How do you record screen and narration separately?

Aug 08, 2014

Normally when I do a screencast I record the narration on the go. However that means I cannot edit the audio I record (e.g. removing background noise) and was wondering how you do it? What is your process?

I can imagine I would:

  • script my text and record the screen while narrating (and not recording any audio, to get the timing right)
  • Record the audio separately while watching the video (to get the timing right)
  • Clean up the audio and add it to Storyline/Studio or Replay

Any tips and insights would be great!

26 Replies
Bruce Graham

Sometimes in Storyline, sometimes Camtasia, sometimes Replay - it just all depends on the project.

For example, the video Style Guides at my PowToon website were all done as Camtasia screen recordings (to use Zoom and Pan effects), and the v/o was added directly at recording time, but using a script. I wanted it to sound a LITTLE informal, so there are a few pauses, "ummms" and so on. Then they were compiled and locked together as an .mp4. The video on the Home Page had the video and voiceover produced separately, but I then pulled the v/o into PowToon.

Sometimes when working in Videoscribe I will pull the VS .mp4 into Windows Movie Maker and add the v/o in there, as there is a "feature" in Videoscribe that occasionally makes doing it using the onboard technique a bit of a pain...

In standard Storyline work, I will record v/o separately in Audacity.

Even tho' I did for the PowToon site, I seldom if ever record directly into anything, preferring to be able to get the v/o and any other sound effects and so on right, and timed correctly, then I will drag the two together somehow

Ashlee Smith

I am about to record narration for a client project ~ this is timely for me.

I got some Great Tips from this weeks Challenge about recording audio. This Community is so helpfull.

I purchased Camtasia and use it for screencasting recordings and I've lately started using it for audio recording as well. I tend to prefer the simplicity and ease of use of Camtasia's audio recorder more than Audacity (which I've used in the past, and actually seems to have more audio features... I suppose it depends on your need).

I start by doing the screenrecording of my process. Then, seperately and independently of the screen recording, I follow my script and record my audio narration, usually in small chunks. I do some simple clean ups to the file (remove background noise and normalize), and then I export all the audio as a .WAV file which I put through the system Levelator. I then insert that audio clip into my file, and then adjust the timing of my video, clip it, adjust it, ect., to work with my narration. This has worked Well for Me thus far.

~ DD ~

Jackie Van Nice

@Jeff - I really haven't done a lot of presentations like these, other than a couple of screenrs I did to explain the German drinking game for that template challenge. That showed me that (1) recording and editing in something like Camtasia is a way better idea, and (2) separate audio and video would be smart. That's why I appreciate your question here - I'm interested in learning what everyone's doing.

@Danika - Thanks for all of the detail of what you're doing in Camtasia. That's a process I hadn't thought of!

Bruce Graham
Ralf Hilgenstock

I prefere to do it on the go. In my experience its more natural. Most of the screen recordings are short (less than three minutes). If I'm unhappy with the recording I create a complete new one.

If you are not a professional speaker or actor, reading a text sounds mostly like its red from a piece of paper. 

Do not agree - all it takes is a few rules and a little practice. For corporate work, certainly I do not have time (on their budget) for multiple retakes, and "on the fly" recordings seldom give a suitable quality and pace of delivery. Quality needs to be there to ensure, for example, translations can be effectively produced. Whatever suits your audience I guess.

Most of the problem is that people try too hard, rather than just being relaxed with reading a script, it's really not that hard to learn.

Allison LaMotte

@Ralf: I see your point here. Initially it can be hard to read a script without sounding like a robot. What you could do if you'd like to try it out would be to just write key words instead of actually writing out the script, kind of like when you do a speech. That way you're still speaking naturally, and not reading a text word-for-word.

Ralf Hilgenstock

Let me make some differences:

  1. I'm the speaker and I'm familar with the topic. I've own experiences. The character of the text is narrational or more describing from experience. The personality of the speaker and/or authenticity is relevant. In all these cases I prefere a natural speaking and some keywords like Allison suggests. Mostly its no problem if there is a lapsus linguae or an 'äh'. But only if there are not to much of them and its not confusing. Authenticity beats professionality. This is my personal style even when I produced for Video2brain (a lynda company today).
  2. Its  a pure instructional text only from the off. Text has to be precise and clear. Non professional speakers will have a problem to come in a flow. Sometimes they have problems with emphasis. If it sounds unprofessional its a problem for the users of the final project. They are concentrating more on the failures and imperfectness than on content.

The next point is the text. A narrational text is mostly no problem. But an instructional text has to be written for speaking and not for reading. In German language the structure of texts is different to English texts. Text for reading often has a complex structure with main clause and sub clause. And we German like to put a sub clause in the middle of a main clause. Its no problem for  a written text (most often), but it needs some professionality to emphasis correct that people who hear the text can understand well, An other problem is completeness of spoken texts. If you transcribe spoken text you will see that a text who sounds good often has incomplete sentences, but everyone understood exactly the meaning.  Written texts try to make the texts correct from grammatical aspect. But this makes them often not very nice for reading out loud.


Allison LaMotte

@Ralf: I see what you mean about written text being different than spoken words. That is part of the difficulty for beginning Instructional Designers, as we were taught to write in a different way than we speak. With some practice, it is possible to write text for narration that will sound natural when read.

I have also had the experience where a professional voice-over professional does not put the emphasis in the right spot, and I totally agree that that is worse than having a few "umms" and "ahhs" in your audio. Putting the emphasis in the wrong spot in a sentence often makes it difficult to understand. That is why it is important when working with a voice-over professional to provide them with more than just the text. It is common to provide them with notes giving them extra explanations about pronunciation and/or emphasis. This article has some pretty interesting tips on this topic.

Tim Slade

This is a great discussion. I usually script my screen recording first and then record/edit it in Audacity. When recording, I usually leave a few extra seconds on silence between each step/click. This gives me some extra editing flexibility once I merge it with the video.

Once I'm ready to record my screen, I'll listen to the audio and click through each step of the process while my screen is being recorded. For the types of screen recordings I do, Camtasia is my tool of choice for editing. This lets me edit each piece on their own tracks.

This process takes some additional effort, but I think the result is much more polished. The key is scripting the screen recording and making sure each click/process is accounted for within the script. 

Here's an example of a recording I did using this process.

Alexander Salas

There are some innovative methods here and I thank you all for that.  I traditionally record the screen without audio first and then record audio to it.  I prefer to record the audio scripted and I usually strive to redact the script to make it as conversational as possible.  That takes care of the "sounding like a robot" issue.  The main challenge for me is that recording audio narrations is time consuming and perhaps is not providing the best "bang" for my "buck".   Of course, their use depends on time, money and nature of the learning material.

Dan Brigham

Hey, Jeff:

Rarely record separately--so hard to synch it all up.

At, we record the audio while doing the screencast. More natural that way, of course. Everybody's got a different slant, but I script out my intro and outro, and then for the middle stuff just have bullet points--unless I keep screwing up a certain portion of the screencast. In this case, I will script exactly what I need to say.

I dig audio and wish I had the time to edit my stuff to perfection, but I don't think most of our audience cares about pro audio quality. Just as long as it's pretty clean. --Daniel







Josh Miller

I also prescript and record audio with the video for a more seamless and natural output. I haven't done this in Storyline yet, only in Presenter, but I then take that audio out and process it in another application like Adobe Audition for noise reduction and normalization. Then I import the modified audio back in for the final publish.

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