Month: November 2014

Building a Digital Magazine

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This week’s ELH Challenge was to create a digital learning magazine. I was excited about this for a few reasons, but mainly because I had wanted to mock up something similar to this for a while now to show as a sample of how interactive documents can be created pretty easily with Storyline.

The Concept

I am not sure where this concept came from, but I decided to create a magazine that could be used to help introduce new hires to a company and also double as a nice informative piece for current staff.

I decided to mock this up as if it could be used for my office. The company I work for does a lot of work with USAID so I chose “Water” as the issue topic, probably because I was thirsty, and gained some inspiration for the fake articles from USAID and The Water Project.

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The Build

Since this was an “internal” company magazine, I kept the style pretty traditional. I used some magazines that I had on hand for layout inspiration – National Geographic and ASTD’s td magazine – and was able to find some really great pictures for free on Pixabay. I used a combination of three fairly simple fonts: Adobe Garamond Pro (large headlines), Century Gothic (secondary headlines and the header), and Palatino Linotype (body text).

When I thought of the concept, I immediately had some ideas of what I wanted to include, like Meet the Team, Q&A, and a Resources section.  I felt like these topics would do well in a “learning magazine” format where some quick information could be presented on the page in an easy to read format and layers, downloads, and links could be used to give the user more information as wanted/needed.

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Meet the Team makes good use of layers and the Resources section has some “downloads” and a layer that enlarges the floor plan image. (This is actually the floor plan for Graceland!).

The Q&A was the last slide I built so it isn’t as interactive but includes some fake links that in theory could take you to forms or information on a company intranet. I also had an idea to build out the Q&A as a list of questions that you could click on to see the answers, but it was may more fun to create this as a Dear Abby-esque set up.

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The articles on water each have some layers that include additional information. In a way these layers act like the sidebars in a traditional magazine layout. But one of the cool things about having a digital format is that you can also include videos.  Be sure to check out the Health H2O article to see the video I included.

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In order to navigate through the magazine you have 2 choices.  You can use the turned up page corners at the bottom or click the arrow at the top to “pull down” the menu page.

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An Extra Special Extra
For the first time I decided to try my hand at using a texture for the page background. This isn’t tough to do but does require fiddling with the html code once the project is published. David Anderson created a great screencast on how to do this. And I pulled my background texture from the wonderful Subtle Patterns site.

2014-11-11_13-50-23Check it Out!

Click on any image above to view the demo or go ahead and download the source file.

And leave a comment below to let me know what you think!

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Cartoons Compete: PowToon vs. GoAnimate

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Sometimes in eLearning you need to create a quick animated short, either to insert into a longer course or to stand on its own. Storyline 2 actually makes this pretty simple, but there are some platforms that exist that make it even easier by providing built-in graphics; we all know that creating or finding images can take forever!

Two of the leaders in this area are PowToon and GoAnimate. As I mentioned last week, our team recently switched from PowToon to GoAnimate. In the process of switching, I was looking for a comparison of the two but not much was out there. So, if you are thinking about purchasing or switching to one of these platforms, you’re in luck!

 

Pros

PowToon is simple to use.  Creating and timing objects is easy. I like the way that PowToon uses a timeline even though you can only view and adjust one object a time on it. It has the basics and the free plan has some good features and options.

Cons

AUDIO. You can only import 1 audio file into the entire project so both creating the audio and timing it to your slides can be really tricky.

You also don’t have much control over the props and characters. They are set in stone. So, if the prop you need doesn’t really fit into your color scheme, too bad.

Pricing

The free plan offers a decent selection of styles and can be a good way to get started with PowToon. It will only let you share your video through YouTube or with a direct link, so if you want to download videos this isn’t a workable option. However, you can pay per export. The thing that I really don’t like about the free version is that it has both a watermark and an annoying outro slide at the end that has a little “created using PowToon” jingle.

For $228 a year you can get a pretty good business plan that allows you to download videos, get rid of the watermark and outro, and has a lot more included styles though not all of the styles. The only downside to this plan is that you are only allowed to use the videos for your own business; they can not be sold.

If you want the whole shebang, it’ll cost you $684 a year, though they sometimes run specials that will allow you to get the best plan for the price of $228 a year.

Why we switched

GoAnimate offers superb control over both audio and visual elements. You can even create your own custom characters in several of the styles and sync their talking to your audio narration.  It’s impressive! In addition, you can make characters actually hold objects (and they move with the objects in hand) and there are several more options for exits and entrances in addition to motion paths.

Also, you can search for a particular prop among all styles which is super handy and something I was often wished for with PowToon.

GoAnimate also has lots of features I didn’t know I was missing like a Ken Burns effect, great built-in “scenes” that can be modified as needed, and cool infographic animations.

What’s missing

I think my only let down with GoAnimate is that timing objects is a definitely trickier. There is a timeline but it only shows the scenes and audio, not the individual elements in each scene. You have to time objects relative to each other which can be tricky and makes time the full scene difficult. I think the best workaround for this is to create several short scenes with a couple of things happening as opposed to one longer scene with several actions.

GoAnimate does make this a little smoother than PowToon, including the fact that handwritten text matches up exactly with non-handwritten text, an issue I battled in PowToon more than once. I also just realized the other day that you can fit the scene duration to the content so that helps as well.

Pricing

The free plan for GoAnimate doesn’t allow exporting either, however you can copy embed code for the video or share a link. Also, the branding is a little less intrusive than that of PowToons in that there is only a small logo and not a jarring outro. However, you can only create videos that are less than 30 seconds long.

The mid level plan is $299 a year, about the same a PowToon and with basically the same additional features.You do get access to ALL the styles with this plan which is nice but you still have a watermark and can only use the videos internally.

The high level plan is $599 a year, considerably less than PowToon and, in my opinion, with a great deal more to offer.

In addition, GoAnimate offers a team subscription. It’s pricey, starting at $2000 a year for 3 subscribers, but allows separate accounts to collaborate on videos which is pretty handy.

So which one is better for me?

Glad you asked! Overall, I think GoAnimate is a better tool with more bang for your buck.  If they would add slide elements to the timeline, I would even call it close to perfect! However, if you are looking for a great tool to create some (longer than 30 second) free videos, PowToon definitely has the upper hand. Either way, these tools are easy to use and can really up your animation game!

Do you use either of these? Or another tool that you like?  Please share your experience in the comments!