Best Practices for Recording Voice Over for Software Training

I create a number of short software training videos that demonstrate a particular feature or piece of functionality.

They are scripted, and I typically record the VO narration separately from the video, then bring the separate audio and video tracks into Camtasia or Premiere.

I've tried it several different ways, but it seems the timing of my audio never matches up with the timing of the video and I either have long stretches without audio or I have to cut away quickly from to keep up with the narration.

Anyone have some best practices or recommendations for how to do this to get the best results?

9 Replies
Nancy Woinoski

I also record the audio and video separately. I record the audio first leaving a liberal amount of silence between the key talking points.  I then record the video and note the timing of the key points in the video. I then use an audio editing tool to cut out the extra silence in the audio and then bring the audio and video together in either Camtasia or Adobe Premiere Pro.

pheath ram

Hi, If you are importing audio and video separately, they will never match, unless you are using other sources to sync the audio and video. When I import audio into say Adobe PP, I make sure I am able to see the wave forms and splice the audio based on the wave form values. They are my ques for when silence occurs, and because I am using a non linear editing platform, I can move my spliced audio any way in the timeline to sync with the video portion. If you wanted to make sure they sync up in 360, I would export each spliced audio with the video as one export video with audio. If I have a total of 20 spliced audio tracks, I would have 20 resulting videos. That way I don't have to worry about how it syncs in Articulate. I hope that makes sense.

Ulises Musseb

Personally, I don't use video for teaching software. I use a series of screenshots that progressively show the tasks as the user clicks. One of the advantages of that method is that I can properly synchronize the narration, as well as being able to pause, stop and insert calls to actions, which makes the learning experience hands-on.

(In my experience) The time spent recording and synchronizing VO takes as long as constructing a simulation made out of progressive screenshots. The advantage of the screenshots, since it is as time consuming, is that it's much easier to add interactivity. Another advantage is that when there are updates and/or edits needed, it's a lot easier to replace old screenshots than re-recording video.

Ray Cole

I usually use Ulises' method, too. I try not to use the built-in screen recording/simulation tools in Storyline, preferring instead to place hotspots over the relevant menu items or buttons in screen captures and manually constructing an interactive simulation this way.

This method is time consuming, but it can pay off in the long run, especially when the software you're teaching is still in development. More than once I've had to adjust the screen captures in Photoshop to show how the software will work or look (eventually) upon release, even though it doesn't work or look that way at the time I take the screen captures! It's also possible, using this method, to change account names or numbers, hide sensitive information, and so on, which is harder to do with video recordings.

Finally, I find I have more control over how the simulation is presented on the screen--I can more easily use just a part of the Storyline stage, leaving space below or to the side of the simulation for additional comments or feedback, which I always used to have trouble doing with the built-in tools.

Nancy Woinoski

It can feel conversational. If you plan on including a lot of information with each point, keep this in mind when you record the video and  slow down the pace between mouse clicks. You can  hide the fact that nothing is happening in the video by adding text callouts or images to help illustrate the point you are making.