Creating Screen Capture Videos

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One of the biggest new digital products on the market today is video instruction. Where just a few years ago, ebooks were looked at as the hottest commodity, that has changed. Ebooks still sell. Videos sell hotter and, if marketed well, can be sold for a much higher price.

Video instruction can refer to different things. You could have a video of yourself cooking a steak dinner and showing how to create a great barbecue for your guests. Just get your video camera, some conversion software (Windows Vista has it included as does Mac).

With increasing frequency, however, more videos are appearing that show how to do something using your computer. There are videos that show how to set up a website. There are videos that show how to use a piece of software. And so forth.

These videos are created by using software that captures what happens on your computer screen. The software can optionally capture your voice as well. And once captured, the software can also be used to annotate what is on-screen with text and animation that highlights important parts of the video.

To create screen capture videos, you need the right software. While TechSmith’s Camtasia is the leader in the field, one of us uses a different (and far less expensive) product called AllCapture with great success.

You’ll also want to plan what your video is about. Just because you can “wing it” doesn’t mean you should. Here’s a brief 5-step guide to get you started.

1 – Plan – Figure out what you want to say; what you want to show. Make notes and be sure that it makes sense.

2 – Run through the software yourself to perform the operations you intend to show. Speak as if you were actually instructing someone sitting next to you.

3 – Do several dry runs with your microphone on and the screen capture program running. You’re going to want to make sure you select the right window size for your video, that you’ve got sound levels right, and that the software you’re about to demo is set to the right window size as well.

4 – Play it back so you can see what your customers will see. Chances are your first few runs aren’t going to be perfect. One of us finds himself hesitating too frequently in the initial recordings. This leads to stuttering, and so forth. A possible sign that insufficient planning went into the effort. Or it could just be that one gains familiarity with the subject matter by running through it a few times.

5 – Once you’ve got the video the way you want to distribute it, you now need to convert it to a format that your customers will be able to use. There are usually several format choices, including those for Windows Media Player

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