Here is a list of things I check before I start recording a screencast. I use Camtasia, Blue Yeti Pro microphone for this purpose. I have a sound-proof studio at home. But in spite of that, many things need to be reset and checked before every recording. Something will always go wrong… you learn from it and update the Screencast Recording Checklist. Feel free to post your inputs and anything I may have missed.
The objective of this comprehensive checklist is to ensure high quality recording and minimize retakes or editing time. Of course, you still need a lot of practice.
Screencast Recording Checklist : Video
- If you are going to record PowerPoint, keep the first slide running
- If you want to record the screen without PowerPoint, I find it easier to hide the taskbar. That way, you get full resolution for the video. In addition, too many icons on the taskbar do not confuse the viewer.
- Disable notifications and log out of chats
- Change the resolution as desired
- Keep all the sample files open
- Open all desired applications before the recording starts
(Unless opening of the application is in itself a part of the video)
- Usually we do a rehearsal before recording the final take.
During the rehearsal, the sample data usually changes.
You must remember to revert it to the starting or initial state.
- Remove unwanted toolbars and tabs from browsers
- Test the Camtasia hotkeys
- Check if enough disk space is available
- Remove the SnagIt toolbar from the screen
(by default it sticks to the center of the top edge of the screen)
- For documents that are open, make sure their current view and position are appropriate for the demo.
- Change the mouse pointer cursor to a larger size
- If you are recording videos about Office, choose the White theme.
Ideally, for minimizing the eye strain, you should use the dark gray theme. But because most users never change the default theme, your recording should use the most commonly occurring theme – White.
- Remove unwanted add-ins and menu or Quick Access Toolbar Customization
- Remove unwanted files from MRU (File open and Save As) lists
Right click – there is an option to clear the list.
- Most people recommend recording the video (screen activity) and audio (script with voiceover) separately. However, I prefer to do this like a live recording.
I have not perfected the technique yet. But I am trying to evolve a repeatable methodology. It is difficult because you have to simultaneously keep track of the demo, cursor, menus, keyboard focus, speech, intonations, UI movements and the overall context. Still, I am trying.
Screencast Recording Checklist : Audio
- If you are in a hotel room, put DO NOT DISTURB sign outside the room (or enable that button)
- Make the laptop fan go silent. This is not easy.
- Keep the laptop cool before the recording starts
- Have a cooling accessory if your laptop is high-end and has powerful processors
- Usually there is a power setting which reduces processor speed (and fan activity)
However, make sure the processor remains fast enough for recording the video and your demo.
- There are some third party utilities which allow you to control the fan directly. But do not try those unless you understand the subject fully.
- Mute mobile phones, tablets and any other devices. NOT SILENT MODE. MUTE.
- Keep mobile devices physically away from the microphone
- Keep the microphone at the appropriate distance as per the recommended method and use a puff filter
- Drink warm water and gargle a little. Wet your lips. Lubricate lips with something oily. That eliminates the “ttt” kind of voice produced by lips sticking together before separating (this reduces editing effort significantly)
- Rehearse and understand how to eliminate recording your breathing sounds. Removing these sounds during editing is very time consuming and frustrating.
Usually, a combination of distance from microphone, loudness of your voice, mic sensitivity (in Windows control panel) and Mic specific gain setting (if available on the mic) and ambient noise affect the final audio quality.
Try to get best possible quality while recording. Doing it in post-production is not only time consuming, but it also reduces the overall quality.
- Do a warm up audio recording
- Rehearse the video. Especially, rehearse new words or phrases many times.
- Adjust mic properties – level and boost (boost generally distorts the voice)
Test with various settings to find the most suitable and optimal setting
Document that setting. Otherwise you will forget it very soon.
- Switch Off Air Conditioning
- Before and Immediately after the recording, keep the Air Conditioning at the lowest possible temperature. This way, you minimize the chances of the Laptop Fan(s) starting during the recording.
- If you retake, have a marker shortcut key ready. Often you have a marker shortcut but you forget to mark important events like retakes, mumbling, sudden disturbances, etc. Practice using the marker hotkey.
- I use an audio marker – I just whistle loudly. That shows a distinct spike on the sound wave pattern and can be a visual marker without using the marker shortcut
- If your microphone has a monitor option, use monitoring with a headphone. This needs to be practiced earlier. If you try it for the first time, you will get extremely confused because you hear your own voice loudly as soon as you speak it. Get used to it. Learn to use it to notice and judge the recording quality and take a retake decision on-the-fly.
I never use a talking head (webcam) recording. I find it utterly useless. It is distracting. The presenter is always looking at the screen. Therefore, it is impossible to look into the camera. There is no audience connect. I just don’t like it. That is why, I have not included the checklist for webcam recording.
Feel free to add to this Screencast Recording Checklist. Share it with your colleagues and friends if you find it useful and relevant.