Anatomy of a Screencast

Nov 29, 2011

Hello you lot.

I'm working on guidelines and templates that will enable Packt Publishing to develop a line up of video based, screencast training courses. We'll be commissioning video from authors, as we do our books, and then editing that video in house to produce a professional finished product.

The plan is that each individual video "how to" will be about 2-4 minutes, and I've put together a poster to show how each of those videos (which will focus on a single task) will be structured. You can see it here:


I'd appreciate your thoughts and feedback. How do you plan your screencasts to avoid them being just "click here, click there" instructions without much meaning or retention?


3 Replies
Brian Houle


Wow, that's a pretty cool template!

I usually do a mind-map of my screencasts first so that I have a general structure without having to read script (which usually trips me up). My screencasts are usually for informal training and usually accompany more in-depth written procedures (around LMS group admin usage).

I use CMAP Tools to do the mind-maps because it has a nest node feature which lets you collapse a set of nodes and connections under a single topic.  With the nested nodes closed, I can look over the mind-map on one monitor while while recording in the other.  It acts as a semi-visual overview.  Each nested node, then, is a topic.  As I transition from one topic to the next, I open the nested node and there are the details for my next topic.

It works well for me -- I have a hard time with a pre-written script. I have to say, though, that I like how you've included all the nuts and bolts components (before, after, summary, consequences, preview).  I like to think I include most of those items when I record, but having them on a one-sheet like that is pretty slick.

David Barnes

Thanks Brian. I enjoyed playing around with that font, which is from the Anatomy of a Murder movie poster.

When sharing this template with an author (or whatever the word is for a creator of screencasts... screencaster?), I'd make it clear that this isn't a script. Using this exact wording for every video would soon grow monotonous. It's the structure I'm concerned with.

Mindmaps are great as long as you decide what order to use before you start, otherwise it can seem a bit nebulous. I've found it helpful when planning lectures to divide a sheet of paper into 8 separate squares, each containing its own mindmap for a 5 minute section of the 40 minute talk. That way you get some spontaneity and some planned narrative too.

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