Struggling to put together your first Screencast? We've put together some simple steps to help make the process easier.
1 Keep it simple
Stick to one topic - "how to do x using y". If there are several different ways of completing the process you are trying to demonstrate, just stick to one. Why not ask your end users what their preferences are? (You can always put together a more comprehensive user guide to accompany your screencast if necessary).
2 Write Your Audio Script
If you plan to include audio in your Screencast, then write your script next. Although it may seem a pain, it will be invaluable as it will help to keep you on track when you're recording and avoid all those awkward "um's" and "err's" when you can't remember what comes next!
3 Create a Storyboard
This means taking your audio script and pairing it with visuals so you get a feel of how it will flow before you record it. We just create a simple two-column word table, with images on the left and the script at the right. You can grab some quick images, take a screenshot, or sketch it out by hand if you prefer. If your video is short (less than 1 minute) you could probably miss this step out.
4 Record Your Audio Narration
We record this first, so the pacing feels more natural. Leave a short pause between each sentence, so if you make a mistake, it's easy to edit out. Although many of the Screencasting programs let you record your audio along with your Screencast, the audio quality may not be as good and it's harder to edit mistakes. You should invest in a good quality USB microphone for the best sound quality. They don't have to cost the earth - we use a Blue Yeti which retails around £120. Make sure it has a headphone socket so you can hear exactly what your mic is picking up.
Find a quiet place to record - we know it can be challenging when you're working from home! Try putting your audio script on an iPad or similar device so there is no paper rustling when you're turning pages.
Remember to speak more slowly than you would if you were having a conversation - when you know your subject well, you tend to speak more quickly, but your audience won't and they may not be able to keep up with you.
5 Record Your Screen
Rehearse it first so you know exactly where your mouse will be moving to. This avoids any unnecessary mouse movements in the recording. Make sure your desktop is clear and close down any programs you will not be using. Turn off all notifications so they don't appear in your recording.
The video will usually require some editing afterwards. For instance, if you've had to do a lot of typing, this can be quite tedious to watch, so it may look better if you chop a bit out of the middle and use a simple wipe transition to join the two bits together. You will probably want to add extra annotations and effects too.
6 Finalising Your Screencast
Once your happy with the Screencast, you can import your audio file and sync it with your video. Add your closed captions and you're ready to publish.