Baaqir Yusuf & Tristan Gardner

Suora’s Edge: A Deep Dive into Our Unique Approach to Online Education

October 31, 2023

Suora Studios is a full-service creative production and design studio with a strong focus on digital learning and brand storytelling. Suora aims to seamlessly revitalize brands and institutions through revolutionary audiovisual education and an unparalleled client experience.

At Suora, we believe in the power of immersive and engaging learning experiences. That's why we work alongside the world's best learning designers and strategists to create interactive, accessible, realistic, and captivating learning solutions. Our proven approach to developing top-tier content at scale enables us to tailor learning experiences and brand stories for large internal workforces, local and national organizations, higher education students, and private learners across the globe.

Efficiency and seamless execution are at the core of our operations. We empower our partners to succeed by delivering top-quality results on time and within budget. Suora Studios takes pride in its ability to adapt and excel in various project scopes, thanks to our expertise across production, design, and business.

Key clients of Suora include prestigious national blue-chip companies such as ExecOnline, Meta, Similasan, US Radiology, SKF, Berkeley Haas School of Business, Tuck Executive Education, Duke Corporate Education, as well as incredible local brands like Carolina Brewery, James Scott Farrin, University of North Carolina, and more. These collaborations are a testament to our commitment to excellence and our ability to deliver outstanding results to clients of all scales and industries.

Our core capabilities encompass design, production, animation, and project management. With a strong focus on technical precision, Suora Studios ensures that every aspect of the production process is handled with utmost professionalism and attention to detail.

Our process consists of four key phases: discovery, design, development, and delivery. Through this comprehensive approach, we gain a deep understanding of our clients' needs, ideate innovative solutions, bring ideas to life, and ultimately deliver exceptional final products.

Let’s dive deeper into our process and give an inside look on how we produce some of the best learning content in the world. 

Understanding the Project and Scope

At Suora, we believe that a project’s success starts with a deep understanding of our client's vision. We initiate every project with an intensive consultation, where we dive into their objectives, target audience, and key challenges. By understanding these elements, we're better positioned to propose solutions that align with the client's goals.

We recognize the importance of involving all pertinent stakeholders early in the process. Whether it's the decision-makers, subject matter experts, or end-users, their insights play a crucial role in shaping the project's direction. Additionally, in order to achieve the efficiency and scalability that online course projects require, each key stakeholder is brought up to speed on the course development process by Suora’s leadership team.

Every project is bound by its own unique constraints. At Suora, we factor in both the budgetary and time constraints from the very beginning. This ensures the project remains on track and meets the client’s expectations in terms of cost and delivery time, and we always strive to creatively and strategically work within the constraints we have. 

Defining the Format of Deliverables

Every client and every learner is unique. Recognizing this, we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions. Based on our understanding from the initial stages, we customize our deliverables to best match the learning needs, whether it's micro-learning modules, full-length courses, direct-to-camera narration, animated explainer videos, or narrative format scene re-creations. 

Engagement is a key metric of success in digital learning. We focus on creating our content with a large focus on the inclusion of supplementary visual elements in the form of beautifully branded custom graphics to keep the learners involved and invested.

We design keeping in mind various accessibility standards, ensuring our content is usable by people with disabilities. This can include features like closed captions, voiceovers, and screen reader-friendly designs.

We believe in the iterative process. To ensure the deliverables are in line with client expectations, we embed feedback mechanisms at various stages. This might involve rough cut deliveries, focus group sessions, or deep version control allowing us to refine our content based on real customer feedback.

The digital landscape is ever-evolving. Our deliverables are designed to be scalable and flexible, ensuring they remain relevant and can be easily updated or expanded upon in the future.

Taking into account where the content will be hosted (LMS, intranet, web platforms), we ensure that our deliverables are compatible with the desired platforms, ensuring smooth integration and delivery.

By meticulously understanding the project scope and carefully defining the format of our deliverables, we set the foundation for a successful project execution, ensuring our clients' objectives are met and their learners are engaged and enriched.

The Evolution of Motion Graphics in Online Courses

Online courses have always been a powerful medium for knowledge dissemination. The way on-screen graphics are designed, animated and used in a course significantly impacts learner engagement and retention. However, graphic customization has an inverse relationship with scalability. By marrying the power of code and expertise of our graphic artists, we've developed a system allowing us to provide our clients a larger volume of beautiful custom graphics without increasing costs 1-1. Not only that, this capability also allows us to revise the content of on-screen graphics quickly and even create multiple versions in different languages. At Suora, we've innovated our approach to motion graphics in a way that aligns with the demands of modern learning. Our developer-based motion graphics approach ensures that our courses aren't just educational, but also visually consistent, scalable, and engaging.

Advantages of a Developer-based Motion Graphics Approach

Our hard-coded system of graphic assets offers a unified visual identity. Our design philosophy incorporates standardized graphics for presenting recurring educational structures, like definitions and lists. This approach not only ensures visual consistency but also aids in learner retention and engagement. Whether it's a lower third or a full-screen callout, the learner knows what to expect, creating a seamless and familiar learning environment. The .mogrt files we produce enable swift application across numerous videos. This means that once our Tier 1 graphics are developed, we can scale up production without compromising on visual quality or consistency. Our approach uniquely marries design aesthetics with technical finesse. By using Adobe Illustrator for designing and leveraging the power of expressions in Adobe After Effects, motion graphics become not only visually appealing but also functional and flexible. One of the standout features of our approach is its longevity. The initial investment in developing these graphics assets pays off greatly as they can be reused in multiple projects over time, assuring clients of both quality and cost-efficiency. The availability of these motion graphics in the Essential Graphics panel of Adobe Premiere Pro means our editors can “create” motion graphics . 

By classifying our graphics into Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3, we can effectively segment and prioritize how graphics are conceptualized and executed at scale. Tier 1 graphics, being the most recurrent, are where we invest significant time in hard coding and animation. This distinction ensures we allocate resources efficiently and effectively based on the complexity and recurrence of the graphic assets.

In the world of digital learning, it’s all about the details. Our developer-based motion graphics approach is a testament to our commitment to detail-oriented work, ensuring that our courses are not only rich in content but also in visual experience. This methodology reaffirms our position as pioneers in creating immersive and engaging digital learning solutions.

Duke CE Title Graphic Asset Example
Duke CE What You Will Learn Graphic Asset

Concept-based Custom Design and Advanced Motion

While standardized and hard-coded graphics provide a consistent visual framework for our educational delivery, there are instances that demand a more custom approach. Enter Suora Studios' concept-based graphic design and cinematic animations that drive learning outcomes across concepts, models and frameworks containing original and/or complex ideas. 

The Need for Custom Design and Advanced Motion

Not all subjects can be encapsulated or effectively conveyed through recurring educational structures graphics. For intricate or nuanced topics, custom visuals provide a clearer, more precise representation. Advanced motion graphics are more captivating and can hold the learner’s attention better, making them perfect for segments that require high-level design to sufficiently visualize the content within.

Berkeley Innovation Cycle
Meta Pyramid Principles

We work with a myriad of clients, each with unique demands and brand aesthetics. Custom designs allow us to meet specific client expectations, turning their text-based requests into beautiful designs and animations that cohesively align with their brand and the rest of the course’s content. 

Features and Benefits of Our Approach

Before we begin this custom process, our team invests time in understanding the core of the client’s vision and how we can use elements of design, digital camera movement, character animation, and kinetic typography to engage the learner with the subject matter like they would anywhere else. This thorough conceptualization ensures that the final product will contribute to conveying the point of each custom section of a video lesson. Our motion-graphic scenes are crafted with precision and detail, resulting in high-quality graphics that elevate the production value of the course. 

While advanced animation is a norm in recreational media today’s viewers get on Netflix, YouTube, and on the big screen, we find that visual design is often lacking in educational content. Why would we reserve elements of compelling design for TV advertising and blockbuster films? Leveraging the techniques used in those flavors of media, our motion artists breathe life into visuals that dynamically engage a viewers’ eye with content that can otherwise read as bland. This can range from intricate character animations to detailed simulations, ensuring the visual representation is as compelling as comprehension requires.

Pathbuilders 3d Custom Animation

Our approach is deeply collaborative. We constantly communicate with clients, gathering feedback and iterating based on their insights step by step. Custom animation can be one of the most costly forms of media creation today. Not only do we have the capability to execute, we have the experience to help our clients balance the cost of top-tier design with what’s actually needed to achieve learning. This ensures that the end product aligns perfectly with client expectations of content and budget. While more resource-intensive, our custom designs are flexible and can be adapted or repurposed for other segments of the course or even between different courses, providing long-term value and brand consistency.

Balancing Cost and Value

While concept-based custom design and advanced motion come at a higher cost compared to Tier 1 graphics, the value they provide in terms of engagement, clarity, and brand alignment often justifies the investment. They are particularly valuable when the content is challenging, the branding needs are specific, or when the course aims to make a significant impact on its audience.

We recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cater to the diverse needs of digital learning. Our commitment to concept-based custom design and advanced motion ensures that when standard graphics won’t suffice, we have the expertise and capability to deliver visuals that not only inform but also inspire.

Bridging Geographical Divides with Production Excellence

Recognizing the complex logistical challenges and varied requirements our clients face, we've seamlessly integrated the craft of remote direction, ensuring that irrespective of geographical location, we can produce content that not only meets the Suora standard no matter where we need to conduct a shoot.

The Power of Remote Direction

Our expertise doesn’t start and stop at simply assembling a team; it's rooted in our ability to research, identify, and partner with the best studios worldwide. We understand the intricacies of video production, enabling us to precisely vet and select studio partners that align with our standards. Whether it's a niche requirement in Europe or a broad-scale shoot in a small city in the US with seemingly limited resources, the standard we’ve set is never in contention when we’re in control.

With our clients' and their thought leaders' busy schedules in mind, constraints of traditional setups are no longer a factor. They can select a location that suits them, and we'll seamlessly manage the rest. A Suora director will always be plugged in either on-site or remotely, to guarantee that every nuance, from brand guidelines to the minutest of production details, is overseen and executed at the level it needs to be.

Ensuring Production Consistency

Upholding consistent quality across different partners requires stringent technical standards. We provide comprehensive guidelines spanning camera models, lens choices, and recording settings to ensure uniformity in video output. Lighting can make or break a video. Our lighting setup guidelines ensure subjects are illuminated perfectly, depth is emphasized, and shadows are expertly managed, which is particularly important for green screen shoots. When a shoot necessitates a green screen, our guidelines detail everything from screen type to its strategic positioning and nuanced lighting, ensuring seamless keying in the post-production phase. 

Clear audio is just as important as a sharp visual. Our guidelines encompass everything from selecting the ideal microphones to soundproofing techniques and advanced post-production audio refinements. For those in front of the camera, we provide notes that cover wardrobe choices, makeup tips for on-camera presentations, and techniques to ensure content delivery is as engaging as possible. Our expertise in global production and consultation means our clients are guaranteed excellence, irrespective of geography. Through strategic partnerships, rigorous vetting processes, and an unwavering commitment to quality, we're reimagining the potential of remote video production.


ExecOnline: TwinLight Productions in Traverse City, MI with Paul Polman and Andrew Winston

ExecOnline: Loyal Studios in Burbank, CA with Tiffani Bova

ExecOnline: Lucid Sound and Picture in Santa Cruz, CA with Nilofer Merchant

ExecOnline: Medie Huset in Copenhagen, Denmark with Martin Lindstrom

ExecOnline x Duke CE: Suora Studios in Raleigh, NC with Wayne Meyer

ExecOnline x Berkeley Haas: Douglas Plumer / Replica Productions with Tom Lee, David Riemer, Sara Beckman, and Jennifer Chatman

ExecOnline x Duke CE: Big Door Studios in Los Angeles, CA with Michael Chavez

ExecOnline: Azure Stages in NYC with Selena Rezvani

Handling the Cost of High Image Quality Standards 

As the cinema-quality images have become more accessible to studios and freelancers alike, the infrastructure for handling extremely large files has not. 

To stay competitive, we don’t have to film our SME’s with cinema cameras at 4K resolution akin to the quality required by streaming platforms. Adopting such high-definition formats can quadruple our data storage costs and more than double the required compute power, especially when green-screening. Yet, we willingly embrace this challenge. The difference between 4k UHD and 1080p HD resolution is slight in this case. However, we are committed to providing educational brands and their learners the same quality that we produce for national advertising campaigns and short-films. 

Robust Data Management & Cataloguing

At Suora, we built enterprise-level servers and fill them with data totalling about 100 terabytes annually. A typical 120 minute course project of ours can average out to 7.5 terabytes of data once all renders are complete. That’s 7,500 gigabytes - your iPhone probably holds 128. It’s imperative not only that we catalog and backup this data, but that we set up additional in-house infrastructure to make it accessible and editable at scale, no matter the amount of projects in our pipeline. This is just another way we’ve committed to servicing the educational market with top-level practices of the commercial film world. 

Unwavering Commitment to Data Security

Recognizing the irreplaceable nature of our work, all data within our systems is backed up, not once, but twice (and with a copy off-site). This redundancy ensures that in the unlikely event of data loss, corruption or a building fire, a pristine copy is always available. But that’s just physical security. 

Having network-connected servers is crucial for receiving raw files from studios around the world with whom we remote-direct shoots, so lacking cyber security isn’t an option. We deploy state-of-the-art security protocols that shield our data from unauthorized access, breaches, and potential cyber threats. We have established granular access controls, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive or critical data. This system eliminates the risk of client content being held hostage by ransomware hackers that target enterprise-level server systems connected to the internet. 


ExecOnline x Berkeley Haas LIC: 8.7 Terabytes of managed data, 400+ minutes of delivered content

Duke Corporate Education x Joe Perfetti: Building Financial Data: 3.16 Terabytes of managed data, 200+ minutes of delivered content

Crafting the Blueprint for Unparalleled Execution

The true essence of a great production isn't just seen in its final output, but in the planning and preparation that precedes it. At Suora Studios, pre-production and development is the foundation for our operational strategy. Every frame in our final production carries the weight of countless hours of research, brainstorming, design, and planning.

Steps in Our Pre-production & Development Process

The right face and voice can make all the difference. Our casting process is thorough, tapping into a diverse pool of talent to find the perfect fit that aligns with our clients' vision and the project's thematic elements. If you have a speaker or subject matter expert that you already know and have in mind, we’ll prepare them accordingly for production.

Our scheduling process ensures that we build our shoot days in a way that can accommodate content plans without compromising quality. Be it a technical topic or a brand's legacy, our research and L&D teams dive deep, ensuring the content is authentic, accurate, and insightful.

Every brand has a unique story. Our brand discovery phase is dedicated to understanding this narrative, ensuring our content becomes an extension of the brand's ethos and values. Concepting helps us align our vision, while mood boards provide a tangible preview of the aesthetic and emotional landscape of the content. Visual aesthetics dictate the mood and resonance of the content. Our designers work to build visuals that are not only appealing but align perfectly with the project's style and client’s brand identity.

A script is more than just words—it's the roadmap of our production. Our writers craft scripts that are compelling, clear, and are highly conducive for learning in modern formats. The environment in which a story unfolds adds layers to its narrative. Our set designers craft spaces that enhance the narrative, whether it's a minimalist studio or a detailed recreation of a historical setting.

Pre-production and development at Suora Studios aren't just preliminary steps; they're the foundation upon which our creative edifice stands.

Elevating Post-Production to Hollywood Standards

In the realm of post-production, the tools and workflows in which a studio invests and develops have a direct impact on the quality, timeline and consistency achieved. In one tier of course that Suora produces, green-screen keying (removing green from the background of a speaker) can make or break the quality of the visual experience. We want our subjects to remain crisp around their edges and their hair to be in perfect focus like you see in the movies. Achieving a level of detail that is unrecognizable as being green-screened is one of the most time and compute-intensive tasks of the greater film industry, especially with long-form content. 

On a Zoom call, have you ever been tricked by someone’s digital background but then noticed half of their hair is cut off or the background started twinkling with noise? It breaks the illusion. Unfortunately, today’s prosumer and professional softwares used by many commercial studios can’t do a considerable amount better. The tools that can achieve professional results are not set up to batch render 60 files without the process taking weeks at that scale, not to mention the impossibility of practically doing so even on the nicest prosumer laptops and workstations. 

Nilofer Merchant, keyed and color corrected
Example of green screen key not done in Nuke

So what did we do? Well, we learned how to build our own machines with super-powered GPUs. Then, we copied Hollywood and purchased what they use to key movies like Avatar: Nuke.

Hollywood Tech, Training and Custom Computer Builds

Like many industry-standard softwares at the highest level of industry, Nuke is powerful but lacking the UI that makes it intuitive. After training our team to get the best results, we figured out how to utilize Nuke’s structure to set up batch green-screen keying. It didn’t matter if we made the keying process much better if we added costs that our clients can’t support. 

While traditional keying tools focus on color differentiation to separate the subject from the background, Nuke employs a sophisticated image-based approach. This technique scrutinizes each frame, allowing for precision keying that captures every nuance, even in complex and dynamically lit scenes. Leveraged in countless blockbuster films, Nuke is recognized across the industry as the gold standard for compositing and keying. By using this high-caliber software, we guarantee our clients a level of post-production quality that's on par with big-screen epics.

High-quality green screen keying is a resource-intensive process, both in terms of computational power and cost. But at Suora Studios, we believe in investing in the best. Nuke, with its hefty price tag, exemplifies our willingness to allocate significant resources to ensure every pixel is perfect. Beyond its unparalleled keying capabilities, Nuke stands out for its efficiency. The software's ability to handle batch keying allows us to process multiple scenes or shots simultaneously, drastically reducing turnaround times without compromising on quality.

This not only showcases our dedication to visual excellence but reinforces our commitment to innovation.

Why Advanced Keying Matters

Advanced keying ensures that the foreground seamlessly integrates with any background, be it a bustling cityscape, a serene natural backdrop, or a detailed CGI environment. We also key with alpha, meaning that if we are shooting a speaker direct-to-camera, they can be moved around seamlessly to incorporate graphics to the left and right of the speaker. High-end keying retains intricate details, such as hair strands or the subtle translucency of materials, preserving the realism of the composited shot. With a perfectly keyed subject, post-production adjustments, from lighting changes to dynamic background shifts, become more feasible and fluid.

Suora Studios' decision to utilize Nuke for green-screen image-based keying is more than a technical choice—it's a commitment. A commitment to delivering unparalleled visual fidelity, to blurring the lines between the real and the virtual, and to offering our clients a post-production process that's rooted in innovation, precision, and cinematic grandeur. In a world where visuals speak louder than words, our keying process ensures that every frame, every scene, and every shot resonates with unmatched clarity and impact.

Refining Visions to Cinematic Excellence

Conclusively, the process of post supervision, revisioning, and quality control helps give all the content its final form. At our studio, the post-production stage isn't merely about tweaks—it's a rigorous process aimed at perfection, driven by sophisticated tools and a dedicated team.

Leveraging the capabilities of, we've streamlined the feedback process. This platform allows clients and stakeholders to provide real-time feedback directly on finished cuts, ensuring precision in revisions. Our editors, equipped with directed feedback, work diligently to refine the content, whether it's subtle changes or major edits, always keeping the project's objectives at the forefront.

Each frame undergoes a rigorous quality check once editing is complete. Beyond the content, we ensure that all technical parameters, from resolution to bit rates to color grading, meet industry standards and client specifications.

With multiple revisions and edits across hundreds of minutes of content and several different personnel involved in quality assurance, managing versions can become complex.'s version control simplifies this. Each version, from the rough cut to the final edit, is cataloged and made easily accessible. not only helps manage current versions but also provides a clear history of all edits, allowing us to trace back changes or revert to previous versions if needed.

Post-production is where art and technology intersect, and where all aspects of the project are refined to resonate with audiences. With the combination of our experienced team and our dedicated approach to quality and versioning, we ensure that our content isn't just produced—it's crafted to perfection. Every cut, every transition, and every frame stands as a testament to our commitment to excellence. example example

Check out a featured project case study below.

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