What tips have you learned the hard way when recording courses?

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What tips have you learned the hard way when recording courses?

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My tips relate to people who may have fiddled already with their camera but are trying to get better results. My tips also are mostly for talking heads, which is what I do in my courses. If you do a lot of screencasts, this may or may not help you. If this is your first course, these may be more advanced than you “need” but they may be a good goal to try to achieve in the future if you get really serious.

 

1- Light: Videography/Photography is all about light. Your course is not going to be on the cover of NatGeo but light is still extremely important. Low light or badly positioned light can have a drastic effect on the quality of your image. Shadows on your face can make you look distorted, or unflattering. Low light will force your camera to switch to a higher ISO setting, creating noise in the image, thus reducing the overall quality.
What’s a good light? Anything you can get your hands on if it’s your first course. For my first course, I went to home depot and bought those clamp lights that you can put in your workshop. $7 each and you can put any $1 light bulb in it. I put some parchment paper in front of it to diffuse the light so it wasn’t too bright. I played with the light location but try to have it on each side of your face, about 30-45 degree angle from the camera axis.

What’s a better light? Get a few pro lights from Amazon or eBay. Some that you can change the color temperature (not required). Some models have several bulbs per light, with individual switches so you can control each bulb. Some have dimmers so you can control the intensity directly there. LED lights will run cooler, consume less, and last longer but are typically a bit more expensive. Worth it if you ask me.

Want really professional looking lighting. Look up 3-point lighting techniques where you will have 2 light in front of you (a bright one on one side, a dimmer one on the other side) and a third light on top/behind you to light up your head and shoulders and give you depth.

If you’re using a green screen, light is equally as important. You will be using a different set of lights. There are lights for your face, and there are lights for your green screen. There are good discussions on this forum about green screen lighting.

 

2- Learn your camera or software.

If you want to achieve good results, learn what your capture device can do. Learn what frame rate means. In most cases, you’ll want 29.97 or 30 frames per second when recording. Learn about resolution if you don’t know about that yet. I personally think you should record in 1080 (High Definition) so your course is future proof. 720 is acceptable but will look bad in a few years when standards evolve.

If you shoot with a DSLR, learn about f-stops, and shutter speed and what effect they have on quality. Learn about ISO and how it will change your image quality. The more educated about your equipment and what it can do, the better your videos will be.

 

3- Get the best audio you can

Think video quality is important? Your audio quality is even MORE important. A course with bad audio will get bad ratings. No exceptions.

 

4- Create a setup checklist

It doesn’t have to be complicated but make sure you know what needs to happen before recording so you don’t forget to turn on the green screen lights or to turn on the microphone if you have an external mic, or even to format the SD card so it’s not full half-way through the session. Or even charging your batteries. Once you record 2 hours of high-quality content and realize you forgot to turn on the mic, you’ll create a checklist. Checklists are awesome.

 

5- If you are recording your course over time, remember how your studio was set up.

This will help you keep a consistent look. I shot my second and third course in our guest bedroom. And I had to take down the equipment several times along the months it took to record. I had pieces of transparent tape on the ground where things went. I took notes on my camera settings. I took note as to how far I was from the camera…

 

6- Optional: teleprompter for talking heads

If you do talking head, get a teleprompter or build one. It will make a big difference in the quality of your course. You don’t have to create a script (I don’t like scripts personally, I sound too unnatural) but you can use your material or notes to remind you of what to talk about. 

 

7- This is not about recording videos but… learn how to edit!

Pick a software, whatever is in your price range, and whatever works for you, and learn what it does. Take a course on Udemy on how to use it and apply that knowledge in your course. The better you are at editing, the better your final product AND the less time you will spend on creating your course. Recording the course is the easy part. Editing can take a LONG time. For every hour of course, I now factor 2-3 hours of editing on average. It used to be closer to 8... 

Greg Reverdiau - Airplane and Drone Training

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Re: What tips have you learned the hard way when recording courses?

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Also learned that I have to blink more Smiley Happy

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My tips relate to people who may have fiddled already with their camera but are trying to get better results. My tips also are mostly for talking heads, which is what I do in my courses. If you do a lot of screencasts, this may or may not help you. If this is your first course, these may be more advanced than you “need” but they may be a good goal to try to achieve in the future if you get really serious.

 

1- Light: Videography/Photography is all about light. Your course is not going to be on the cover of NatGeo but light is still extremely important. Low light or badly positioned light can have a drastic effect on the quality of your image. Shadows on your face can make you look distorted, or unflattering. Low light will force your camera to switch to a higher ISO setting, creating noise in the image, thus reducing the overall quality.
What’s a good light? Anything you can get your hands on if it’s your first course. For my first course, I went to home depot and bought those clamp lights that you can put in your workshop. $7 each and you can put any $1 light bulb in it. I put some parchment paper in front of it to diffuse the light so it wasn’t too bright. I played with the light location but try to have it on each side of your face, about 30-45 degree angle from the camera axis.

What’s a better light? Get a few pro lights from Amazon or eBay. Some that you can change the color temperature (not required). Some models have several bulbs per light, with individual switches so you can control each bulb. Some have dimmers so you can control the intensity directly there. LED lights will run cooler, consume less, and last longer but are typically a bit more expensive. Worth it if you ask me.

Want really professional looking lighting. Look up 3-point lighting techniques where you will have 2 light in front of you (a bright one on one side, a dimmer one on the other side) and a third light on top/behind you to light up your head and shoulders and give you depth.

If you’re using a green screen, light is equally as important. You will be using a different set of lights. There are lights for your face, and there are lights for your green screen. There are good discussions on this forum about green screen lighting.

 

2- Learn your camera or software.

If you want to achieve good results, learn what your capture device can do. Learn what frame rate means. In most cases, you’ll want 29.97 or 30 frames per second when recording. Learn about resolution if you don’t know about that yet. I personally think you should record in 1080 (High Definition) so your course is future proof. 720 is acceptable but will look bad in a few years when standards evolve.

If you shoot with a DSLR, learn about f-stops, and shutter speed and what effect they have on quality. Learn about ISO and how it will change your image quality. The more educated about your equipment and what it can do, the better your videos will be.

 

3- Get the best audio you can

Think video quality is important? Your audio quality is even MORE important. A course with bad audio will get bad ratings. No exceptions.

 

4- Create a setup checklist

It doesn’t have to be complicated but make sure you know what needs to happen before recording so you don’t forget to turn on the green screen lights or to turn on the microphone if you have an external mic, or even to format the SD card so it’s not full half-way through the session. Or even charging your batteries. Once you record 2 hours of high-quality content and realize you forgot to turn on the mic, you’ll create a checklist. Checklists are awesome.

 

5- If you are recording your course over time, remember how your studio was set up.

This will help you keep a consistent look. I shot my second and third course in our guest bedroom. And I had to take down the equipment several times along the months it took to record. I had pieces of transparent tape on the ground where things went. I took notes on my camera settings. I took note as to how far I was from the camera…

 

6- Optional: teleprompter for talking heads

If you do talking head, get a teleprompter or build one. It will make a big difference in the quality of your course. You don’t have to create a script (I don’t like scripts personally, I sound too unnatural) but you can use your material or notes to remind you of what to talk about. 

 

7- This is not about recording videos but… learn how to edit!

Pick a software, whatever is in your price range, and whatever works for you, and learn what it does. Take a course on Udemy on how to use it and apply that knowledge in your course. The better you are at editing, the better your final product AND the less time you will spend on creating your course. Recording the course is the easy part. Editing can take a LONG time. For every hour of course, I now factor 2-3 hours of editing on average. It used to be closer to 8... 

Greg Reverdiau - Airplane and Drone Training

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Re: What tips have you learned the hard way when recording courses?

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@AlexM

 

I can relate to @GregReverdiau's item 4.  I have a verbal checklist that I go through every time to make sure the mic is on, I'm recording and all my demonstrations are setup.  It's very frustrating to finish a great take only to find out I was using the wrong mic or not recording :-(.

 

---Brian

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A/V Solutions
Figure out how to create the best audio and visual set-up for your price point and skill level. This is a great place to chat about different mics, green screens, video editing software, and more.
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