Introduction to Interactive Video

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Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of experimenting with several platforms that enable video interactivity. Some may ask “what do I mean by making videos interactive?”

Well to put it simply, there are platforms/software that allow you to take existing video or better create new videos and add a layer of interactivity which might be an overlay question, hotspot, clickable buttons, pop-up sheets and so forth, that prompts learners to engage with the content. Therefore, from just being able to watch a simple piece of linear video, a learner will have the power to control what they see and how they see it.

WD-40, How to use Multi-Use product training menu - Luma One

What’s been so exciting about the interactive video space so far is it’s not about reinventing the wheel, there are no new specific video formats, or special configuration needed. The conventions are very similar to the most popular video streaming platforms (Youtube, Vimeo, Wistia etc) which simply require you to upload a video onto the platforms server, then using the inbuilt features you can enhance your video with interactivity, it’s that simple.

Now of course there is a degree of extra planning required because changing a piece of linear video (if you are using existing video) or creating new video will need the added framework to be taken into account for instance; the branching of videos; the instruction required so that a learner/user understands what to do and how to navigate; quizzes and activities etc. These are all key components of building an effective interactive video and all three components add an extra layer of thought when planning.

When stepping into the realm of interactive video we started off by sticking with what we knew best,  Articulate Storyline 360 this is the natural leaping off point for a company like ours that has combined experience in video production and elearning development.

We decided to see how far we could push the software.

Articulate 360 edit view

Branching has been a technique we’ve been implementing more and more, in courses thus helping us to shape more fulfilling stories and introduce an added level of engagement. This is why our initial impressions were we could easily add layers and content to a full-screen video. It became apparent that with more complex branching and customisation, we were limited in our control of the video player, analytics and navigation which are all key factors for creating a great piece of interactive video. So we looked around for actual interactive video platforms.

RAPT Media was the first online interactive video tool, that we started to experiment with. The company’s focus is mainly on marketing/sales videos but in essence, they had the system to build a very slick functional interactive video. The framework was based around a flow chart, every video jump (where you would have to make a choice by clicking a button) requires a separate video export.

Rapt Media flow chart layout

Therefore your interactive video would be carved into several small pieces of video that were then linked together within a flowchart. The end result as a developer you would see a flowchart (above) that identifies all the roots you could possibly take from start to finish. RAPT had a lot going for in terms of ease of use, once you get your head around the flowchart system it was incredibly easy but it lacks in additional features, no quizzes, drag and drops, video in video. And it got bought by Kaltura and we could no longer use it!

The edit mode within LumaOne, you can use a grid to help place assets accurately.

Luckily we discovered LumaOne which has now become the platform of choice, it’s like a hybrid of the best features of Storyline/RAPT/Wistia (for managing lots of videos). There’s a level of customisability and inbuilt features that help you create a solid interactive video and in terms of branching you can take small pieces of video and link them together via timecode jumps and what makes the platform even more powerful is the in-depth tracking by the LMS and which provides a level of reporting the other two platforms can’t/don’t.

My next article will show you our first working example in LumaOne.