Voiceover videos are a good compromise for beginners. I have used Screencast-o-matic, a free online tool that lets you record up to 15 minutes of sound and on-screen activity. There are other similar programs too, like Camtasia. Here is an example of a recent voiceover video I made by changing the text color for each box, and then clicked 'Undo' to reveal each box's words at the proper moment.
1. Downgrade the wardrobe, but upgrade your microphone.
- If the students can't see you, then they must be able to hear you. Webcam and laptop mics are not very good. I connected a cheap USB webcam to my laptop and told iMovie to import sound from the webcam (as a microphone). That produced really crisp and clear audio for my voiceover videos.
- There are probably some other ways to improve your audio quality. That's just what worked for me.
- The bonus is that you can wear whatever you want during the recordings...
- ...but a downside is that you must do more work before recording (to prepare the visuals) or during the edit process (to add cutaways, titles, etc.).
- Several times I recorded a screencast in my car during my son's after-school activity, and the pirated wifi connection failed. Must restart. And swear. Loudly. Lots. Ugh.
- It will take a few extra minutes for your screencast video to compile and save.
- Despite all your best efforts, it is quite possible that a portion of your recording will appear garbled. More swearing....
- .... unless you record at least TWO screencasts, and then you can splice the best parts in the "editing booth." Some of my best videos are actually compilations of multiple takes -- just like the pros do it!
I also have experience making some classic "talking-head" educational videos. They have their own issues. In an earlier blog post I described and defended my green-screen system.
1. Wear the same shirt every time.
- There are some old videos that I wish I could simply revise with a single re-shoot. But the background is impossible to retrieve, and the clothes have disappeared ... so this summer I must remake the whole damn thing.
- I chose gray because I have several t-shirts in that color AND white gets too distracting AND it doesn't interfere with the greenscreen.
- It's also one less thing to think about. Thanks, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg!
- You can combine them later with the editing software.
- Smaller files take much less time to import from the camera to the computer.
- I've had several frustrating experiences of filming a long take, only to discover the camera ran out of storage space in the middle.
- DO NOT refer specifically to earlier recordings, like "As I said earlier..." or "Another way is..." because it restricts you during post-production. Now you gotta include that earlier recording, even if your hair was sticking up or a booger was sticking out....
- They are quite horrible. (see below)
- The only cure is exposure therapy: seek them out, behold their glory, and move on.
- Remember that some of your students will find plenty of unfortunate freeze-frames. Embrace it. Pretend that you're a celebrity on the cover of a supermarket tabloid.