Why You Need to Try an Audio-First Workflow for Your Videos

Why You Need to Try an Audio-First Workflow for Your Videos

There are many ways to build video tutorials, but how could an audio-first workflow optimize your process?

An audio-first workflow for visual content might sound awkward, but it’s one of our preferred methods for creating tutorial videos. By recording the audio first, you have more flexibility and opportunities to control the pace of your video.

Pace is incredibly important in a tutorial video. Your audience should have time to absorb the content without getting bored. An audio-first workflow allows you much more control over how quickly or slowly you move through each step.

In this post, we’re going to walk you through our audio-first workflow. Taking you from what to do before you record your audio to building your video.

This process can be used for screen recordings or camera video, however it’s important to note that matching pre-recorded audio to a moving mouth can be challenging. In this example, we’re going to use screen recordings and build the video using Camtasia

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

Why choose an audio-first workflow?

There are four main ways people create videos:

  • Livestream
  • Record audio and video at the same time
  • Record video first, then audio
  • Record audio first, then video

Each process has its unique benefits, but an audio-first workflow is a straightforward route to creating a neat, high-value video for your audience.

Livestreaming or recording off-the-cuff is good for engaging with your audience and bringing them the information quickly, but these videos can often be repetitive, longer, and provide less-value. While recording audio and video at the same time, and even video first, can present editing challenges that aren’t present in an audio-first workflow.

Whichever process you choose, knowing what you’re talking about is key, so it’s highly recommended to plan your video by creating a storyboard or writing a script. In fact, before you begin your audio-first workflow, we strongly recommend writing a script first.

The four-step audio-first workflow

1. Write a script

A script is a key part to recording a clear and useful video tutorial. Your script is basically a written plan that allows you to see what you need to create, and what parts of the process you need to show.

Your script will be the audio that gives your audience context about what they’re seeing on the screen.

The secret to a good script is to cut anything you don’t need. Storyboarding or scripting out your video is a great way to refine your content so that everything you include helps your audience towards their goal.

The secret to a good script is cut, cut, cut!

If you need help writing a script, you can find an outline template, scriptwriting advice, and more useful scriptwriting tools in the TechSmith Academy.

For this example, we’re going to use a simple script. Below is a sample script template we use at TechSmith. It’s structured using three columns. Each numbered row helps you keep track of where you are in your video, the ‘Action’ column tells you what visuals to record for that section, and the ‘Narration’ column is what audio you need to record.

Sample Script Template

2. Record the audio

Use your script to record the narration parts for your video. To make editing easier, pause between each sentence. You’ll know when to pause if you use a script or a framework like the template above, which naturally breaks up the narration.

If you make a mistake when recording a line, or want to re-record, you can streamline your editing process by indicating the mistake with a spike on the waveform. You can do this by clapping or clicking twice.

Indicating a mistake with a spike on the waveform

This double spike is an indicator that you can use to quickly locate the part that you don’t want to use. You can then remove this part of the audio. However, do make sure to leave a pause either side of the remaining audio.

Once your audio file is correct, then you can begin to record the visuals.

3. Record the video

There are two ways you can record your video using an audio-first workflow, you can use the audio to help you record the video or you can use the script. If you have a script with action items, like the example template above, it’s recommended to use the script.

Remember that screen-recorded video can be very flexible in the editing stage. Your pace is less important when recording raw video than it is for audio, as it’s easier to speed up or slow down screen-recorded video.

Practice your recording first. Is there anything unexpected that you don’t want in your video, e.g. drop down menu answers? Can you complete each action in the way you need for your tutorial?

Once you’re ready to record, make sure you can see your script, and then go through the actions one at a time.

A top tip is to pause after every action just like when you were recording the audio. When you pause, move your mouse cursor to one side and consciously stop moving it. This will prevent any jumps if you need to trim in between actions and help create a more seamless video.

4. Edit your video

Using the script and your pre-recorded audio as a guide, you can edit each segment of your video one at a time, speeding up, slowing down, or trimming the video file to fit the audio.

You’ll need to consider how you want to order your instructions.

For example, do you want your audience to hear the instruction and then see it shown on the screen? Or do you want them to get both pieces of information as they happen?

What’s going to lead your audience down the path to most success?

If you’re guiding your audience through a complex process, they might need more time to digest each piece of information. Telling them and then showing them the instruction might be more appropriate. However, if your video is a simple workflow, it will make for a smoother and faster-paced tutorial to show and tell them at the same time.

For any video, but especially instructional content, it’s important to bear in mind how you’re helping your audience.

You can even use software like Camtasia to make further edits to your video for greater clarity and accessibility. For example, you can increase your cursor size so your audience can track your movements better or incorporate effects. Effects like Clip Speed can help your video maintain a quick pace in parts, which may have taken you longer to record.

An audio-first workflow allows you freedom when editing, and you can control your video’s pace easily.

While your videos might be more complex and dynamic than this example, the basic workflow remains the same. Make sure your audio is recorded and edited first, then create the video recording and make it fit your audio.

To learn more about screen recording, from learning the basics to brushing up on your skills, visit the TechSmith Academy.

For more expert advice and tips visit the TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to The Visual Lounge Podcast.

Matt Pierce

Matt Pierce is a Learning & Video Ambassador at TechSmith. In this role speaks and teaches about video creation and visual communication. A graduate of Indiana University he has ten years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith. Teach him something @piercemr

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