Microsoft partners with Cadence Preferred to enhance hands-on labs

The team scripts and records nearly 500 videos to showcase more than 70 labs just in time for Ignite

When most people think of Microsoft software, the basics come to mind: everyone’s familiar with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – software that has long been associated with the Office platform – and now Office 365 as well. However, the capabilities of Office 365 extend far beyond that of word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations; Microsoft develops a huge variety of other software products also.

Teams within Microsoft created hands-on labs to help customers learn more about programs like SQL Server 2016, Azure Machine Learning Studio, PowerShell, and many others. While the labs featured plenty of detail, the value and purpose of each lab was not quickly apparent. To improve user experience, Microsoft requested a visual summary that would explain the value of the lab upfront, in order to reinforce the learning experience and guide viewers to the labs they were looking for. The team turned to Cadence Preferred for a series of nearly 500 lab videos covering over 70 labs.

Organizing the labs and scripting the lab videos

The lab videos needed to be ready for presentation in workshops at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

The first step was organizing the labs based on client priority. Then came dissecting each lab into logical subsections, each of which would have its own video. From there, we moved onto scripting. Our script writers nearly became subject matter experts themselves on the information covered by the labs, coming up with scripts that answered two primary questions: “What’s this lab all about?” and “What can I learn from this lab?”

Into the recording studio

The next step was to bring the scripts to life. Four production days, four actors, and over 500 takes later, our lab videos were on track. Making sure terms like ‘Azure’ and ‘SQL’ were correctly pronounced kept us on our toes and made sure we were listening actively to our actors. A few calls with subject matter experts, a few more takes, and footage was complete. This meant handing it off to our editing team in the nick of time! After all, Ignite was just around the corner.

lab videos with captions
recorded lab videos

Adding captions against the clock

In the midst of the editing process, we were advised that the client wanted to make the content more accessible. For the lab videos, this meant adding captions so hearing-impaired and non-native English speakers could get greater value from them.

Despite the added crunch on time, Cadence Preferred delivered all the lab videos needed for the Ignite conference. Our clients were thrilled with the project’s outcome. “Ignite went very well,” said one Microsoft product marketing manager. “The labs with video are impressive!”