Delivering an emotional connection, not just an explainer video.
It was a hotly debated topic at the outset. Before we dive into the video production, let’s cover a bit of background.
We’ve been working with Myskybridge for over a year now. The Myskybridge folks are speech pathologists by training, and in May of last year XD Lab partnered to begin research and development of a digital platform that would solve a real need in speech therapy. The application hosted a range of features for tele-practice, lesson planning and progress reporting. The result of our partnership with Myskybridge is a SaaS application designed to bridge and strengthen connections.
We knew from the beginning that video content would be vital to communicating the value of the app. I can’t tell you how many explainer videos we watched throughout the planning process. As the script began to take shape, we found ourselves confronted with a key decision.
Do we make the standard animated video to explain feature sets and interactions…Or, is there an alternative solution?
We wanted to stay true to the values of the Myskybridge brand. Myskybridge is about real connections between kids and teachers, therapists and parents.
We couldn’t decide. So we began work on two distinct versions. We didn’t want to let the creative passion our teams felt for the project to take a hit by favoring one version over the other. Naturally, one version became the front runner. This was very much a product of the teams assigned to the video production. Talking to parents, observing therapy sessions in progress and seeing the human interactions in person solidified our plans. In short, good UX research never goes unrewarded.
Myskybridge is about real human connections between kids and teachers, therapists and parents.
Our primary focus remained the product. We opted to film the product in action rather than overlay the UI in post production. The film gave the app a lifelike quality that imparts a physically to an otherwise flat screen. The shifting focus, the visibility of the pixels and the depth of field brings a tangible quality to the UI. It is what we all experience in real life. It’s not just an app, rather its the interaction between the app, the setting and the hardware.
The hyperreality of educational interactions.
Now that I’ve denigrated post-production as a method for showcasing digital apps, I’m going to completely contradict myself. We chose to rely heavily on post-production to showcase the video chat feature. This wasn’t a decision based on limitations of the app. After all, we built an HD video solution that would stand up to the most stringent filming requirements. However, we found that the relative experiences of the students and therapists deserve special consideration.
…these kids are technologically advanced and deserve next gen learning tools like Myskybridge.
During therapy sessions, students primarily focus on the instructions from the therapist. Our experience design research indicated that students have a hyper focus on the therapist’s physical motion. We chose to use a tight frame on the therapist’s motions and mouth.
Whereas, therapists focus on all the mannerisms of the student. They not only watch their mouth, but they listen, follow their eye movements and read their expressions. We wanted our video to highlight this differentiation of perspective.
The result can be seen side-by-side below. It’s an interesting study in shifting perspectives.
A narrative shown through place, rather than dialogue.
We were lucky to find the perfect classroom. The classroom was for 4th and 5th graders and was led as if it were its own tech start-up. They conducted their own mock Ted Talks, raised money for local issues and even produced their own stop-motion videos that both encouraged and intimidated us. If the DIY iPad charging bay wasn’t evidence enough, these kids are technologically advanced and deserve next gen learning tools like Myskybridge.
The classroom was filmed as is. It was perfect. Early on, we had agreed that the sense of place should reinforce the forward-thinking of the Myskybridge app. The beige classrooms of our childhood wouldn’t cut it. We knew we had to push the envelope a bit with both the locations and cast members alike, because these types of non-traditional elements would challenge the pre held notion that the UI of educational tech is drab.
That’s a wrap: final cuts and peer reviews took us in a whole new direction.
When the film is locked and you are back in the studio, scrappiness begins. All in, we were pushing close to 200 gigs of raw footage. With that amount of footage in the can, we must have all we need. Right…right?
The editing crew were virtual Houdinis with masking everything we missed. The therapist was facing the same direction as the student. It gave the impression that she was looking away. Not at all what we had intended. We had to mirror the entire first day’s footage to keep the emotional intent.
The outdoor shoots were all gray skies. Frame by frame color correction transformed what in actuality was a dull day into what you’d expect on a hot day in Austin.
The jib, though cumbersome in the classroom, gave us the magic of flight. It provided long sweeping perspectives that lend the viewer a sense of scale. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, we wanted the crane shots to reinforce our belief that Myskybridge has the capability to transform speech pathology.
Below are a few shots taken from an iPhone for perspective.
Understanding people and humanizing technology is the root of effective design.
MSB is an app experience - not a just a tool or feature. It simplifies a complicated array of needs into a comfortable, intuitive, connected space. Our goal was to share the passion and mission of Myskybridge to help students, therapists, teachers and parents -everywhere!
It is a commitment to human behavior that ensures effective design. We at XD Lab dedicate the bulk of our efforts to understanding our core audience. Not just the problem we are trying to solve, but what delights our user base.
The polished video can be found on Myskybridge.com.
To learn more about XD Lab, visit our contact page.