Many people love screencasting because it’s a clear, engaging way to explain a process or demonstrate a concept. And with today’s simple and powerful tools—like Articulate Replay and Peek—it’s never been easier to create and share screencasts. Regardless of which tool you use, here’s what you need to know about e-learning video production so you can record quality screencasts for your projects.
Before You Record
You might be eager to get started on your video, but you’ll save a significant amount of time and effort if you prepare yourself and your environment first. These best practices will help you get started:
Plan your material. Create a script that focuses on your specific topic, and use it as you record. It’ll help you stay on track so you sound professional and prepared. It can also keep you from rambling or saying, “uh…um...” as you try to recall what you’d planned to talk about next.
Get a good microphone. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on equipment to record a good screencast, but a high-quality microphone is a must. Be sure to read reviews and ask for advice to find the best one in your budget. See this Rapid E-Learning Blog article for more info on recording quality audio.
Prepare your screens or applications. To avoid wasting your precious on-camera time looking for your visuals, have them ready before you start. If you open and minimize your screens, you can launch them with one click.
Clean up your screen. No one wants to see the random files, pictures, and folders on your desktop. Make sure your screen looks neat and clean before you start recording.
Minimize distractions. It’s hard to quiet all of life’s ambient noise but you can reduce it dramatically. Close your door, switch off the phone ringer, and pick a time of day that’s usually quiet, so you have fewer distractions and a quiet space to record.
Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse your material so your delivery feels fluid and natural. You’ll be surprised at how your comfort level with the material comes through when you record.
While You Record
You’ve prepared yourself and your environment, and you’re ready to hit the Record button. That’s great! Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you record your screencast:
Stick to the point. You need to keep your audience focused, so now’s not the time for a tangent or a long-winded ramble. Follow your script, speak directly and clearly, and smoothly transition your audience from point A to point B.
Don’t rush it. While it’s important to be efficient, you don’t want your screencast to feel abrupt or rushed. Remember to breathe and speak at a normal pace, as if you’re explaining something to a friend.
Tell your learners where to look. Your learners aren’t with you in real-time and can’t see you point or nod to tell them where something’s located. So instead of saying, “Over there…,” be more specific and say, “Up in the right corner of your screen….”
Don’t over-use your mouse. The mouse pointer can distract learners if it’s darting across the screen as you talk. Use your mouse to move and click when it relates to your point, but leave it alone the rest of the time.
After You Record
Now that you’ve captured your video, take these last few steps to finalize your screencast and get it ready for airtime.
Edit your recording. Play your video and look at it with an objective eye. Should you trim the ends of your recording for a crisper start and finish? Does your audio sound clear and align with your video? Does it feel too long, too short, or just right? If it’s hard to evaluate your own work, ask a friend to look at it with you. Be open to re-recording or making modifications if they’ll improve your video.
Pick a good thumbnail. Your thumbnail image sells your video, so pick a good one! Most recordings default to your opening image, but that’s not always your video’s best-selling moment. Choose an image that tells your story or hooks your learners into your screencast.
Share your video. Send your video link via social media or embed it on a website so others can enjoy your work.
As with anything, practice makes improvement, and your screencasts will get better as you do more of them. The process will become more natural and you’ll learn your own tricks over time. Before you know it, you’ll have a library of screencasts for your e-learning audience!
Follow us on Twitter and come back to E-learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any comments, please share them below.