Video Recording Tools – Which Should You Choose?
If we go ahead and get into it the first thing we need to go over is Tools and of course the first thing you are going to need is recording software. Now this applies if you viewing a website a web service, video games – something on the computer you would need that otherwise you are going to need a camera. But for this I am going to go over recording software and there is really a lot of choices. I my myself am using CamStudio it’s free and opensource.
There is also Fraps which you will most commonly see people use with video games – it’s really meant for being able to handle the type of refresh involved in video games. Adobe Captivate which is kind of like the Mercedes of screen capture software, it runs about $700 so you might want to start with CamStudio, Fraps or something first maybe work your way up to Captivate.
And also Jing is a new software that is come out recently from Techsmith they are the same people that produce Snag It which is a screen shot software and it’s got a lot of nifty features too.
I have gone with CamStudio simply because it lets me do recordings as long as I want without any watermarks and save them in the AVI format which all three of those things you cannot do with Fraps or Jing on their free versions and I haven’t worked up the money yet to or really the need to upgrade to Fraps or Jing. CamStudio does everything that I need. If you look at any of my other review videos you will see that the quality seems to be just fine, it keeps up with the type of screen recording I am doing and that might change if I decide to go and review a site that has a bunch of flash or flash video or something on it, I am sure CamStudio won’t be able to handle that type of motion on the page because its recording at a very low frame rate. But at any rate for what I am doing this works great and so I figured I would go ahead and give you guys a quick view of what cam Studio looks like.
It’s got a very simple interface here, by default it is going to record to AVI which is what you would normally want to save into. Places like YouTube, Vimeo, Etc, aren’t going to accept SWF or Shockwave Flash videos anymore which is the other option in CamStudio so just leave it to record on AVI. You will want to change a few of the default settings before you get started. For region the region option will let you make a box anywhere on the screen and it will record whatever is within that fixed area. But it will let you change it every time you go to record a video it will ask you what part of the screen do you want to record. The other customizable one is fix region which you go and create that once you say I always want to record this particular square of my screen and every time you go back to record it will just assume you want to record that exact same location. You can also do window and full screen fairly self explanatory.
Then you will want to make sure and come down and click record from microphone. Sometimes I think by default it does not record audio so you will just want to check that and perhaps come into audio options and make sure the right microphone is selected sometime it might choose the microphone built into your monitor and not your external microphone so you want to make sure that is checked to get your best possible audio quality out of it. Then a few of the little options are just a minimize program on start recording which I usually have enabled but I disabled it for this video so I could show you the Cam Video Software. You will also want to set a directory from the save to otherwise it is just going to save it in a temp directory which is going to be difficult to go find and bring out later so you can upload it to Youtube or Vimeo or whatever your preference is there. And then I additionally have it ask me for the file name so it doesn’t record it say like time stamp.AVI after I am done recording it will ask me what I want the name of the video file to be so I can easily recognize it later on when I go to grab that. And then lastly you can set up some keyboard shortcuts so by default you can hit F8 and CamStudio will start recording. But there is no option no key binding to stop the recording so I went in and set a key binding for control shift Z stops my CamStudio so I don’t have to open the software and hit the stop button when I am recording and then edit that part out later it just makes it a little bit easier for me. That is really all you have to configure in CamStudio everything else is pretty much standard right out of the box. It a nice little piece of software that has actually this version of CamStudio is an open source rendition of an old commercial product that was actually sold two or three times and eventually got turned into Adobe Captivate now obviously the features of CamStudio don’t compare to what Adobe Captivate does but its just nice knowing that it has some good solid roots like I said it works for what I want to do.
If you are interested in these other ones Fraps, Abode Captivate, Jing almost all of them have free trial you can go download so if you are not happy with one of the features of CamStudio go ahead and download one of their demos they will either put a watermark or time limit on your video but you can get a feel of what type of subject matter there ok with recording whether they can record a lot of flash being on the page or a video game or something like that and it always best to try before you buy it right.
If you don’t like CamStudio go try one of the others and get whatever works for you because you are the person that is going to have to be using this on a regular basis so if you are using software and you don’t find it easy to use you are not going have fun doing it take you longer and you want to make sure you are using tools that making it as easy as possible for you to get done what you need to do. That is probably enough on recording software.
Video Recording Equipment
The next bit of tools you are going to need is a microphone. I can’t stress how important a microphone is to doing this type of review process because people are really more than half of what the video is, is your voice so video quality is one part of it audio quality is the other and if you’ve got a noisy poppy crackly muffled microphone in your video no one is going to want to watch it, no one wants to listen to that. When you are going to pick out a microphone a couple of rules to keep in mind are you get what you pay for.
The $8 microphone that you find at Best Buy or the one that came built into your monitor laptop or what not is going to have awful audio quality I wouldn’t even start with those its really not worth it. Lots of them have popping calking you can hear your hard drive or something whistling in the background. So go out and get a microphone and be willing to spend a little bit of money you don’t have to go out and spend hundreds of dollar but even if you go out and buy a thirty forty dollar microphone you are going notice immediately a much better quality in the audio that you are getting out of it and that’s going to help your voice and your presentation come across that much better.
Secondly, get one [a microphone] that you are comfortable with, if you get yourself some boom microphone hanging that is standing off of your desk and you have to lean over to talk into all the time again its not going to be comfortable its not going to be easy you are going to feel like you are forcing yourself to do it and if its especially if it uncomfortable and you are moving back and forth from it or what not that is going to effect the other quality to. Then lastly if you can now this is a big if is get a condenser microphone, most of the microphones that are in the consumer type microphones headsets desktop microphones and what not are very cheap relative to condenser microphone. A condenser microphone is a little difficult to explain but it’s a much higher quality, it’s the type of microphone you would use in radio ads and what not and they are going to run a lower condenser microphone at least $150 probably $200 but if you really getting into doing reviews or your audio quality is just paramount to you go out and find a nice condenser microphone preferably one that hooks up via USB so you don’t have to have a sound board or something to adapt the condenser microphone into your audio input and give it a shot. Spend a little bit of money on you microphone it will be worth in it the long run get one that you are comfortable with and you know that you will use and if you really are concerned about your audio quality spend the extra money and get a condenser microphone you will never have to buy another microphone as long as you are careful with it.
Our last tool is a powerful PC. Screen capturing like this takes a lot of processing power, a lot. If you are recording in 720p so you can think of that as 1024 x 768 about there, if that the screen area that you recording I would recommend that you have at least 2Ghz dual core processor, you will have one core to run your browser or the game or the video or whatever it is you are recording and another processor core to do your recording on that end. That is what I am running my system on seems to work ok the video doesn’t always have the highest frame rate but I don’t have any audio jittering problems which is what you will see if your machine was severally underpowered for the type of media you are recording. 720p is respectful that is what a lot of people are going to watch on Yutube they might even watch it lower at 480p. But 720p is your first high definition resolution that is probably where you should start for your recordings but if you really want to get out there and do 1080i and that would be if you had a 1920 x 1080 resolution monitor and you were recording the whole screen that would be a 1080i video and there you are going to need at least a 3Ghx dual core or more to be able to do that and really if you are recording at that high of resolution you probably want to dish out the money for something like Fraps or Adobe Captivate because they are much more efficient things like Jing and CamStudio and other software aren’t going be able to keep up with that amount of recording so keep that in mind when you are going to start up doing a review or something you don’t want to have to go out and rebuild your entire machine so if you know something like this up front you can down scale the size of your screen that you are going to be recording so that the video comes across clean and the audio comes across well also.
Additionally to our list here you might need some video editing software. I don’t use that myself for these I do all of my videos in one take but video editing is a pretty big topic I could probably spend a whole another segment just talking about all the different video editing options that are out there the pros and cons of those and what is going to work best for your particular use case but I will definitely save that for another time.
Preparing for and Recording Your Review Video
Our next subject is prep work this next to the tools making sure you have quality tools the next biggest thing is going to be your prep work. The one that I can’t stress to people enough is get to know your subject matter. I don’t know how many times I am reading a review on line or listening to someone’s review on YouTube and they get a fact wrong about the product that they are reviewing and it just really goes to their creditability they have done a review on something and they don’t even know all the details of it so if you are going to review something don’t just pull out of the box or pull it up on a webpage and do a review 10 minutes later. Get out there and really use it feel like you are intimate with the product the service whatever it is you want to be reviewing, spend a day or two with if it’s a web service and its free sign up for it set it up, go through all the options, try and customize it, if it’s a product spend a day taking picture with it or playing games on it whatever it might be and make sure that you know the intricacies of it enough that you aren’t going to be reading from a list to point out qualities from it and you also not going to goof up and say something about the product that might not be actually be the case.
Second is write yourself an outline of its qualities. So don’t go through and list everything about the site service or product but write yourself an outline of its really excellent at this it could use some work on this aspect of it service, here is the three things that I really liked about it. Just a general outline of what makes the product stand out what could be improved upon, etc. so that you are not doing your review and having to come up with stuff out of your head end up with a lot of “hmm, ummm”, stutters and pauses that you might have to edit out later. If you write yourself an outline get to that point you can glance over at it and see what outline was and keep the flow of the video going and not have to stop and try catch up where your thought process was.
Last of all is do not make a script. I don’t know how many times I have listened to reviews and people are reading off of a script and they get into that mono tone voice because they are reading off of a piece of paper. Its not fun people don’t want to spend their time learning about a product just to have someone ramble on in a monotints tone just reading off of a script that is the problem even if you take all those qualities that you have picked out and then you make a script about them you lose all the flare, the emotion of why you think the product is really great or perhaps why its really bad and so try not to make yourself a script try to get to the point comfortable enough with product that you can go out there and its like you are talking to your viewers because that is what you want to be talking to them, forming relationship with them have that emotional connection and reading off of a script you might as well just take that script and put it up on your web page as an article because it is not going to do any good as a video review.
Additionally to this prep work you could bounce stuff off some other people you know get on line, look at forum post, look at some other review not the plagiarize but just to see if they had any strong opinions one way or another because they might have found something that you’ve missed a particular use case or what not. Maybe run it by some friends there’s all sorts of options out there for you to get a lot of this stuff done before you even hit the computer and start doing the recording so that the video turns out that much better.
Lastly, just a few additional tips that I have run into so I will try get them out of the way for you so you don’t run into the same hurdles is check your microphone volume. Every time before I actually go to record a video I do a few tests here and there placing my microphone with my surrounding audio environment sounds like and then play it back to myself because there is nothing worse than going to watch a video and you can barely hear the person you have to crank your speakers all the way up to try to hear the person because they didn’t make sure their volume was normalized. Additionally if you’ve already been watching a bunch of videos on YouTube and then you click on someone else’s video and your speakers are just blaring because this guy had his volume cranked way up that is going to be an annoyance to and a lot of people will be turned off by that. Take the extra minute to do a couple test runs position your microphone make sure everything is normalized will save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Check for artifacts/tearing. Once you have done your video go back and watch it a few times make sure that any video on the screen or your cursor scrolling down the page isn’t tearing either too bad or at all. That’s going to really effect how people are thinking about your video if they are trying to watch it and there is all this pixilation and screen tearing while they are trying to pay attention to it to figure out what you are talking about that’s really goanna take away from their objectivity when they are trying to absorbed the information you are giving to them. So take the time to go through and proof your video before you put it up there can save you a lot of time and that is the other thing have someone else proof your video. You know, you are always going to think that what you’ve done is probably the best that can be done but the amount of quality, the amount outside perspective you might get just from having someone else take five ten minutes and look over you video to see if you missed a fact, you stuttered too much, you made some type of verbal typo in video that is going to save you embarrassment later all you have to do is redo the video or edit that part out if that kind of thing happened versus to go back and put in something type update or redo on you video online.
I think what I have given you here is a good set of tips and basic best practices for doing a video but I really think you should be able to go out there and do your own now. If you just want to get started just go find a web site or service that maybe not everyone knows about obviously don’t go do a review of eBay but go out there find a website pick out five six things you really like about it, maybe a couple of ways how they could improve down load the software, hook up your microphone write yourself an outline and go ahead and try it. That’s all I have for you on this I will probably do a video later on video editing software, that’s something people want to see. Otherwise this will probably wrap it out I want to thank you for your time again this vide was brought to you in part by DigitalSapien.com your source for everything SEO, SEM eCommerce and more. Signing of this Evan Dean from the bog cheers.
Thanks to Evan Dean – DailyNerd.net Tech Blog