Preparing to Teach an Online Class for Artists – Pt 2

Sculpey Blog

Anke Humpert
Anke Humpert May 20, 2021
Testing the lighting for an online class that was going to take place live and during the night time where I live.

After having my script ready and knowing all my guidelines, it´s time to get the set up for the recording and test it. With the devices we all have today, we already have the basic equipment. But basic might not be what you want or enough for what you have planned. Then you need to find out where to upgrade and get better equipment for the job.

As basic equipment, you will need:

 Video equipment – camera and memory card, this can be your phone.

 Audio equipment –  built-in microphone or external microphone.

 Tripod(s) and rig(s) – to hold your camera, microphone, lights and                                         diffuser in the right position.

Lighting – natural light and/or artificial light with diffuser.

Post production equipment – editing software.

Ready to do the class. Notice my script, sample pieces, and the view through my camera to the table top on my computer screen for easier control.

Now I set up my polymer clay workspace and all the recording equipment I will need. Sometimes this can be very tricky! You want your students to have the best possible view on what you are doing, but you also need to be able to work comfortably, both with the work you are showing and the recording! I always try to have my workspace as neat and clean as possible, at least when I start! If the picture is full of stuff it´s very hard to focus on the little piece you are working on. I try to have only the things, I am working on, in my frame. That means a lot of breaks, lots of clearing spaces and lots of stopping and starting of the recording. And yes, sometimes a lot of editing. I think it makes for a better, easier understandable online class. And it is easier to concentrate on what is going on. After all someone will be staring at a screen for however long the class takes!

Demoing for one of my online classes

This part of the online class creating does take a lot longer than just “making the project”, sometimes 2 to 4 times as long. It does require a good script to help you go step by step and not to forget one or two. Of course that does still happen at times. And then you will need to record a section again. If your class is a recorded class only (not live) there are many tricks to fix little mishaps. If your class is recorded and presented live that is another challenge altogether.

By no means I want to show an “artificially perfected” project. Sometimes it is good to show difficult parts of the process, problems or even mistakes. Your students might have the same problems or similar ones. And it will help everyone to know how you solved them.

In a typical case I will not use the sound of my recording, because of background noise or other distractions. Still I always will record with sound. The reason for that is that it does help me to get the timing right. And it also helps with editing. I will speak in English when recording, also my mother-tongue is German. Why? Both language have a different timing, and if the class is English I need the English timing. For the finished class I sometimes use the original sound (edited of course!) and sometimes I record a voice over.

Keeping all that in mind I work my way through my script and record everything. Apart from the obvious teaching challenges there are also bound to be technical challenges, because you are actually doing at least two jobs at the same time. Being the camera person AND being the person (or hands) in front of the camera. You will need to concentrate and focus at all times. And then there are things like empty camera batteries, forgotten recording buttons, bursting light bulbs and other people walking into your recording. Try not to lose your mind while doing it all at once! Slowly work your way through your script and record everything. Remember that proper planning will help you to reduce costs and develop high quality material.

After a class is over, I take notes on what worked and what needs to be changed.

When you are happy with your edited version of your class, watch it again from start to finish. Take notes if something is not right, or you forgot to cut out parts or maybe you forgot to add something? It happens to all of us!

If you have an online class that you do not comment (voice over or otherwise) you will need titles, credits and contact information.

This is only a very basic overview of the topic. How to prepare for an online class is a broad theme, books could be written about it and it will change over time as equipment and platforms change. There are many matters I have not even touched, like marketing your class, where to host an online class or more details about the technical equipment and software. I still hope this gave you a little insight in what all goes into making an online class.