As an Instructional Designer, I am always on the lookout for effective and natural ways of instructional storytelling.
In this article, I am presenting a proof of concept (PoC) that I created to explore storytelling by using the 3D motion comic style. I believe this style can be used to create engaging case study-based and scenario-based training videos.
In the past, I used stock photo characters and 2D illustrated characters for storytelling, but they had their own limitations — for example, I spent lot of time searching for the appropriate stock photo characters based on the gender, ethnicity, age, and clothing requirements. But, often I failed to get the exact photos. And even if I got them, I didn’t find them in the poses or expressions that I needed, such as smiling and talking on mobile or working on a laptop.
So, I turned my attention towards 3D graphics, because 3D characters and scenes can be easily tailored to suit our exact storytelling requirements. Not only that, 3D is closer to reality as it contains depth and perspective, which make the graphics more believable and relatable.
Watch the video embedded below to check out the PoC. Remember to turn up the volume of your computer because the PoC contains audio.
For this PoC, I used the following tools:
- Blender for environment modeling, character posing, camera framing, lighting, and rendering
- MakeHuman for character development
- Adobe Captivate NeoSpeech for text-to-speech audio development
- Microsoft PowerPoint for captioning, transitions, animations, sound effects and MP4 publishing
- YouTube tutorials for gaining knowledge and skills
Just to give you some background in case you are new to some of these tools, Blender is a powerful open source 2D and 3D graphics development tool with a massive and active development community that is creating a huge pool of useful add-ons to enhance the capabilities of Blender.
Similarly, MakeHuman is an open source 3D character generator tool that allows you to customize almost every aspect of the human body to generate unique characters as per your project’s requirements. The tool also allows you to customize the expression and pose of your characters. This tool also has good community support. The community is constantly uploading new props and clothes for 3D characters.
After creating a character in MakeHuman, you can import it into Blender along with bones for posing the character as per your script’s requirements.
Although, I used dialogues in my PoC, we can create normal videos with third-person narration also.
Historically, 3D development required us to have access to expensive hardware and software with a steep learning curve. But, as you can see, that’s no more the case. Open source tools have made 3D more accessible to developers like us. Having said that, there is still a learning curve for working in Blender. It is advisable to learn basic modeling, texturing, lighting, and camera framing in Blender. Moreover, hardware with higher specifications will help you expedite the production workflow and allow you to see the rendered results faster.
Where do I go from here? I would love to develop this PoC into a full-blown 3D character animation video with natural body movements, expressions, and lip sync. That’s all for now! Any future developments will be posted here. Your thoughts and comments are welcome!
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