A lot of people think that creating (and selling) online courses are an easy thing to do. The reality is that it takes a lot of work to make it look easy breezy. So I thought I’d give you a little behind the scenes peek into how we went about creating 70+ videos over the span of a few weeks for the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program.
You may have seen our Culinary Nutrition Expert Program trailer:
Now, obviously it’s nice to think that this is where it all begins and it’s smooth sailing up to this point.
I’d like to say it started here – calm and casual and ready to rock. But it very much didn’t.
How The Culinary Nutrition Expert Program Started
The program itself was actually several years in the making before it transitioned online. It began with in-person classes in 2008. Those grew and grew and in 2011, I offered the first round of the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program here in this same kitchen you see in the photo above. I had eight students the first time. In 2012 I started converting my workshops into online courses and then in the fall of 2013, we launched the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program online, where we had 100 students enrolled from around the world.
After running the program online three times, we took all of our student feedback (which is pretty much exclusively awesome) and the things I wanted to improve and got to work on revamping the video in 2015.
Reworking the program began here at my desk with a gazillion spread sheets as I mapped out each and every module, the videos we’d be making, the topics to be covered, the recipes to be made, and the assignments that would go with each. And of course I also gave some thought to the best camera angles to ensure we were shooting what you’d want to be seeing.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
Once I got all the planning done, it was time to start figuring out how each and every recipe would be filmed.
See, some classes are easier than others. For example, the Liquid Nutrition module only needed us to measure and prep the ingredients for each drink I was going to be making. But then there were modules like Fueling with Food where I create ten recipes. That meant for, say, my UnShepherd’s pie we needed to make three versions of it. The first was just prepping the veggies. The second version needed the various components cooked, but not assembled, and the third version I needed complete. This was so on camera we could do that fancy thing where I pull it out of the oven completely ready, rather than have all of us twiddling our thumbs for 45 minutes while it baked.
Because of what went into prepping for the videos, we would usually make our shopping list, check it a thousand times, and then buy all the food two days before our shoot day. The day before the shoot, we would spend a good twelve hours in food prep chaos as my crew and I sliced, diced, prepped, baked, broke dishes, and then did that some more. It was always a semi-organized chaos.
Ready, Set, Action!
The tricky part for us was that my kitchen – as you see above – is also our set. We don’t have a second kitchen off to the side so our prep is really important. I had a great crew and they would come in bright and early on shoot days and get their gear all set up.
All I had to do the day of shoots was come in, and spend 20 minutes trying to get my contact lenses in, and then work to apply make-up. Two things I never do.
One of the toughest parts about filming these courses is that this is my view (right there below). My crew is great, but they’re not a class of people. Talking to a camera and smiling takes practice, and also takes a lot of energy. Also tricky is being under those lights all day and not becoming a hot and sweaty mess. I do much better at smiling than avoiding the sweaty mess.
Two hours after the set-up begins, we were usually just about ready. I always did a test with all the cameras to make sure they’re catching exactly what I want them to. Here, I’m waving to the overhead camera. This is my favourite angle as it catches all the action on my counter.
This is us getting set-up to shoot the three sample classes. You can watch them here.
Off to the side, I also have a monitor to make sure that my goods are always centered, and to easily see if I have made a completely disgusting mess of my cooking surface and we need a re-set. This screen is very helpful to ensure this angle is catching the techniques and details I want to share.
And yes, I was kind of obsessed with that overhead camera angle. And when Josh Gitalis – our guest instructor – came to the set he was down with it, too.
And then, at last, we’re be ready to start cooking!
Josh helps instruct a few of our courses. In addition to Elixirs and Tonic Herbalism, Josh also teaches Fundamentals of Nutrition and together we teach Therapeutic Diets and Healing Foods. These also happen to be four of my favourite modules from the program. (You can review all of the modules in our course catalogue, which you can access here.)
These are some of the elixirs we made up in the Elixir and Tonic Herbalism course. They were awesome!
And this is us as we wrapped the Therapeutic Diets course. This is one of the two lecture-based courses (all the rest are cooking based) where we review the universal principles of a healing diet and the lifestyle factors that need to be in place, plus we offer a comparison of the pros, cons and effectiveness of some of the more common and popular healing diets.
The Finishing Touches
To create the trailer, we went back through all of the footage to pull together a collection of clips that best represent the program.
I thought it might be fun for you – now knowing all the ins and outs – to go back and watch the trailer again.
And would you believe my work is still not done? After filming, I spent months reviewing all of the course material with my producer. He does a round of edits, and then I watch every single video and make notes on edits I want, resources I reference and want to include on the module pages, quiz questions, and various other notes.
I am really thrilled with how beautiful the videos look and with the depth and breadth of content we were able to include in them. I seriously can’t wait each September when I can share our content and knowledge with the newest cohort of Culinary-Nutrition-Experts-To-Be.
I hope you enjoyed this tour!