Many customers have reached out to Mindflash recently asking how we created our Mindflash Example Courses so we decided to put together a blog post to share the steps we followed. This article will walk you through the best tools to use and the best practices to follow in order to create the best video and audio for your online course.
Voice Overs and Screen Captures
There are a myriad of ways to put together a great training video, but I wanted to take you through how we do this at Mindflash to give you some insight on how to get great sounding audio for your voice overs and compelling screen captures and video. Following are the tools I’ve used to create Mindflash’s video tutorials and demos.
The AKG 820 is the microphone used in most Mindflash voice overs. It is commonly used in the professional recording industry for capturing vocal performances as well as instruments in the studio. It is a great high-quality mic and will give you a natural sounding result.
The Zoom H4n is a truly great, versatile microphone because not only does it have a pair of excellent condenser microphones geared for live recording, it also the capability to support two additional external mics which is great for interviews. It has an SD card so you aren’t tethered to a computer when recording and is handy because it is a self contained unit – no additional equipment is necessary to record your audio.
Audio Accessories: Pop Screen, Sound Shield, Mic Stand
Beyond having a great microphone, it’s important to make sure you are considering the factors that will affect your recording negatively. First and foremost, you should always have either a pop screen or some sort of wind screen on your mic to prevent the “p” and “s” sounds in your script to overwhelm your recording signal. It is a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment but is every bit as essential to getting a clean recording.
The sound you record your voice over in will also affect the recording’s overall quality. Too many hard surfaces at right angles will make your voice sound thin and will give it an echo. Carpeted rooms are best but what I’ve found that in the absence of a sound booth, a sound shield that goes around your mic will work just as well. Click here to see some examples of sound diffusers and sound treatment options.
Stands come in many shapes and sizes! For voice-overs, I like to use a desktop stand for convenience but a full size stand will work as well. It’s important to get the microphone as close to you mouth as possible to makes sure you don’t get too much “room sound”, which is to say, the echo of your voice in the room that occurs when you are too far from the microphone.
There are many choices when it comes to sound editing software. The basic functionality you’re seeking is to piece together a great sounding take. This means you’ll want to be able to move sections of the audio around with an ear for pacing and cadence, change the volume levels and use simple effects such as noise gating to clear up any background noise.
To help narrow down the field, here are my top 3 choices:
- Audacity: Free
- Garage Band: Free with Mac
- Logic Pro: $199
Snagit + Camtasia
For software demos, I have always used a combination of Snagit to take pictures and videos of my desktop in conjunction with Camtasia. Camtasia has a lot of great transitions and effects that make highlighting the parts of your screen a breeze. They’ve also simplified the exporting utility, which takes the guesswork out of choosing the settings that result in a great looking video. Just remember to set your canvas resolution at the beginning of your project and you’ll be able to see exactly what your video will ultimately look like as you’re working. Both tools are available from the folks at TechSmith.
Tips and Tricks
Let it roll
You’ll be tempted to stop the take every time you feel like you’ve made a mistake in the dialogue. Don’t do this! With your editing software, you’ll be able to cut out any stumbling you’ve made so keep the recording going. As you read through your script, you’ll find certain turns of phrase that don’t seem to roll off the tongue naturally – just keep trying and make sure you’re not rushing through difficult passages. If necessary, make edits on the fly to improve the flow of your dialogue.
Print Out Your Script
As I mentioned in the previous tip, you’ll want to make notes when you find parts of your script that aren’t flowing as well as they should be. In addition, you’ll want to keep your chin up to make sure you’re addressing the mic properly – this is hard to do if your head is drooping down to see your computer screen.
Make sure to monitor your input volume as you’re recording your voice. You’ll see a visual representation of the volume on either your microphone or whatever software you’ve chosen to use. You want enough sound to work with, but not so much that you’re going to overload the signal. Get your input volume to be about 75-80% when you’re at your loudest – you’ll be able to boost the signal later if you are too quiet.
Record and Edit Your Audio First
I have found that having your recorded script all ready to go will dictate the visuals that will accompany it. If you grab your screenshots first, you will find that you’ll be going back and forth to capture additional visuals when you find that the script needs it.
Pulling it together
Now that we have our slides, audio, screenshots/video together, we can assemble the final package. I used PowerPoint with animations to achieve this. I clipped the audio files so that I had just the right audio for each slide. For each slide, in the animation window, I had the audio file play first with the Timing Start option set to “With Previous”. I then selected the other elements of the slide that I wanted to appear and set each object’s Timing Start option as “With Previous”. I then updated the Delay section to have the object’s appearance synchronized with the audio. When your finished putting everything together, screenshots, video and audio will be seamlessly integrated into your online training course.
Teresa Galido is a Product Marketing Manager at Mindflash and she created the Mindflash Example Course and video tutorials.