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Tools to make an interactive video

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Héctor Moreno
Tools to make an interactive video
on Nov 19, 2018 at 2:26:38 pm

Hi all,

a client has asked me to provide an interactive video, specifically a "choose your own path" video. I have researched online and there are several companies that provide great tools in order to achieve these types of videos. The problem is that most of them offer these tools as part of a package which you have to purchase and pay a monthly amount for all the time you want the video up in their site, or else they put watermarks or some credits or something on your video.

What I would like to know is whether there is a way of creating these videos by myself, without having to use tools like these, in order to provide my client with an interactive video that they can show anywhere, anytime, without it being up on some other company's site.

I understand that you cannot do this in After Effects or Premiere Pro, but maybe with some programming or using a web-based player on a local host?

For the moment, the only solution I've found is to make a simple HTML page with the first video and 3 buttons (one for each of the three possible paths the story will follow) at the end of the video, each one redirecting to another HTML page with the next part of the story (so, a different video). It is not difficult at all, but the number of pages increases quite rapidly, and even though the solution fulfils its purpose, I would like to learn a better, more efficient way of doing it.

Thank you in advance!

Héctor


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Mark Suszko
Re: Tools to make an interactive video
on Nov 19, 2018 at 9:40:07 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Nov 19, 2018 at 9:46:13 pm

I did an interactive game show once on DVD that had the "choose your adventure" type branching in it. It had something like six sections, each section started with an introductory scenario, then the host comes on and asks you to make a choice from 4 options. Wrong answers linked straight to an explanation of why that was not the best answer, then looped back to the question menu for another try. At that point you could pick another answer, or dump out to a top menu. Correct answers went to a congratulatory/summation clip, then a new menu with options to go to another question or dump back out to the main menu. It worked pretty well, though the logic map looked like the NY Subway system. It was a very good way to learn Apple's DVD Studio Pro authoring system. I keep an older mac with that around, just in case we ever want to do this again. Maybe you can do that with Adobe Encore, I haven't delved into that yet.

I also did a simpler version of this for another project using, of all things, Powerpoint. It was nicknamed the "Advent Calendar", because it was a cut-away view of a house with rooms and like opening the windows in an Advent calendar to get a daily treat, you could click into any room to get new things to pop up, and they had some interactivity with roll-overs and such. In this case, it was demonstrating energy saving techniques for every room in a home. You could put timers on every page or feature so that if someone walked away from the computer, it would re-set to a starting configuration if left untended for five minutes. I wanted to couple this with a touch screen interface but they limited me to using a mouse so I had to make a vandal-proof kiosk and mouse station for the thing...

At the time, I could not code HTML, but it turns out Powerpoint can convert it's slide shows and buttons etc. into HTML for you. Complete with go to buttons, returns, menus, etc. I wouldn't call it *elegant* coding, but it was functional, simple enough to do, and the price was right. If you used good-looking stock or artist-supplied imagery, the results could even be impressive, with text effects, reveals, fancy transitions, sound effects or narration clips playing in synch to the visual features...... (finally an apporpriate reason to USE all those bells and whistles in PPT) It also could link to videos played in the slide show using windows media.

Our other option at the time was for someone to hard-code everything in MacroMedia Director, which was the more elegant way to achieve the same result as the power point hack. But finding someone affordable with the deep knowledge base to author in Director back then was just too big a challenge.

No doubt there are now more modern tools for doing these, but I haven't needed to do this kind of work in so long, I couldn't say what's the " modern " option. I know there's a free web-based tool online to make simple multiple-choice quizzes like this, high school teachers use it... But I would still recommend the PowerPoint approach to at least make a working demo of what you want to do, so people can understand your vision.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Tools to make an interactive video
on Nov 20, 2018 at 11:21:22 pm

Ask the client if they have a plan for how they're going to play it back. Frankly, as a video producer, I'd tell a client that building the delivery platform is out of my wheelhouse--I'm happy to produce the video component based on their specs, but unless you're an HTML guy, I wouldn't touch trying to build it.

Presumably, if they want this kind of content, they have a plan for delivery, so I would check with them before chasing your tail on figuring out the platform, and focus on delivering the content for them first.


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Allan Barnwell
Re: Tools to make an interactive video
on Nov 21, 2018 at 9:44:01 pm

There's a nice example of interactive video creation using Adobe Animate you can find on YouTube.

Have you explored Animate (formerly Flash - now an HTML 5 authoring tool)?

Allan Barnwell
TM Television


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