Handy tips for recording

There are some simple steps you should consider in order to produce a high quality recording that will actually be watched. Our steps and hints will take you a long way.

We have divided the steps into three parts:

  1. Before recording
  2. During recording
  3. After recording

Before recording

If you think about making a recording in any context, the first thing you should do is to plan it all.

  • What is the intended audience? Is it just the students in your course room that will get to watch it or do you plan to publish it to the world?
  • Do you really have permission to use all your content? Remember that you can not have copyright protected content (for instance images or graphs you found on the internet) inside your recording. The same goes for any material/content that resides within your powerpoint that you plan to showcase. Read more about copyright here.
  • Take a look at the place you’re recording at. Are you going to use a webcam that portraits you, make sure that you have sufficient lighting in your room. Preferably a soft light directed to your face in order to avoid shadows from an overhead light source. Get rid of stuff that makes noises, remove cords from the floor so you don’t trip and don’t aim the camera to any bright lights (you will be just a dark shadow in the foreground).
  • What’s lurking in the background? Try to avoid to much junk behind you that may distract the viewer from your presence. It might be nice with a book shelf in the background, but make sure its not cluttered with stuff or gives an untidy appearance. If you have a studio that you can use (there are quite a few at the university), use it. They often provide a soft and neutral background with hanging curtains and even a logo of Lnu.
  • Sound quality is key! If there is one thing that a viewer finds annoying, it is bad sound. Make sure that you use a high quality microphone. A minimum demand is a USB headset if you’re doing a screen recording of any kind, but it’s better to use a dedicated microphone. Best is using a small bug that you can attach to your collar, a directional microphone or something similar. Talk to your ICT pedagogue to learn more about the equipment on your faculty. Don’t rely on the built in microphone in your webcam. It is usually of poor quality and leaves your voice sounding as if it comes out of a bucket.

How are you recording?

When you are about to make a recording there are some different ways of doing it. You could always use your mobile phone, a tablet or a normal digital camera. The quality in all these is good enough nowadays. The easiest way, by far, is to use your own computer and its built in camera (or an external USB camera) to record yourself. If you sit by your computer you can use our recording system called Kaltura Capture that enables you to record your voice, webcam and/or your computer screen. 

Recording your computer screen?

If you want to record your computer screen (maybe showing something, or presenting via PowerPoint) you should consider the level of quality you want to put out. If you’re recording a PowerPoint the quality itself isn’t crucial since the images are rather stationary, but if you plan to show content that requires a high level of details (like art photography) you should configure Kaltura Capture to record with a higher resolution (HD). The same thing applies if you’re recording your screen showing small details, fine printed text, webpages and so on. In Capture you set the quality by clicking the "More" link in the panel, and then the tab ”Settings”. Choose 1080p for Screen recording. The webcam can also be set to a higher value (up to 720p). Just remember that a higher quality setting also means larger files that takes longer to upload and it requires you to have a rather modern computer in order for it to be able to withstand the extra strain.

Advanced editing needs?

If you feel the need to make more advanced editing post production you should consider this before hand. That is if you want to do more than just trimming the beginning and/or the end or cutting out sections in the middle. More advanced editing requires better recording systems such as Camtasia, iMovie or even Adobe Premiere. Talk to your ICT pedagogue about your needs and thoughts before you start recording. It might be hard to do it after the fact,

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During recording

Once you start recording there are some things you should keep in mind:

Make short recordings!

Avoid long recordings! Yes, I know that your lecture normally is a 2 hours lecture, but you will end up with a film that no viewer will sit out for the full duration, for several reasons. You will just waste time and also increase the risk of malfunction or disastrous errors on your own part. A better approach is to record a series of shorter session that you put together in a Playlist. The reasons for this are (to name a few):

  • There are studies that shows that the attention decreases dramatically over time. After just a few minutes of watching on the screen you may have lost your students. This is, of course, individual and also depends on how engaging the video is for the viewer.
  • All the statistics in LnuPlay indicates that longer videos never gets completely seen through. Most visitors leave videos after watching just 30% of it. A larger study (several millions of video clips analysed) show an even shorter view time.
  • If you make shorter clips that is about ONE specific thing they are easier re-used  in other settings even if other parts of your lecture becomes outdated.
  • You can combine these clips into a playlist that fits well with one course, and then use other combinations of clips as a playlist for a totally different course and thus be used as a ”new” lecture.
  • You reduce the workload for your self by easily restart your recording if you’re not happy. Instead of having to do over a full 60 min lecture you might just do a 15 min where it all went wrong in retrospect.

If you make a mistake, shut up!

We all do mistakes now and then. We might suffer from a coughing attack or say all the wrong things. You don’t have to restart just for that small mistake. Instead you can edit the recording afterwards, cutting away the bad part. The important thing to remember is to make it easy to cut away by making a longer pause before you start to do it right again. This is to make it easy to find a silent spot where you can start and stop your cutting points. If you feel a sneeze or cough attack coming up…try to keep quiet for a moment leading up to the attack and then keep quiet again after the correction. Then you can cut from a quiet point to the next quiet point. The same goes if you happen to say something wrong…don’t start talking right away…sit quiet and still for a moment, gather your thoughts and continue again. Just relax!

Take some ”dramatic pauses” now and then, especially between the logical parts of your lecture. Let there be a longer pause before you move on to the next part. This also makes it easier to cut out sections afterwards and maybe even move them to another order.

Be engaging!

You don’t need a master degree to understand the fact that an engaging lecturer is better than a bored one. This goes without saying, but the problem with video is that ”boring” tends to be amplified. Since people are so used to skip things that don’t ”thrill” them online, they tend to leave in a much higher degree than they would if they were ”stuck” in a lecture on campus. What’s considered engaging and enthusiastic is not easy to pinpoint but talking to slow is one. We have always been taught to talk slowly when giving a lecture but the tempo online is a totally different thing. Contrary to popular belief viewers seem to appreciate a speaker that talks rather fast and with some commitment. Remember that your viewer can go back and see again if they haven’t fully understood what you said. So, keep up the tempo a bit, be personal and enthusiastic and make that lecture way shorter than in real life. Keep the energy level up! 

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes!

It is easy to get stuck with the notion that a recording has to be flawless and perfect in anyway. The notion makes sense since we might feel that we are exposing ourselves to the whole world to see, but that is not necessarily true when it comes to your students. If you happen to say the wrong thing now and then, permit yourself to laugh about it when discovering it, or if you loose words to say, don’t panic. Your students will overlook that and rather appreciate that you are a living, breathing human being talking to them, being natural and personal. There is a danger with over produced and politically correct productions on the web. It may backfire and be boringly perfect. Be yourself instead and your viewers will appreciate the video more.

Take a break if you need to.

Don’t forget that there is a way of pausing the recording and resume later on. A good thing to use if the phone rings, you need to go to the bathroom, grab a coffee or what ever. In Capture you just hit the keys ALT + P on your keyboard to pause the recording (or click the Pause button in the Capture panel).

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After recording

So you managed to do a recording? Give yourself a pat on the shoulder! Now it is time to make sure it gets used and viewed too.

Make edits to your video?

If you have chosen to record with Capture and uploaded it to My Media you have the option to polish your video a bit before publishing it. This is called editing and you can make basic trimming and clipping directly from the web site. Make use of that to trim away any dead meat in the beginning or the end, remove that fumbling around trying to find the stop button and get rid of that cough attack in the middle. Look through your video in the preview mode and look for things to remove.  Read more about editing at serviceportalen.

If you have access to more advanced editing software (you might even have recorded through it), you are able to do so much more. In these softwares you can typically add images and text, draw, animate and encircle things. Zoom in on something important, add music and much more. But this requires an other type of software (Camtasia, iMovie, Adobe Premiere and so on). Talk to your ICT-pedagogue or the IT-department for what’s possible to do.

Share the video or not?

Once you are done with your video you should consider sharing it with others somehow. Sharing is caring! By default you always have the opportunity to embed it to your course room in Mymoodle in an easy way. The video will only be available to those who are participants in that room and sometimes that way of hiding it away from the rest of the world isn’t the best option. The moment your video gets uploaded to LnuPlay it is set to be private, meaning that you are the only one able to see it unless you publish it in a classroom.

But you can choose to make it available to others in many ways. You can share it with a direct link (only those with the link can find it), as an embedded video on a regular web page or blog (those who go to the page can see it) or as a totally open resource (search engines can find it), placed in a category on our portal, play.lnu.se and open for the world to see.

You can also think of your video as a common resource that you want to share with your colleagues for them to use in their courses. Read more about this at ”Publish to the world” and "Alternative publishing methods".

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