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Reproduced under a CC licence
This blog post is borne out of recent "intensive" screencasting sessions done on Camtasia in our University creative media suite. I must say I was impressed by Camtasia 8 and it made my particular screencasts (focused on aspects of Turnitin functionality for my Turnitin project) much easier to complete.
Now this is a top 5 mainly for those that maybe have not had much experience in screencasting, and I am going to keep it pretty brief (just like any good screencast).
1. Know your subject
Sounds fairly obvious I know, but if your demonstrating a particular aspect of a software program you really need to know how that particular element of functionality works, right down to its little idiosyncrasies.
Not used this acronym for a while but the old maxim "Keep It Simple Stupid" does apply here. This means both keeping the material your presenting easy to follow, but also holding back on some of the bells and whistles that are available in many screencasting programs that are oh so tempting to use. Finally try to keep the screencast to no more than 3 minutes. If it needs to be longer, split it into two parts.
3. Script it
Perhaps the most important point of all is to script your screencast, and in fact storyboarding is also a very good idea. Scripting means writing down exactly what you want to say verbatim. This prevents needless screencast "re-takes", as it is amazing how the power of speech fails somewhat when you are recording (speaking from experience here!).
Storyboarding your screencast should come before the scripting. Storyboarding is the process of "sketching" out what you want to cover in the presentation. The way I do it is to have a two column template with the visual on the left hand side, and prompt text on the right. This way, you make sure you have not missed anything vital in the material.
4. Testing testing
When it comes to using any audio/visual software/hardware it is a good idea to demo levels first. You don't want the audio to be "clipping" (meaning too loud) and you dont want the video to look blurry or hard to see. Simply record a short 30 second test, export it to your desired format (avi, mp4 etc) and check that everything seems ok.
This tip appeals to the recording musician side of me, but I do think it has a place here. Using a decent microphone going into a reasonable soundcard will give you a clear audio track, which serves to make your screencast sound more professional. If you are doing a quick screencast, which maybe has a limited audience, then the headset microphone would do just fine. However, if your wanting to get across detailed information about a subject, then the audio does need to be clear and consistent.
Ok, so that is my brief top 5 based on recent experience, if you have others then feel free to share!