Screencasting checklist for beginners

When you are new to the screencasting topic, starting working on your first screencast is a pretty challenging task. We’d wish that it was as easy as just recording the screen. However, fortunately, “I’ve done the procedure million times and I won’t screw it up!” – say no professional anyone. The good movies we see on the big screen are that good because nothing was done on the fly. The amount of time that people spend before the cameras actually start rolling is tremendous. Of course, we are not in Hollywood here, but why should we set for worse?

As a newbie myself, I have some fresh knowledge (and many hours of research), so I tried to summarize some tips, which will make your first experience with screencasting a smoother ride.

The question we all have – so, where do I begin?

Recording a screencast is a process that includes 3 stages, namely pre-recording, recording, and post-recording. Every stage is important, and however obvious it may sound, never ever skip any of them.

PRE-RECORDING

  • Write down your ideas

Sketch, record audio, write down short sentences – literary do anything to make sure you won’t lose your idea. We all know how frustratingly easy it can be.

  • Make the concept a story

Got the draft – make it a logical story. Determine what you want to say with it and who it is for. Plan what will be the beginning and the end.

  • Have someone else review your story

Before proceeding to the next step, make sure your story makes sense not only to you.

  • Create a storyboard

You need to have a plan to keep your audience engaged. Consider what visuals you will use and the text to accompany them. Think of any visuals, files, and images that should be prepared beforehand.

  • Prepare the script

Make sure your script has clear introduction and conclusion. It is a nice practice to prepare your script in the following way: divide the paper into two columns – one for the action on the screen (or slide) and other for the text you will actually narrate. Do not use long sentences. Edit the script for maximum clarity. Always practice reading the script out loud and have someone review the text as well as your narration.

  • Rehearse the steps

Run through the steps you will be recording to see where you need to slow down or speed up, pause or allow time for opening and closing windows. And write it down! Make sure everything works properly. If you are going to demonstrate how to work with MS Word, make sure you have it installed :).

  • Make sure your computer screen is ready for recording

Clear all the unnecessary icons and hide your bookmarks bar. Turn-off reminders, pop-ups, and make sure you won’t be interrupted by any kind of software updates.

  • Consider needed equipment

Double-check if you have the needed equipment for your screencasting. Everything must work properly – software (like Snagit or Camtasia), hardware (high quality microphone, camera). Do not forget to check if there is enough space on your hard drive for the recording.

  • Be ready for unexpected to happen

You can never be sure that everything will be ideal. But at least you can be ready for something bad to happen. Consider how you would handle some interruptions or crashes so that you do not panic and your whole recording does not go in vain.

RECORDING

  • Test audio recording

Make sure your audio is of a good quality and there are no background noises. Check the amazing article Voice-Over Preparedness Drill by my colleague on improving your audio recording.

  • Test video recording

Make sure your video is of high quality. Check if the fonts are readable.

  • Be patient and keep calm

Recording may take lots of time before obtaining an acceptable raw video. So, do not stress out and remember that you are half way through.

POST-RECORDING

  • Cut, copy, or delete unnecessary parts

With the final look, you can see the full picture. Do not be afraid to cut some parts if at this point you do not find them useful anymore.

  • Add any extra text and drawings

If needed you can add images, shapes, or transition effects to highlight or clarify specific points.

  • Check the sound

If you have both narration and music, make sure the sound is balanced.

  • Check your captions for typos

It is never too late to improve something.

Not a newbie to screencasting? Do not worry, I have something for you, too. Check out the article How to Create Screencasts that People Will Actually Watch by a WordPress educator and business coach – Shawn Hesketh. Believe me, you will find some top-notch tips for screencasting like a pro.

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