24 Tips for Creating High Quality Screen Recordings

Follow these practical tips for to create high quality screencast recordings.

1. Create an outline before recording

You may be tempted to just wing it, but even making just a rough outline forces you to organize your thoughts and design a “roadmap” for your screencast. There’s no faster way to lose your audience than rambling or jumping back and forth between thoughts. Making a script will also reduce your “ums” and “ahs”.

2. Record in a quiet environment

There’s nothing more frustrating that getting five minutes into a recording only to be interrupted by a slamming door or a barking dog. Also consider eliminating loud fans, road or train noise, or humming that can sometimes results from florescent lighting.

3. Practice once or twice before recording

Nobody can make a perfect screencast on the first try. While you certainly don’t want to over-rehearse, going through your talking points once or twice will help you speak more smoothly (e.g. you won’t have to struggle to find the best word or phrase during your recording).

4. Close out all other apps and tabs

This will do two things: 1) free up your computer’s processing power so that your screen recording software can run more smoothly and 2) eliminate the possibility of distracting notifications.

5. Grab a glass of water

If you're recording a long screencast or do multiple takes, your mouth will quickly get dry. And trust us...your viewers will notice.

6. Test your recording software

If you record a 5-minute screencast only to realize the audio wasn't picked up, you were speaking too loudly/softly, or your settings weren't right, you will pull your hair out. We don't want you to pull your hair out.

7. Only record what you need

If the content of your screencast is contained in one tab or application, there’s no need to record your entire desktop. Only recording what you need will get rid of unnecessary "visual noise" and reduce your video’s file size. If you’re using Kaltura, you can choose to your entire screen or just a portion of the screen.

8. Clean up your recording space

If your recording will include your computer’s desktop, either as you demonstrate something in the OS or just switching between applications, you may want to tidy it up all those icons you’ve been leaving lay around.

9. Add a second monitor to the mix

Connecting a second monitor to your computer gives you more control and a bigger capture area. You can choose to capture a whole screen while keeping your recording controls, notes, and other resources on the screen not being recorded. It’s also a quick way to get a clean recording space.

10. Record with standard dimensions

In most cases, you'll want to record with standard dimensions to make sure it displays correctly on video hosting sites like YouTube and doesn't have black bars around the edges. If you are capturing a portion of your screen with Kaltura, consider selecting the “Select area” option, choosing a capture size and then resizing your content to fit the capture area.

11. Tell your viewers what you'll cover

Before you get into the meat of your presentation, give your audience an idea what they’ll learn. This will help them get oriented and know what to be listening for. If you don’t do this, they’ll be unsure where you’re going and won’t know what’s important and what isn’t.

12. Keep it short

It's no secret that video length is negatively correlated with engagement. These days, our attention spans drop off a cliff after 2-3 minutes. If you must record longer screencasts, consider breaking it up into separate, more focused segments.

13. Embed your webcam wisely

While embedding your webcam is a nice way of making your screen recording more personal, it can be overdone. Remember, your viewer will most likely be watching your face whenever they see it. This is great for introductions, explanations, and other moments when there isn't much on-screen action, but could be distracting during the meat of your screencast. Also consider if including your webcam will decrease the reusability of your recording. Finally, if you’re including your webcam, look around at the space you’ll be capturing behind you. Does it send the message you want it to?

14. Speak slowly

Rehearse once while consciously speaking more slowly than you regularly do. Then when you record, slow it down even more. Seriously. We're all naturally inclined to speak more quickly when we're giving a presentation. Plus, a viewer can always speed up playback in the player if they prefer.

15. Don't worry if you make a mistake

Depending on the context of the video, it’s totally fine to slip up once or twice. It makes you seem more like a real human! If you make a large mistake that you don’t want in your final video, don’t end the recording. Pause for a few seconds and start that segment over. Then cut the mistake out after you’re finished recording. If you’re using Kaltura, you can crop your video and cut out clips using the in-browser editor.

16. Use a good microphone

Screencasts with poor audio quality are hard to listen to. The good news is that you don’t need an expensive, fancy microphone. Simply using a basic USB headset with a built-in mic is much, much better than simply using your computer’s internal microphone.

17. Zoom in

Don’t assume that your audience will watch your video in full screen (in fact they probably won’t). This is especially true if you’re recording a web page with small text or complex software such as Microsoft Excel. Find and use the zoom control in the content or tool you are displaying. Your audience will thank you.

18. Use annotation tools

Kaltura Capture includes annotation tools for tab recordings that allow you to focus a spotlight on your mouse, draw with a pen tool, and more. These tools can be tremendously helpful for directing your viewer’s eyes where you want them to go.

19. Cut out dead moments

There’s no reason for your audience to watch you filling out a form, typing something, or waiting for a website to load. Simply cut it out of your video after you’re finished recording. You can easily do this in Kaltura using the in-browser editor.

20. Don't be afraid to pause

If you need a second to gather your thoughts, think about how you’ll present your next point, sneeze, or go to the bathroom, just pause! If you’re using Kaltura, press Control+Shift+R to pause or resume your recording.

21. Make it interactive

Kaltura allows you to create a quiz from any video in your My Media library, including your Kaltura Capture screen recordings. You’ll add these questions after your recording is uploaded and processed, but you’ll want to consider the timing of those questions as you plan your recording.

22. End with a summary

Recap your recording and tell your viewers what they should have learned. This will help them remember all of your key points - not just the last 1 or 2 that they heard - and make your presentation more effective.

23. Trim your video

Your screencast should start promptly when your viewer clicks play and end as soon as you sign off. Dead air at the beginning and end of screencasts is a waste of time and unprofessional - nobody needs to hear that! Trimming your video takes just a few seconds and has a major impact on the quality of your recording.

24. Give your viewers more resources

Because a screen recording is just that - a recording - you obviously won't be able to answer any questions you viewers have. That's ok, though! Simply provide additional resources for them to check out after viewing your video (e.g. in the video's description, in your Blackboard course, in an email), and encourage them to do so at the end of your recording. That way, they'll know exactly where to go next.

Content adapted with permission from Screencastify’s article, 24 Tips for Creating High Quality Screencasts.

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