I was recently asked about my opinion on the best export settings for a video that will be placed inside of an eLearning course. Specifically, if the quality and size of the completed eLearning should influence the quality and size of the video’s quality and size? As we discussed the matter it was also expressed to me that as far as audio compression and quality are concerned, there isn’t a whole lot of information readily available to eLearning professionals. Below are some of the ideas I had.
Let me start by answering the more specific question about compression before or after inserting into the eLearning software. As a general rule I export videos in their highest quality possible (to a standard being 1080p with an audio bit rate of +100kbps and a sample rate of +40kHz) for this reason: it is better to have something large that in the end needs to be compressed than to compress it at the beginning and find that it is too small/choppy/gross and cannot be “blown up.”
The question directed at audio compression and levels etc. speaks to this a little bit.
We produce two webinars a week and record those webinars using the webinar software this is built in. This software only captures (due to the strain of the software to broadcast to 300+ viewers simultaneously) between 5 and 15 frames per second, and audio at a bit rate of 63kbps. It then adds frames to the recording to fill the space so that you can download a 24fps video that still looks just as choppy as the original, and attempts to dither the audio though it doesn’t do this well. The sample rate is 16kHz. You can see what this finished product looks/sounds like here. Obviously compressed, even if the final product wasn’t, the original for sure was, and so no matter how big I try to make it, or how many repairs I push on it, it’s stuck at that original quality.
Alternatively, the video specifications that I mentioned at the start are the standard for the rest of our video content. These standards are also used when we transfer a video into an eLearning course. The software, whether it be Storyline, Captivate, or Lectora, can then dictate any compression that is needed so that the video matches the rest of the course. We did a project for Adobe a few years back and the entire project had to be quite small. Rather than making the video itself small to begin with, we produced the highest quality video possible, and allowed the authoring tool to dictate its new compression. While I cannot show you a recording of that particular course at this time, I can show you the difference between the above video I demonstrated and a video where the standard was applied.
I hope this has answered the question. The options for video quality are vast, and sometimes you may find yourself setting a bar well below what you started thinking you’d use as a standard. If you have more questions about production qualities in and after the video is added to an authoring tool, check out some of our upcoming webinars that will cover these exact topics.