How to Add Branching to Your Interactive Video – with Examples and Tutorial

transcript below

Hey, it’s Cass from HapYak. I’m going to walk you through in the next few minutes how to produce the prototypical and ideal branching or choose your own adventure video. This is a very popular type of interactive video produced these days. I always like to think about it like those books you may have read when you were a kid. If you want to go into door A, skip to page 74. Door B, skip to page 97.

Branching and choose your own adventure video is popular, both for B2B marketing— often we see that use case– and e-learning or corporate training, because what it does is it allows the viewers to personalize their own experience. Each viewer is coming to the video with a different set of background knowledge, and really with a different goal of viewing those videos. And a branching and choose your own adventure video allows you to reach that goal much faster, much more efficiently, and have a much happier and engaging experience.

Video Branching Example #1: Pharmaceutical Marketing

Interactive video is a show me technology, so let’s skip right to an example. This first one is with James Earl Jones. Who doesn’t want James Earl Jones talking to you? So let’s watch this experience of what I think is one of the best, most ideal branching and choose your own adventure videos out there.


Hello. I’m James Earl Jones. Staying informed is one of the best things people can do to make it possible to live well with Type II diabetes. And some of the most important topics on INVOKANA can be found right here. Click one of these icons to learn about the topic that interests you.


Best Practices for Creating a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Video

Let’s pause for a moment. Best practices for branching videos. There are three that are demonstrated really well in this video.

1. Leave Room on Your Storyboard for Interactions

Number one, reserve half the screen for the talent or subject matter expert, the other half for interactions. That allows a very clear layout to be explicit to the viewer, this is an interactive video. You can click on something.

It also follows best practices for mobile interaction design. You want big, clickable targets. A lot of your viewers are going to be on iPads, on iPhones, on smartphones. You want these big, clickable targets. Reserving half the screen for those interactions is a useful technique.

A lot of what I’m talking about here is really producing a video with interactivity in mind. When you’re writing your script, when you’re drawing up your storyboards, when you are on set, on studio and you’re setting up your shots, you want to consider these best practices. So that’s one. Half the screen for talent and half the screen for interactions.

2. Encourage Your Audience to Interact with Your Video

Number two, be very explicit. James Earl Jones was saying, this is an interactive video. You can click on a topic. You can skip to the section that’s most relevant to you. That helps turn what was once a monologue– video was once a monologue– into a dialogue. And you can have a conversation with the viewer, tell them they can click on something and they can branch off to a different section of the video.

3. Limit Distractions so the Audience Can Interact Easily

Number three, they really simplify the shoot. As you can see, this is in limbo against white, this particular shoot. We often see that, or against a green screen with motion graphics in the background. The experience is the star here.

You really want to think about having a conversation with the viewer, and don’t distract from that conversation. Allow the conversation to happen, and allow space for the interactions to happen, for the viewer to continue that conversation.

A final mantra we like to say at HapYak is make video work like the rest of the web. And what is the web? It’s clickable. It’s interactive. You can guide your experience. Video has never been like that. But now with branching and choose your own adventure video, it is. Let’s click on a choice and see what happens.


– Of course, we may not all be doctors. But how medication works is certainly something I’m interested in. And if you are too, you can learn more here.


So I’ll click on the call-to-action, in this case, it opens up another tab. And I can learn more about this topic. This is classic content marketing. You’re continuing the journey for the viewer. You’re educating the viewer on these topics. You’re getting them comfortable with your brand and the value proposition of what you guys offer.

This is what INVOKANA did which was so smart. Each of those four sections has a unique call-to-action that’s specific to the topic that’s relevant to the viewer. In this case, you click through to another video. Another one clicks through to a landing page where you can continue a conversation with a real human being.

Video Branching Example #2: Online Video Training

So there you have it. Number one of two examples. Let’s skip to the second one here. I love this one. This is a branching video that’s produced for training. In this case, it’s support training by a company called Nutanix. What they’re actually trying to do is replicate in-person training. This person used to go around the country training people in person, support personnel. And replicate that with interactive video-based training. Let’s take a look at the experience together.



– Welcome to the Nutanix Support Experience for authorized support partners. My name is Al Harper, and I’m a Systems Reliability Engineer with Nutanix Support. I’m the author of this module, and I’m very excited to share with you the Nutanix Support experience.


So let’s mute him while it continues playing. I’m going to skip directly to the branching menu. He lays out five options. The greeting, the problem description. These are all topics that you as a viewer can learn about. The information is presented to you. You start getting comfortable with what the topics are inside the video.

I’m sure all you guys are used to you load a video. You see it’s a very long video, and you start hunting and pecking and clicking on the timeline. What’s inside here? Is this really relevant to me? Is it worth my time?

When you lay the topics out like this explicitly, the viewer typically gets very comfortable. And they’ll simply watch more and more of the video. Now, I as a viewer am going to click on a particular topic. I can learn more about it. If I like, I continue. If not, I’m going to skip back to the branching menu here, and I’m going to make a selection.

Now, let’s go over those best practices again. Number one, screen right for the talent, or screen left. Reserve the other half of the screen for interactions. Number two, be very explicit. These are the topics. You can click on one.

And I like this little technique where they let the camera roll on set, and they have Al gesture towards the interactions and create a little fun. Have some fun with it. This will increase click-through rate. But perhaps more importantly, it really increases the satisfaction with the viewing experience.

Typically, if you do a CSAT or a learner satisfaction survey, you’ll see that interactive video like this is much higher than any Click Next learning you might do with a slide-based authoring system.

Now, we’re going to go into the tool in a moment about how to actually author this. The final thing I’ll say about the video is this unit and Nutanix, they’re very talented with motion graphics, After Effects and motion. So what they did is they did the shoot on green screen. You saw a lot of ins and outs into the branching menu with really cool wipes with motion graphics. So have fun with that.

Video Branching 101 Recap

  1. Leave room for interaction.
  2. Be explicit and let the audience know their options.
  3. Keep your video shoot simple, but create a fun, engaging experience!

But all the stuff you see in here is actually from After Effects as well. The only thing they’re using HapYak for is invisible video chapter markers and invisible hotspots that allow someone to branch to a different point in the video. Let’s take a look at that together.

Tutorial: A Simple Way to Create Interactive Training Videos

Here is the menu laid out. If you remember, there are five choices. The first thing Nutanix did is they went to the video and they framed it out. They said, well, at this point, this is going to be the beginning of the Greeting section.

What I did is, I clicked on an invisible chapter here. I typed out the title. I clicked Done. I would create that invisible chapter menu. What that’s going to allow you to do is when you’re at a point where you want to branch someone to a particular point in the video, you’re going to be clicking a Link option.

And when you add those invisible chapter menus, it creates this really handy menu. So you can say, yeah, I want someone to skip to the greeting when they click on this particular annotation. The annotation Nutanix used is the hotspot annotation, the one with this icon right here. It’s an invisible overlay. And again, all it’s doing is linking the person to a different time in the video.

There are five choice points here. If you remember, the viewer will watch. They’ll have the opportunity to make a choice. And if they don’t make a choice, you’ll see it’ll loop back to the beginning of this choice point. The way they did that. In the Edit menu, again the Link option. If the viewer does not click, they clicked Loop Back.

And that’s a very handy technique to allow people the option to consider which choice they want to make. My favorite analogy here is the show “Blues Clues,” a children’s show that used to be on. “Blues Clues’ was the first one that allowed the child to respond to what they were seeing. The host would ask the child a question, and then he’d literally pause for about 10 seconds and stare at the camera and allow the child to consider their answer and talk it and say it back to the television.

Interactive video is the exact same way. You want to give the viewer seven, 10 seconds to consider what they want to do next, and then click on it to branch off to that section of the videos. So I like that rule of thumb. Between seven and 10 seconds for a choice point is a great rule of thumb.

So that’s it. We’ve walked through a couple prototypical examples. We’ve walked through the best practices of producing video with interactivity in mind. We love leaning in when you’re working on these marquee projects, so please keep the dialogue open. E-mail us at Use this built-in chat functionality, which is really handy, where you can ping us with a quick question on your project. And we’d love to advise.

Hope it’s helpful. We’ll be doing a lot more videos like this in the future, and thanks so much for listening.

This post was originally published by Cass Sapir on December 5th, 2016. We have updated this blog with additional resources and a transcript.

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