Things to consider when recording your first screencast

Building dashcopy

I recently published my third and fourth episode of “Building Dashcopy”. Since the beginning, I have been compiling a list with things I should not do, or at least try not to do in future screencasts, and I thought it would be worth sharing.

Disclaimer: I have published only a couple of screencasts so I might not know what I’m talking about. Also, keep in mind that I record the audio after I’m done filming and editing.

  • Avoid using shortcuts unless they are obvious (copy/paste, formatting).
  • Avoid using words like just, easy. It might be just and easy for you, but not for the viewer.
  • Show what might go wrong. If you stumble upon an error, a missing parameter, typo, do not stop the recording and do it again. Leave it as it is as there is a good chance your viewer will experience the same mistakes.
  • If you have a cheap mic, avoid talking directly into it, as it will pick and maximize every breath you take. Keep a good distance (30-40cm) and place the mic on one side or the other, not directly in front of you.
  • Keep recording even if you’re not saying anything. It will make your audio feel more fluent, rather than having sound breaks everywhere.
  • You will need notes. It’s hard to not sound like you’re reading but what you could try is to direct your voice upwards, towards your head. It works wonders, but sadly, at least for me, it’s hard to maintain for a long period of time.
  • Pace yourself. Give the viewer enough time to process everything.
  • Master audacity. Play around with noise reduction, compressor, equalizer, and the clip fix effects.
  • Avoid having too many audio cuts. Having too many audio files will give you a hard time when you’ll try to glue them together. It might also lead to sentences repeating the same expression. In my case, I can’t seem to be able to avoid saying “Let’s” every minute or so. Try to cover as much video material as you can in one go.
  • Be careful what you promise for the future episode. You might pick a topic that is too broad to be covered in a single episode.

These are all mistakes I made in my first episodes. I’m sure I made others too, but these are the ones that stood most for me. Hopefully, you’ll get to avoid some of them.

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