Adam Wathan’s screencasting tips

As soon as Adam tweeted that he just published a podcast on making quality screencasts, I grabbed my pen and started writing. I was sure he would provide tons of great advice, and I was not disappointed.

Screencasting setup

  • 1280×720 HiDPI resolution (RDM app)
  • hide the menu bar. Preferences > General > Automatically hide and show the menu bar. It’s not only a distraction, but you can also stop worrying about the clock giving you away when editing the video.
  • make apps fullscreen if you can
  • replace the slide effect when switching between screens with a fade-in/out. Preferences > Accessibility > Display > Reduce motion.
  • pick a high contrast theme – this way, the colors stay crisp when processing the video.
  • go with a dynamic mic over a condenser. The latter is technically better because it’s capable of picking every little sound, but ironically that’s not you want. Dynamic microphones are less noisy, less echoey, don’t pick the keyboard and clicks as much. Recommended budged mic: ATR2100. Expensive but great: Shure SMB70
  • Use two devices: one for recording, one for your notes. It’s great when you mess up because you no longer have to move your cursor to your notes and back.
  • Replace the flashing caret in your editor with a solid one – it will make editing easier
  • Consider Sizzy as a minimalist, developer-focused browser.

Recording tips

  • Don’t do full re-takes. If you mess up, don’t stop recording and start from scratch. Go back to the last “recoverable” point and restart from there. Have multiple takes of the same sentence, not of the whole screencast. Here’s Adam in action.
  • Don’t use CMD+TAB to navigate. It will show all the apps you have opened, and it’s distracting. Use swipe left/right – either swipe using three fingers on the trackpad or by pressing CTR + LEFT/RIGHT.
  • Avoid leaving form inputs focused in the browser – it will flash, making it hard to edit.
  • Hide the mouse cursor. In most apps you do that by pressing the ESC key.
  • Be mindful when scrolling – it’s super hard to fix if you mess up.
  • If you stop talking, when you resume, speak the last 3-4 words you said before such that your breathing and rhythm get in sync – this will make the audio smoother and natural.
  • Record in small chunks. Record one bit, pause to think, resume recording.

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