A screencast is a video recording that captures the actions that take place on a screen. It is most often created for demonstrating how to use a website or software, for example, Photoshop® or Microsoft Word®. In this article, we’ll tell you how to screencast, which tools to choose, and what to consider before recording. Watch the video or read this article to learn how to make a screencast.
Step 1. Make a Plan and Write a Script
Exciting is just too easy. If a video does not engage the average viewer in 10 seconds, they close it. The first few moments of a video should draw in the viewer and give them reasons to watch what you have to present.
Don’t use the first five seconds of your video to tell people your company name; use them to share why they should keep watching. This can be done with a dialog or graphics.
Then prepare a script. Don’t skip the script. It will help you:
- Make your screencast more concise. Individuals who record a video with only bullet points usually add unnecessary information. With a script you’ll stay on message.
- Think over some talking points and tips that will make the lesson more useful. One approach is action mapping. Think about it from the perspective of what knowledge needs to be transferred, or perhaps even what problem needs to be solved (why they’re learning), then define the actions that need to be taken to do it.
- Figure out what you should show. You have to determine if you want to describe everything that is happening on the screen or if you are okay with the visuals supporting the script. Using a VO (Voice Over) makes it significantly more engaging and effective, with text or graphics to highlight key points. The downside to a good VO: Your content will require further translation/localization for other languages.
- Avoid unnecessary pauses while recording. Remember that script? If you’re “umm”ing and “ahh”ing, you should go back and write it!
- Reduce the time for video editing: you don’t need to cut out unnecessary phrases and merge different parts of the audio track.
Writing a script is actually intuitive. In an instructional video, start with a statement about the goal. In the middle of the screencast, you need to describe the topic in as much detail as needed to transfer the knowledge required to solve the problem. Keep it lean (lean is interesting). At the end, you can give a summary and go through the key points once again if your video is long. If it is short and focused on one topic, repetition may not add value. You may also want to give the viewer an action they can perform. This also helps to further anchor the learning.
For instance, if your video is about creating a new PowerPoint template, rather than recapping the steps, invite viewers to actually do it. If you’re worried about the viewer remembering the steps, it’s probably better to provide a job aid or handout that’s easy to open in another window, download, or print.
At the very end, give a small preview of the next lesson.
Write the script in a conversational tone, without complex phrases or a lot of acronyms and jargon.
It’s okay to use contractions, even slang. Keep your audience in mind — using more informal language will make your video easier to understand and, hopefully, put your viewers at ease with the presenter.
To make sure the text works, read it aloud. This will help you notice complex phrases or awkward transitions. Are there places in the script that don’t sound natural? If so, make the necessary touch-ups.
|iSpring Learn is a simple but effective Learning Management System designed for teaching and assessing employees or students online that, aside from providing learners quick and simple access to their courses, allows you to create your own learning materials and gives you complete control over the learning process.||iSpring Learn is a simple and effective Learning Management System. It’s designed for teaching and assessing employees or students online. The LMS provides learners with quick and easy access to courses. The system also allows content producers to create learning materials and manage the learning experience.|
You can also check the text for readability in Hemingway. This online editing tool will help you find complex sentences and phrases, excessive adverbs, and passive voice constructions that you can turn into active voice.
When writing your script, make sure that you choose words that have a purpose. Make each word fight for its place in the script. If the word isn’t helping the viewer to understand or move towards the purpose of the video, consider cutting it. A concise script is more understandable. Be direct.
Tip: To get started, watch this video course about script writing and download a free script template.
Step 2. Choose a Microphone
A headset or a built-in laptop microphone are bad tools for voice acting. Ambient background noises such as hissing, crackling, or echoing may appear in the recording. Use a separate microphone for making screencasts.
First, define the type of device you need:
- Dynamic mics block out room echo and background noises well. Most often they are used by musicians at concerts, where there is no time for sound processing.
- Condenser mics, to the contrary, catch even the ticking of a clock. But if you record your voice in complete silence, you can achieve a decent sound using this type of device. Condenser mics are most often used at radio stations.
Another important consideration is how it will be connected to your computer:
- ХLR mics are of high sound quality, but they are connected to a computer via an external sound card or a special adapter. You need to buy it separately.
- USB mics can be plugged into an available USB port on the computer. It’s much easier. However, the sound quality is sometimes worse than that of ХLR devices.
Here you can see six microphones that are good values for voice-over actors to get started with:
|Samson Q2U ~ $||Blue Snowball Ice ~ $49.99||SE ELECTRONICS X1 ~ $99.00|
|Dynamic mic Watch a review and listen||Condenser mic Watch a review and listen||Condenser mic Watch a review and listen|
|Audio-Technica AT2020 ~ $83.95||Blue Yeti USB ~ $129.36||Rode Podcaster ~ $229.00|
|Condenser mic Watch a review and listen||Condenser mic Watch a review and listen||Dynamic mic Watch a review and listen|
Useful microphone accessories
These accessories can help to achieve a pure sound, even if you are recording a voice on the street or in an apartment next to a construction site.
A microphone isolation shield partially mutes extra sounds in the room and filters out the echo. As a rule, it is placed behind the microphone.
A pop filter suppresses breathing noises, softens sibilant “s” and “sh” sounds, and blocks plosives like “p” “b”, and “t”, which can max out the decibels and sometimes cause signal clipping.
Step 3. Install Screen Recording and Video Editing Software
In addition to a microphone, you will need a tool for recording. For the search term “screencast software download”, Google returns about 1,320,000 results. Among them are some reviews and developer’s sites where you can download the software. To make it simple for you, we selected three tools for different types of tasks:
YouTube has an option for screencasting and video editing. To get started, you just need to create an account — you won’t have to install any special software, except perhaps a browser add-in. You can record your screen on YouTube’s Live Streaming page. When you finish recording a video, it appears in your YouTube video dashboard. You can edit it and then download it to your computer in MP4 format. Available for Windows and Mac.
For long recording
iSpring Cam Pro is screencasting software. Using this tool, you can record screencasts with voiceovers, picture-in-picture screencasts, software tutorials with annotations, and professional training videos. iSpring Cam Pro makes it easy to share your videos. You can upload them to your LMS, send to stakeholders, or publish on your YouTube channel. The video is recorded in MP4 format. Available for Windows.
For a learning course
iSpring Suite is an authoring toolkit for creating training courses in PowerPoint. It has a built-in professional video editing studio where you can record video from your screen and/or webcam.
Also, iSpring Suite allows you to add hints, surveys, and quizzes to screencasts, mix different tracks, glue together video fragments, and add smooth transitions between scenes.
You can insert the screen capture into a training course, download it to your computer in MP4 format, or upload it to YouTube. The toolkit has a 14-day free trial. Available for Windows and Mac.
Next, we’ll tell you in detail how to record a screencast in iSpring Suite.
Step 4. Prepare the Room for Recording
No matter how good a microphone is, it can’t filter out ambient background noise. That’s why you need to prepare before recording:
- Choose a small room for recording. In a large room, your voice will echo more loudly off the walls.
- Close the windows tightly, turn off phones, computers, fans, and any other appliances. Make sure your chair doesn’t squeak.
The room shouldn’t be empty, otherwise, the sound will be hollow, as if you are sitting in the bathroom.
If you plan to keep doing your own voiceovers and screencasts, slowly build up the acoustic treatment in your recording area; invest in something like a Whisper Room. If you don’t have a dedicated recording space, put up heavy blankets, heavy curtains, anything you can to put mass between your recording space and the outside world.
Tip: Hang an “On Air” sign on the door so that colleagues or kids (or both) don’t stumble into your session. Read more in the article How to Record a High-Quality Audio Narration at Your Workplace.
Step 5. Prepare Your Voice for Recording
You need to read the text in a light and convincing manner. It’s difficult to do this if you are distracted: pronouncing words correctly, or deciding which syllable to accentuate. Before recording, read the script aloud several times. Here’s one you’re probably not aware of: Don’t eat sunflower seeds or nuts before recording, otherwise you will have a tickle in your throat. Instead,10-15 minutes before recording, have tea with lemon. It will soothe your vocal cords and make your voice deeper and ‘cleaner’.
While recording, it’s incredibly important to use the microphone properly. It shouldn’t be too far from your mouth, because it will pick up more ambient noise, nor should it be too close because it can pick up unwanted mouth sounds and max out the decibels, as mentioned before. Also make sure the volume is adjusted properly, so the final effect is a nice fat waveform with no signal clipping.
Breathing naturally is essential as well. No one wants to listen to a robot, even if that robot has a beautiful voice. You want to sound like you’re talking with someone or teaching someone. You aren’t just reading words from a page. You’re trying to make them come alive, even with training material.
Tip: Posture also affects the quality of the recording, so keep your back straight. At the same time, the belly should be distended and the chest pulled forward. Correct posture will help your voice become stronger and more expressive.
Step 6. Record the Screencast
Here are some tips that will help you make a high-quality screencast:
- Before recording, remove unwanted objects from the shot. Nobody wants to see the toolbar with the Start button if it’s not going to be used.
- Turn off pop-ups and messenger notifications, so you don’t have to re-record the video after a message from your mom pops up in the corner.
- Record screencasts at a resolution of 1280×720 px (720i). If you make the resolution any smaller, the viewer won’t be able to see clearly what is happening on the screen, and there will be black margins around the video after uploading it to YouTube.
- Take breaks. If you need to collect your thoughts or drink some water, take a break. Only first-class professionals can record a screencast on the first take. The key is high-quality content.
Record voice and screen separately. This helps to avoid extra takes. For example, if you say a line incorrectly, you won’t have to re-record what is happening on the screen. It’s enough to read the complex paragraph one more time and sync it with the video.
- Remove unwanted video scenes. The screencast should begin as soon as the viewer clicks on the Start button. “Dead air” at the beginning and at the end of the lesson is a waste of time. Cut unwanted clips (pieces of video or sound) with no mercy.
How to Record a Screencast in iSpring Suite
After installing iSpring Suite on your computer, you’ll see an additional tab in PowerPoint. To record a video, click on the Screen Recording button.
You can edit the sound and image, add hints, glue video fragments together, and apply transitions between shots immediately after recording. To learn how, check out the iSpring Cam Pro guide and watch this video tutorial:
Share your work!
To share a screencast, insert it into a training course, save it to your computer, or upload to YouTube.
- Write a script so you don’t have to re-record the voice over over and over…
- Use a dynamic USB microphone for recording. It helps reduce the level of background noise. Plus, it can be easily connected to your computer.
- Record the sound in a small room — there’s less echo in it.
- Don’t eat sunflower seeds or nuts.
- Record videos at a resolution of 1280×720 px (720i) to avoid black margins around the video.
- Record sound and video separately.
We would like to express our gratitude to the following experts for sharing their knowledge and experience:
Matthew Pierce, Learning & Video Ambassador from TechSmith Corporation, has been creating videos for learning and marketing for over a decade. He is the lead behind TechSmith Academy and Camtasia Certification programs. Matthew has been a speaker at many conferences focused on learning and development and marketing. He is a regular contributor to various training publications. Matthew has an MS in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University.
Bryan Olson, a full-time voiceover artist, lends his trustworthy voice to companies across the globe. Bryan has made recordings for world-famous companies such as Sega, Toyota, JC Penney, Heineken, Oracle, IaaS, Ipsen, and many others. He specializes in recording for television, radio commercials, explainer videos, corporate training, eLearning, narrations, video games, and audiobooks for an international audience.