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The Brief

IATSE 873 is a Toronto-based union representing stage hands and film technicians in Toronto and around Ontario. Members have won or have been nominated for awards such as: Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, Canadian Screen Awards, and many more.

They embarked on a project to develop several online courses from various departments for both existing and aspiring technicians. With a focus transferring traditionally taught offline content to an online teaching platform,  IATSE 873 recognized they needed help to provide accessible training for all types members. 

Our task was to leverage our expertise as designers and e-course development professionals to assist IATSE 873 in the creation of several online courses including (i)Permit Orientation, (ii) Lighting 101 (iii) Respect in The Workplace (iv) Special FX (v) Costume Set Supervision and more. 

The Challenge

Almost every major project comes with bottlenecks. Here’s a few that we encountered: 

  1. SME and content creation – Our client hired an SME to write the course outline and script. While every e-learning project should have an SME involved in the creation of the course, we should not assume that the SME is also an e-learning creator. This assumption led to project delays and miscommunication within project team members. 

  2. Feedback mistakes – Every week or two, we send clients a deliverable along with a feedback form. These rounds of feedback allow for transparency and communication throughout the e-learning cycle. We suggested to have 2 key stakeholders to provide feedback on behalf of the entire team. That way, there would be more consistency and control on the feedback loop. However, by the end of the 4 week session and after most of version 1 has been completed, minds were changed and we had to go back to the drawing board. 

Success Factors

  1. Clear Communication Channels: Establishing efficient communication channels among team members, stakeholders, and the client, ensuring that everyone was aligned and informed throughout the development process.

  2. Defined Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of each team member, including the SME, instructional designers, graphic designers, and project managers, to avoid confusion and streamline the workflow.

  3. Streamlined Feedback Process: Implementing a structured feedback process, involving key stakeholders who provided consistent and consolidated feedback, minimizing revisions and maintaining project momentum.

  4. Agile Project Management: Employing agile project management methodologies to adapt to changing requirements and ensure flexibility in project timelines and deliverables.

  5. Continuous Collaboration: Encouraging ongoing collaboration and frequent check-ins among team members to address challenges, share insights, and make necessary adjustments in real-time.

  6. Creating a Distinctive Brand: Our solution included creating a distinctive brand for the course while aligning it with the overall visual identity of IATSE, ensuring a consistent and recognizable brand experience for the learners.

Our Solution

Creative Direction and Branding: We took charge of the creative direction, developing a unique and visually appealing course treatment that captured the essence of the subject matter. We designed a distinct branding identity, incorporating IATSE 873 branded blue colours and adding lighter blue tones for a fresh and engaging visual experience. Additionally, we created the course logo, animations, and illustrations, ensuring a cohesive and captivating visual style.

animated image gif of anti-racism scenario of two women in the costume department being approached by another member

Agile Project Management: With the complexity of the project and the involvement of multiple departments, our dedicated project manager played a crucial role. They took ownership of the entire project, ensuring smooth collaboration between team members and departments. By managing timelines, resources, and communication effectively, the project manager ensured that design work, implementation and quality assurance testing was deployed on time and within budget, maintaining project momentum and quality.

Guided Content Creation: We provided guidance and assistance in content creation, working closely with the client to develop the course outline and flow. Additionally, we undertook script creation, transforming real-life examples into educational scripts that were later animated to enhance the learning experience.

comic book style illustration with two lateral boxes side by side, the first showing a male figure hold a phone, the second showing a female figure holding her smartphone.

Visual Storytelling: Through storyboard templates and expert guidance, we supported the development of each scene in terms of content, visuals (video or graphics), and voice-overs. Our expertise in visual storytelling allowed us to create compelling and informative visuals that reinforced key concepts and kept learners engaged throughout the course.

monitor with an blue and greyscale image of a film in the background with the text of responding to harassment and conflict in the workplace in the foreground

Copywriting and Voice-overs: To ensure a seamless and professional learning experience, we provided a skilled copywriter who crafted compelling copy for the course materials. Additionally, we created voice-overs where needed, leveraging professional voice talents to deliver clear and engaging narration that enhanced the learning content.

Badges, Completion Certificates, and Gamifications: Our team excelled in creating captivating graphics, presentation slides, badges, and illustrations that enriched the visual appeal of the course. Furthermore, we developed the logic and graphics for gamification elements, adding interactive and motivational elements to the learning experience.

illustration of a drag and drop game showing 4 white boxes laterally with 4 words, and 4 blue vertical boxes showing the definition of each word
six different digital stickers, 3 on top and 3 on bottom, each showing cinematic elements from the film industry

Production and Filming: We took on the production and filming of the educational materials in real conditions, ensuring authenticity and relevance to the film technician industry. This approach added an extra layer of practicality and engagement to the courses.

Animations: We brought the educational content to life through beautiful character animations. These animations enhanced engagement and made the learning experience more enjoyable and interactive.

Building the Course in Tovuti LMS: We uploaded and built the course in the Tovuti platform, a robust learning management system (LMS). By leveraging the features and functionalities of Tovuti, we created a user-friendly and accessible learning environment for the film technicians.

The Result

Overall, our solution not only met the client’s goals of providing accessible and comprehensive training but also elevated the learning experience for film technicians, equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to excel in their industry and contribute to the growth and success of the film community.

Theatrical Stage Employees Union


E-course creation


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