Time and again, studies have proven that visual learning is far more effective than textual learning. Most people are able to recall up to 65% of the visual content they consume as compared to merely 10% of the content they read. Educators and instructors all across the world have, therefore, shifted to visual aids like videos and PowerPoint presentations to facilitate learning—the former gaining more popularity in recent years.
While educators almost unanimously agree that ‘the visual and auditory nature of videos appeals to a wide audience and allows each user to process information in a way that’s natural to them’, creating effective videos is not everyone’s cup of tea. Scripting, recording, shooting, editing videos can be too much of a hassle for facilitators who are already struggling with the 100 other tasks on their plate. However, there is an easy way out for this–screencast videos, a low-effort alternative for making effective and informative videos quickly.
What is a screencast video?
A screencast video is the digital video recording of your screen (mobile or desktop) often accompanied by audio narration. Imagine a screencast as a video screenshot that you can take while working on your desktop or phone.
Screencasts are incredibly effective in teaching and sharing processes and flows as you are essentially doing a ‘show and tell’ for your viewers so it’s easy for them to comprehend all the information easily. Screencasts are very useful for businesses in sharing company processes, workflows and tools. Companies can create screencast videos for onboarding guidelines, using various platforms and tools. Not just that, they can also be used as knowledge transfer kits by creating How-to videos, demo videos, presentation recordings, explainer videos and more.
For instance, let’s consider that your organisation uses Trello for task management. Now, instead of assigning an HR personnel or a manager to familiarize them to different Trello boards, their usage and workflow, you can create one video outlining the entire process. In the end, all you have to do is share the video with every new joinee. This not only ensures consistency in the information shared but also reduces the effort and time spent on training. Additionally, these videos are easy to make and are extremely cost-effective.
Overall, screencast videos benefit both the creators and the viewers. The creator can create them once and distribute to as many people they want without having to go over the motions repeatedly. The viewers not only receive content that’s easy to consume, but they can also access/revisit the information whenever required.
How to make a screencast video
Anyone can make a screencast video easily by following 4 simple steps:
Step 1: Choose your screencasting software
The most important decision you have to make while creating a screencast video is the software you’d use to record your screen. Here are a few good options that you can use:
Quicktime for Mac:
Mac users often overlook functions of Quicktime and limit it to playing audio and video files. However, quick time offers a variety of options including screen recording, webcam recording and video trimming. Quicktime is a great choice for Mac users who are hesitant about using third-party extensions and softwares. Here’s a short screencast video on how to use Quicktime for recording your screen with Audio.
Open Broadcast Software (OBS) Studio is a program that you can install on your desktop, irrespective of the operating system you’re using, to record and save videos of your computer’s on-screen content. It provides you with a lot more functionalities and customization like adding transitions to the video and editing audio and is free and open-source software. This screencast can help you understand how you can use OBS for screen recording.
Loom is a cloud-based digital video recording platform recommended for companies looking to create professional screencast videos more often than most. It has screen-only, screen+camera, and the camera-only modes along with audio recording. Moreover, it available for Windows, IoS, Mac as well as a Chrome extension. It is free to use for recording and sharing videos. Here’s a video that can help you understand how to use loom effectively for remote and online knowledge transfer.
One of the most popular screen recording platforms, Camtasia is a good choice for those looking to record a mix of short videos and longer format tutorials. It is much more efficient and easy-to-use than most screen recording platforms with in-build effects and transitions to add quickly along with easy sharing options that can help you broadcast your video effectively.
With packages for individuals, businesses, educational purposes and others, Camtasia offers solutions based on your requirement. It is available for Mac as well as Windows. Here’s how you can use it:
Step 2: Create a script/storyboard
As the old saying goes, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Screencast videos can turn into a disaster if you are not clear on the messaging you’re trying to convey through the video. Best way to do that is by keeping three major aspects of the video in mind:
Decide the exact content you’d want on your screen during the video and then prepare a flow that you’ll follow during the video. For instance, if you are creating a How-to video for publishing a blog post on WordPress then the flow of your video would be:
- Signing in on WordPress.
- Adding a new post.
- Adding the content of the blog article.
- Including the right images and formatting to the article.
- Taking care of SEO functions.
- Adding other details like featured image, author, tags, excerpt, etc.
- Previewing the post.
- Publishing the article.
Based on the flow of your video, you decide on your narration (in case you are adding it) for the video. A common mistake that most instructors make is they keep going on and on while visually taking the viewer through their video. Preparing a script helps in avoiding repetition. At the same time, it ensures that you don’t skip any important details.
Your screen needs to be prepared for the video, too. You don’t want the viewer to get distracted by too many icons on your desktop or too many tabs on your chrome. So, before you start recording, do a thorough sweep of your desktop to remove/hide any unwanted elements in the video. Alternatively, you can also choose to record a specific portion of your screen or a specific window on your desktop instead of sharing the entire desktop.
Step 3: Record your screencast video
The actual action takes place now. After you’ve finalized your preliminary settings, hit the record button on the software/application that you’re using to record your screencast video. Don’t forget to take care of your audio settings and switching audio on too. In order to save time and effort, you can do a test run where you record the first few minutes of video, check to rectify any errors and then record the complete video.
Step 4: Edit, if required.
Once recorded, your video might need some basic editing to look polished, and presentable. You’d have to trim down extra footage (if any!) at the beginning or the end of the video. You may also want to add an intro and outro to the video.
After you’re done editing, your video is ready to share. As easy as it may sound, there are certain factors that distinguish a well-created screencast video from an average, forgettable one. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
How to make your screencast video exceptional
Taking care of factors that can highly impact the quality of the video you create:
No one wants to watch a blurred, noisy video, even if it is extremely informative. So, taking care of the audio and video quality of your screencast is crucial. First of all, you need to work with HD footage, for which you must leverage the highest-resolution screen. Use an external microphone, if you have one, for recording your audio for a clearer, noise-free output. If not, ensure that there are no ambient noises or disturbances when you’re recording.
The reason why we recommend scripting your videos before recording is so that the message shared is accurate and does not get diluted in the process. Always have an end goal in mind while creating a video. If you are trying to put across the details of a process, choose to go for two separate videos instead of clubbing them together. For instance, creating a video for “setting up a Trello board” and “adding extensions like Slack and Dropbox” should be kept separate even though part of them may overlap.
Connect With The Audience
While adding narration to videos has become a common practice, people still hesitate in adding their webcam footage along with the screen recording as they are conscious of the surroundings or they fear they may look nervous in the video. When viewers are able to connect the voice to a face, they are not only more engaged in the video but also are likely to comprehend it more effectively. Moreover, if you know your audience, then you’d probably want to customise the message for them. For instance, you can put in an example in the video that they’d relate to more.
In The End
There’s no denying that creating a screencast video is easier said than done, and you may have to make several failed attempts before you create your first professional-looking screencast. With that said, you need to start somewhere, right? And screencast videos are definitely the quickest, easiest and the most cost-friendly way to communicate your message audio-visually.