Skedsheet Blog

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5 Tips for recording demo movies

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We make flash movies to explain how our software works, and how to use it.  Over the time that I’ve been doing them, I’ve gotten ok at it.  There’s still lots of room for improvement, but here’s what I’ve learned.


1) Use good tools
I’ve got decent headset to record audio – a Logitech headset with a noise-cancelling microphone.  It wasn’t even expensive – under $20.  The noise cancelling helps because I don’t have a soundproof room, and there are always slight background noises.

To record, I use Camtasia Studio software, which costs about $300.  It can do pretty much everything I want – the only complaint I have is that for long, full-screen videos there’s some problems synching the audio tracks.  Supposedly this can be fixed with a better computer or their latest upgrade.  I used different software before, but ran into bugs that were time-consuming and frustrating.  The other company went out of business, too – which didn’t help with bug fixes or support.

2) Be yourself
I still really like the idea of having a professionally produced video where  a guy with an English accent narrates in a deep baritone voice, but it’s much more useful to do them myself.  Both because of the expense, and the fact that we try to make many, short videos.

Being yourself is a little scary at first, but once you over the initial embarrassment, it’s actually very liberating.  I realized that I’ll always have the California informality that I acquired in college and living at the beach – and as long as I can provide value, nobody will be mad at my accent.

3) Make it short
Edit, edit, edit!  A video over 2 minutes starts to get really boring, and the longest help video I’ve recorded (typing sample Visual Basic code) is still under 8 minutes – which is an eternity.  Just talking fast isn’t enough.  In fact, you still need to be slow enough to be understood, so you must limit the content of your recording to be a single, coherent thought.

4) Write a script
Maybe other folks are great extemporaneous speakers, but I’m not one of them.  For me to make a video, first I write a script.  Then I try recording it, and listen to myself.  Based on that, I edit the script.  Then, I repeat that process a few times.  Finally, when I’m happy with what I plan to say, I can go to the next step.

5) Practice
I usually have my script visible while I’m doing the “real” recording, but to make it sound natural and smooth, you’ve got to practice.  After I do a few recordings to make sure that the script is okay, I go through it a few times as practice.  Then, I start recording, and usually flub it a bit.  If it’s  just a short mess-up, I keep going to fix it when I’m editing, but more often than not, I just try starting from the beginning.  After saying the same script 5-10 times, it starts to become ingrained, and hopefully then I can concentrate on showing some emotion and enthusiasm in my voice, rather than worrying about the details of what I want to say.

Of all of these, I think keeping it short is the hardest, but also the most useful.  It makes it easier to write a script, and much easier to practice.  But, you need them all for a video to sound good, or at least decent.


Written by Harry Hollander

February 12, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] and some ideas that might be valuable?  How about the time I’ve spent creating demo and help videos?  Writing a blog?  Volunteering to help out with a niche-industry professional […]

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