Designing Predicaments Step 2: the Characters

This post expands on Step 2 from the scenario design job aid Designing Predicaments.

In Step 1 we outlined a scenario as

  • a situation
  • a character making the correct choice
  • the right reason for the choice
  • a positive outcome from that choice

In this video I talk a bit more about characters – names, first person or third person, back story, and using a supporting cast to present different viewpoints.

Last time I used Tawe for my presentation. This time I’m using Sparkol’s other tool Videoscribe. Thoughts on that after the video.



Using Videoscribe

I’ve expressed my reservations about ‘drawing hand’ videos before, but they are popular and good when done well. A bit of introspection revealed that my main reservation was being distracted from the message by the process, the drawing hand itself.

I’ve had a Videoscribe licence for a while but never used it seriously. I decided to give it a try for this one, but use the dreaded drawing hand sparingly, to keep the focus on the message. When I’d finished it I was pleased with it and would use it again.

I took two steps in preparation to make it easier for myself. I decided to use only stock photos and the stock art that comes with Videoscribe. I had wanted to draw my own cartoons for it, but thought ‘Pick your battles, Norman’ and went for a focus on learning the tool. The second step was to pre-record the voiceover. My main annoyance at Tawe was that you had to do the voiceover ‘live’ while moving the camera; if you hesitate you have to start over. This time I had my voiceover as an mp3 and the script ready to upload as a transcript.

The tool itself turned out to be quite easy to use and there are very good tutorials and help files on the Sparkol site.

To put it in simplest terms, you choose an image (or you write text) and place it on a whiteboard; you then choose another and another and so on.  The ‘camera’ then pans from image to image, zooming in on each in turn. The presentation is made by

  • deciding whether the image is drawn, placed (by a hand) or just appears, and how long that takes; there are lots of variations to choose from
  • deciding how long the camera dwells on this image (by allocating it a number of seconds, you sync it to your voiceover)
  • deciding on where NOT to zoom – in other words avoiding the default zooming by keeping several images in view. That took a bit of learning, but once you’re used to it it’s fairly easy.

I spent most of my time undoing the defaults, which tend towards a hand drawing everything quite slowly then zooming in to exclude everything else.

You can use your own images, in SVG format, and they become ‘drawable’ but that was a learning curve too far for this week. I’ll report on that when I try it.

A feature I’d like to see would be adding the audio waveform to the visible timeline to show how long an image stays in focus.

Altogether a much more enjoyable experience than Tawe, and one I’d happily use again and offer as a service (with the proviso that for a client I’d use a professional voiceover artist, to reduce the soporific effect of my voice!).


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