During my recent speaking trip to the NDC London conference, I was also invited to record a Play by Play course for Pluralsight. A Play by Play course is a short film course that is in a conversational style. This involves having one person who is the subject matter expert for the course, and a 2nd person who is the facilitator for the course. It is this persons job to introduce the course and help draw information out of the subject matter expert by asking questions. This conversational style should make it easier for the learner to get a good gist of the subject in a short space of time. These types of courses are not meant to be super in-depth, but an introduction to a subject, or focusing on one area of a larger subject.

My partner in crime for this course was Lars Klint, who is another Pluralsight author. Lars has done a few of these courses before, so I knew I was in good hands. The course we was recording was about enterprise data security using Azure KeyVault. Essentially the course was about encryption key management using hardware security modules, or abstracted hardware security modules like Azure KeyVault.

We started the planning for  this course in December where we put together the proposal  that split the course down into modules. Each of these modules then had a content plan so we knew what the overall narrative would be from start to finish. Once this was approved I then split this out in to a slide deck where we have bullet points for each modules. I had this on my screen whilst we were recording. This acted as a prompt for me and Lars. Whilst this prompt would have been recorded on my laptop, none of this will be seen as it will be edited out.

Stephen Haunts recording a Pluralsight : Play by Play Course
Stephen Haunts recording a Pluralsight : Play by Play Course

When I first walked into the room on the day of recording, I will admit that it felt a little intimidating seeing all the lights, 3 large cameras and 3 camera operators, but luckily Lars and Troy Hunt were recording a course first, so they were happy for me to sit in and watch. I am glad I did this as it meant I could see what was involved, including how best to recover if you make a mistake. The technique here is to remember what you last said, pause and carry on with the same intonation in your voice to help make it a clean edit point for the editor. Every now and again we would speak out editor notes to the camera, but of course this will all be edited out of the final course.

Once Lars and Troy finished their recording there was a short break and then I set up my laptop. Overall there were 3 cameras recording. Once facing Me, and one facing Lars. The other camera had both of us in shot. This is to give the editor some variety when making scene cuts. As well as this we had 2 channels of audio recording from 2 radio mics that ran up the back of our t-shirts and were clipped on the next of the shirt. As well as this, I had Screenflow recording on my Mac which we used to record a Windows VM where I was doing some code demos.

Stephen Haunts recording a Pluralsight : Play by Play Course
Stephen Haunts recording a Pluralsight : Play by Play Course

Overall, the recording went very smoothly. We had nearly an hour and 20 minutes of footage which will probably get edited to about an hour for the finished course, which is about the right length that we were aiming for.  I hope / expect the course will make it out over the next 2 months. 4 Play by Play courses were recorded at NDC London, so I imagine Pluralsight will want to drip release them out.

This whole process has been fun and I hope I can do it again. I have lots of ideas for different subject that would make good Play by Plays. This has been a completely new experience as I generally do all my recording as voice only for courses or podcasts, so getting in front of a camera was a whole new thing for me. Geeks on TV, what ever next!!

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