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1.
#35974

Adding the Human Element in Screencasts

Screen video alone is not enough. You need to humanize your content by getting in front of the camera and engaging your audience. And no, I’m not talking about long-winded monologues either. Several 5-7 second talking-head elements can go a long way toward winning over and maintaining the interest of your audience.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2009). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screencasting

2.
#37399

Captivate Versus Camtasia Studio

I’ve been exploring Captivate lately because I wanted to translate some screencasts for a project I’m undertaking. It turns out, Captivate doesn’t work so well for screencasting. Slide-based eLearning, sure. But when you have a lengthy software simulation, it fails because you can’t edit the audio while watching the video play. Really? Yes. Really.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Software>Screencasting

3.
#36881

Developing a Personal Voice in Audio: Adding Inflection

Lack of inflection pretty much defines the reading voice. If you read a paragraph of text in a normal reading voice, you won’t hear much inflection. But if you listen to a real conversation, or especially if you listen to actors on TV, their voices move up and down the scale with a lot more inflection. It seems the more emotion you add to what you’re saying, the more inflection you end up including.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Audio>Screencasting

4.
#36797

Developing a Personal Voice in Audio: Avoiding a Sense of Rambling

When you write a script for a video (or when you create a general outline), you can avoid the problem of the eternal video — which I refer to as a sense of rambling — by simply keeping the video short. Don’t try to cover too much ground. You can generally speak about 100 words a minute, so keep that in mind with your script. 200 words is a good length. If you don’t believe me, when you watch videos, look at the video’s time counter and note when you start losing your attention. My patience times out at about three minutes. So I always try to keep my videos at three minutes or less.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screencasting

5.
#36820

Developing a Personal Voice in Audio: Avoiding Phlegm in Your Throat with Voiceovers

One of my biggest problems when narrating a screencast is that my throat gets all clogged up. I have to hit the pause and resume key every minute or so to clear my throat. Voiceover actors have learned to deal with this problem, since they often don’t have the benefits of a pause and resume key. You can reduce the amount of phlegm that accumulates in your throat by chiefly doing these two things.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Audio>Screencasting

6.
#36883

Developing a Personal Voice in Audio: Breathing Correctly

The final tip in my list of techniques for developing a personal voice in audio is to breathe correctly. This is actually the hardest technique for me, so I have saved it for the end. Strangely, in normal conversation, most of us don’t have any trouble breathing. But when we start recording voiceovers, we start talking a little faster, with more energy and fewer pauses.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Audio>Screencasting

7.
#36741

Developing a Personal Voice in Audio: Finding an Acoustic Environment

For several months I’ve been looking for a quiet room to record screencasts at my work. Our building has four floors for more than 600 IT professionals. I investigated more than 20 conference rooms, poked my head in empty offices, walked around unfamiliar floors, inquired here and there. When people see my looking, they don’t understand what I mean by a “quiet” room. What does quiet mean?

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Audio>Screencasting

8.
#36848

Developing a Personal Voice in Audio: Fixing Fumbled Sentences

One of my first recommendations for achieving a natural, believable voice is to employ more free narration rather than always reading a script. I recommended this because all the video tutorials on Lynda.com are narrated at the same time as they are recorded, and the less you read, the more natural your voice sounds. However, I realize that unscripted narration, even just a few sentences, can be problematic.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Audio>Screencasting

9.
#36882

Developing a Personal Voice in Audio: Recording with the Right Microphone

I’ve postponed writing about microphones for several reasons. First, there are hundreds of different microphones suited for all kinds of situations, from vocal music to kickdrums to broadcasting and more. Also, microphones can get expensive, and not everyone has the same budget. So there is no right voiceover microphone for every person and situation. However, I’ll try to present a simplified view of microphones.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Audio>Screencasting

10.
#36125

Examples of Perfect Screencasts

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.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2009). Articles>Documentation>Multimedia>Screencasting

11.
#36101

How To Create an Effective Screencast: 18 Tips

Screencasts are quickly becoming an essential component of software documentation. They combine visual and auditory learning with text to provide a balanced learning experience. Here are some tips on how to create a screencast that engages viewers and provides maximum results for your efforts.

HelpScribe (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Screen Captures>Screencasting

12.
#36154

How to Create Engagement and Add Integration

Now technical writers can focus on how to most effectively integrate screencasts into their documentation in an engaging manner. Video content seems to be very effective for grabbing and holding the attention of viewers, and you can leverage this to help guide them through the tedious details of your user documentation. Here are some tips for using screencasts more effectively.

HelpScribe (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screencasting

13.
#37805

Most Common Mistakes in Screencasting

What most hobby screencasters don’t know, is that screencasting is not simply the act of sitting down and recording the screen; simple screen recording was something we did four to five years ago. Screencasts have a long history, starting from “I just record my screen” to the fancy product demos you see today. Nowadays, a screencast is almost necessary for start-ups and new products, especially in the tech business.

Zeitler, Andreas. Smashing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Screencasting>Advice

14.
#36119

Notes on My Latest Screencasts

I recorded the screen at 1280 x 720 pixels, because this is the minimum dimensions for creating HD quality screencasts when uploading to youtube. However, in hindsight, I would have chosen a smaller dimension and foregone the pursuit of HD. I forgot that you need an HD encoding engine to transform your videos into HD. If you record a 1280 x 720 video and upload it to youtube, youtube’s HD encoding engine will make it clear even when played at smaller dimensions. But if you’re working with the files locally and not going the HD route, you should record at the same dimensions that you plan to publish, because otherwise playing the videos at smaller dimensions leaves them a bit fuzzy.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screencasting

15.
#36124

The Problem with Speaking Conversationally in Video Tutorials

This week while watching TV I’ve been listening closely to the voices (separating them from the visuals on the screen). Actors aren’t soft-spoken, reserved people. Actors inflect all over the voice spectrum. They have a lot of energy and drama in their voices.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2008). Articles>Multimedia>Audio>Screencasting

16.
#36472

Screencasting 101: the Definitive Guide!

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.

Bohon, Cory. Prof Hacker (2009). Articles>Documentation>Multimedia>Screencasting

17.
#35926

Screencasting as Art: Humanize, Structure, Pace and Production Value

Screen video alone is not enough. You need to humanize your content by getting in front of the camera and engaging your audience. And no, I’m not talking about long-winded monologues either. Several 5-7 second talking-head elements can go a long way toward winning over and maintaining the interest of your audience.

Andrus, Brooks. BrooksAndrus (2009). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screencasting

18.
#36302

Screencasts: An Overview

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.

HelpScribe (2010). Articles>Documentation>Multimedia>Screencasting

19.
#36138

Screencasts: So What?

I attended a webinar about screencasts and read about how video might be a watershed skill for our industry, but the only reason I had gleaned was that YouTube is really, really popular.

Leach, Kristi. WordPress (2010). Articles>Documentation>Multimedia>Screencasting

20.
#36109

Secrets of Screencasting

With a little diligence, short online videos can become powerful educational tools for IT.

Udell, Jon. InfoWorld (2005). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screencasting

21.
#36104

Seven Things You Should Know About Screencasting   (PDF)

A screencast is a screen capture of the actions on a user's computer screen, typically with accompanying audio, distributed 1through RSS. In the same way that a screenshot is a static rep- resentation of a computer screen at a point in time, a screencast captures what happens on a monitor over a period of time. The audio track can be the sound from an application being demon- strated, a narrative from the presenter, or background audio from another application. Screencasts can be produced in various formats, and users generally watch them streamed over a network.

Educause (2006). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screencasting

22.
#36849

The Things You Should Know When Recording Tutorial Demos

One big problem which lies before the video authors is how to make a satisfactory and helpful tutorial demo. Not only can we answer the questions quickly, but we can share some tips to make your video more popular and professional.

Wondershare (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Screencasting>Advice

23.
#36010

Trying Out Picture in Picture in Screencasts

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.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2009). Articles>Documentation>Multimedia>Screencasting

24.
#36123

Trying to Find a Theater Stage/Voice for an Impossible Situation

In listening to my voice in the screencasts, it’s clear that I still have a lot to learn. I’m not even close to the personal, conversational-sounding audio voice that I want to achieve. It sounds like I’m reading a script. It’s slow and dull. My teammates recommended that I read a little faster, that I add more inflection and maybe even switch to an outline rather than read a script. I agree, but it’s hard to do that. It’s hard to develop that personal voice.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Audio>Screencasting

25.
#36226

Videos and Screencasts Have Their Drawbacks, Too

For the last year or so, I’ve heard more than a couple of people (no, Gordon, you’re not one of them) tout video and screencasts as the future of documentation. While video may have killed the radio star, I don’t think that it’s going to kill documentation as we know it. Why? Not everyone wants video as their documentation, or even as part of their documentation. They want information now, and don’t want to wait a couple of minutes to watch a walk through of what they need to do.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screencasting

 
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