Category Archives: Videography

OK, How are You Going to Record that Demo Now then?

clouds, questions, and collaboration

Quite often it’s far simpler to show something to someone rather than tell them what’s going on, and this is the premise of good screen demos. They can be quick and easy to do, can really illustrate your point and not only fit in with the viewer’s learning style, but also in this digital economy, video is in great demand.

So you’ve been asked to create a demo recording of your new product, that fantastic widget that you’re about to launch? Or you’ve got an issue with the Learning Management System and you need to share exactly what’s going on with the team and stakeholders? Or you have been asked by the L&D team to provide them with a demo that they can pop into one of their latest online training courses? Where do you start? What can tools are available for you to use? What pitfalls do you need to watch out for?

Whoa there, tiger! First you have to understand your objectives. Why are you being asked to do it? What is the expected outcome? When is it required by? Who is the desired audience or viewer? Ensuring you are in on the loop on all of these will ensure you can put together the best possible solution (demo) that fits the requester’s needs. For example, if it’s simply a demo to show a team of five people something is going wrong, you could suggest a WebEx or other videoconference may be a more effective use of everybody’s time, thus redirecting the request and saving everybody a lot of valuable resources. Producing that video demo might not actually be the answer, so always double check the objectives first.

OK now we know we have to go ahead with this, and the demo recording is the ideal solution, what’s available to use? First, your company may have certain restrictions on what you can use, or a suggested product that they know works well, so consult your local team. There are a good number of products out there which can be used, from Adobe Captivate to Camtasia Studio, from Webex (yes, you can record using Webex) to Screenr.com. Of course there are many lesser known, lesser used tools, some of which I have kicked the tyres of, but mostly discarded for one reason or another.

Some of these products are very high value, some have a steep learning curve to learn how to use effectively, but by far the simplest has for a number of years been Screenr, brought to you by the chaps at Articulate. Screenr (free version) was and still is the simplest to use. It basically just does it with no bells and whistles, and limited to five minutes recording duration, which to be honest was just enough for most use cases.  No nonsense, and has been the mainstay of my recent work doing recordings. Until, that is, they also brought out a paid version “Screenr Business”. This offered secure storage, 15 minutes recording limit, and a protected collaborative environment which could be branded with your own logo. It became the core of my recent work, with instructional Designers bringing in Subject matter experts on the system to do the recordings and hand them off in system. It was a great tool while it lasted.

Unfortunately, at the end of June, Screenr Business was retired due to its reliance on Java Runtime Environment (JRE ) which is basically no longer supported on most modern browsers. The folks down at Screenr admitted defeat with their business offering and are currently working to see what they can do with Screenr (Free) and are giving it until around November 2015 (according to their helpline).

So where does that leave us? There are others out there, as I have said, but most were plagued with blue screens, freezing, poor quality of image and other such aggravations which would spoil the quality of your output. Then there’s the high ticket price, steep learning curve tools such as Captivate.  Or Adobe’s other screen grabbing tool “SnagIt” which has really come along over recent years.

There is however one other tool there that, having kicked the tyres, I was blown away by its features, its collaborative abilities, and the quality of output. ILOS Videos is “ridiculously simple screen recording” (their words not mine). For a start you can pause and resume your recording during mid flow. You can also perform simple edits to your completed recording for example to trim off the top and tail or to blur out certain sections of the screen. Additionally you can also record your webcam at the same time as doing the screen demo – if you really want to show the world what you look like while your doing your recording.

Not only that but you get a whole back end with it too, you can assign videos to “learners”  to watch, you can review user stats to see which videos are being watched. You can playlist videos into sensible groups and you can invite “learners” or other “trainers” to come on in and work in your account. ILOS Videos has really come in where Screenr Business left off with the added bonus of a boatload of additional key features. Finally though, and this was the most important factor for most of my customers, ILOS Videos allows unlimited duration recording. It came up many times in customer requests, and ILOS Videos definitely now fills that gap.

Using YouTube Audio Library for Production Music

googlesupportarticle

One of the hidden costs of any video project (and the least expected from a client point of view) is licensing music to go along with the video. You simply cannot drop in any music, post and hope for the best as the potential lawsuit resulting from incorrect use of copyright music could be enormous. Google however has a solution for some folks that may or may not be appropriate or helpful in your own productions. Within the YouTube “Create” section there is a link to the YouTube Audio Library. Here you can listen to and then download free music for your video productions.

Finding the YouTube Audio Library isn’t always intuitive to everyone. If you are a habitual poster of video content, then you’ll probably know your way around the YouTube Dashboard. If you navigate to your “Video Manager” page, then on the left navigation there is a section called “Create”, and under that heading you will find a link to the YouTube Audio Library. Alternatively, just Google “YouTube Audio Library” and you can’t miss it.

There are three “tabs” that you will need to know about.

First, there is the Free music tab. This is the most interesting one, as here you can download royalty free music for your production. You can use the music in your production and the video will not be flagged by YouTube’s now powerful copyright protection engine. The horizontal line shows how popular any particular music track is. The number of tracks available is limited but may well grow given time. It will be fairly easy for the content to quickly become tired through use, and many of the tracks may just quite simply not be suitable for your productions, but it is a good starting point to look for something. All of the music in this tab can be used in videos which you may be monetizing on YouTube, but since this is very unlikely in your case, this is less likely to be relevant to you.

The next tab is the Ad-supported music tab. Here we have a range of music which cannot be monetized, because the folks who have put it there will be applying their own conditions to it. For example, they may apply advertising to any videos which use that music and posted to YouTube. That’s the deal. It’s their music and they have the right to decide how they want it used. So beware. When browsing this category, if you click to open the track you will see a description of how you can use the work. As a user of YouTube myself, I wouldn’t ever see any need to go in there at all, as I don’t generally want other people dictating advertising on my videos. The conditions which can be applied to each piece of music vary. For example, videos using the music may be blocked in certain countries, blocked by region or even worldwide. Videos may be unviewable only in one specific country due to differing copyright laws in that country.

The third tab is a place where you can get free Sound effects for your video project. This is a very limited collection of sounds which may or may not come in useful for your next project. Totally free and no issues with copyright on YouTube*.

*All above assumes posting to YouTube. If posting to any other location / platform, you are strongly advised to take legal advice.

So if you are looking for some music for a video, you may well look no further than YouTube itself for that music. It could provide the sound you require quickly easily and of course, free. Be careful though. Understand the difference between free and ad-supported. Above all, understand that this only applies to videos posted to YouTube, and that copyright might be an issue beyond that platform. For further information see this Google support article.

A ghastly tale that needs to be told

Sometimes, a video comes along that is so powerful, that you simply can’t put it down,… just like a good book! This short trailer tells a story so ghastly it is beyond belief. For many of us this place couldn’t be further away from us, but it should be foremost in our minds. Here is your evidence in this short trailer.

It’s a beautifully crafted and dedicated piece of cinematography with a ghastly message that needs to be told. Please don’t pass this by, take a few moments to watch the message, understand how ultimately we are ALL responsible, and share this beautiful sad and thought provoking message with your networks.

Go Pro for Christmas with the latest action camera

This really does look like it was 100% filmed on GoPro and the results are spectacular to say the least. Perhaps this is a contender for a Christmas list. I wonder what tricks were used to keep the image stable, guess they must have some accessories which allow the camera to be fixed and dampened for best image quality.

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