How To Make Your Screencasts Look Better (and Easier To Edit)

Screen recording can be a very useful and powerful tool in your video arsenal, however, few people know how to utilize it well.

How to make your screencasts look better (and easier to edit)

Learn the step-by-step process you need to start making better and more effective screen recorded videos.

Screen recording can be a very useful and powerful tool in your video arsenal, however, few people know how to utilize it well and, if you’ve never used it before, it can be overwhelming to know where to even start.

Understanding how to start creating screen recordings is the first step to optimizing your screen recorded video process. Learn how to set your videos up for success and you’ll discover a faster workflow, that gives you better quality screen recordings and more engaging videos.

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…

What is screen recording?

A screen recording or screencast is a video recording of what is visible on your screen. Simply put, if you can see it, you can record it.

So, if you took a screen recording of you reading this blog, the replay video would show your screen scrolling through this blog and pausing as you read.

You can record your mouse cursor, any movements on your screen, and even audio.

Screen recording is possible on desktop and mobile devices, and there are software programmes like Camtasia available that can help you control and edit what you record.

How are screen recordings used?

Screen recordings have a lot of applications for many different users and their needs.

Anyone who needs or wants to show their screen can use screen recording. This could include online teachers showing their learning materials, speakers displaying their PowerPoint slides, or gamers providing entertaining video game content.

One of the most common types of screen recorded content is instructional videos, where users are guided through completing an action, or shown how to navigate digital software or processes.

Screen recorded videos can be polished, formal videos intercut with other video or high-quality visual material, that are designed for long-lasting use, or they can be the exact opposite.

Depending on who your audience is and what you want your screen recording to achieve, it doesn’t have to be a high production value piece of content. Screen recordings are so cheap to make that putting together a quick, informal, single-use video could still have lots of benefits, and not feel like a waste of time.

What’s the first step in the screen recording process?

The best way to start creating your screen recording is to think about the end result. Specifically, where will your screen recording be published?

This is important because you need to know what size and orientation to record your video in. Different platforms have different size requirements and videos may be displayed horizontally or vertically, and if your video has been recorded in the wrong size or shape, then you won’t be giving users the best experience.

The recommended and most common video size or aspect ratio is 16:9 or 1920 x 1080 for landscape, and 9:16 or 1080 x 1920 for vertical video. But you must check your chosen platform’s up to date video size specifications before you begin to record.

It’s also best to check your hardware’s screen size. While some monitors and laptop screens are 16:9, not all are. Using a screen recording software will allow you to determine the size and areas of the screen that you want to record and keep to platform specifications, ensuring the optimum video quality.

Introducing the Basics of Screen Recording Courses and Tips

How can I make the highest-quality screen recording?

The easiest way to guarantee a high-quality video is to record at the largest manageable size.

It’s not necessary to screen record in HD but by recording at a bigger size you’ll have more freedom if you have to resize your video, without worrying that you’re going to compromise the quality. You can make your video smaller and still retain excellent visual quality. However, if you record too small, you won’t be able to make the video any bigger without losing some picture quality.

The other benefit of recording larger is that you can zoom in on details. This helps to eliminate distractions and give greater clarity, improving the user’s experience.

It’s important to keep your user focused on the right area of your screen, and while you can use zoom effects to guide them, help to limit distractions by:

  • Turning off notifications that may appear when screen recording
  • Using a plain desktop background
  • Clearing away all of your desktop items

The exception to this is if you need to include accessibility content like a sign language interpreter. It is still important to consider the placement of this and if it’s the right size and in the right location to help the user, or if it’s distracting.

Should I record my audio or my screen first?

Most screen recordings have an audio track like a guide or a commentary on what’s visible on the screen. There are three ways to do audio and screen recording, you can either start with the audio recording or the video recording, or record both at the same time.

The method we recommend is to record the audio first. This will give you greater flexibility as you can edit the visual to fit the audio track.

It is possible, and quicker, to record both at the same time, but it will be much harder to edit the video if there are any errors and you may not achieve a flawless end product.

If you record your audio track first and you make an error, you can pause, backtrack and start again, and edit the mistake out later. You can even clap to cause a spike in the audio, so the error is easier to find in the editing process.

Capture more, use less

Not only can you record your own audio file, but you can also record any audio that may occur in the software that you’re using.

For example, if you want to show that a certain sound will happen when you complete an action, you’ll need to know how to use your screen recording software to capture both the visual and the auditory aspects of what’s happening in the software.

The audio file will be added to your screen recording software as a separate file so that you can choose what to include. You can edit out the majority of the software audio recording and keep the sounds you need for context or use as much as you feel is necessary to get your message across.

You could also record your audio track with a visual of yourself talking to a camera that you can cut back and forth from. This creates a higher production value and can be used to reset the audience’s attention.

By recording your screen, yourself, and two audio files, you’ll have a lot of material to choose from when it comes to editing together your final video. However, it is crucial to question why you’re including each piece of video or audio. Make sure every piece is there to provide value.

Learn how to use your screen recording software

With multiple audio and visual recordings, it’s necessary to understand your screen recording software and the features you’ll need to produce high-quality videos.

A good way to speed up your editing process is to commit to memory some useful shortcuts that you’ll be using often.

But the best way to discover what your software is capable of, and how it’s going to work for you, is to experiment with it.

Go into your settings and preferences and play with the options your software gives you. Which microphone is set to record your audio? Can you change it? What option might be better? How many slides per second is it set to record? Is there a countdown when you hit play? Can you remove it?

Open up a project and see what changes you can make. You don’t have to publish it, or even save the changes, but the discoveries you’ll make through playing will help you create a faster workflow in future.

Screen recording software is a powerful tool in making your recorded video successful, so make it work for you.

Introducing the Basics of Screen Recording Courses and Tips

In summary

Knowledge is power. Empowering yourself with the information you need to begin your project and creating a workflow that works for you is the best way to begin creating a screen recording. To sum up, here are our top tips to take away from this post:

  • Know what size you want to publish in, and stick with it
  • Make your video smaller, or keep it the same size, and never make it bigger
  • Limit distractions to keep the user focused
  • Start by recording your audio first, and edit your video to fit the track
  • If you feel ambitious, capture extra material, but use it only for context or a screen reset, not to distract the user’s focus
  • Experiment and play with your screen recording software to learn how to make it work for you

Learn more about how to make better and more effective screen recorded videos with the TechSmith Academy Basics of Screen Recording course.

For more expert advice and tips visit TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to the 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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