Thursday Sep 11, 2008

Video Making - Best Practices

First you need to decide exactly what you want to present and how.

It doesn't matter what option you use, but before you start you should do following things :

  1. Choose a place where you want to put your work after it's done. Go there and read FAQs, you may find some guidelines,  such as your video must have an audio track for you to be able to upload it there. Or that the accepted formats are MOV and AVI, no SWF or FLV. These are important things too. You don't want to spend time doing useless stuff like trying to tune SWF framerate for nothing.
  2. Prepare a script for the action you want to record and practice it.
  3. Decide if you want to have an audio, subtitles or both. This is extremely important. Since adding either of them will require much more time, if you didn't anticipate you need them. Usually it means a lot of post-processing work or remaking the recording completely! For both audio and subtitles create a script in advance and hold to it. This is what the people will hear/see. It will also give you a good idea how long you need between the transitioning to a next screen.
  4. Practice the action script together with audio/subtitle scripts. How long you need will depend on your skills and also what option you'll choose. The last option will most likely require much more practice to get the timing right.
  5. Always try to take the recording in one go. Any additional clip adds complexity to the editing process (this of course depends also on your software and what you can achieve with it).
  6. If you're using the software for the first time, go with the slideshow or live demo and don't try to use many effects. Make the video as simple you can. If the timing is good, you can easily add additional effects later on. It's much easier to start over if the timing is bad (less stuff to redo).

Option 1: Slideshow Recording

If you already have slides, it might be a good idea just to add a voice to the slides and maybe prepare few examples of the real thing that you can put in between your slides. If you don't have the slides, prepare them and practice what you want to say before you start recording. Camtasia would be a great candidate to do this extremely quickly. You can even record yourself via webcam and include your picture to a corner of your video, if you so desire.

Option 2: Live Demo Recording

Again practice in advance  what you want to show and say, before you actually record it. Both of these 2 options are relatively easy since you do the recording in one take. If you stop on something it does not matter as you can easily cut it out.

Option 3: Custom Demo Recordings

Not sure how to call this category. I'd put here anything that cannot be achieved in a single run (with just cutting tool). Let's say you do several recordings showing different things which you want to put together. Maybe you even want to add audio later. This will be much more difficult, since if you don't have a audio script in advance when you are creating the video track, it's very unlikely that you get the timing right. I've learned that the hard way. I still prefer this option for video creation for several reasons like I can retake the audio as many times until I'm satisfied with how I say what I want to say.

My personal comment

For options 1 and 2 you really don't need Camtasia at all and you can try some free solution, especially if you hold to my advices, you really don't need much from your software. As far as for the option 3 goes, I did not find Camtasia cooperative enough to use it again. Sure it has many nice features, but it just doesn't do what I need and I'm off to finding a different solution. If you have any recommendations, do drop me a comment.

Good luck with your videos!


Lubomir Petrik


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