Instructional Video: Lacing and Tying a Shoe

Nicole Yu
11 min readOct 24, 2019


What to Keep in Mind:


  • How would you instruct someone to perform the task? What is the story?
  • To whom are the instructions important? Who would view the instructions?
  • In what context are they important?
  • What is important to show in the process? How much detail is needed?
  • What is important to exclude in the process? What is irrelevant?
  • How long should specific steps last?
  • What is important to hear during the process?
  • What serves as additional, not just redundant, information?


  • must be 60 seconds or less in length
  • must be saved as a .mov or .mp4
  • must be 1024 x 768 pixels in size (horizontal)
  • may NOT include voice narration or text
  • may NOT be edited digitally, other than splicing clips together

Researching How to Lace and Tie a Shoe

October 17, 2019


To learn about and become an expert at the task given.

Fun Facts About Shoes + Shoelaces:

  • The world’s oldest leather shoe (Areni-1) found has laces on it, and it dates back to 3500 B.C., which is 5,500 years ago.
Different kinds of aglets (Photo from Wikipedia)
  • In 1790 Harvey Kennedy patented the shoelace with aglets, which helped the shoelaces last longer because it prevented them from fraying.
  • Cotton laces are ideal compared to other materials because it has a rough surface which keeps the knot in place.
  • There are different kinds of knots other than the common knot that serve different purposes, like the Ian Knot, with the goal of tying knots faster. There’s also the Shoemaker’s knot, which is more secure.

Lacing the Shoes

For my task, I got lacing and tying shoes. This task is rather straight forward, and most learn how to tie their shoe by elementary school. Due to this, I decided to approach tying part of the shoes differently. I decided to stick with the normal criss-cross lacing, because it is the most straight forward, which is important when working under a time limit. Most laced shoes also just come with that kind of lacing right out of the packaging.

Tying the Shoes

When it came to tying the shoes, I decided to learn the Ian Knot. This techniques allows one to quickly tie a shoelace knot. I had seen other people do it before, and I really wanted to learn it, so I did, through this tutorial.

While learning this knot, I noticed that having the hands in context helped a lot more than the out of context directions on the left. The left definitely gave more context, but the information given on the right was much more understandable.

Also, I noticed that in both the lacing and knot tying tutorials, the colors of the left and right laces are different, and that helped a lot with my learning process.

Taking Key Photos

October 22, 2019

The camera set up I made for the photoshoot

I wanted control over the camera and the act of tying the shoe, so I decided to do both by creating a makeshift tripod and using the timer function of the iPhone’s camera. For each key shot that I wanted to do I set the timer and positioned my hands by looking at the phone screen for the best angle and waited for the phone to take the picture.These were the results:

Out of the shoes that I had, I decided to choose the one with red laces, because it has the most contrast between the shoe and my hands. Other shoelaces were either the same color as the shoe or a brown neutral color that could blend in with my hands.


After seeing the key pictures as a whole, the first thing I noticed was how distracting the cutting board’s design was. Though simple, the background has so much contrast, so it seems to hold more importance than the shoe and laces. I definitely have to minimize those distractions in the future.

The Critique

In class, we exchanged key photos with our partners and attempted to follow the directions explained by the pictures.

Here were some of the issues that surfaced with my key points:

  • The transition from the loop pulling into the bow is too sudden, and the viewer can get very confused
  • At certain points the hands get in the way

How I will address them:

  • Spread out the hands more so you can see more of the shoelace instead of the hand
  • Dedicate more frames to tying the bow


October 24, 2019

The Storyboard

For the storyboard of the project, I wanted to create some sort of story with the shoe tying. I really like interesting transitions, so I thought it would be interesting if I had a person with badly laced laces trip, and it would transition into the shoe tying tutorial.

Larger images for the storyboard pictures

I decided to make my setting outside, since it was easier to tell that the cement was the ground, since one tends to tie their shoes on the ground. It would also make the trip scene more realistic, since it’s easier to trip outside. However, it is a little out of context to lace shoes outside.

I glued together strips of tabloid, creating a really long storyboard

The storyboarding process gave me a glimpse of the set up of the final video. During this project, I had my peer hold up the camera and take pictures. However, I kept looking up to make sure that the photos looked ok. I trusted my peer, but it gave me more assurance to see the viewfinder myself. In the future, I will probably use a tripod.

The Critique

What to Work On/Consider:

  • The trip scene is awkward, and it takes up too much time
  • The hands take up too much space, especially in the photo on the left — you can’t see what’s going on
  • Use the space + time well
  • Try differentiating between the left side and right side of the shoelace, i.e. color half of a white shoelace black.

Creating the Video Draft

October 29, 2019

For this second round, I decided to make a two tone shoelace with a red and blue shoelace. I felt that bright colors would be more effective rather than coloring one side black. I started by cutting each shoelace in half. I then hot glued the edges to prevent them from fraying, and then I sewed the shoelaces together.

I decided to use a black shoe, since it contrasted more with the bright colors compared to the previous navy and red shoe.

I believe the two tone shoelace worked out well, and I proceeded to film my video.

I used room A19A in Porter Hall, because it was in a secluded place with fairly good lighting. I also quite liked the subtle pattern on the carpet. It was interesting but not too distracting.

In my video I stumbled a little bit. I had decided to not put my foot in the shoe because I felt the leg looked awkward in the video, and it was also a very uncomfortable position to be in while filming. I felt that I couldn’t keep my foot still enough with how uncomfortable the filming position would have been.

However, because there was no weight, the shoe would wiggle around when I pulled on the laces, and I even dropped the blue lace at the end. Right now the video is at 1:08, and I think that if these issues were fixed then I would save a lot of seconds.

The Critique

Confusing Elements:

  • The shoe tying part is still confusing, too fast and hands are unclear
  • A lot of fumbling — less would cut down on the time

How I will address the issues:

  • Tying the shoe is more important than lacing it, so probably dedicate more time to tying it, and make it slower
  • Perhaps secure the shoe down with a weight or tape.

Improving the Video

October 31, 2019

To keep the shoe from moving around when I was lacing the shoe, I used masking tape to stick the shoe to the ground. This did keep the shoe on the ground, but you can hear the tape crinkle each time the lace was pulled in the audio. I didn’t realize this until after I edited the video. In the future, I think I may put my foot in the shoe or put rocks inside the shoe instead.

I also decided to use a tripod and DLSR this time. Before, I had used my phone and propped it on the desks and chairs in the Porter Hall classroom. Being able to use a tripod gave me the freedom to have better camera angles. Also, the DSLR had better focus. On the phone you had to tap on the screen and hope that by focusing on the object it didn’t mess with the lighting.

My DSLR did not have the 4:3, or 1024 x 768 setting, so I decided to crop it later in iMovie. However, I didn’t take into account the framing of the video, so some parts became off center, as seen in the thumbnail.

The Critique

Confusing Elements:

  • The twisting of the flat shoelace sends mixed messages (is it supposed to be twisted)
  • When tying the shoe, it looks unnaturally tight because there is no foot inside to synch onto
  • The holes for the laces are difficult to see — What are you lacing through?
  • The shoe tying isn’t intuitive!

How I will address the confusion:

  • Possibly use a round shoelace instead — could be anything, braided cable, yarn, etc
  • Put foot in shoe instead of tape (Also gets rid of the tape noise)
  • Use shoes with defined holes so the camera and viewer can pick it up
  • Instead of a close up of the shoe lacing (because the visible holes make up for the need of a close up) do one of the shoe lacing because it is too confusing

Final Instructional Video

November 5, 2019

Based on the feedback, I decided to create a timeline and allot time to each task to determine how much detail I had to film for each.

When it came to the issue of the shoelaces, I decided to stick with the flat shoelaces, because the colors are very vibrant, making it easy to see the lacing and tying. If I were to color half a shoelace black, it would blend in with the black shoe that I used. Also, the shoelaces came with aglets, which made the process of lacing much easier. I could have taped the ends of round string, but it wouldn’t have looked as clean as the aglets on the shoelace.

I went through my camera’s settings and found that it only shot in the 16:9 aspect ratio, so I roughly measured and taped off the edges of the screen to frame it to the 4:3 aspect ratio.

I tried out different ways of lacing on the flat shoelace without it twisting, and the video highlights some of the ways. In the video, I noticed that the lace kept flipping, so I tried starting it on the flipped side. It worked, but I decided that the hot glue on the other side is (A) ugly to look at, and (B) it could give mixed signals, because the shoelace flipping isn’t a necessary part of the step, in fact it theorhetically shouldn’t happen. I also tried (not shown in the video) putting both laces through the holes and pulling them through at the same time. This didn’t work as well either.

I ended up going with twisting the shoelace as I was pulling it to make sure it stayed on the correct side. This worked about 80% of the time.

Because the tripod was so high up and I was tying my shoes on the ground, I wasn’t able to see the viewfinder while filming. As I reviewed the footage after filming, I found that my ankle was really distracting.

I filmed the video again and used my pant leg to cover up my ankle. This helped a lot, and it became much less distracting.

The Final Video

For the final video, I spliced together some of the best clips that I had, which is why there are jumps that are slightly different. This was done to minimize the amount of twisting seen while tying the shoe. I also had peers look over and critique the previous iterations of this video. They provided advice like cutting the clips whenever I fumbled, and using movement to transition between cuts. Many also appreciated the close up on the shoe tying, for it made it easier to follow.


Through this process, I gained a new appreciation for instructional videos. It was painstakingly hard to film the right shot that was not distracting (fumbling, patterns, exposed skin, accessories, etc.) and also was informational. It was also difficult differentiating what was a key point and what was not when you already knew how to do a task.

I also thought the concept that to communicate something effectively, sometimes you had to sacrifice reality very interesting. In my case, I used dual colored shoelaces, which a normal person would not do in real life. However, visually, teaching with different colored left and right sides of the laces was very helpful. That way, the viewer won’t get lost in the web of laces.

This project definitely helped me think simple. Originally, I had too much going on, especially with the tripping scene. That didn’t help at all with the actual content of the video — in fact it distracted from it. The simple dual tone shoelace packed in so much more useful information. I’m glad I was able to detach myself from the idea of a dramatic story, and instead the end result was straight to the point and informative.



Nicole Yu