5 Types of Instructional Videos and When to Use Them

Whether you need to demonstrate a technical process for an online class or teach your grandma how to use her email, a video is often a great way to get the job done. The key: Choosing and making the right type of video for the task. To help you, I’ll walk through five of the most common types of instructional videos and when to use them.

Microvideo

What is it: Microvideos are short instructional videos that focus on teaching a single, narrow topic. They’re usually less than a minute long and appeal to today’s media consumers, who have notoriously short attention spans.

When to use it: Anytime you need to teach a simple concept in a few steps. You might make a one-off microvideo that teaches a new software feature. Or for more complex concepts, create a series of microvideos that splits a topic into logical chunks, with a microvideo for each. As instructors shy away from long-form video, this offers them the same outcomes with better engagement from their audience. This strategy also allows for more control over the pace of learning and makes the learning content easier to consume. For more examples of how to use microvideos, check out our post 8 Surprising Ways to Use Microlearning Activities in Your Online Training Course.

Example: This microvideo is short and to the point. It teaches one task and doesn’t include any unnecessary explanation.

Tutorial Video

What is it: A tutorial video is the go-to instructional method for teaching a process or walking through the steps needed to complete a task. Usually between 2-10 minutes long these videos leverage multiple instructional methods, such as direct instruction, follow-along type guidance and even quizzing and interactive elements. Sometimes referred to as “how-to” videos, the best ones are carefully planned and have high production quality. Interested in learning how to make your own? Check out our tutorial on how to make a tutorial.

When to use it: Tutorials videos can teach just about anything. No hard-and-fast rules exist for deciding when to use them, however, there are a few key factors that can help make the decision.

First, is the topic or process best taught through video? Does it need to be communicated visually, or could a written tutorial accomplish the same goal. If you can’t confidently say yes to video, then a quick written tutorial might be a more affordable option.

Second, are there content expectations that require video as the instructional method? For example, our users expect video tutorials that cover the new features we release with our software. This incentivizes us to use video and plays an important role in our decision making process.

Finally, do you have the time, budget and know-how (it’s simple with Camtasia) to create and maintain the tutorials?

Example: In this example, the instructor introduces the software, then walks the user through the steps of recording, editing and sharing their video. It’s a straightforward tutorial video that exemplifies the direct instruction often seen in these types of videos.

Training Video

What is it: Training videos are designed to improve employees’ workplace skills. They commonly cover interpersonal topics, such as compliance and harassment training, or job related topics, such as hardware and software training. Similar to tutorials, training videos leverage multiple instructional techniques, such as direct instructions, follow-along type guidance, quizzing, and interactive elements. However, unlike tutorials, training videos often use footage of real people to help bolster the connection between the trainer and trainee. Interested in learning more about training videos and how to make your own? Check out our tutorial on how to make a training video.

When to use it: Training videos can teach just about any process. Training videos are often used in situations that lend themselves to live video, where the interpersonal connection will improve the content retention.

Example: This is a fun training video from Air New Zealand that focuses on teaching people how to be safe in their airplanes. It plays heavily to the nostalgia of the Lord of the Rings movies in an effort to connect with the audience.

Screencast

What is it: A video composed primarily of screen recordings designed to teach someone to perform a task or share knowledge. Screencasts tend to be quick, informal, and are usually intended for a smaller audience than tutorial videos. This format lends itself to just-in-time teaching, where an instructor can quickly create a screencast to answer a question or clear up a problematic concept. Often, screencasts are considered “disposable” videos, meaning they can be made quickly, with lower production value, for a specific purpose, and their lifespan is short.

When to use it: Screencasts are great for quick, informal instruction. When the audience is small and the stakes are low, a quick screencast is a great way to visually communicate an idea or solve a question/problem.

Example: This is a quick example of a screencast that demonstrates changing the user interface theme of Snagit from light to dark. The video is short, off-the-cuff and to the point.

Presentation & Lecture Capture

What is it: A recording of a lecture or presentation to make it available for an audience to consume or review after the fact. This might be as simple as recording just the audio for a presentation, or as advanced as recording PowerPoint point slides, a webcam and a separate microphone all at once. Lecture and presentation capture tend to be longer than a tutorial video and span the length of the class or presentation. This makes them more time intensive to consume and requires a higher level of investment from the audience. To brush up on your presentation or lecture captures skills, check out our blog post The Complete Guide to Lecture Capture.

When to use it: To make a presentation or lesson available for later review or to make it available to an audience who couldn’t attend the live event.

Example: This TED talk given by Sir Ken Robinson is a prime example of a knowledge share that that was intended for a larger audience than could be present during the presentation.

Conclusion

With the five types of instructional videos in hand, it’s time to get out there and start creating some video! If you don’t know where to start, head over to the new TechSmith Academy. This totally free program walks you through the entire video production process and provides tons of tips and tricks along the way. Happy editing!

The post 5 Types of Instructional Videos and When to Use Them appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

How to Train Faculty to Create Quality Online Courses

As online learning continues to grow, it’s more important than ever to make sure instructors know how to create quality online courses, including custom video. Faculty new to video need guidance on how to use new technology and connect with students online, while tech-savvy instructors seek ways to make their online courses more engaging.

Training faculty to create quality online courses, however, can be challenging. It can involve overcoming barriers in technology, workflow, student-instructor relationships, and mindset. From colleges across the country, below are strategies and techniques to help get all your faculty to create quality online courses.

How to Train Faculty to Use New Video Software

With numerous schedule and research obligations, it can be tough to motivate instructors to learn yet another new software tool. It really helps to provide training options for different learning styles and preferences, so each instructor can self-serve as much as possible and pick the method that works best for them to learn the software needed for quality online courses.

Provide readable and watchable instructions (plus FAQs)
Create clear, written directions with high-quality screenshots. Create video tutorials, too (screencasts). Both the readable and watchable versions should show faculty where to click for each step, and what to do next.

Including visuals is key. According to new research by behavioral economist Dr. Alastair Goode, two-thirds (67%) of employees are better at completing tasks when information includes text with images (screenshots) or video than by text alone. House instructions in an intuitive place – preferably, in your LMS or other hosting location that is near where they’ll be making their own quality online courses.

Pro tip: Make training relatable with webcam
Include your face from your webcam when recording training videos. Researchers from MIT and the University of Rochester found people pay more attention to videos with a ‘talking head.’ Insert webcam footage as picture-in-picture, or toggle between the webcam and screen when demonstrating steps.

Video training is also a great way to reach out-of-town instructors. “Many of our adjuncts aren’t local in Odessa, they are all over the United States,” explained Jennifer Lee, Web Design and Instructional Technology Specialist at Odessa College “It’s easier to reach adjuncts with video – record workshops and put them in BlackBoard.” Include a table of contents, so faculty can quickly click through topics to watch or re-learn content.

Explain the entire workflow across tools (not just each separate tool)
One of the most common errors when training instructors is showing faculty how to use each digital tool, but not the overall workflow across all tools. Once they record their video, what file type should they save it in, so it’s an acceptable file format for the Learning Management System (LMS)? How do they go back and make changes once a video is saved? Make sure to include enough instructions about every step along the way.

Pro tip: Work with what you have (but plan to get integrated video)
It’s worth saying that one of the keys to successful training is to start with a video platform that is easy to use in the first place. Being able to create and view videos within the system faculty already use (LMS, etc.) is one of the single biggest things you can do to increase faculty adoption.

At the University of Colorado Denver, administrators didn’t see broad adoption until they made their video platform work with their LMS. “It wasn’t until we installed the LTI integration into all of our Canvas courses that faculty usage really took off,” explained Alex Karklins, CU Online Academic Services Senior Professional. Boise State University had a similar experience. They saw much greater adoption after making the switch to an easier-to-use lecture capture system.

Skip all-university invites
Instead, train select groups at a time. Training by department, unit, or other work-related group lets faculty learn in a familiar setting with people they know (as opposed to a huge group of people from all departments who they may not know very well).

“We found that some users who were uncomfortable using new technology were a little more open to trying it if they had friends/coworker who were also going to be trying it,” explains Jennifer. This also lets you provide specific instructions for each department’s particular software programs and workflow (such as nursing faculty who use their smartphone to capture practical skills).

Pro tip: Where do I host training?
Host training in a place that replicates the tools (internal network, or other department-specific system) they’ll need when they’re on their own. Computer labs are great for this. You can also provide dedicated recording areas, or just have faculty meet anywhere and bring their laptop.

Plan for online-only training, too
Remote instructors need more than just on-demand instructions. Record a hands-on workshop session and include it along with written and watchable instructions, as the core training package. When they need assistance, record just-in-time video responses to their questions, and share with the entire remote group.

One-on-one, case-by-case
A smaller percentage of staff will need one-on-one assistance. Plan for this ahead of time – budget the resources to meet with them about their specific questions.

Odessa College offers these personalized training sessions as a final approach to onboarding. “These sessions are usually short and focused, but the faculty seem to find them very helpful,” explains Jennifer. “For many of them, once we show them how easy it is to create that first video, it boosted their confidence a great deal (and even got them excited). They started doing more and more on their own with less guidance from us.”

Some instructors philosophically resist new technology. They’re a challenging set to turn around, however, they are usually a small group. Provide specific examples of how quality online courses will benefit their department and them, professionally and personally. Remind them that technology amplifies the instructor’s importance within a course (not the other way around). Sometimes the best progress happens slowly. Leif Nelson, Director of Learning Technology Solutions at Boise State University, explains that it doesn’t always happen all at once. “There’s definitely a step approach to get people used to what’s possible with technology.”

Pro tip: Employ your rock stars
Faculty who have been creating quality online courses for a long time can be great promoters of your new software system. Encourage these ‘rock-star instructors’ to mentor other faculty to create their first videos.

How to Train Faculty to Build a Quality Online Presence

Now that faculty know how to use the technology-side of things, it’s time to tackle the next step – the elements they’ll need to build quality online courses.

With the right strategies, instructors can interact with online students, be attuned to their questions, and give personalized feedback, all while measuring participation and comprehension. Here are time-tested components you can guide faculty to include when they begin creating quality online courses.

Intro video
Recommended as the first video to create and share in any online course, this lets faculty introduce themselves and talk about goals for the course. Plus, instructors can share a bit about what makes them unique, so students get to know them right away.

welcome video for quality online courses

Tracy Schaelen, Distance Education Faculty Coordinator at Southwestern College, provides a basic welcome video to all her online students.

Course navigation video
In this video, faculty can cover common questions such as ‘Where do you go to find the syllabus?”, “How do I submit an assignment in the LMS?,” and “Where is the lab schedule?” Instructors will notice fewer repetitive questions being asked about course logistics, contact scenarios, and office hours (virtual or in person).

One Odessa College nursing instructor created a quick smartphone video when her blended learning students had trouble locating her on campus. It walked students through the labyrinth of office hallways to get to her door. “It was different, but people loved it because it showed she’s a real person,” said Shawn Shreves, VP of Information Technology, Odessa College. “It made it personal.”

New week, topic, or unit video
Faculty can share their excitement about what’s coming up, so students know what to expect for the unit or week, and feel connected. It sets the right tone for a quality online course, and starts building a personal connection, from the beginning.

Ryan Eash using webcam in his quality online course

Ryan Eash introduces week two of his EDU 651 online course, walking students through what to expect.

Pro tip: When they don’t like the sound of their own voice
Not being comfortable with their own voice is a common complaint you may hear while training faculty to create quality online course videos.

When Stephanie Entringer began recording videos at Southeast Technical University, she was hesitant. “When I was new, video freaked me out. No-one likes to hear themselves.” Soon, she realized that her voice helps build a unique relationship with her online students, and any perceived imperfections weren’t anything to worry about. “We’re all human. It doesn’t have to be perfect.” Encourage them to not only accept their voice, but let their personality shine as they build quality online course content.

Walk through documents
Direct instructors to create personalized ‘explainer’ videos to go along with core course documents (assignments, etc.). These work best as informal, off-the-cuff clips; frequent and personable.

“Students really don’t care if I make a mistake, have a bad hair day, or sneeze on video,” says Tracy Schaelen, Distance Education Faculty Coordinator, Southwestern College. “They want to see me—the real person, not a professional spokesperson.” Instructors can walk students through:

  • Syllabus
  • Course schedule
  • Lab procedures
  • Project or report details
  • Due dates, timelines, and other course goals

Assignment and project feedback videos
Instead of writing assignment feedback, have faculty record their feedback as a quick video. Instructors can record a video of themselves explaining notations in a marked-up written essay, narrate their response to a report or practical skills assignment, or walk through how to correctly do a calculus equation. Students love this type of individualized, conversation-style feedback as part of quality online courses.

Student-created videos
Whether it’s to create a video essay response on literature, prove a complex theorem, or record a group lab project in a blended learning course, tasking students to create their own video assignments helps foster creativity about the subject matter and build digital skills. Faculty can also have students create their own welcome videos, or video responses within discussion threads or forums, for increased student-to-student engagement in a quality online course.

Be responsive
Lastly, it’s hugely important that faculty are reachable and respond quickly to student questions. Huss and Eastep’s study of college students found that students expect email responses from their instructors within 12-24 hours.

In addition to email response times, guide faculty to proactively communicate with students weekly or several times per week, turn around assignment feedback as quickly as possible, and share quiz scores promptly.

How to Train Faculty to Create Engaging Core Course Videos

A huge part of quality online courses are personalized video lessons. Simply assigning PowerPoints, textbook reading, or other written lessons just isn’t enough. Video is essential to bridging the digital distance between instructor and students.

Aim for short, concise video lessons
Instead of recording hour-long lectures at the podium, encourage faculty to create shorter video lessons (around 10 minutes each, or less, according to a study from MIT and University of Rochester) for quality online courses. These mini-lectures are easier for students to comprehend, keep their attention much better than a full-class-length lecture, and make it easier to rewatch topics for test prep.

Faculty can record anything on their screen, right from their own computer – presentation slides, documents, webpages, or any other documents. Or, they can hand-write equations for calculus, physics, and more, right on their screen, as if they are writing on a blackboard.

Make the most of video’s strength – keep it visual
According to research by Richard E. Mayer, professor of psychology at UC-Santa Barbara, the old adage is true about the worth of a picture – people learn more easily from words and images than from words alone, especially when images help us process information.

Diagram of a hydrogen fuel cell in a quality online course

It’s easy to see why students learn the function of a hydrogen fuel cell more easily with narration and the above image, as opposed to with words alone.

Direct faculty to:

  • Use colorful visuals that help students understand concepts (as opposed to only words, or simple icons)
  • Include images, graphs, and diagrams
  • Include their face from their webcam (picture-in-picture, or switch back and forth)
  • Use words sparingly on presentation slides

Compared with a podium lecture, instructors have more control of how they present video lessons in quality online courses. They can use colorful visual aids to make their points, which are often difficult to use effectively in a big lecture hall, as well as music, backgrounds, animations, green screen, and more, to make topics easier to learn.

Pro tip: Bring in content from the web
In addition to their own video lessons, faculty can harness educational video content from YouTube and other places to help demonstrate course concepts. Also known as “bookend-ing,” instructors can add their own introduction clip (to preface the external content) and outro clip (to wrap up what’s been learned), as a supplement to their core lessons.

Using their existing smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device, they can capture labs and practical skills in healthcare, chemistry, culinary, and more.

Instructor Heidi Clippard in one of Mott Community College's quality online courses

Instructors at Mott Community College use the power of video to teach hands-on applications, as seen here by health science professor Heidi Clippard.

Make room for discussions
Have faculty include ways to discuss topics with students, and for students to discuss topics with each other. Discussion boards, forums, and email threads can all work for this within quality online courses. Here’s a few ways to keep discussions lively:

  • Ask open-ended questions (avoid “yes” or “no” questions).
  • Have students add their thoughts to discussions regularly, or set minimums to spark interaction.
  • Faculty can have students lead discussions.
  • Have students record video responses to questions, and share with the class.
  • Use chat or messaging apps, live video cams for group discussions, and video commenting.

Carl Weckerle, Online Learning Director at Macomb Community College, is focused on retention and success in online classes. “Anything that enhances that idea of social presence, especially for online students, would be beneficial. It’s an area of growth for us and I think for online in general, and for community colleges in general.”

Regardless of the method, it’s imperative that faculty are active in class discussion, checking in often, asking meaningful questions, and stirring more conversation.

How to Train Faculty to Measure Quality Online Courses

A crucial component to quality online courses is measuring student outcomes. Are students learning? Are they showing up consistently?

Participation
Video viewership is a clear way to gauge basic attendance and ongoing participation. Guide faculty to track (and grade) each student individually regarding:

  • Who watched each video
  • How much they’ve watched
  • When they’ve watched

At Odessa College, instructors monitor viewing percentages to measure online participation and to help identify at-risk students. “We need to know when those students are struggling, when they’re not watching a video, or when they blow a quiz in BlackBoard,” said Shawn. “All that data just gives us more information so we can provide a much quicker response.”

Comprehension
According to Harvard research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), “Enhancing videos with quizzes improves student engagement, reduces mind-wandering by 50%, increases note-taking by 300%, and improves learning outcomes by 30%.”

Direct faculty to include quiz questions directly in their video lessons, to measure learning early and often. Scores can go directly into instructors’ LMS gradebook, and can work for any subject or major of study. Have faculty:

  • Embed quiz questions within their videos (as opposed to have a quiz only at the end). This lets faculty make sure students are actively watching the entire video – they can’t just press ‘play’ and walk away.
  • Ask a mix of choice-type questions and open-ended (essay-type) questions. Quizzes can be formative, summative, qualitative, or quantitative. They can be multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank, or open-ended.
  • Tie grade points to quiz results. Tracie Lee, Lecturer in the College of Business and Economics at Boise State University, has found that students won’t take optional quizzes. Instead, she scores them as part of their participation/attendance grade. “Short videos with embedded quiz questions let students interact with the material and get instant feedback on their understanding of a concept,” said Tracie.“It’s amazing how their scores on the video quizzes track how they will do on their exams.”
Tracie Lee’s Business Statistics 207 quality online course video with quizzes

As seen in Tracie Lee’s Business Statistics 207 video above, interactive quizzes throughout measure student comprehension while increasing engagement in the lesson.

Faculty can also do survey/polls after each video lesson to see how many students grasp a specific concept. All of these metrics together show instructors which students are doing well, which ones are getting by, and which are struggling.

Student Feedback, Perception, and Retention
Encourage faculty to gather feedback early and often on the effectiveness of their quality online courses. What are they hearing from students? Faculty can ask for student feedback:

  • At the end of each video and/or video lesson (What did you like about this video? What helped you learn the best?)
  • At the end of each week, unit, or theme
  • Mid-term, or before exam prep
  • At the end of each course

The goal is to ask for feedback often, learn from all feedback, and adjust instruction accordingly.

Third-party verification
Beyond making sure quality online courses meet your own standards, there are several third-party organizations that can check to make sure online programs meet quality guidelines, such as the level and depth of course interactivity, etc. Organizations include Quality Online Learning & Teaching (QOLT), Quality Online Course Initiative (QOCI), Community of Inquiry, and the ever-popular Quality Matters.

Make it Accessible
Ideally, you want an LMS and video platform that allows you to create and share accessible content and includes accessible navigation, screen-reader-friendly web design, playback, and more.

When training faculty to create quality online courses, have them include:

  • Captions for each video – These can be translated by a third-party, automatically generated by your video platform, or written in by hand. An easy-to-use, web-based editor is a huge help to make corrections that are ADA-compliant.
  • Clear titles and descriptions for course videos, syllabus, written assignments, and other materials, so screen readers can navigate the material.
  • Verbal descriptions of anything they are displaying on video (charts, graphs, medical diagrams, etc.), so that visually-impaired students can learn the concepts.

We hope this has been helpful in sparking ways to train your faculty on the technology needed to create quality online courses, the course elements needed, and the mindset for building a quality online course that engages students. You’ll find the methods that work the best for your faculty and staff, and can continue to iterate as you find the best way to do things for your institution.

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How to Get the Perfect Lighting for Video

If you’re just starting out, lighting for video can be tricky. There is a big difference in how our eyes perceive light compared to a camera lens.

Cameras need WAY more light to produce a quality image than you might imagine. But there are further nuances to light and shadow to consider when planning a video shoot.

The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to prepare and plan properly. We’ll guide you through the process we use to get perfect lighting for all your videos.

Free Lighting Course: TechSmith Academy offers you free video courses. Basics: Lighting Your Video, walks you through the entire process.

Step 1: Prepare for the shoot

Whether you’re doing photography or video, it’s a good idea to scout your location ahead of time. Consider the natural lighting entering through windows and casting shadows – be wary that weather can change quickly.

If you have an adequate set of lights (we’ll get into what qualifies as adequate shortly) it’s best to avoid this natural light due to its volatile nature. Natural lighting can change in an instant if the sun decides to hide behind clouds, and for video this can be a big issue as lighting changes from shot to shot.

The best shooting environment is one in which you have as much control over lighting as possible.

Step 2: Pick out your lighting options and types

Budget

budget At TechSmith we have a drawer full of cheap clamp lights. At around $10 a pop these lights are versatile and can be mounted in a variety of ways. Unfortunately lack of dimming control and included diffusion can lead to harsh lighting.

Light with no filter is known as hard light. Diffusion helps spread light evenly, creating soft light, and can be improvised even on a budget. So when working with clamps lights it is highly suggested to use some type of diffusion material. These lights can also be bounced off a surface like a wall, ceiling, or reflector to create soft light, which is infinitely preferable to blinding your subject and creating an unflattering image.

Mid Range

midrange Sets of purpose-built studio lights can be acquired for $100-$500 with everything you need to set up. These sets commonly use large florescent lights and include effective diffusion material.

Kits with included stands are much better for quickly setting up lighting and generally provide higher total light output. Often these lights have a few switches on the back to control the number of lit bulbs, which provides a greater level of control over your total output.

High End

high end In the higher price range of lighting options it’s likely you’ll be paying as much for one light as you would for a whole mid-range kit.

In turn, you’ll find many more fancy features, such as full range dimmers, wireless control, ability to change color on the fly, better diffusion and stronger output. Before investing in these lights it’s a good idea to rent them locally or online and ensure they’ll suit your needs.

If shooting video is something you plan to do on a regular basis, it may be worth the investment but unless you have specific requirements for these fancier features, it’s a waste of money to invest in such expensive lights when something cheaper will do just as well for basic shoots.

Step 3: Set up 3-point lighting

The most common setup for lights is called 3 point lighting. This configuration consists of a key light, a fill light, and a backlight which can also be called a hairlight.

The key light should be brightest of the three and provides the bulk of light to your subject.

The fill light eliminates shadows caused by the key light. Your fill should be less intense than your key so while it still eliminates shadows, it doesn’t match your key light so closely it creates a flat looking shot.

The backlight separates your subject from the background, creating depth and also preventing a flat looking shot. Your backlight can be hard light (no diffusion) as it won’t create shadows visible to the camera on the subjects face regardless.

3 point light setup3 point lighting

3 point lighting will serve you well in interview setups, promo videos, webinars, and a variety of other shooting situations. common lighting issues

Attribution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX066IHgZEM

Step 4: Choose your light color temperature

Not all lights are created equal. Based on the filament in the bulb, lights can appear “cooler” or “warmer” on camera. This is perceivable with the human eye as well.

Consider how a doctor’s office looks (cool fluorescent light) compared to a comfortable living room setting (warm tungsten light.) This concept is called color temperature and can be measured on a scale of kelvin (see image below.)

If avoidable, it’s best not to mix lights of different color temperatures. If lights are mixed temperature it can lead to improper color balance which can lead to unnatural looking footage.color temperature picture

Color temperature on a kelvin scale

Step 5: Look out for glare

Glasses wearers, while generally considered to be amicable and friendly folks, can be your worst enemy when it comes to lighting.

Glare on glasses can be a big issue, especially lights with larger diffusion boxes.

One trick that helps with glasses is raising up your lights higher on their stands. If you have someone who can assist, have them raise the lights and look through the camera viewfinder until the light is no longer visible in the glasses lens. If raising the lights doesn’t help, try moving your key and fill lights farther out, while keeping them relatively equal to one another.

In the 3-point lighting image above, your key would be closer to 3:15 and your fill would be 8:45. If your talent is comfortable with removing their glasses, that’s always a good last resort but certainly not always an option.

It’s best to accommodate your shooting subject as best you can before asking them to adjust their appearance for a technical reason.

Next steps

With the basics down, feel free to experiment with lighting that works for you.

Try adding lights to your backgrounds, shaping lights, adding gels, or try green screen!

Want to learn even more? Our free TechSmith Academy course,  Basics: Lighting Your Video, will walk you through the process.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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How to Sync Audio and Video Sources

Nothing turns off viewers faster than a video with bad audio.

If you are recording with mobile devices or lower end cameras, they will most likely have very poor built-in mics that are designed to pick up a wide pattern of sound.

Unless you have a higher end camera that has a built-in shotgun mic, you are going to want consider recording audio separately from your video.

This means that you’ll need to learn how to sync audio files and video clips in your video editing process.

You may think you need complex programs like Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, but it doesn’t need to be that complicated.

A little bit of knowledge and a simple video editor will go a long way.

Can’t see the embedded video? Watch it on YouTube.

Free Video Course: Learn everything you need to know with our free TechSmith Academy course, Basics: Syncing Audio and Video.

Choose the right microphone

The first thing you’re going to want to do is select the best microphone. Each mic has a different pick-up pattern and connection type so you’re going to want to determine what’s best for your situation.

Lavalier microphone

For one person interviews, I recommend a lavalier or “lav” mic.

These are great for clipping on your subjects shirt and are easily hidden. They do a great job of picking up only the audio that is close by.

Lavalier mic

Shotgun microphone

For capturing location sounds, or dialog between 2 or more people, I recommend a shotgun mic.

Caution though, shotgun mics are very directional, so you need to make sure you’re pointing the mic directly at the sound you want to pick up.

Shotgun mic

Cardioid microphone

And finally you have your traditional hypercardioid mic which is great for your TV journalistic style shoots or stage performances.

Cardioid mic

Select an audio recorder

So you picked out your microphone and now you need a recorder to capture the audio. Here are a few options that I recommend.

Audio recorders

How to sync audio and video sources

microphone in front of computer screen

Step 1: Get good audio

This can be tough. There are so many things that could potentially affect your audio recording. On top of making sure you select the right microphone, you will also need to make sure you select the right location. Here’s a short list of factors you’ll need to watch out for:

Weather

Nothing will make a terrible audio experience like wind. Filming an interview outside? Did you bring some wind blocking gear? You will, at the very least need a windscreen, however, the best case scenario would be to find an interview location where the weather is not a factor.

Location

Ambient noise can be terrible to try and eliminate in post production. Some video editors have advanced sound mixing tools, but try to fix as control as possible before the edit. Find a location that is quiet and has low foot traffic to mitigate unwanted sounds.

Animals

Yes, this is a real thing! Unless you intend to hear dogs barking or birds chirping during your video, try to find a location where ambient animal sounds are a non-issue. Nothing is worse than having a dog bark when your interviewee gives you a perfect one-liner!

After you have found the right location, you absolutely must do a “sound check”. This means setting up all of your audio recording equipment, recording some test audio and playing that back to assess the quality of the sound. Never jump into your interview without doing a sound check!

Step 2: Import audio

So you’ve just recorded your audio separate from your video?

Congratulations!

There are so many video editing software options on the market it can sometimes be hard to choose the best one for your project. If you’re the type of producer who is recording interviews and b-roll, Camtasia may be the best product for you.

With Camtasia, you can import your audio and video tracks independently. If you need to trim a portion of your recording, it’s often easier when the tracks are separate.Then, simply drag each clip onto your timeline.

screenshot of camtasia how to insert media

Step 3: Sync audio with video

The most difficult part of syncing audio with video is actually lining up your audio and video tracks in the timeline. Use the timeline zoom function in Camtasia to begin lining up your audio and video.

You’ll want to make sure that you can scrub through the timeline at frame by frame basis. To do this, zoom all the way in!


Now that you can see each frame and audio spike, it’s time to line up the “Clap Sync”. This is an old school method of syncing your audio to video. You may have even seen this method used in big Hollywood production (see below for the clapboard).

image of a clapboard

The clapboard is used to give editors the visual marker, while the sound produced by the clap provides the audio marker.

On your timeline, you will see an audio spike and in the video you should see your clapboard or hands clapping. This will allow you to sync the video with the audio!

screenshot of Camtasia

If you forgot to include a clap or cue, you’re left trying to find an obvious cough, or louder moment in the audio spike, that you can cue to their mouths movement.

Step 4: Celebrate!

person jumping in celebration

You did it! You synced your audio and video on the timeline. Sometimes it’s just a matter of trimming the ends and exporting, other times you have a lot more editing still to do.

Either way, you are now through the syncing process and ready for what’s next.

Syncing audio and video can seem like a tough and terrible task, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the tried and true method of the clapboard, along with easy to use post production software like Camtasia to get your desired audio and video. This will get you on track to produce great interview footage.

Want to learn more? Our free TechSmith Academy course, Basics: Syncing Audio and Video, will walk you through the process.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2017 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Localization, Translation, and Transcreation. What’s the Difference?

So, you may be thinking of going “global”. It’s a big discussion, a huge commitment, and lots to think about. The first question you’ll want to answer is: What does it mean for organization to go global?

Every “thing” that is created for another language market is unique. Do you have a digital software product or a boxed board game? A food item with distribution needs? Or a creative jewelry line to be sold online?

Whatever it is you want to produce for a global audience, you need to begin the process by doing a basic inventory of the scope of the work to define HOW each piece will be translated BEFORE you start localizing content. And, to do this, there are just three basic, but very important, terms you need to understand: localization, translation, and transcreation.

What’s the difference between localization, translation and transcreation?

You will find many, and sometimes differing, online definitions of what these words mean. The subject is both deep and wide, with numerous webinars, books, videos, and whitepapers available on these topics.. But for the sake of clarity and to help you decide which method is best for you, we’re going to keep our definitions  simple.

Localization

This is a collective “umbrella” term to encompass all the work and processes that go into making your global strategy a reality. This includes the project plan for the work to be done, the team processes to grow toward scalability and efficiency, encompassing the Localization Model of Maturity (LMM) working with Localization Service Providers (LSPs), translations, etc. Localization is the larger category or “department”, like Marketing or Development.

Translation

Translation is the process of putting words or text from one language into another. In the world of Localization, this term infers “directly” or “as-is”. It is pretty much a word-to-word or phrase-to-phrase match taking into account various locale forms of grammar, syntax, etc.

Let’s consider the phrase Where is the restroom? This phrase translates well as-is, though many countries call this room something different, such as bathroom, washroom, toilets.

Transcreation

The process of culturally adapting and translating words, text, images, videos, entire campaigns, etc. from one regional locale into another. In the world of Localization, this term infers “change” or “different”.

Let’s consider the NIKE slogan, Just Do It. What does this mean to you? Ask 10 people what this means, and you will receive 10 very different answers. So, as you may surmise, a direct translation of this elusive slogan would not convey the emotion or personal meaning behind the phrase and it might even end up being ridiculous or offensive. Therefore, an equivalent slogan in other languages was sought. However, for NIKE, translation ultimately proved impossible and they chose to leave this phrase as-is in English for all their target markets.

Transcreation might be a simple change in graphics on your localized webpages, or, it could be completely different products, campaigns, menus, etc. for a global region. Consider this Chinese Pizza Hut breakfast menu webpage. Aside from the red logo image and the words “Pizza Hut”, it doesn’t resemble anything we might know about Pizza Hut in the United States.

Screenshot of what Chinese Pizza Hut represents

Overall, Pizza Hut operates in over 120 countries, each with their own unique website, look, menu, campaigns, etc. What’s more, each of their sites may have several language versions to choose from.

When you consider this scale of this operation, it’s pretty mind boggling. However, it gets even better. Pizza Hut is part of YUM!, the corporation that also owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and more. Overall, they operate in 140 countries and open seven new restaurants around the world each day!

Which is a best fit for you?

Now that you understand more about the two basic ways to take your product to a global audience, your first step is to choose which model to follow to meet your global strategy.

Overall, does your product have a straightforward look, message, or process that is ubiquitous for use around the world? If so, translation should work in 95% of what you need to create for your new market. Software, technology, machinery, technical support, help desks, and instruction manuals are great products to translate since the “how to” is the same in each language. This method is also most cost effective since you typically pay by the word along with some project management fees.

Additionally, these translations are added to your Translation Memory (TM). The TM stores all your words and phrases and you only pay for the first time a word is entered. So, incorporating Controlled Language best practices in translation can really pay off on your bottom line.

Screenshots of Camtasia web page in three different languages

However, if your product, marketing campaigns, logos, slogans, menus, creative descriptions, and web pages need to be changed in any way to meet the market demand in other locales, you have a higher percentage of transcreation needed. The transcreation process often includes market research and analysis, creative writers in the various locales, regional marketing experts and more. Since this is a more hands-on approach to going global, the costs for transcreation services are much higher than translation services. Also, the LSP, advertising companies, etc. are often different since some specialize in one area or another. This means you might be managing and organizing projects across a number of different providers in various time zones.

Screenshots of four different Coca Cola advertisements in various languages

First things first- make an audit sheet

Before your first project is sent off to be translated, you need to know which assets are included and what kind of translation you need. This requires you make a simple audit of your content. It might be a long list, but, that list will grow exponentially with every language you add. So, it’s better to do the audit now, rather than later.

You can use a spreadsheet, like Google Sheets, to list all the content to be localized. Google Sheets also allows others to more easily collaborate with you on the audit process.

  • Include videos, webpages, products, whitepapers, store pages, technical support pages, help files, newsletter version, etc.
  • Use different sheets to keep things organized by category.
  • Make a plan to keep this document well maintained and up to date.
  • In the sheet, create a column for the asset name, file name or URL, file or project location, each language the asset is available in, and whether or not the asset will be translated (TR) or transcreated (CR).

These are just a few things to keep in mind when you start looking at localization for your content. Overall, there’s a huge world of localization out there… but, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just by learning a few simple terms, you are well on your way to creating a well-organized global plan.

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Animated GIFs vs. Screencast Videos

How Did you Make that GIF“I love your animated GIFs!”

I get some version of this tweeted to me daily, if not multiple times a day. A few years ago, I regularly shared video screencasts. I definitely did not receive “I love your screencasts!” tweets daily. In fact, I don’t think I received a single one. So, why do animated GIFs seem to resonate better with some people? Let’s start by discussing how this all began.

First, animated GIFs are essentially the halfway point between image and video. They’re image files, but animated. Unlike videos, though, they’re silent. They’re also much shorter than your typical video. Pronounce them how you want (I prefer hard G like gift, not soft G like giraffe), but GIFs are everywhere now. GIFs have actually been around for years. It’s just that today’s devices and internet are fast enough for us send and post files that are a few megabytes without hesitation.

video viewsWhy did I start making GIFs? In January of 2017, I decided to really commit to producing content on my website that would benefit my primary audience — educators. So, I started making videos with that in mind. I committed to making three or four a week. These weren’t animated GIFs, though. They were 5-10 minute screencasts with audio and webcam video of myself (looking professional in a dress shirt, despite the fact that I was wearing PJ pants).

So, how did I go from making screencast videos to making 20-40 second animated GIFs? Data and reflection, of course! I was disappointed when I checked back in on those YouTube videos a week later to see single-digit views. The worst part: one or two of those views were me checking to make sure the upload and link worked and at least one was my mom. I was spending at least an hour recording, editing, posting and tweeting each of these videos to net a handful of views. This just wasn’t the effect that I had hoped for. My content was good, but I couldn’t get it in front of an audience. What was I to do?

tater tot casserole

Source: Delish YouTube Channel

After thinking about this, I got my inspiration from tater tot casserole. If you’ve ever had tater tot casserole, you know that it’s pretty tasty, but you’re likely surprised to hear that inspired me. The inspiration actually came from a video on Facebook about making tater tot casserole. You’ve seen these recipe videos before – they’re silent, they autoplay, they move quickly, they’re easy to follow and they’re nearly impossible to ignore. I sat there learning how to cook tater tot casserole – Why was I watching!? I don’t even do much of the cooking in our house! – and realized something important. I needed to avoid the hardest step in preparing online video – getting viewers to press play. If the video automatically plays while they scroll past it on Twitter, I only need to create content good enough to get them to stick around —and to keep coming back for more.

That’s when I discovered the option to export screencasts as animated GIFs. The rest is history. My tweets average nearly 900 impressions*. And if the content is good enough, those impressions lead to followers who keep coming back and retweets that lead to even more impressions. TechSmith even has a blog about ways you can use GIFs in the workplace, should you need some inspiration other than social media uses.

Want to see some of these GIFs? Check out bit.ly/MillerGIFs or just visit my site (jakemiller.net) or my Twitter Feed (@JakeMillerTech).

Want to learn about how I create these GIFs? Check out jakemiller.net/CamtasiaCourse.

*28-day period ending June 19, 2018 – 550K impressions, 613 tweets.

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TechSmith’s Three-Pronged Training Content Strategy

At some point, virtually every business conducts training. From the neighborhood coffee shop teaching new baristas how to make lattes, to software behemoths deploying millions of dollars worth of technology all around the world, companies use training to keep their customers happy, sales rolling in, and business running smoothly.

The goals and purpose of training provided at different companies varies. In the case of the small coffee shop, training is likely informal and delivered from one person to another. For the global technology provider, things are a bit different.

Three-Pronged Training Content Approach

venn diagram of 3 audiences for training

Most companies that provide a complex solution or product encounter a three-pronged training challenge. First, they need to make sure their customers can easily learn to use the product. Second, they must prepare sales people who have a deep knowledge of their product’s functionality and applications. Third, they may want to help potential customers expand their skills and knowledge that relate directly to a product offering. This last one is akin to thought leadership combined with professional education and it can be a boon to a company’s reputation as a leader in the market.

At TechSmith, we know this challenge well. We have a large user base that wants to quickly learn our products and the best workflows. At t he same time, we have internal sales folks and external channel sales partners that need to have a thorough understanding of our company and the products’ we offer. And, third, we genuinely want to help people learn useful skills when it comes to video, image creation, and visual communication.

Each of the three prongs has a unique set of benefits, which means deciding what to take on first depends on the needs of your organization and its goals. Let’s look at the benefits and key considerations of each.

Training for users

Venn diagram highlighting Users as training audience

For a lot of companies this is the first type of training they create. The goal of training for users is to give them an easy onboarding path. Essentially, your goal is to, as quickly as possible, help them arrive at a point where they experience value from your product.

Training for users is an industry standard these days. Customers expect it, but that doesn’t mean they take it for granted. Well-designed user training is often perceived as a feature of the product offering. Indeed, at TechSmith we feel our tutorials are part of the package we offer to our customers.

Benefits

Training for users is a huge driver of customer satisfaction. Simply knowing they have a company-supported resource is a confidence boost in their ability to learn and implement a new product. It is also helpful in sales conversations. Managers or directors buying a solution will want to know that their employees can easily learn your solution and will have access to the necessary resources.

Product tutorials serve a marketing function, too. They are a great way for new and prospective users to see functionality and features without devoting a ton of time or effort. A user can see what we offer without ever downloading and installing. Once it is confirmed we provide desired features, they move to the next step in the funnel: downloading the trial.

A final bonus is that by making your own tutorials, you control the message. If you’re not making them, someone else might do it, designing with their own motivations in mind. By making your own, you take advantage of another touchpoint with customers and communicate the message you want.

Key Considerations

  • Think about providing tiered training series (e.g. Beginner and Advanced tutorials)
  • Make sure to cover core features and workflows
  • Use a consistent template or pattern in videos to help viewers become familiar
  • Needs to be kept up to date and refreshed when new features are released

Training for sales

Venn diagram representing sales as training audience

Whether you have internal or external sales people, this is an important focus. Sales folks need both the language to talk about your products and solutions, along with a way to spot opportunities. Offering training to help grow product and company knowledge is an excellent way to solve this problem. At TechSmith, our biggest focus with this has been creating content that can be used by our channel sales partners.

Create a series that keys salespeople into the big problems that your product(s) solves. Features are less important here, while characteristics of prospective customers are critical. What are the activities or interests that customer organizations or individuals will express that make them a good fit for your offering? Training for sales should provide a complete answer to this question and give sales people the knowledge and language to communicate to customers.

Benefits

Especially when it comes to channel sales partners, this type of training can be a big benefit. Channel partners often know little about your company and have a number of other products they sell. Giving them an easy way to gain familiarity with your company and talking points can be a big plus. Any way to make sure you are top of mind in the right situations can lead to more sales.

Key Considerations

  • Do internal sales people need different information than channel or outside sales folks?
  • Find a balance between product knowledge and customer characteristics knowledge
  • Make sure it is easy to access and consume
  • Think about tracking and viewership needs
  • An LMS may be necessary for creating courses and educational paths
  • Provide additional sales or marketing resources

Training for the industry

Venn diagram representing industry as training target

Your product most likely provides a solution that benefits a particular industry practice or activity. TechSmith’s products, Camtasia and Snagit, help people create amazing images and videos and use them to communicate in new, more effective ways. Of course, not everyone is familiar with how to record and edit videos or create graphics and images. To solve this we created the TechSmith Academy. The Academy helps anyone interested in making video learn the fundamentals. The knowledge we provide is valuable, whether or not an individual uses our products.

Benefits

Creating educational content that anyone can use, even without using your product, can be highly beneficial to business (so long as the content you create relates to your solution). You want your company to be seen as a leader in the industry for which you provide solutions. Helping others grow their competencies in the area is one of the best ways to achieve that status.

Key Considerations

  • Identify core or critical skills in the industry
  • Match the skills you teach with ones that make using your products easier
  • You may be able to offer a ‘certification’ of sorts
  • May need an LMS for delivery and tracking

Making all of the content suggested above could be overwhelming. My suggestion is to decide which one of the three would be of the greatest impact on your business. While I have presented these in a particular order, that does not imply that one should always be of higher priority than another.

Consider your companies needs when it comes to your customers, your sales people and partners, and position in the industry. What do you most want to achieve? Then, pick a path and start creating and sharing great content!

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The Secret to Social Media Video: Captions! Here’s how (and why) to add them

Social media streams are crowded, fast-moving, and crazy competitive. As social networks throttle back organic reach, being noticed is getting harder everyday.

Your fans and followers are scrolling past posts, ruthlessly dismissing most headlines and images they see. But then they slow down … pause … there’s something moving in their stream … it’s a video!

Social media video has stopping power. Movement is more visually prominent than still images. And images are more prominent than text.

This is part of the Law of Visual Hierarchy.

Laws of visual hierarchy

Remember 10 years ago when marketers suddenly realized that they needed to use images in their Facebook posts? Well, times have changed. Images aren’t enough anymore. Now you need to add video.

Captions are the Key to Social Media Video

Ok, so video is good, but not all videos get engagement. Why do some videos do so much better than others? The secret is captions.Video gets them to slow their scroll, but captions get them to engage.

Social media videos start out as silent. There’s a talking head, but no sound. It may be saying something funny or useful or provocative, but we have no idea — because we can’t hear it.

Enter captions.

There are actually four important reasons to add captions:

1. Social media engagement
Beyond colorful visuals, captions actually let viewers know what the video is about, giving them a reason to tap and turn on the sound and listen.

2. Accessibility
Some of your viewers are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

3. Environment
A viewer in an open office or in public can get the meaning without reaching for headphones

4. Foreign Language Speakers
Captions aren’t the same as subtitles, but still, if your language isn’t their first language, captions help overcome the challenges of accent and dialect.

How do you add captions to video?

There are tools that try to do it automatically, but as you can imagine, they make a lot of mistakes. You’ve probably seen captions with missed words, bad capitalization, and weird punctuation.Doing it by hand is best. But you need a simple tool and a little bit of time.

Here is my three-step approach to adding captions with my favorite tool and the host of this blog, TechSmith Camtasia.

Step One: Shoot the Video

Use basic best practices for lighting and sound, but don’t go rent a soundstage. This is social media, not Hollywood. I recommend a tripod, a window, and a decent microphone. Here’s what my office looks like in studio-mode.

Andy Crestodina Recording Setup

We’re making social media videos, so keep it short and sweet. No need for a long intro or pre-amble. Just jump in with the topic and get right to the point.

Pro Tip: While you have things set up, shoot a batch of three or four videos. Make the most of the time you spent on wardrobe, hair, and makeup …I don’t personally wear makeup, but I know people who do.

Step Two: Pop Open Your Video Editing Software

If you recorded directly into Camtasia, it’s going to open a file for you with your tracks set up. If you recorded on another camera or phone, move the file to your laptop and then open it in Camtasia.

You’ll want to start with some editing basics before you start adding captions:

  • Frame yourself in the video – Your head should be pretty big, filling around a third of the frame

Video frame dimensions

  • Trim the beginning / end, cut out the outtakes, and add some jump cuts
  • Mistakes are fine, since those cuts keep things interesting!
  • Filter out background noise or adjust the sound levels as needed
  • Add an intro/outro (If you don’t have one, Camtasia has an entire library to choose from)

Step Three – Add the Captions Track

Once you’ve cleaned up the file, you’re ready to add captions that make your social media videos engaging and accessible.

This is a social media video, so you probably didn’t start with a script and you don’t likely have a transcription. No problem.

Select the audio track, then from the main menu, click Modify > Captions > Add Captions. (or just right click on the audio track and choose “Add Caption” from that menu)

Add Captions

Now you’ll see a new track above the main timeline. It’s automagically broken up into short segments.

Step Four – Type the captions for each segment

Next click on the first segment, which will highlight it in purple and bring up the captions editor above.

Now just type in the caption for this segment. Camtasia will play that segment for you, so you can listen to the audio as you type. Finished with the first? Move on to the next segment and type in the next caption.

edit captions

Tedious? Not really. Social videos are usually short, so adding captions might take 5 to 10 minutes at most. Plus you get total control over timing, punctuation, fonts and capitalization.

ProTip! Add emojis to your captions. That automatic captioning app on your phone can’t do that!

Step Five – Change the Captions Font Size

Before you wrap this up, pump up the size of the text in your captions. Some of your visitors will be on small screens.

  • Click on the gear to the left of the caption track to see the captions menu.
  • Choose Caption Settings.
  • In the Caption Settings window (at the top of the screen) increase the size of the captions. I recommend a font size of 55 or so to make sure your captions are legible in mobile social streams.

caption settings

Step Six – Save, Export and Publish

You’re all set. Export the video to your laptop, upload it to a social network, then lovingly write a post to go with it using every trick in the social media post checklist: numbers, hashtags, mentions and special characters! Give it all you’ve got.

social mention

Bonus Step! Track traffic from the social post in Analytics

Of course, you’ll see the engagement metrics (likes, comments, shares) right there in the social channel. But to measure traffic from this social post to your website, you’ll need to add UTM Tracking Code to any links in the social post that point back to you.

Joel Don created a nice UTM Builder that make adding these campaign tracking codes easy.

utm parameters

If you added these tracking codes, traffic from this social post will appear in your Google Analytics campaign reports. It might look something like this…

google analytics conversions

Don’t be surprised if this post gets way more traction than a typical social media post. And a lot more traffic than a typical social media video. You just learned the secret to social video stopping power: captions.

That’s a wrap!

Marketers going big are doing better. And the one way to go bigger than anyone else is to upgrade your content to maximum power. That’s social media video.

Social media videos are so engaging that the networks are pushing them way to the top of social streams. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn all want us to do more in this all-powerful format. It wins in the algorithms and in wins for attention.

As a social media marketer, video is your most powerful tool.

So rather than just post a headline and link to your article, make a tiny commercial of you introducing your article to your followers.

The post The Secret to Social Media Video: Captions! Here’s how (and why) to add them appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

Get Your Point Across Quickly with Visual Content

If you’ve ever written public-facing anything, or “copy”, as we call it in the marketing world — whether it’s an internal email or a public-facing blog post — you want to believe that people meticulously read every. single. word.

It’s more likely, though, that readers are merely skimming your content. In fact, according to research, users will read only about 20% of the text on an average page.

But there’s good news. You can convey meaning more quickly — grabbing and keeping their attention with visual content.

 

Use photos – the most common form of visual content!

While this may seem obvious, it’s still important enough to mention. Long sections of text can seem daunting to readers. You can alleviate their fears by breaking up those blocks of text with photos. There are tons of stock photo sites available. Many are paid, but there are free options as well. Here are just a few:

  • iStock offers a wide array of photos and other visual content for a fee.
  • Pixabay offers photos (and vector graphics, illustrations, and videos) for free.
  • Unsplash offers free hi-resolution photo downloads (note that crediting isn’t required, but appreciated for this site).

Stock photos often work well, but use them carefully. While your audience may not notice the difference between a good photo and a great photo, they’ll definitely spot a terrible photo. A bad stock photo is one that is obviously fake, disingenuous, or overly cheesy. Listen to your gut, and if you still aren’t sure, check with a colleague. Avoid photos of women laughing at salad.

collection of photos of women laughing at their salads representing photos as a type of visual content

Avoid using photos of women laughing at salads. Source: Google search.

You can always take your own photos, as well. In this era of smartphones, most of us have 24/7 access to a high-quality camera. You don’t need to be a professional to take a great photo. There are simple steps you can take, such as cropping your photo after you’ve captured it, to make your visual content look professional and focus viewer attention.

 

Don’t forget Illustrations!

According to research, more than 64% of millennials say they understand information faster when it’s communicated visually, vs. just 7% who don’t. If you want to convey something very specific, that is a great opportunity to use an illustration.

There are free icons you can incorporate into a custom graphic or illustration available through TechSmith Assets if you choose to build your own. TechSmith Snagit is helpful if you want to put something together that is directly related to your topic quickly and easily.

Below is an example of a custom graphic created to illustrate the process involved in ordering video editing operations.

graphic illustration showing the irrelevant materials being filtered out during the video editing process representing graphics as a type of visual content

This custom graphic was created to accompany a blog post about ordering video editing operations.

 

And then there are screenshots!

Capture a screenshot when you want to share exactly what you see on your screen. The possibilities are limitless. Screen captures can be especially helpful if you are providing instructions or when you need to describe something.

Use a screenshot to capture a software application’s user interface, explain a common error message, convert a section of an excel spreadsheet into an image, make your own meme, and more. There’s plenty of room to get creative.

GIF of Snagit capturing a screenshot of an error message, representing a screenshot as a type of visual content

A screenshot is a quick and simple way to incorporate visuals into your content.

 

What about typographic hierarchy?

Glad you asked! Don’t let the term intimidate you. Think of typographic hierarchy as approaching your text as if it were imagery. Leverage white space, bold font, italics, styles — keep it interesting!

Use different header levels–headlines, subheads, and body copy to draw attention to important parts. View the below example from Canva to see the contrast between hierarchy done well vs. not done at all.

examples of text with and without typographic heirarchy, representing that text can be made more visual depending how it is laid out

This example from Canva shows how incorporating different text levels can be impactful in your writing.

 

Conclusion

If you are still reading, thank you! No hard feelings if you mostly just skimmed your way through, though. While most of these tips are probably familiar to you, hopefully this information served as a helpful reminder that putting a little extra time and effort into your planning phase can make an impactful difference when it’s time to distribute your content.

If you are interested in learning more about ways to leverage visual communication, subscribe to the TechSmith Blog to receive weekly updates. Download our original research data to learn more about the value of using visuals.

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How to Get Crisp, Clear Screen Video

There are lots of great reasons to use screen video. Maybe you want to record a simple video showing a coworker how to submit time off on the new system or even a more elaborate corporate training video. Or maybe you want to respond to a client’s question by showing them the numbers you see on screen with some webcam video to add personality. Regardless of the reason, you don’t want to end up with blurry or distorted screen video.

You’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, you’ll learn how to use recording dimensions, project dimensions, and production settings to get crisp, clear screen video. So, let’s start learning.

Let’s start with three key things you need to know to get crisp video. Keep these definitions in mind as we go along to better understand how you can avoid blurry video.

Three Keys to Crisp, Clear Video

 

Recording Dimensions
This is the size of your recording. If you record full screen, it’s usually the same as the resolution of your monitor.

Project Dimensions
This is the size of your canvas in Camtasia, or the area in which you build your video

Production Settings
These are the options you choose when producing your video, including the size of your video.

Now, that we have those terms under our belt, the rest should make a lot more sense.

Screen Video Loses Quality When Scaled

scaling screen video

 

You may have noticed that when you scale images the quality often decreases. Screen video is no different!

Scaling is stretching or shrinking a screen recording to display it at a size different than the original recording size. This causes screen video to quickly lose quality and appear blurry or distorted.

To help ensure crisp, clear screen video, remember to display your screen video at its original size, which avoids any scaling.

A Shortcut to Crisp, Clear Video

matching video dimensions

 

Match your recording dimensions, project dimensions, and productions settings to help ensure crisp, clear screen video.

This guarantees your screen recording shows at its original size, or 100% scale—the highest quality you can get from screen recordings.

varying screen size

 

That’s great advice and all, but what if you can’t avoid scaling? Don’t worry! Sometimes it’s not possible to match your recording and project dimensions. For example, if you record a screen that is bigger or smaller than the size of the video you want to create, or if your monitor doesn’t fit a standard 16:9 aspect ratio.

In these situations, scaling the recording is unavoidable. But, you can use scaling to your advantage, and I’ll walk you through how to do it.

Use Scaling to Your Advantage

 

Our instructional designers here at TechSmith often use scaling to create tutorial videos. They record on a monitor that is twice the size of their project dimensions. They know that when they fit the screen recording to the project, it will be displayed at half its original size and will have some quality loss. It works for them, because they spend most of their time zoomed in and focused on specific parts of the user interface, which is where they want to see the highest quality.

To get the highest quality and most detail, they zoom to the original size of the recording, or 100% scale. When we need to show something on an adjacent part of the screen, they pan over, remaining at 100% scale. (You can learn more about zooming in TechSmith Camtasia by checking out our Animations In-Depth tutorial).

Scale video 100 percent

 

That brings me to my last point. When in doubt, keep your screen recording at 100% scale so it displays at the highest quality possible.

I hope after reading this blog post you feel more confident in recording crisp, clear screen video! And if you’re looking to learn more about video, check out our blog post on 50 tips for better video.

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