Making Video Diagrams: A Comprehensive Guide

Making good video instructions is a learning process just like teaching, or diagramming. And just like with every other learning process, hearing advice from people with expertise in that area can be so helpful.

When I started - this was in 2007 - there were few origami videos out there. I was not aware of Michael LaFosse's videos back then - but it would have helped a lot to see what worked well. So I learned the hard way. But maybe I can help make it easier for you.

Origami video tutorials are much more common nowadays, quite a few origami enthusiasts give it a try and make the results available online. Unfortunately, often the quality is not up to par. Honestly, when I started my videos weren't up to par, either. But in the last three years I learned quite a lot about what works and what doesn't. Indeed, I am still learning with every video I make.

Still, the quality of videos that I produce now is something I am proud of. And I'd like to see more videos in this quality - or better, of course. So what better way of supporting that cause than to share my experiences? And hope that others will learn and profit from that - or simply sate their curiosity on how I create my videos.

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Throughout the guide, I'll work with a lead example. It will be the video I produced on Andrew Hudson's fantastic "Crooked Witch".

向日葵视频

I recorded my video creation process to capture the different tasks involved, and also to find out for myself how long each task took. I hadn't timed myself before, so a nice side effect of the creation of this video is that I can now give much more realistic estimates on how much time an example video takes until completion.

I tried to reflect in this "Making Of" video* how much time each aspect of the video creation process took. Except for the small example snippets, all parts are sped up by the same factor. And, of course, the beginning of the video - where I add a short note on asking for permission - and the end - where the finished video starts playing - aren't sped up, either. In truth, getting permission is the part of the video creation process that's hardest to estimate. And I admit to not having included the time that goes into selecting a model, and practicing it before recording.

It is also worth remarking that this process took much more time in the beginning. So I used to spend more time on lower quality videos. The guide that will follow may show you the essentials - or what I believe the essentials are - but practice is still necessary. Hopefully this guide smoothes the way a bit, though.

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In the next couple of articles I will go into several aspects of how I create instructional origami videos now that everything is relatively streamlined for me. But I do not want you to see this as a set of rules and the only way of creating videos. Rather, it shall inspire you and give you a resource to pick out the good bits. I do hope each part will have some bit for you to pick out, of course!

A rough outline of future "How-to" articles is as follows:

So stay tuned!

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For the curious among you, here's a list of the software I used while preparing the "Making of" video:

  • Screen capture: Snapz Pro X (for Mac only, free 15 day trial)
  • Video Conversion: MPEG Streamclip (free download)
  • Video Editing: Final Cut Express (for Mac only)
  • Image Editing: GIMP (free download)
  • Subtitles: Jubler (free download)
  • Diagramming: Inkscape (free download)
I'll give more information on some of the programs in future articles, but these links should help you if you want to get a head start.
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