Screencast best practices

Now that we have completed a couple screencasts, I have noticed several things that I do as a computer user that don’t bother me because normally, I am the only one looking at my screen. Audio in screencasts is another challenge, especially in Jing where there is no redo.

Like I said, I noticed in the last screencast I made on MySpace, that I scroll the page up and down sort of aimlessly a couple of times. This I just do I guess, when I am trying to get a sense of something, or perhaps it is just a nervous tic. Another common thing I do while reading online is highlighting text, sort of at random. The situation where I noticed these things happening in my screencast, I was explaining a point, and there was nothing specific to do visually with the screen at that moment. In this situation, it is much better to resist the urge to move the cursor aimlessly or scroll the screen. Viewers are listening, make your visual screen movements have a purpose.

Another thing I just noticed while making my screencast for Hapland, is that you have to be careful about the audio. I ran into this problem when recording a series of instructional screencasts at my last job. Because you are speaking into a microphone while doing something else, it is easy to get lost or just not describe what you are doing to the fullest effect. This leads to unnecessary “um”s and even, God forbid, me sniffling because of this cold I seem to have developed. If Jing would let me edit that audio, boy would I.

The point is, practice your lines, or write a script to follow. If you can edit audio, take out your swallows, awkward missteps, and any other oddities. Writing in mouse cues as well can help with my first point. You have to remember that you’re not the only watching anymore.

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