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UPDATE: June 18th
Jon Udell answered my questions!
I'm working on a screencast (Google Analytics) and I'm not an expert in using the software. In fact, it has been very time consuming learning a complicated piece of sotfware, not too mention having it make me feel stupid because I'm not groking it instantly.
As a result, I'm reflecting on my comfort level. Do you stick to your comfort zone and only make screencasts on the topics that you know like the back of your hand or do you stretch and venture into a topic or software that is not only new territory but may be difficult to learn? What I really like about screencasting is that it has helped me learn about software and technology. Does this express the tension between having the culture of learning and the culture of training!
But wait a minute, what if I could create a screencast out of a screensharing session or using a web conference system like Ready/Talk that offers video/audio recording? Yes, that is possible and it has been
The father of screencasting, Jon Udell, who of course is a technical expert in everything, uses this technique -- the screencast interview or talk show. He invites an expert in a particular software or technique and they are on a conference call together to look at and discuss what is on the screen. Take for example this screencast on the launch of Jotspot.
The next problem is figuring out how to do it ... I haven't been able to locate an article or interview where he talks specifically about this technique. Nor I have been able to find his phone number or email to ask him directly ... maybe he'll leave a comment here! I'd love to know:
- How much scripting does he do prior to the interview? Does he "rehearse" with his guest? Or does he capture everything and edit? Any tips?
- What tools does he use to capture these interviews? Does he edit in Camtasia? What are some best practices in terms of production and editing?
I did a quick search of web resources and couldn't find anything in particular. So, I just plunged in with Ready/Talk and made a quick video/audio capture of me talking to myself while looking at my screen. What did I learn? Ready/Talk outputs the file into .swf format which can't be brought into Camtasia for editing. I tried to convert the .swf file into one that would import into Camtasia using replay converter and couldn't do it.
So, I called TechSupport at TechSmith. TechSupport told me that I had two options.
- Option 1: Record the .swf playback file using Camtasia after the call
- Option 2: Record the screen locally using Camtasia while the call is live and synch and edit the audio recording from Ready/Talk.
There is a third option - which is expensive - is to use a device like Telos to record from the phone directly into the computer. In other words, the third option only uses Ready/Talk to share the screen and for the conference call, but not the recording features. The Telos device costs $750. I wonder if there are less expensive ones? And, I wonder how complicated they are to use and if I need any additional audio editing software.
So, I experimented with options 1 and 2 to see if there was any major difference in the quality of the audio since the first would be a recording of a recording and the second would be the actual audio recording in mp3 format. I also wanted to see if the editing process in Camtasia of the seperate audio and video files which is require for Option 2 - if that would be time consuming and tedious. Was the quality of the audio worth the extra editing/production time? I'm also wondering if it would end up being less time to woodshed on the software and become an expert and then do the whole thing myself ... but I would much rather move into the role of director/producer and move away from narrator and actor.
One other option might be a different web conference system whose screen and audio recording features output to wmv or a format that can brought into Camtasia. Tech Support told me that Webex uses a non-standard wmv format that does not import properly into Camtasia.
I emailed Betsy Weber at TechSmith who must have some additional advice, I'm sure.
Here's what I learned from my experiment:
- I'm leaning towards option 1 because the audio wasn't that different and the editing was much easier in option 1.
- I need to figure out how to get rid of the buzz or how to avoid it. I don't know if it is from the phone to mp3 recording process in Ready/Talk or it was from having my mic to close to the speakers.
- I need to pause for 20 seconds before launching into the actual recording - so I can easily edit out the recording beep start up.
- If I do longer recordings, they have to be tightly scripted.
- Option 2 - harder to synch the screen with the when you start edit and if showing something complicated this may be a problem.
What do you think? Maybe I should just run screaming from screencasting or not do screencasts on topics that I don't know like the back of my hand.