Michael Pick’s screencasts on WordPress.tv are, in my opinion, perfect screencasts. They’re the best I’ve seen — and I’m not just saying this because the video quality is crisp and the audio is rich. Pick blends filmography techniques with screencasting. Instead of the typical screencast that focuses almost entirely on the screen, with a disembodied voice narrating at length around a cursor’s boring movement, Pick fills his screencasts with eye candy and motion, moving from visual to visual as he narrates, giving you a conceptual understanding more than a detailed nitty-gritty how-to.
Screencasts can be a great way of showing people with basic computer skills how to accomplish more-than-basic tasks on their computers. When done well, screencasts illustrate a technical and otherwise potentially confusing process in a way that’s easier to understand than text alone. You create a screencast by recording and narrating your on-screen computer activity as you accomplish any number of tasks.
Screencasts are quickly becoming one of the primary instructional tools used to train people on developing software skills. Because they show actual screenshots of the software and how it is used, they make a great compliment to written documentation and cater to viewers with a preference for visual learning.
In a previous post, Adding the Human Element in Screencasts, I argued that adding a human element in a screencast (by human element, I mean someone you can actually see talking) increases the appeal of the video significantly. So I tested this out by adding a picture-in-picture (PIP) effect for two WordPress screencasts.