This day and age, if you have an important message to share, you need to be creative in order for people to hear it.
This rap battle is dedicated to all of you eLearning pioneers who are making strides to innovate an industry that desperately needs to be transformed.
Let us stand together and revolutionize the world of online education…. Forever!
Press play and enlarge the video player. Enjoy!
I documented my creative process from start to finish, sharing everything I did to make the Epic eCourse Rap Battle.
I hope this is helpful and inspiring for your own creative process and creations.
Every month we do some form of challenge for our members at The Great eCourse Adventure to help them grow, #GSD and learn valuable new skills.
This month our challenge was to, “Create your Best Video.” I always participate in challenges because it gives me a container to work on my own stuff and showcase my process to everyone. I chose to make the Slick Rick Rap Video for August’s challenge.
The inspiration to make the Rap Battle video mostly came from wanting to point out the elephant in the room and offer an alternative perspective for creating and selling online courses.
I also LOVE the “Epic Rap Battles of History” videos on Youtube and always wanted to create one.
I didn’t want to just write another rant post, vomiting my perspective all over the world. This is why I opted to make a comedy rap battle music video. It’s a much more enjoyable method for sharing my point of view.
My intention was to do something that would get my point across, was fun to watch and good enough that people would share it with friends and colleagues because they thought it was cool.
Though this was my fourth music video making (see the others here), it was the first time that I was the one doing the editing. I will admit, I was a little nervous and lacking in self confidence when taking this on.
I’ve loved writing Dr. Seuss-style rhymes for quite a few years now, so coming up with lyrics is a really fun game for me.
Believe it or not, I actually wrote the whole Rap Battle song while chopping and stacking wood one afternoon.
I would sing the song in my head and then anytime I had a lyric that felt good, I’d write it down into the “Notes” app on my iPhone (see image on right). By the time I was finished stacking my pile of wood, I had the first draft of the song written.
I personally find, I do my best thinking while out moving my body. Very rarely do I sit down and start a creative project on the computer. I’ll usually work it out in my mind and on paper first. Then I’ll transcribe it over to my computer.
In fact, that’s the exact way we came up with all our crazy ideas for The Great eCourse Adventure and our outer space, Star Wars themed Masterclass… We were out on epic daylong hikes. (#NatureIsMyOffice)
I needed to show my team (Blair + my buddy Nate) what was going on in my head.
To do that, I found a beat on AudioJungle.com and did a terrible job of singing the song. I didn’t really care if it was good though, because I just wanted Blair to understand what I was thinking so he could help me make it awesome.
I used Screenflow to mix the rough draft (vocals + music). It was super easy, even for a non-techie.
Listen to my first version to see what a “demo” sounds like compared to the final draft.
Blair and I spent an evening in my home studio (AKA man cave, AKA garage, AKA happy place) and we were able to get the whole song recorded and mostly edited. Blair was the one editing and mixing the song. He’s a master musician (see his Patreon page here)
Once we found the beat we wanted, I just went through the song as each character about 4-5 times until it felt like we nailed each line. Believe it or not, it was surprisingly easy to do… and quite hilarious.
Here’s the MP3. Download and enjoy listening to it while you drive places ;-P
I had all sorts of ideas for where this rap battle was going to be held, but I figured a dimly lit stage felt like the most appropriate place.
I also knew I wanted to have a slide projector screen in the background to simulate the typical powerpoint presentation we’re all used to.
We also wanted to give Blair and Nate each a cameo because they were my helpers to bring this idea to life; hence why Nate introduced me at the beginning and Blair DJs in the background. This detail also meant I had to leave space for the DJ booth in the background. 😉
I found the image of the stage on Adobe Stock photos, which we have an account for. Then I found the speakers and slide projector (PNG files) and placed them in the background as well. This really brought it all together.
GetStencil.com was the app I used for editing the images together. It’s basically a photoshop app for amateurs like myself. It did the trick.
I love filming in the studio, it’s always a fun, comfort-zone stretching experience.
This particular session was really fun because I had my two good bros helping (Blair + Nate) and I had to play two different characters.
We pre-recorded the audio, so all I had to do was lip sync the song. That’s actually why my mic-holding hand is up to my mouth most of the time. It was an easy way for me to pretend I was singing without having to get my lips perfectly synced.
It ended up only taking me 4 run-throughs as each character and then Nate and Blair a few each for their parts. I think we were in the studio for a total of 3-hours to get everything recorded. Not too shabby.
I am still very much a newbie when it comes to editing green screen stuff. I can see plenty of places where I can improve when watching the eCourse Rap Battle now. However, I wasn’t going for perfection, just “good enough.”
Because there are four characters, plus the slideshow in the background, I had to edit the video together piece-by-piece and layer-by-layer.
I started with the background and slideshow. To make that, I used WeVideo.com because their software had a better ‘word animation’ for my slideshow. I was going to use WeVideo for the whole thing, but came up against some chromakey (green screen) roadblocks early on. Their software wouldn’t allow me to crop the videos I had in the way I needed.
So instead, I used ScreenFlow to edit the rest of the video. I basically edited a layer and then exported it. Then, I used the exported layer as the background for the next layer of the video and I added a character over top. (sounds complicated? It’s not)
The reason I had to do it this way was because my Mac was too slow to edit all these complex video layers at once.
Layer One: The background and Slideshow + Blair DJ’ing
Layer Two: The background and Blair + Nate intro
Layer Three: Background, Blair, Nate + Slick Rick
Layer Four: Background, Blair, Nate, Slick Rick + B-Rad
Layer Five: All of above layers + I did close up and long shot cuts, to make it more interesting.
I probably spent a solid 15 hours editing the video and 30 hours in total on the project in total. I probably could have easily spent another 15 hours trying to perfect it, but that was not the purpose of this challenge.
Most of my editing time was just in figuring out how the hell to do certain simple things. It was all so new for me.
I used Youtube tutorials every time I got stumped with my Screenflow editor, which was really helpful.
I no longer feel afraid of doing the editing myself. I used to feel paralyzed by that stuff. So that’s a breakthrough.
Another breakthrough was documenting “the making of the rap video” so I could share my creative process with you.
I am now convinced that this is the way forward for me.
I loved the process of creating a lesson in a creative, meaningful way and then documenting how I did it so others can benefit from how I approach things. It’s brilliant and just the kind of thing I’d love to watch/read after seeing cool videos.
I think next time I will do more short videos at each phase of my creative journey, so that I can piece together “The Making of Video” after completing the project.
Doing the “making of” part was an afterthought, but now I realize it may be the most valuable thing I can offer the Great eCourse Adventure community and anyone following our work.
I hope you enjoyed the rap video and got some value out of reading how I created it.
I’d love to hear your feedback or questions below, and I’d love just as much if you shared the video with friends.