[ScreenFlow] Replace that screencast voiceover without losing video sync

At the DevLearn conference last week, I attended one of the breakout sessions titled, Adding Screencasting to Your eLearning Tookit. Speaker Mike Baron, Chief Storyteller at ProjectStory.com, delivered a great session with a wealth of actionable tips ranging from software equipment and budget considerations to techniques for working with subject matter experts (SMEs) and rapid content authoring sourced from SMEs.

Mike Baron - Devlearn 2014

Mike recognized me and was kind enough to give a shout-out for the blog while also kindly allowing me to chime in with my two cents during the Q&A. (Mike’s pretty cool. ‘Hope you get a chance to meet him one day.)

Q&A – How to replace audio narration with new voiceover.

One of the questions we fielded related to replacing audio narration with a new voiceover — but to also be able to do so without losing the synchronization between the new voiceover and the original video.

The answer (the subject of the video above) was right up my alley since it comes up quite frequently on projects where I repurpose product demos or recorded SME meetings for quick turnarounds as video “how to” tutorials or marketing demos.

As I was giving my verbal answer in the session’s Q&A, I described my technique of using the caption feature in ScreenFlow and Camtasia as a transcript. Doing it this way helps a lot in guaranteeing that the spoken word for the new voiceover will stay in sync with the video timing of the original narration.

Check out the video above.  If you have any questions or suggestions, I hope you’ll share ‘em in the comment box below.

Posted in How to, Q&A, Tips and Tricks | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“Hey Mel. What’s your setup for making your training videos?”

Upset teenage boy at computerSo that was a question I got asked (again) recently. I’ve written about this before. (Ref: “My Studio Setup For Screencasting Production.”) But, it’s also good to update the list every now and again.

Below is my latest response to this question. I’d be remiss if I didn’t share it with you, as well. So here you go.

For recording/editing stuff on the computer screen, here’s what I recommend:

For audio setup, here’s what I recommend:

For any camera work:

  • Almost any DSLR with video/audio capabilities… though I do recommend a model that has a flip-out / reversible LCD and an audio-in port. (We use a Lumix GH3, but there are other brands that’ll do the job just as well…. Or better.)
  • Studio lights… you’ll need at least 3 of these… 4 is better. (One behind the subject, and then two in front of the subject.) For this you might look to dynaphos.com or amazon.com.

If you have any requirements of a backdrop:

We got ours from Amazon.com. If you need a backdrop setup, then I can recommend the following shopping list:

  • A 10’ x 10’ frame (I got this one)
  • A paper-based backdrop. Check out those by savage paper (also on amazon)
  • Clips (I got these). You’ll probably want about 6-8 of these.

eLearning Course Production

Just a quick note here about the tools below. There’s a bit of a learning curve with developing eLearning training programs.  Beyond the “mechanics” and “buttonology” of learning the software, there’s also a bit of theory (adult learning theory, cognitive load theory, spaced repetition, and so forth) that go along with the use of these tools. To that end, I also listed a couple of books that might be of interest.

  • For hosting my eLearning productions, I’ll use one of the following:

- If there’s a requirement to track learners’ progress: then you’ll want a so-called SCORM-compliant Learning Management System (LMS) like Moodle or one of the quickie hosted sites, like Litmos.

- If you’re a small business, information marketer or self-producing your own online courses, you might also want to take a look at some of the cool work Justin Ferriman has done with Learndash. It works as a plugin to your self-hosted WordPress site.

  •  Here are a couple of books that might be of interest:

- Efficiency In Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines To Manage Cognitive Load, by Ruth Clark, Frank Nguyen, John Sweller.

- Design For How People Learn, Julie Dirksen.

- Screencasting & eLearning Wizardry, curated by yours truly.

Finally, these articles from Wistia are pretty good, too, for “quick and dirty” DIY setups:

Did I miss anything?

What would you add to the list?

Posted in best practices, Digital-Know-How | Leave a comment

24 Weeks-worth of Design Ideas For Your Next e-Learning Project

Articulate’s David Anderson has been running these Weekly Challenges from the Articulate Storyline e-Learning community. In addition to it being a great forum of engagement, practice and performance support for e-Learning developers, the weekly challenge series has also produced a nice compilation of examples from which to brainstorm ideas.

As an instructional designer, I’m always looking for ways to make online training not boring. The compilation below is a great list to bookmark so you can easily find it and browse ideas for future designs.

Posted in e-learning | Tagged | Comments Off

[Q&A] How to make complex shape animations with Camtasia

(Click to enlarge.)

(Click to enlarge.)

One of the questions I want to highlight this week from our courses‘ member only Q&A group is this one on the right about replicating moderately complex animations in Camtasia (or ScreenFlow).  That is, beyond the conventional voiceover screencasts that we see a lot on YouTube.

The quick answer is yes.  You can do much of this in any of the “Big 3″ screencasting software/editors.

The longer answer:  Here’s the gist of it in the video below.


[Subscribe]

A word about third-party plugins for custom text and video animations

I’m admittedly not aware of any third party vendors that support special effects plugins for Camtasia or ScreenFlow — at least not in the way that, say, Noise Industries’ FXFactory installs itself into, say, Final Cut Pro, Motion or Premiere.   Having something like that available would be a HUGE assist in juicing-up the visual quality of your screencasting projects.

I put the question to the Techsmithies (Camtasia) and the Telestream folks (ScreenFlow) and I’ll report back here with their response.   But, I can say that there are a host of third-party suppliers of pre-keyed video and motion graphics clips that provide their media as importable media clips.  A couple you might want to check out include:  Flowtility and Marketing Motion Graphics.

If you have some favorite third-party media vendors, please share them in the comments below.

Posted in Digital-Know-How, Q&A | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

What display resolution should you use for screencasting?

[Q&A] “What display resolution should I set before I record my screencast?”

(Best viewed in HD. Click the settings icon in the player.)

image - question screenshot

(click to enlarge)

Question:  “…I am kind of stuck on the resolution issues.  Screenflow uses by default the whole screen.  I need to record Outlook instructions so I maximize outlook to full screen. In my case a 27 inch iMac.  Do I need to switch the resolution of my Mac screen to 1280 x 720 (can be done in preferences).  Or do I just leave it as is and set the canvas size in Screenflow? Or is it something totally different…?”

Answer:  So the question above came up in the members only Q&A forum that accompanies our courses.  The long answer is that there are several ways you can go about accomplishing a final production at 1280 x 720.  But, the short answer is:

1.  Set your screen to 1280 x 720 (or as close to it as possible… some displays won’t have exactly 1280 x 720 as an option, so you might have to choose 1280 x 800, for example).

2. Maximize your subject software (Outlook in your case) so it fills the display.

3. Then, start your screencast recording at full screen. (I actually also prefer to record at full screen whether using ScreenFlow or Camtasia.)

That’s basically it on the recording side.  After you stop the recording and are ready to begin the editing, then:

1. Set your canvas to (exactly) 1280 x 720.

2. Shift-click any CORNER of your video to scale it up proportionally so as to fit the entire canvas.

I included a video above to show what I mean.

Posted in Courses, How to, Q&A | Tagged | 1 Comment

Can you do green screen effects in screencasts?

November 24, 2013

Yes, you can.

This video is an abbreviated module from one of the lectures in our Udemy course offerings.  For a limited time, I opened up the unabridged version of it as a free preview in the course page of the Camtasia Studio course.  No need to register or sign up for any newsletters, just click and watch.  (Tip:  You can do the same thing in ScreenFlow for Mac and Camtasia for Mac.)

Posted in Camtasia, Courses, Digital-Know-How | Tagged , | Comments Off

Q&A: How did I get started in training and screencasting?

thumbnail - online learning podcastIf you’re a DIY online course creator and haven’t yet tuned in to John Colley’s Online Learning Podcast (free via iTunes), then it might be worth your time to take a look the next chance you get online.  John has built a trending podcast by interviewing online course creators and getting them to reveal their workflow, thought process, development techniques and marketing strategies when developing their own courses.

John and I had a great conversation during his show’s Episode 22 where I shared a little background about my “upbringing” in the training profession, and how it is I came to develop my own online courses.  You can click the link above to hear the full podcast, or browse the highlights I’ll summarize over the next couple of posts.

Online Learning Podcast Interview Highlights (Part 1): “How did you get started in the training profession and with screencasting?”

John:  Mel, a very warm welcome… We’ve already established that we’re both veterans, but perhaps you could tell our listeners a little more about you and what you do.

Mel:  Absolutely…. My background is that I started off with the U.S. Navy.  That’s probably where I first got intimately involved with training, as a profession.

image - p3 orion aircraftI was fortunate enough to have a flying career with the Navy.  For some of you veterans who might be listening in, I flew in an airplane called a P-3 Orion.  It’s an “anti-submarine warfare” (ASW) aircraft.  In the UK the equivalent might be what they call a Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft.  Basically, our mission in the P-3 was to go out and hunt submarines.  But, as interesting as all that may be, the main story is how I got involved with training through my early career in U.S. Naval Air.

Safe Environments In Which To Fail

(courtesy: en.wikipedia.org – labeled for reuse)

As many of you can imagine, there’s a LOT of training that goes into preparedness for military and commercial aviation professionals.  I mean, before you actually step into an airplane they put you in these simulators.  And before that there’s classroom based training called “ground school.”  And the fascinating thing to me in all this is the progression of training that progresses through these simulators.  And the reason these simulator training programs were so fascinating to me is because they represent what I would call “safe environments in which to fail.”

By creating those safe environments, the Navy was able to maximize learning by allowing students to try techniques — even if it would realistically have resulted in catastrophe or death — and still be able to recover from those failures in a way that allowed students the opportunity to live another day, to reflect upon those mistakes, discuss them with instructors and try another way that was more aligned with accepted best practices.  And by facilitating that cycle of failure, recovery, discussion and reflection we were really able to evolve skills much more effectively than if we just stuck with book learning and flew in strict accordance with accepted “standards.”

So it was that whole methodology is what got me interested in simulation- or scenario-based training after the military.  And one of the organizations I joined that was doing this stuff was a company called Andersen Consulting (AC).  They’re now called Accenture.  It’s one of the, I guess, “Big 4” management consulting companies who was doing this kind of stuff at the time.

At AC, I joined the Change Management practice.  A typical project found me bundled with our technology team as we implemented new technologies at Fortune 500 type organizations.  The funny thing about changing technologies:  when it changed in any organization, it would typically mean changes to the organization’s processes and how their employees would subsequently do their job… this ultimately meant training.

digital-know-how target audienceChallenges In Training People In Enterprise Organizations

But because these organizations we worked for were also multi-nationals, where the workforce was otherwise geographically dispersed, training had unique challenges in that the people that needed to be trained were geographically distributed.   If you were going to design a training program that was based on instructor-led classroom training, then you needed to account for a design that would accomodate a nationally (or internationally) distributed learner base.

At that time — the early 90s — we didn’t have the internet.  And words like “intranet” were basically typographical errors in peoples’ minds.  So there was a challenge of distributing all the training content to people across wide geographies.   And that’s why computers (which weren’t yet so ubiquitous back then as they are today) were such a boon when you could get them for both the development phase and for the learners.  With CBT, or computer-based training, we could create and distribute training programs to other computers by burning them on to disks and then mailing those disks to regional trainers or training facilitators in each of the geographies.

But even that had a lot of logistical challenges.  Not the least of which was to coordinate the distribution of new CDs — and to force their use in each of the training regions — whenever new updates were made to the core training.

And so when the world wide web evolved, then WBT, or web-based training became the buzz word.  With WBT (wow!) you could centrally locate the training in much the same way we would publish, say, a video blog today, and let learners access the training through the web.  And whenever that content needed to be updated, the updates could be made centrally and have it immediately propagate to everyone who needed access to the training.  But even that had its technical and formatting challenges.

internet_tester_400_clr_12302Early Bandwidth and Video Production Hurdles

Bandwidth was very much an issue — especially in a world where the majority of learners would still need to use dial-up access.  I mean, if you could virtually access a computer  via a 56k baud modem (remember those?), you were on the bleeding edge.  But, happily, that eventually became less of an issue as time evolved.

And, not to mention, on top of the technical, bandwidth and formatting hurdles, there were also development hurdles. I mean, to produce anything with video back then required an entire team, including actors, camera people, audio people, lighting people, script writers, subject matter experts to review the scripts, and so on.  It was a production!  Then there was editing.  And all the editing used to be done on tape drives and analog devices.

camtasia-studioAnd that’s why, right around… the turn of the century, a company called Techsmith, created software called Camtasia.  And that was an eye opener.

It was an eye opener because all the simulation-based training that we used to produce with moderately sizeable teams could now be done by just one person.

And when Camtasia came out–and the proliferation of other screencasting software like it since–we were all of a sudden exposed to a product that allowed us to install software locally and then use the software to record video of our computer screen, then digitally edit that video directly afterwards in the same software.

And since then, of course, it has just gotten more ubiquitous.  All of that production efficiency, coupled with the explosion of technology and bandwidth capacity really opened up the ability for us to deliver video — and learners to consume video — over the internet; it was probably in just the last 5 to 7 years, because of the explosion of bandwidth capacity and the ability to digitally create your own online video recordings and editing capability, where video training really exploded.  It allowed for individuals and owners of home-based businesses to create their own courses or information content…

Next up:  “How did you move from developing projects for corporations to creating your own courses through your own website?”

Posted in Interviews, Q&A | Tagged , | Comments Off