Creative Business, Online Courses

August 25, 2021

Behind the Scenes of Filming an Online Course

Behind the Scenes of Filming an Online Course

Wowie! I’m still coming off the high of filming my latest course, Crafting Online Courses. That’s why I’m dying to share with you some behind the scenes of filming an online course, and how simple course production can actually be.

First things first, if you aren’t familiar, Crafting Online Courses is my big course that I launched for the first time in 2020. This year, I decided to tweak and re-film the course for a variety of reasons. The big one, though, was that I learned a lot about course creation and production, and I wanted the course to reflect that! The first big step I took in elevating the newest version of COC was to rent a filming space.

So, I rented an AirBNB! For several months, I had a dream of renting a gorgeous AirBNB to film the course. The idea was to treat filming like a work retreat so I could put my full focus into it and remove all the distractions of home. It just so happened that a friend of a friend is a Superhost on AirBNB and had just the spot: a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Richmond, Kentucky.

Behind the Scenes of Filming an Online Course
The tripod on the right is my teleprompter set-up. My camera attaches to the back, and I use my phone to project my teleprompter. It’s pretty cool and makes filming a breeze. Check out the one I use here.

I’m all about DIY’ing online courses, and making it work with what you already have. That includes your current home or workspace! By no means do I believe it’s necessary to rent any space to create a course. That being said, filming COC is an undertaking, and I wanted to get it done quickly and with as few distractions as possible. So, renting an AirBNB for a week was the easiest answer, and I am so glad I did it. Look at the background! The lighting! So perfect.

Behind the Scenes of Filming an Online Course

Let’s talk about getting the shot.

I talk all about this in COC, but there are a few things I look for in a filming space. Most importantly is good, consistent lighting. I love using natural light because it looks so good on camera (and I’m not a lighting technician by any means), but I also use two pancake lights to brighten up the shot even more. After I find my light, I think about what’s behind me. In this case, I didn’t have to try very hard. I let the living room be my background and turned the lamp on for some extra ambiance. If I’m filming from home, I will add a plant or some greenery to the background to add some life.

The whole reason for renting a space was to get these “talking head” shots filmed. For a majority of the course, I am talking straight into the camera, and will overlay slides and other graphics onto the video in editing. These talking head shots require perfect light and extreme quiet, which can be hard do at home while my husband is working from home, too!

Behind the Scenes of Filming an Online Course

When I was done filming for the day, I set up at the dining table and worked on my laptop. The remainder of course videos are recorded screenshares or slideshows, so I worked on creating those and recording lessons for a few hours each evening. My set-up for recording everything is shockingly simple. I really don’t need that much…just a few lights, my tripod, my Little Prompter, and my microphones.

Let’s talk about prep!

I had several hesitations about booking this AirBNB for only one week. The biggest one being time. Could I get it all done in a week?

That’s why preparation was so very important. I made a deal with myself to prepare to the best of my abilities. As a chronic procrastinator, this was no easy feat for me, but I managed to do it. However, if it was necessary, I could book it again for a few days. So what!

Another hesitation I had was being physically prepared…as in, food and supplies and making sure I had everything I needed. I created an extensive packing list the week before and gave myself plenty of time to add anything I was missing onto the list. Mainly, I didn’t want to forget anything I would need for the actual filming aspect. Yes, I could have had my husband bring something to me in a pinch, but if I could avoid it, I certainly wanted to.

I also didn’t want the week to be full of take out meals, so I brought a week’s worth of groceries, and literally every single thing I could ever want. It was totally worth it to prepare like this so I could have a stress-free week and I didn’t have to interrupt my day to leave for any reason. This might seem a little extreme, but when I say I treated this like a retreat, I mean it! I barely left the apartment except to support a local coffee shop and check out the local antique mall.

Behind the Scenes of Filming an Online Course
The face of someone very relieved to be done with the majority of filming at the end of the week.

What next? Next, I will record the remaining screenshares and slideshows from my home office. After that, I begin the daunting task of editing! Once editing is complete, it’s time to get this updated version out into the world. Stay tuned!

This is the celebratory glass of wine I enjoyed at a local vineyard the night before check-out!

Have you ever thought of renting an AirBNB to film a course? Have you ever hosted your own personal work retreat? I would love to know what you were working on and what your experience was.

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