When we are having trouble using a program as we would like, we often look for the solution in the manual or on forums. However, in the case of a complex subject, the usefulness of written explanations is limited. It may then be useful to search for videos that specifically explain the program’s features using a screencast.
This is just one of many examples of the practical use of videography. Screencasts present complex processes simply and understandably. We explain how to create a screencast and reveal some good tips to make your videography a success.
What Is A Screencast?
The term screencast comes from the English words “screen” and “cast” and can be translated as “videography”. A screencast is therefore a video recording of your screen.
The screencast consists in recording all the contents appearing on your screen. This typically includes active programs and open documents, file explorer, and mouse cursor movement. But what is videography for? The most common application of screencasts is the production of how-to videos.
Recording your screen and your actions allows you, for example, to help or train your colleagues without having to meet in the same place at the same time. Screencasts are often used to create webinars or tutorials
Items Needed To Create A Screencast
The basic equipment for making a screencast consists of a screen as well as videography software. A microphone or graphics tablet will also come in handy if you want to complement your videography with an audio track or graphics.
The Right Videography Software
To do a screencast, you will need a corresponding screencast software. You can choose from different applications, some free, which offer various features and editing options. Your choice will depend on your personal preferences and requirements.
Optional Equipment: Microphone And Graphics Tablet
In many cases, a screencast is accompanied by an audio track with commentary and a more detailed explanation. To record them, all you need is a USB microphone.
Cardioid microphones, which allow better recording of sound and mask surrounding noise, are ideal for making such recordings. The downside to this type of microphone is that it doesn’t offer great mobility. Indeed, the quality of the recording decreases if you do not speak directly into the microphone.
A graphics tablet will give you the possibility to add notes or images to the videography while recording. If you have a laptop with a touchscreen, you won’t need any additional hardware.
How To Create A Screencast: A Step-By-Step Guide
If you’ve chosen and installed videography software, you can theoretically start your screencast. However, some preparation is required before you can create your videography.
Step 1: Research And Plan The Process
Find all the information you need for your screencast beforehand. Once this research is complete, plan how your video will unfold and record it in a draft script. If there are other screencasts on the topic of your video already, these can help you find the right content and the best structure for your videography.
If you want to supplement or comment on your screencast with audio narration, first write down what you want to say. Within this framework, you can outline your screencast using keywords or complete sentences.
Step 2: Organize Your Workspace
Connect all external devices such as your microphone or graphics tablet. It is then recommended to organize your workspace. This step not only your real office but also, and especially, the desktop of your computer.
Make sure that only items relevant to the viewer are visible on the screen. Close all unnecessary programs and delete personal items, such as your wallpaper or files on your desktop.
Step 3: Make Your Screencast
Launch the videography software and set all the settings for the recording, including the framing and audio settings. Shortly before recording, check for background noise. Once all the parameters are set, start the screencast and stop it when you are finished.
Step 4: Edit Your Screencast
After recording, you will be able to edit your screencast. The options available depend on your software. In most cases, editing of the video is not necessary or only to a very limited extent.
This feature is, however, handy for cutting lapses, long pauses, or mistakes. Some videography applications also allow you to insert additional elements and effects. The titles and the end credits are particularly appreciated features and allow you to give a frame to your video.
Step 5: Export Your Screencast
Finally, render the video and create the final video file. Most applications offer a choice of different formats when exporting. The most suitable format will depend on the medium on which you will publish your screencast. Common distribution channels are official video platforms like YouTube or Vimeo, learning management systems, or emailing.
Good Tips For A Successful Screencast
Unlike written instructions, screencasts cannot be updated or changed as easily. Therefore, it is worth preparing your screencast in detail and observing some simple tips to make your videography a success for sure.
An Organized Screen-Free Of Private Elements
Before starting your videography, check if your screen is overloaded or has private elements. A screencast containing a minimum of unnecessary elements and a peaceful background will convey an impression of professionalism. In addition, it will be easier for the viewer to concentrate on the useful elements.
Define The Contents And Objectives Beforehand
Before doing a screencast, define precisely the theme and the contents. Your thoughts should take into account your target group and the context. Keep the video as short and straightforward as possible. Ideally, a screencast lasts three to five minutes with a maximum of ten minutes.
If you need more time, it is recommended that you split your screencast across multiple videos. If you don’t have this option, use intermediate titles and a summary with jump marks to structure your screencast.
Standardize The Content Of Screencasts
If you are creating multiple screencasts or planning to do professional tutorials, define common settings for each video. This harmonization can be reflected in particular by the same duration or the same screen resolution for the videos, by personalized intros, or by an identical design for the explanatory boxes. In this way, you will return an impression of professionalism.
Take The Time And Take Breaks
Avoid frantic movements with the mouse and perform each of your actions. Take a brief break after each action performed during which you will not move the mouse. This will facilitate further processing and making invisible cuts.
Choose The Right Place
When doing a screencast, choose an undisturbed environment. If you make several recordings, use the same location each time, to keep the same acoustic conditions.
Define The Framing
If you want to do a screencast, you have the option of recording the entire screen or only part of it. Both variations have advantages and disadvantages: if you film your entire screen, all relevant content will be included in your screencast. Most of the time, however, the screen contains a lot of unused space.
This makes it more difficult for the viewer to concentrate on the essential content. With a more restricted framing, however, the viewer may be confused when the mouse moves outside the filmed section.
Using A Webcam
In many cases, the “screen casters” use the picture-in-picture mode and display their Webcam in addition to the videography which gives it a personal dimension. Whenever possible, make sure that you have good lighting and a uni-colored background when recording.
Screencasting software often offers full post-processing options. Use these possibilities to make your video even more understandable and engaging. Particularly appreciated is the feature to display a colorful mouse that stands out better against the background.
Other frequently used features include the ability to compensate for jerky movements as well as the insertion of informative texts and background music in post-processing. In this context, however, there is a golden rule: the best is the enemy of the good. Only use items that will bring real added value to the viewer.