Best Microphones for Recording Video

Choosing the best microphone for recording video is crucial. If the audio in your video is poor quality, viewers will drop off.

Having the right microphone for recording video is good place to start. But how do you know which microphone is going to serve your needs best with so many options to choose from?

With this in mind, we wanted to know how different microphones stack up against each other. So we tested 18 different microphones from brands like Blue, Rode, Shure, Sennheiser, and Audio Technica to see which are the best microphones for recording video.

The Studio Set-Up

We wanted to test our microphones is a fair and consistent way. Below is a list of what we kept consistent for each recording:Testing out microphones for video and narration in the TechSmith Studio

  • The microphones were plugged into a 2015 Macbook Pro running MacOS Sierra 10.12.3 with the sound input level set to 67%. We did not adjust the level in order to keep the level consistent across microphones, and to mimic the plug-and-play experience a USB mic provides.
  • XLR microphones were plugged directly in a Zoom H4N digital recorder.
  • Recordings were taken directly from the SD card used in the device.
  • The same levels were used across all XLR microphones.
  • Microphones using an ⅛ inch jack were plugged into a Behringer Xenyx 302USB, which was plugged into the Macbook Pro.
  • Gain was set to the midpoint, with the EQ set even at zero for the Low and High. Mic level was just shy of the midpoint.
  • Same voice over talent for all recordings, which was Andrea Perry & Ryan Knott for the English voice overs, and Lars Grosspietsch for the German voice over. We also wanted to capture the difference between male and female voices.

Best Microphones for Recording Video- Our Top 5

We selected the following as our favorite microphones for recording video based on the test recordings we made. Check out our results below.

1. SE Electronics sE2200a II C Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser MicrophoneMicrophone in a studio with pop screen

This XLR mic isn’t a name that will roll off the tongue. However, this microphone has a great overall sound for both a male and female voice.

Coming in at $299, it is well worth its value.The Microphone is an XLR microphone, and it needs to be powered. This means you must have a mixer that provides power and accepts an XLR input.

For Andrea’s recording, we felt like we needed to add a little bit of low end (bass). We tested adding bass in a different recording through a mixing board and felt it enhanced the quality of the mic even more. This could be done using an audio editing program as well.

SE Electronics sE2200A II C

 

2. Audio-Technica AT875R Line + Gradient Condenser Microphone

This XLR microphone was a surprise performer during our tests. This microphone has a small stature, but a great sound.

As a shotgun mic, it has a line and gradient pick-up pattern. This means it rejects a lot of noise from the side and is very directional.If you have someone controlling the placement of the mic, this is a positive. However, if you have an individual that tends to move as they talk, this can affect the recording.

Overall, coming in at $169, this mic feels like a good value.

Audio-Technica AT875R

 

3. Blue Yeti USB Microphone – Silver & AudioTechnica 2020 USB

The Yeti and the AudioTechnica 2020 USB were too close to call for the third spot.

Both are USB microphones and sit in the same price range, $129 and $128, respectively. Both microphones have a good sound and picked up minimal background noise in our quiet environment.

The Yeti sounds a little smoother, but the AT2020 also has a nice sound and has been the workhorse mic used for TechSmith’s tutorials for multiple years now. It comes down to preference with these two mics.

If looks matter and you want to impress your colleagues and boss, the Yeti is an impressive (and hefty microphone) and would be first on the list.

The Yeti also offers a few different options not provided by the previously-mentioned microphones, including a switch for various polar patterns.

In addition to four polar patterns, there is also a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack that allows you to monitor the input of what you’re recording in real-time.

Our only frustration was it wasn’t easy to mount to a mic stand. You can easily remove it from the provided base, but the size of the mount for the Yeti didn’t match our microphone stand. You can get an adapter, but that’s something you’ll want to take care of before your recording session.

Blue Yeti
AudioTechnica 2020 USB

 

4. Blue Snowball – USB

The next microphone on our list is the Blue Snowball.

Overall, we did a lot of comparing of the Snowball to the Yeti, and the Snowball wasn’t too far behind.

Coming in at around $69 dollars, it’s definitely a great microphone for anyone on a tight budget.

We really like that the Snowball had good volume to it. Given that we set the input and kept it consistent, some mics were pretty low and difficult to hear, but the Snowball had a lot of volume.

If we were going to use the Snowball consistently, I would adjust the input level down on my computer.

Blue Snowball

 

5. Zoom H4N Multitrack Recorder

The Zoom H4N is a very different type of microphone. It is both a microphone and a recorder. You can use it to record sounds, voiceovers, and interviews directly to an SD card, or you can plug in and record from up to 2 XLR microphones.

Since we have a Zoom, we thought we’d give it a try as a standalone microphone.

The sound quality is pretty good, although it did pick up a lot of popping sounds during the voice over. This problem could be remedied with a pop filter.

Overall, the Zoom is a versatile device that can go anywhere you go. On video shoots, we plug a wireless lapel mic directly into the camera, but set up the Zoom with another mic (usually a shotgun) to get a second audio source.

Also, there is a new version of the H4N available, which boasts of newer better microphones, among other features.

The H4N runs $199, but is a great value, especially because it is so versatile.

Zoom H4N Sample

Honorable Mention:

Sennheiser EW 112P G3-A omni-directional EW System

If you’re looking for a wireless pack, and have a bit of a budget, we really like this Sennheiser.

Wireless microphones have two components: the transmitter and the receiver.

The Sennheiser has a small battery powered receiver that you can mount to a camera, or easily keep out of the way. Other wireless set-ups have a base station that needs to be plugged in and usually isn’t convenient if you’re out and about.

While it didn’t provide the best overall sound, it was still good. Also, it’s a lapel mic, which is great for on-camera interviews, or presentations.

The biggest downside is the cost. These are not cheap, coming in at a whopping $630. However, depending on your budget, this might be well worth the price.

Sennheiser EW 112P G3-A

Final Thoughts

We talk a lot about audio being a critical part of your videos. And it’s true, bad audio will make bad videos. A good microphone will go a long way in helping you make better productions.

But it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. Remember to control the noise in the location (e.g.turn off overhead lights that buzz, turn off the HVAC.)

Finally, learn about your microphone and how to get the best sound out of it, and take the time to learn how to adjust it. It will be well worth it when your audience listens to your sweet audio as they watch your videos.

And a big thanks to SE Electronics for the use of the SE Electronics sE2200a II C Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone and to Blue Microphones for providing a Blue Yeti USB Microphone – Silver and Blue Nessie USB Microphone to test.

 

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

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6 Steps to Start Making a Video Tutorial Program

Creating a video tutorial series is a great go-to strategy for any training program. When done right, it creates a more manageable learning experience, with content that’s easily reusable.

To get started, check out our six steps to start making a video tutorial program.

#1 Get to Know Your Audience

The first step in creating a great video tutorial series is to get to know your audience.

To start, determine who your target audience is for this video tutorial series. Are they new users, or intermediate users looking to level up? Your focus should be on narrowing down your audience so that your videos can be focused and provide the best instruction. Series that target too broad an audience usually end up missing the mark by making things too easy for some and too hard for others.

If you don’t have access to your users, create a list of everything you already know about them. You might surprise yourself by knowing more than you realized. At the very least, try to establish your target audience and roughly determine their average level of expertise and familiarity with your software.

Here are a couple of questions to help you focus:

  • What’s driving you to make this video tutorial series?
  • Who would benefit the most from these video tutorials?
  • Is your audience mainly first-time users or seasoned veterans?
  • How experienced is your average user with technology in general?

Personas example for video tutorial creation

 

With your audience established, you’re next big task is to identify how your audience uses your program. What are the most common workflows and common pain points? These questions should shed some light on where your users need the most help, and what you learn should help you put together a content plan to support them.

Video tutorial creation common workflow chart

 

#2 Establish Goals for your Video Tutorials

When creating goals, start with the end in mind. Think about what you want your users to be able to do when they’re finished watching your video tutorial series and work your way backwards. Figure out the most important concepts and skills a user needs to know in order to be successful.

To help you get started, here are a few key questions to keep in mind:

  • Do my goals cover the most common pain points?
  • Are my goals appropriate for the skill level and knowledge of my audience?
  • Will my goals fit into the scope and budget for this project?

 

#3 Create a Content Plan

Write down all of the topics you need to cover for your user to accomplish the goals established above. This list should include everything from large, overarching concepts to small, essential skills.

When finished, walk through the list and mark any natural stopping points in the user workflow. These points signify places you could potentially end one video and start another.

How many video tutorials should you make?

From here, you’ll need to decide how many videos you plan to create and how much content to include in each.

When deciding how much to include in a video, there’s one concept that’s more important than the rest: cognitive load. Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory, which essentially means there’s a limit to how much you can teach and how fast you can teach it. Teach too much or too fast and you’ll frustrate your viewers, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and less likely to continue. Here are a few things you can do to avoid overloading your users.

First, consider the complexity of what you’re teaching. If you’re tackling a really complex concept or skill, you might have to slow down your instruction in exchange for more explanation. Essentially, the more complex a topic, the fewer topics you can teach in the same video, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.

Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • How complex is the topic(s) for this video?
  • Can I teach more than one topic at a comfortable pace?
  • Do all of the topics in the video relate to one another?
  • Is there a clear beginning, middle and end?
  • How much can I teach before my audience becomes overloaded?
Gather Feedback

Second, find some people who are willing to provide feedback and walk them through your content plan. It’s best if they vary in skill level and program experience, so you get a broad range of opinions.

Ask them straightforward questions such as, “Now that you’ve watched this video, do you feel confident completing X task?“ Or, from a high level, can they tell you what they learned from the video, and do their answers align with your goals?

Then listen closely to what they say. If you notice any trends in their feedback, you’ll know you need to make some changes.

Lastly, see what has worked in the past. Are there videos similar to the ones you’re creating? If so, give them a look and see what worked and what didn’t.

 

#4 Structure Your Video Tutorial Series

There are three main points to think about when structuring your video tutorial series:

Order – Does the series need to be watched in a specific order? Or, can the viewers watch each video independently and still accomplish the learning goals? If you plan well, sometimes you can have the best of both worlds.

Participation – What do you expect your viewers to do while watching your series? Should they follow along with their own project/software, or should they simply watch and learn from what you’re doing?

Assessment – What do you want your viewers to do when they finish watching your series? Will this series have assessments that occur throughout or at the end? If not, where do you want them to go after or what do you want them to do when they finish?

 

#5 Create Your Video Tutorial

Creating the videos is the most time consuming part of the whole process. That said, if you put effort into the planning process, it should dramatically cut down on production time. To get started creating your first video tutorial, check out the video below.

If you’re looking to learn more about editing in Camtasia, check out the rest of our tutorials at www.techsmith.com/tutorial-camtasia-9-3.html

 

#6 Evaluate and Improve

Finishing your content and publishing it is kind of like sitting in on the opening night for a movie that you created. This is your chance to see what the audience thinks. The information you gather can help determine the success of the content and can help shape its future direction.

Based on what you learn, you may end up making major changes to the structure and pacing. With this in mind, it’s important to come up with a plan for gathering feedback.

Did your video tutorials work?

The first thing to decide is what success looks like. How will you know if your viewers have accomplished your instructional goals? This is a good time to sit down with stakeholders, collaborators and anyone else that has skin in the game, to create a collective response to the question above.

In the long run, this will streamline communication and make it easier to speak to the successes and failures of the project.

Finally, decide what feedback you need to accurately measure the success of your video tutorial series. Not all feedback is equal and it’s important to think about what information is most valuable to you.

For example, is it more valuable to have informal conversations with real viewers, or is it more valuable to look at data points, such as usage analytics and assessment results? Which will help you understand if the viewers have achieved the instructional goals?

With your feedback in hand, start analyzing the success of your series and put together recommendations for improvements moving forward.

 

Start your video tutorials

If you followed the six steps outlined above, you’re well on your way to creating an amazing set of tutorial videos and your learners will thank you for it. Video is a highly effective medium for instruction, and by breaking the learning into a series, you have a set of reusable content that your users can easily navigate. Get started making your own video tutorial series with Camtasia’s 30 day free trial.

 

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

The post 6 Steps to Start Making a Video Tutorial Program appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

How to Make Great Corporate Training Videos

Video is one the most popular ways to deliver and consume content on the internet. Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat all encourage people to watch and share short, informal videos. This makes employees particularly receptive to video in corporate learning programs. That means trainers, instructional designers, and anyone else tasked with training employees should be creating training videos as part of their corporate learning program.

In this post, I’ll guide you through key steps to creating engaging training videos. We’ll discuss the types of videos you can create, and how you can edit them in ways that capture and keep employees’ attention. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Pick your topic

Step 1, icon for deciding a video topic.

The first thing to do when creating training videos is to select a useful, relevant topic. Nowadays people are incredibly quick to abandon videos that don’t provide the information expected, so selecting a topic of interest and importance to your audience is critical.

To select the right topic, first, define who your audience will be. Then develop a thorough understanding of your audience and their needs. Take time to do research that identifies the topics they’re most interested in or most need help with. Tailor your research methods to the location and size of your audience. If internal training is your assignment, then you might conduct interviews with employees. If you’re creating documentation for external users or a larger audience, then a survey might be an ideal way to collect information. Consider the availability of online forums and other resources as way to guide you as you refine your topic.

Hone your topic to a single, focused idea. If you’re having trouble doing that, consider breaking it into two topics, with the second building on the first. A series is an excellent way to make training videos that are useful and easy to digest.

Step 2: Choose a format for your content

Icon for step 2, pick a video format or type.

The next step in creating an engaging training video is to choose a format. As you start to work on the video, consider the resources available, your timeline, and stakeholder expectations. Different types of training videos take different levels of time and effort to complete. Here are some formats you might choose for your training video.

  • Screencast
    A screencast is a recording of your computer screen. If you are training people on a new software or computer system, this will likely be at least a part of your video. Screencasts can range from informal to highly polished productions.
  • Microvideo
    A microvideo is a very short video – five to fifteen seconds – that demonstrates a single process or idea. Sometimes microvideos don’t have narration but instead rely on visuals or text on the screen. This might be a good choice if you have a number of simple processes to teach that don’t take up enough time to warrant creating a longer training video.
  • Presenter video
    For live training, consider recording it to create a presenter video. Then, you can edit the recording and use it as part of your learning program.
  • Demo video
    If you’re training people on physical processes, a demo video may be the right choice. In these videos, someone usually acts as a “host” and shows the viewers how a particular product, service, or process works. Many of the DIY videos on YouTube use this format.
  • Role play
    In a role play video a scenario is acted out to help viewers picture and better understand the way a particular interaction should go.They are good for training viewers on how to handle things like sales calls, technical support processes, and other social interactions. It takes a bit of acting, but if you’re training soft skills, this format might be the best bet as it helps viewers picture actual circumstances and situations.
  • Animation
    Animated videos use text and graphics to get their message across. They take some technical and artistic know-how to create, but they’re great for engaging your audience.
  • Interactive video
    Interactive videos are a newer format. One way to think of these are like a “choose your own adventure” video where viewers are asked to respond to situations and then see how things play out depending on their decision. They can be a good way to get your viewers involved. If you want people to experience how different decisions play out, you might give this a try.

Step 3: Script and storyboard

Icon for step 3, writing a script and creating a storyboard.

I’m sure when you think about your video a clear picture emerges in your mind. The scenes layout in order, the visuals are neat, and the words just need to be said aloud. Of course, if you go straight to recording your video without any prep work, it becomes clear that all of these things are not as organized and perfect as they appear in our imagination. I know because I have done it. Just because we can’t go straight to producing a video, doesn’t mean we don’t truly have a great video in mind. It just demonstrates the importance of getting those words, visuals, and scenes out of our minds and onto paper in the form of a script and/or storyboard.

The first and most important prep task is to write a script. Start a document in your favorite word processor and start writing what you want to say. If you’re doing a screencast or microvideo that involves screen recordings, go through the process you plan to show. It might help to think of how you’d explain the process if someone from your audience was sitting with you.

After scripting, create a storyboard. A storyboard demonstrates the visual sequence of a video through simple sketches or images. I usually capture a few screenshots or take pictures to get a concrete idea of what I want to show in my video. Your storyboard shouldn’t take long to put together, and you don’t need to agonize over sketching anything beautiful. Stick figures work just fine.

Step 4: Recording and editing

Icons for step 4, recording the video.

Alright, once you’ve done all the prep work, you can start recording. You don’t have to be a video pro to get great video, either. Anyone can record an excellent screencast with a just a little practice. And you probably have the technology in your pocket (Hint: smartphone camera) to record a great video if you’ve chosen to do a role play or demonstration video.

Once you’ve recorded your footage, there are a number of ways to edit your video so it’s visually engaging.

  • Annotations
    In screencasts and other videos, annotations are a great way to draw attention to particular things. Arrows and shape callouts can even be combined with animations and text to keep viewers’ attention where it needs to be.
  • Text Overlays
    Placing text on your video helps you keep things visually intriguing while hammering home key points. Use it in lower thirds graphics to introduce speakers or emphasize a point or idea.
  • Animations
    Make text and shapes move into your video or along the screen. Animations are excellent for keeping visuals varied and intriguing in your learning videos. Custom animations are one option, but Camtasia Behaviors are an easy way to quickly add creative movement to text, shapes, and other graphics in your videos.
  • Show the speaker
    Don’t be afraid to show the narrator in your videos. In screencasts, this is done by recording your webcam and then switching to that footage at opportune moments, usually the beginning and end. Just be sure you’re looking at the camera!
  • Add some interaction
    Interaction is a technique that is gaining traction in corporate training videos. With interactive hotspots, you can send viewers to a specific point in a video, ask them to respond to input, or guide viewers to the next step in a series.

Step 5: Produce, host, and distribute

Icon for step 5, sharing the video.

Finally, we’ve made it to the last step of creating a top-notch training video: production and hosting. This is prime time, when we make the video available to our viewers.

The first thing to do is produce the video. Producing your video renders it from the video editor into a video file. You’ve likely heard of different video file formats, especially the most common and widely used MP4. Unless you have a reason not to, I suggest producing your video as an MP4 at the same size you edited it. For more information on producing a video with Camtasia, check out our tutorial on producing and sharing.

Once the video is produced, it’s time to host it. Hosting is how a video is made available to viewers. YouTube and Vimeo are examples of hosting sites, but there are a number of other ways to host a video, and it’s important to choose the one that works best for you. If you want to make your video public, YouTube or Vimeo are good options. However, if you want it to be available only to people at your company you can host it on your company’s LMS or internal website. Another option is to use Screencast.com, which allows you to host videos and images, and then share a link with others. If you created your video with Camtasia, you can even produce videos straight to Screencast.com, YouTube, or Vimeo.

Now you’re ready to make your own training videos! What other questions do you have about creating great training videos? We’d love to answer them in future blog posts!

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7 Unexpected Uses of eLearning Video Demos

The human mind is a curious thing. It remembers images more readily than text, and there’s only so much information it can absorb before reaching full capacity. eLearning video demos follow both brain rules by offering small doses of knowledge in a visual format. Corporate learners watch the video and then mimic behaviors in the real world.

Here are 7 unexpected eLearning video demo ideas that you might consider for your upcoming eLearning course.

1. Interactive Troubleshooting Guides

Create eLearning video demos for the most common problems or challenges your corporate learners face. Then include clickable online training resources and activities that they can explore on their own. For example, the eLearning video demo features an example of how to successfully resolve conflicts in the workplace. Include links to skill-building resources and simulations that allow them to broaden their understanding. These troubleshooting eLearning video demos can even be transformed into interactive branching scenarios. For instance, corporate learners must answer a question after each scene that leads to a different video, and so on.

2. Compliance Policy Do’s And Don’ts

Explaining the negative repercussions of compliance violations is one thing, but eLearning video demos give employees the power to visualize cause and effect. Produce a compliance policy do’s and don’ts eLearning video demo that shows corporate learners the favorable behaviors, followed by scenes of employees who are breaking the rules and violating company policy. You can even let corporate learners decide which is which to test their compliance knowledge or ask them to explain where the employee in the video went wrong.

3. Onboarding Virtual Tours

Invite employees to tour the workplace and check out the tools they’ll use on a a daily basis. These eLearning video demos also help them gain more self-confidence for their first day on the job. You can even incorporate hyperlinks or interactive hot spots that redirect to other eLearning video demos when they reach a certain department or workstation. For example, an online training tutorial on how to use the POS terminal or an eLearning video demo on how to properly handle products in the warehouse. It’s also wise to follow up with ongoing support resources, such as a microlearning online training repository.

4. Sales Pitch Pointers

Create an eLearning video demo that shows sales staff how to promote each product line, including the benefits and features. This takes it a step beyond product knowledg demos. You’re not just conveying the key specs, but also offering tips to help them seal the deal. Employees can view eLearning video demos before a big client meeting to perfect their sales pitch and brush up on sales skills. Pointer demo videos should also show the selling points in action. For instance, one of the key benefits is that the product is easy to clean after each use. Thus, you must demonstrate how to maintain the item and which cleaning tools/ equipment are required.

5. Employee-Hosted Product Knowledge Demos

Invite employees to create their own eLearning video demos to show the latest product and share their point of view. Different employees may discover different selling points that can increase your sales stats. For example, a unique benefit that your software provides, or a better way to upkeep the product to increase the value of ownership. In fact, you might consider an eLearning video demo library to showcase their productions. Co-workers are able to use the repository as an on-the-job reference and provide feedback.

6. Customer Persona Meet-And-Greets

Customer persona videos that expose employees to different personality types and purchasing needs. As a result, your sales staff is better equipped to match customers with the right products based on their spending habits and pain points. This does require a significant amount of research since you have to define your core customers groups. For example, the primary concerns that each persona has regarding the product or a common problem the product can help them overcome. Keep it as realistic as possible to enhance the immersion and improve real-world application. They can identify the needs of each customer who walks through the door based on their body language, inquiries, and overall personality traits.

7. Animated Task Walkthroughs

Task video demos highlight every step in the process, but they aren’t usually the most engaging. However, animated task walkthroughs add entertainment to the mix, which enhances the benefits of online training. Instead of live actors, use realistic cartoon actors to showcase the steps involved. Show employees the right and wrong way to perform the task and consequences of doing so. You can even incorporate touches of humor to lighten the mood. Just make sure that the laughable elements don’t devalue the online training experience and serve as a distraction.

These 7 eLearning video demo ideas are just the beginning. You can use these immersive online trainig tools for virtually any topic or task that involves a visual component. Try to keep them bite-sized so that corporate learners get the information they need quickly, which also makes them an ideal addition to your moment of need online training library.

Interactivity is a proven element that enhances engagement and immersion in eLearning. Read Christopher’s article 8 Tips to Use Interactive Videos in Online Training to discover 8 useful tips for using interactive videos in online training.

About the Author:

Christopher Pappas is founder of The eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry. Christopher holds an MBA, and an MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU.

eLearning Blogger • EduTechpreneur • eLearning Analyst • Speaker • Social Media Addict

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How to Edit Videos: Shot List

When beginning the filming process, there comes a lot of preparation before hitting the record button such as finding a set, adjusting lighting, and having the proper camera angles. One way to organize this preparation is with a shot list.

Why is a shot list important? A shot list is a document that maps out exactly what will occur and what will be used in that particular shot, or scene, of the film. It serves as a detailed checklist that gives the video a sense of direction and prepares the crew for film expectations. Shot lists are helpful for bigger productions that require shots at multiple settings or features several actors, therefore it allows directors to organize their thoughts before filming begins.

Making a Shot List

So how do you create a shot list? Typically, a shot list includes the scene number, shot number, location, shot description, framing, action/dialogue, actors involved, props needed, and extra notes.

Below is an example of a shot list:

Sample shot list template

Begin by organizing your shots based on the shot location. Grouping similar shots makes it easier to shoot because you are able to film everything you need at one given time.

It’s important to note that this may not necessarily be in order of shot number. For example, if you were going to be shooting a scene at a lake for the beginning and end of the video, you’d want the shot list to indicate that when at the lake, you need to capture all of those shots.

Even though you will not be filming in order of the storyboard, this makes filming much more convenient. To help you, we have put together some video templates, including a shot list, script, storyboard and video check list to help you get started.

Type of Shots

Next, decide what kind of shot you’ll be filming, such as a wide shot (WS) or a close-up (CU). In addition to the type of shot, the camera angles and camera moves should be specified.

Angles may include a high or low level, where a move may be on a handheld camera or on a crane. Once you’ve decided your camera work, it’s important to address how you will be picking up the audio, may that be through a boom mic or a voice-over.

Refer to the chart below for more shot types, camera angles, camera moves, and audio.

Chart of shot types, camera angles, camera moves, and audio options

Capturing Your Subjects

Next, identify the subject of your shot, which is considered the focus of the shot.

A subject can be an actor, a group of actors, a prop, or a setting that is focal to the shot. Adding the shot description gives directors a clear guideline of what is happening in the shot.

This can include the actor involved, the action they are taking, the props involved, and what exactly the camera will be capturing.

Now that you’ve mapped out the direction of your video, you’re ready to start shooting.

Once you gather your shots, be sure to check out TechSmith Camtasia and upload and edit your videos.

And don’t forget to download our video templates at bit.ly/techsmithvideotemplates2017.

The post How to Edit Videos: Shot List appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

Image Editing- How to Use Lighting and Color Effects

When it comes to image editing, you can let your imagination run wild with amazing effects and filters. Many effects only adjust the light and color in your image to create stunning results. Check out a few of these popular effects.

1. Lens flare

Photographers often avoid lens flare, but I’m not referring to the difficult task of art of getting light to enter your camera in the right way. Instead, I’m referring to the deliberate, creative placement of lens flares during the editing process. When applied carefully, a lens flare can emphasize the brightness or warmth of a scene.

two contrasting images of cars that show an original image and one with an applied lens effect

These contrasting images show how a lens flare effect can add warmth and vibrancy.

Since my favorite image editor doesn’t include a default lens flare effect, I downloaded several PNGs (with transparent backgrounds) from PNGTREE and saved them as Snagit stamps so that I can easily apply them to my images whenever I want. If your image editor doesn’t support stamps, you can place .png files on top of your original image. To learn more about image file types, check out this post titled Understanding Image File Formats.

2. Color filters

Instagram and Snapchat have made it simple to achieve many different looks with filters, and when it comes to the topic of filters, the conversation gets really subjective. There are no rules about what does and doesn’t work, which means there’s a lot of room to play.

On Quora, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom explains that “filters are a combination of effects–curve profiles, blending modes, color hues, etc. In fact, I usually create them in Photoshop before creating the algorithms to do them on the phone.”

image tiles show difference of four filters applied to one image

Image filters change the look and feel of your image by adjusting color and lighting levels.

Whether you use filters provided by your image editor, or you combine color effects to make your own custom look, filters are a fantastic way to reinforce company branding and bring cohesion to a collection of images.

3. Vignettes

This may seem counterintuitive, but one way you can leverage lighting effects is by applying darkness along the borders. The vignette effect is the dimming, darkening, or burning of the edges in order to focus the viewer’s attention or bring warmth and softness to the image.

two similar images show how the vignette effect is similar to the original with darker edges.

To focus viewers’ attention and soften an image, slightly darken the edges.

4. Brightness and contrast

This last effect is manual and somewhat basic, but it can make or break an image. It is to adjust your lighting with brightness and contrast controls. These settings are often paired together because they work hand-in-hand. Brightness highlights bright spots, and contrast darkens the dark areas. If you add brightness without contrast, you risk a washed-out look. If you add contrast without adjusting the brightness, you could lose sharpness and detail. The trick is to balance the two to enhance your images.

image shows effect of brightness and contrast on a dim and bleak photo.

Elevate even a mundane image by adjusting its brightness and contrast.

Final thoughts

Keeping up with visual trends can be difficult. Fortunately, there are a hundreds of ways to combine effects for the perfect, custom image. Are you an image-editing trendsetter? We’d love to hear about your favorite visual effects in the comments below. If you’re just getting started with image editing, you may be interested in our posts about image cropping and how to resize an image correctly.

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How to Edit Videos – Ordering Your Editing Operations

Editing video takes some getting used to and learning the ins and outs can be a little intimidating. One of the best ways to get started doing something new is to walk a mile in the shoes of a professional to get a sense for how they do their thing. Luckily for us, TechSmith recently hired a seasoned Video Production Specialist, Barret Baxter, who is more than happy to do just that. So I sat down with Barret and picked his brain to learn how he goes about editing video and his preferred order of editing operations.

Below you’ll find our conversation. Enjoy!

Note: Even though Barret Baxter may sound like the name of a superhero’s alter ego, he’s in fact a normal man. That said, he’s incredibly talented at video editing, which is pretty super in our book.

Barret, once you’ve finished recording footage, how do you get started editing the video? What’s your order of editing operations?

“I always start by organizing the footage in Finder or Windows Explorer. It’s a very small step, but a crucial step. It will save you time in the end. I separate interviews from b-roll, then name interviews and shots based on content and location. I then organize b-roll into folders based on content and location as well. I find spending this time immersed in the footage allows me to fully comprehend what resources I have and I can begin crafting a story in my head. It sort of tricks me into starting the edit. Then, when everything is neat and organized, the foundation is built and I am ready to jump into my editor.”

Gathering and organizing content is a crucial first step of the editing process.

Gathering and organizing content is a crucial first step of the editing process.

So, then what? You have all of your media organized, what do you do then?

“After ingesting the footage [dragging footage into the editor], I like to start with the story. I listen through all of the footage and select the pieces that resonate with the story I am trying to tell. These are ideally the best parts of the interviews and a-roll. I drag these “Selects” onto my timeline and group them based on the part of the story they’re telling. i.e. ‘This one’s about the company,’ ‘This one’s about the people,’ etc. I also start setting aside any content that doesn’t fit.”

I usually have a ton of content. How do I decide what to get rid of?

“Editing is like a funnel. You have all of this material you start with and at each step you want to focus the video by removing things that don’t belong. At the start of the funnel you may only remove a few things – clips that are out of focus, content that’s not related to the end story, etc. But as you progress down the funnel and the story begins to take shape, constantly re-examine whether or not the clip in front of you fits into the story you’re trying to tell. As you string together multiple clips that make sense, it becomes easier to identify repeat clips or sections that can be removed. At the end, you should only have video left that best tells the story. This doesn’t always work out perfectly, but since you’ve already organized all of your content, it’s easy to go back and fill in gaps.”

Getting to know your materials is a great way to begin crafting your story or message. Filter out irrelevant material.

Getting to know your materials is a great way to begin crafting your story or message. Filter out irrelevant material.

Do you have any advice for stringing clips together?

“Start by combining shots and bites that look and/or sound good together. At this point, don’t concern yourself with where these combinations fit in the video. It’s okay to start in the middle. If two or more bites or clips go well together, put them together and listen to them. What you’ll hopefully find is that the longer you’re in this process, you’ll start to see patterns forming.”

“Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with different parts of the video. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to video. Take breaks and walk away from the process for a while; come back with a new perspective. It’s okay to fail. This is where the fun begins for me as I start to see the story unfold.”

Sweet. So, when you’re finished piecing all the clips together, you’re done with the video, right?

“Hahahahahaha, I wish. You need to get feedback. A lot of people tend to shy away from feedback, but even if you are just making this video for yourself, a second set of eyes is a crucial part of the editing process. I like to get feedback at three points in the process: after I have a basic story formed, after I’ve refined the story and added aesthetics, and then right before delivery.”

It’s always important to ask for feedback throughout the editing process. Be specific and strategic when asking for feedback.

It’s always important to ask for feedback throughout the editing process. Be specific and strategic when asking for feedback.

“At this stage, we’re simply trying to make sure the story makes sense. Be strategic about whom and what you ask. Select one or two high- level stakeholders and ask specific questions, such as: ‘Are there elements of the story missing? Are there sections that don’t make sense and should be removed? Is this video telling the story it was intending to?’ Take this time to focus on higher-level ideas, such as the structure and message of the video, as opposed to visuals and aesthetics. Clarifying structure and message early on is crucial, as it’s definitely easier to steer the ship while it’s still at sea, if you catch my drift.”

I don’t. Are you saying it’s harder to fix these mistakes later on in the editing process?

“Yes.”

Got it. Can I assume that the next part is implementing feedback? What’s your opinion on accepting and denying feedback?

“Well, accepting and denying feedback is like an artform. You have to skate through multiple differing opinions and emotions. Be flexible, but always remember ‘Story is king.’ When weighing feedback ask yourself if it helps clarify or steer the story towards the desired outcome. Defend your creativity, but try not to take anything personally. Listen to the primary stakeholder and work with them. Everyone wants the same thing in the end – a quality video that tells a strong story and is visually appealing.”
“To answer your first question, absolutely, this is when I implement feedback. Also, while implementing the structural changes, I start to shift my focus to the aesthetics of the video. I add b-roll to cover jump cuts and visually backup the story, transitions to improve flow, music for emotion, etc. Now I am ready to show off my creation. This is my second revision point.“

Nice. So, what are you looking for, at this point?

“I am looking to show off. At this point, I would consider my video 95% complete. I want to get an audience’s reaction. I’ll share the edit with stakeholders from before, but also try to bring in someone that may not be familiar with the video. Ideally, I have focused far enough down the funnel, where they are only providing feedback on aesthetics or surface-level issues. Such as, “Is this what we were shooting for? Is the title correct? Is this video on brand?’ At this point, the amount of revisions should be minimal and easily fixed.”

Ask for review several times during the editing process. Ask different people to get different perspectives.

Ask for review several times during the editing process. Ask different people to get different perspectives.

Okay, it sounds like after you make those changes, you’re finished?

“Not yet; close, very close. It’s time to polish. Smooth harsh transitions, fades, pops, correct color, add motion graphics, and level audio tracks. Really make the video shine. Once I have finished this, I am ready for my final round of feedback. I ask for peer review to make sure everything checks out, and then I export and deliver. I would add one final step: watch your finished video. I like to take a deep breath and really enjoy what I have created.”

Determine where and how this video will be viewed. Select the correct compression and file format before export.

Determine where and how this video will be viewed. Select the correct compression and file format before export.

That’s some great advice. Well, Barret, this has been incredibly insightful and we appreciate you taking the time to talk with us.

“Of course, and for all of those who made it this far, please feel free to reach out with any questions in the comments section below.”

The post How to Edit Videos – Ordering Your Editing Operations appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

Video File Formats, Codecs, and Containers Explained

With today’s technology, the possibilities on personal computers and mobile devices seem to be endless, allowing us to create videos that grab the attention of an audience within seconds. Videos today are not just something that we watch, they are something that we engage in and something we become a part of. It is necessary to understand the different video file formats to ensure that the video is produced in the best format and quality for its intended purpose, hosting location, and audience. Let’s take a look:

The Importance of Codecs, and Containers
Let’s first begin by talking about codecs, which deal with compressing your file. What is it, and why is it important? There are two kinds of compression: lossless and lossy. Most of the time, the quality can’t be perceived by the human eye, but in some cases, it can make visuals look grainy, sounds flat and muffled, or make videos difficult to play.

In order to compress a video, your file must also have a corresponding codec. A codec is a software that compresses your video so it can be stored and played back. The most common codec includes h.264, which is often used for high-definition digital video and distribution of video content. It is also important to note the bit rate, which refers to the amount of data stored for each second of media that is played. The higher the bit rate, the less compression, which results in overall higher quality. However, be aware that the higher the bit rate, the larger the file size.

You can see an example below in TechSmith Camtasia:

In addition to a codec, each video file has a container. The container is like a box that contains your video, audio, and metadata (vital data such as captions, SEO, and vital information that pieces the video together for playback). It can also be called a file extension since they are often seen as file names, such as AVI, MOV, or MP4. While AVI and MOV are available options, we recommend using MP4 h.264, as it is currently the industry standard for high definition video and provides the most practical way of distributing video content.

 

Why MP4 and h.264?
First introduced in 1988, MP4 files use separate compression for audio (m4a) and video (m4v), and is the typical file format used for sharing videos over the Web in this day and age. MP4 sizes are relatively small, but still have high quality even after compression. It is able to store other types of data other than audio and video, such as object descriptors, scene descriptors, and other file structures and features (this is the metadata). MP4 is more popular than other file formats because of the way it is compatible with both online and mobile browsers.

MP4 offers more compatibility compared to other file formats, as it can be used with Apple and Microsoft, across computers, tablets, phones, game consoles, or TVs. It is also widely accepted by various media players, editing softwares, and used over the web, all of which is compatible with h.264.

In addition to being compatible with most devices, MP4 can be widely used for multiple projects. Teachers or trainers can insert MP4 videos into PowerPoint presentations and those on the web can download online videos as an MP4 for easy and convenient playback.

Get your final project in front of your audience now! Complete your work in your favorite video editing software (we recommend TechSmith Camtasia), and share it as an MP4 with just a couple of clicks!

 

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Using Video Across the 5 Stages of Awareness- Most Aware

Whew! You did it. You’ve nurtured your prospect all the way to purchase and your product offering is sealed, signed, and delivered to the newest addition on your customer list. They are now at the Most Aware stage of the awareness funnel. What now?

After taking a moment to relish in your success, and rightly so, consider what next steps your new customer will likely experience on their journey with your brand.

You can use this opportunity to provide status quo materials to make sure they get just what they need to use the offering they’ve purchased. Or…. you could take that up a notch by providing them video content that gets them up to speed quickly in an engaging way, while also providing more personalized touches with you brand with video content.

This video content can  put a face to your brand name and allows your newest customers to form a deeper more fruitful relationship long term with your company.

Before jumping into how video can to create the connection with your customer you’ve been yearning for, let’s back up a bit to be sure we understand our contacts level of awareness. I’ll give you hint, they are MOST aware.

 

The Five levels of Awareness Established by Eugene Schwartz

In case you missed any of our previous posts about using video across the Five Levels of Awareness, here is a reminder of the levels and links to our posts about using video at each level.

The five levels of awareness are as follows:

  • Unaware – Consumers are unaware they have a problem or a need
  • Problem Aware– Consumers are aware they have a problem and are looking for a solution
  • Solution Aware – Consumers are looking for proof that the solution works
  • Product Aware – Help consumers decide to buy your product
  • Most Aware – They’ve purchased! Aid consumers in next steps (this post!)

Most Aware – They’ve purchased! Aid consumers in next steps

In this stage of awareness, we have the opportunity to turn our new customers into brand advocates to are excited about keeping a connection with your brand and are excited to brag to others about the relationship they’ve just started.

Let’s explore a few ways your team could start making these connections.

All onboarding is not created equal.

For starters, according to Experian’s white paper on email marketing, welcome emails have 4 times the open rate and 5 times the click rate of any other type of email that’s being sent.

This is when customers are most excited to get to know you and your offerings, so my advice? Give them what they need in order to build deep trust and understanding within this newly formed relationship.

This is not the time to bury the lead, make them drudge through content to get to know the real you and what makes your product work, or leave any key information for later.

Present the facts in a real, straight to the point, let’s really get to know each other in a quicker and engaging way… with video.

Provide tutorial videos allow users to push play on the elements they really need to know, so that they can get up and running quickly.

Tutorial topics should be focused and offered through as many touch points as possible at the start of this relationship.

Don’t just link to your tutorials in your receipt, but create a video onboarding series that can be presented via email within the first two weeks.

Perhaps your product is quick and easy and only requires one video. Or perhaps you need one video to get them into the product and using it, but inspiration based tutorials are required in the coming weeks to turn them from a user into a rockstar user.

Whatever the case may be, delivered these must-know snippets via video tutorials.

Newsletters

Newsletter are a great way to provide continual bits of helpful and inspiring content to your subscribers and customers on a continual cadence.

Video content should be a key component of that regular content of course, but a great way to humanize your brand is to add a human element to your regular newsletter with videos.

Personally say hello and do a roundup of what’s included in each newsletter through a quick video. Use that time to let your most engaged audience in on any exclusive news.

Our direct marketing specialist implemented introduction videos into our newsletter content last year and if you’re wondering about the results:

  • The overall newsletter click through rate was up over 3 percent.
  • the letter from the editor video received more clicks than any other piece of newsletter content that year (2016).
  • We gained 4 times more subscribers to our YouTube Channel on the day she released the first letter from the editor video than we do on a normal day.

Humanize your brand

Once your customer is on their way to being a rockstar user, make sure you’re providing brand experiences that delight them, and let them get to know the real you on a regular cadence as well.

This is the type of touch that makes a customer excited to be on your team as a user and more likely to tell their friends they should be giving you a look.

Simply put, putting faces to your brand creates empathy and a deeper connection because humans connect with humans, not logos.

Wondering where to start? Be yourself, but capture a bit of that magic on video and share it with those in your network.

Here’s an example of Team TechSmith giving our network a peek behind the curtain by introducing our employees to our customers.

 

 

Share campaigns results through videos

In the end, no matter how you’re using video or what campaigns you’re launching, you’ll need to showcase and share the results to your team. Use video here, too!

Showcasing stats, campaign results, and other analytical content should be done using video by emailing a screencast that explains your data to provide viewers with the context they need with a human touch.

Remember, the goal is to reach the right consumer, with the right content to match their awareness level, at the right time.

Doing so with video ensures that you’re doing everything in your power to keep consumers engaged with your brand along their customer journey. Ready to start making some videos? Check out our two part series on How to Make a Video – Part 1 and Part 2.

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How to Add Captions to Video for Accessibility

People who are deaf or hard of hearing rely on captions to gain meaning from your video content. But there are a lot of other great reasons for using them, as well. Here’s how to add captions to video for accessibility.

What are captions?

One of the most widely-known uses for captions — closed captioning — enables people who are deaf or hard of hearing to access and understand the audio portions of a video.

While the terms “subtitles” and “captions” are often used interchangeably, there are some differences. Learn more about the differences between captions and subtitles here.

Captions provide a text-based way for people to get the audio content from your videos. Adding captions to video for accessibility should provide an accurate portrayal of any narration and/or dialogue, as well as any musical cues, relevant background noises, and/or markers that note the emotional state of the person or people speaking.

Don’t confuse captions with subtitles, though. While the terms “subtitles” and “captions” are often used interchangeably, there are some notable differences. Learn more about the differences between captions and subtitles here.

Accessible content is necessary (and the right thing to do)

According to World Health Organization (WHO), five percent of the world’s population (or about 360 million people) has disabling hearing loss. When you create video content that does not include captions, you are leaving out a significant portion of your potential audience. That’s a lot of potential lost revenue.

But let’s be clear, there’s a better reason to provide accessible content: It’s the right thing to do.

Refusing or neglecting to provide accessible content is no different than failing to provide wheelchair access ramps to your physical business. At best, you’re ignoring the needs of a significant portion of the population (and your customers). At worst, it can get you into trouble.

But don’t take my word for it. Two New York federal judges say so, too. In fact, since 2015, at least 750 lawsuits have been filed regarding inaccessible digital content, 432 of those were filed in the first eight months of 2017 alone.

Benefits beyond accessibility

As noted above, captions most commonly provide a text-based representation of any audio happening in a video, especially for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

But there are a lot of other reasons to add captions to video as well. One of the more practical reasons, especially for web videos, is so that people don’t need to have their volume turned up to understand the content of your videos.

Imagine someone scrolling through their Facebook feed and coming upon a video. As that video auto-starts, they can’t hear it because their sound is turned off. They’re far more likely to scroll past that video (and miss all your great content) than if that same video contained captions or subtitles that conveyed the dialogue or narration.

The same is true for videos playing in places where there is a lot of ambient noise. If people can’t hear your video, the captions provide the content, no matter how noisy the room.

Added bonus: Accessible content is better content

Here’s another great thing about providing captions on your videos (and providing accessible content in general): They actually make your content better. Accessible content typically requires you to better plan your content, so you’ll end up with a better product. Better planning = better content.

For example, because captioning means you’ll want to start with a script, instead of just winging it, your video is going to be better. Sure, you can probably get your point across shooting from the hip, but I can pretty much guarantee that if you take the time to actually write it all down, you’re more likely to speak more clearly and concisely, and stick to the most relevant points. Oh, and you’re also less likely to forget anything important.

How to add captions to video for accessibility

Note: If you read my recent post about adding captions and subtitles to video, the steps are exactly same. However, I’ll list them here again for convenience.

Most video editors have captioning capabilities. I’ll show the steps for adding captions in Camtasia for Mac.

Step 1a: Start with a script

This step is more about saving time than anything else (though, as noted above, it makes for better content). If the narration or dialogue in your video was read from a script, you’re already way ahead of the game. You can use your script (or transcript) to copy and paste the spoken words into the captioning editor. If you don’t have a script or transcript, skip to Step 1b.

Step 1b: Transcribe your video

If you don’t have a script, you may want a transcript of your video. There are a few ways to accomplish this. If you prefer to just type your captions or subtitles in manually, you can skip to Step 2.

  • You can watch your video and type out exactly what’s being said. This works fine if you have a short video (say, less than five minutes). But longer videos will become more difficult and will take far longer. Even the fastest typist will likely need to stop the video occasionally to ensure an accurate transcription.
  • You can send your video out for translation. There are a number of companies out there that specialize in transcription. A quick Google search will yield a ton of results.
  • Use your video editor’s speech-to-text feature. Many video editors (including Camtasia for Windows) feature speech-to-text ability for your video’s narration or dialogue. The accuracy of the transcription can be affected by a number of factors, including how much other noise is happening in the video, the overall quality of the audio and more. Overall, this is a great feature, but remember that you will definitely want to check the accuracy of the transcription before you share your video.
  • Use YouTube’s automatic transcription services. You can upload your video to YouTube and then download the transcript when it’s completed. As with any auto-transcription, you’ll want to review it carefully to verify its accuracy.

Step 2: Add a captions track to your audio track on the timeline

With Camtasia, there are a couple of ways to get started captioning. However, the easiest way is to select Audio Effects and then drag the captions effect to the audio track on the timeline.

Step 3: Add your captions to the captions track

This is where having a script or transcription really saves time. Select the caption space on the timeline and a caption dialogue box will open below the video preview and the selected portion of the video will play. Then, just copy and paste the portion of the script that’s heard in the selected caption space. You can then click the right arrow button to move to the next caption space. Repeat until you have added all the captions.

If you don’t have a transcript or script, the process is very similar. However, instead of copying and pasting the appropriate portions of the script, you’ll type the corresponding narration or dialogue into the dialogue box. Make sure that you’re typing only what you hear in each selected portion of the video.

Step 4: Review for accuracy

As with any work meant for public consumption, you’ll want to make sure it’s accurate. Once you have added all the captions (and any other necessary audio cues) to your video, review a time or two to ensure the captions match up with the dialogue or narration as perfectly as possible.

Step 5: Produce and share!

Once you’re satisfied your captions are correct, you can share your video with the world. You can produce the video with the captions directly imbedded (called “open captions“) or you can export the caption files to upload to your favorite video hosting solution.

Caption files are exported as .SRT files, which are basically text files with timecodes embedded to help video players such as YouTube, Vimeo, and others know how to sync the captions to the audio.

Note: While open captions add a very important layer of accessibility, most accessibility guidelines recommend closed captions, which allow users to decide whether or not to have the captions displayed.

Do you already add captions to video for accessibility? If not, are you ready to give it a try? Download a free trial of Camtasia and give it a go!

P.S.

Have you created a presentation recently that you want to turn into a video for wider audience? You don’t have to play the PowerPoint presentation to capture it. With Camtasia, you can directly import the PPT slides and add them to the timeline just like any other kind of media. Then, record your audio and follow the steps above to add captions for accessibility!

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