When you first start out, you are going to make a ton of mistakes when filming your course. Before filming the entire course, film a few lectures and go back to watch them. There is nothing worse than filming an entire course to find out the audio was muffled, or the video was blurry!
When you first are getting started, remember that audio is much more important than video. After all, if a student can’t hear you or understand you, they will quickly stop watching. Video is much more forgiving than audio, so it is important to invest in a good microphone. There are numerous good quality microphones you can get for under $100 USD, like the ATR2100, the Blue Yeti, or the SmartLav+. When I started on Udemy, I used the SmartLav+ for about 18 months. It records very good audio, and I never got complaints from students for my audio quality.
Next, you need to figure out how to record your video. If you are doing a talking head style format (which I highly recommend), you need a smartphone or webcam to get started. The Logitech c930 is less than $70 USD and films in 1080p HD. This is the camera I used for my first 18 months on Udemy, as well. It provides a great picture for talking heads.
To record your screen, you need some form of screen capture software. For Mac, you can always use the built-in QuickTime software. For Windows, OBS is a good free option, but a little complicated to configure.
You will not be perfect and make Hollywood quality blockbusters when filming your first course. Remember, your first course is always going to be your worst course. Just try to improve each and every course.
Also, when filming your first course, pick a topic that is reasonable for you to complete in a relatively short period of time. Don’t try to make a 20-hour Python programming course on your first attempt. Instead, pick something in the 90-minute range. Make it a project-based course. Something that you can finish in 1-2 months.
For most people, it will take 15-30 hours of writing, filming, and editing to create a 90-minute course. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it if you can do it right.
Now, will the equipment above be all that you use forever? Well, I certainly hope not. This will get you started. Hopefully, you then start earning some money and can reinvest back into your new business of online teaching. My current setup includes a set of LED lights ($800), a prosumer model HD video camera ($1200), a really nice lavelier mic ($400), a teleprompter system for my camera ($500), and a really nice desktop computer to do all our editing on ($4200). Did I need all that to get started?
No! But over time we added a piece here and there, and now our quality of our new courses i son par with the professional production companies here on Udemy and beyond. That makes it easier for students to decide to buy our courses when compared against the "pros".
I hope this helps you get started out there,
A common question from new instructor is: " Should I invest in a decent microphone. Or, a decent camera when getting started? "
The answer is actually quite simple. Which do you consider to be the most effective way of delivering your course content?
Or, "Is audio quality more important than video quality?"
When we ask the question like this, then the answer has to be Microphone first, fancy camera second. Now don't get me wrong, a lot of the successful courses I have watched are stunning to look at. The graphics were crisp. The transitions are elegant. And boy, that stock photography must have cost a fortune!
But above all, the audio was clear. NO echo and No muffled sound and they are well articulated. Plus, minimal distractions like music etc.
I often watch courses that need me to follow along as I learn. This means that I am not actually looking at the video 100% of the time. Instead, I am listening. Trying things on my own. And following the instructions through sound.
Think about someone showing you, how to do something in the physical world. They are most likely talking you through the process as they show you. The visuals in this case are the results that occur as a result of the instructors actions. Not the instructors face on a screen, right? When it is your turn to 'have a go', a good instructor will still be talking you through the process. By hearing, doing and evaluating your results, you learn.
Audio plays an important part in conveying information. It should be easy to think about your lectures like a podcast. Imagine that you are trying to help someone achieve a goal over the phone! Be explicit in your instructions. Be clear and concise with your directions. Be empathetic and understanding of the challenges your audience are likely facing. Talk like every word matters and treat the visuals like supporting materials.
Your audience will be more likely to forgive a blurry image if your audio is good quality. Invest time into the visuals, after you have the audio nailed. And be sure to do your best to remove any ambient sounds in your environment.
You can even try recording your audio separately a s a voice-over. If possible in a controlled setting. This approach allows you to work on your video during the day and the audio at night. Especially useful if you are short on time and can only dedicate small timeslots.
My final piece of advice is to get 'up close and personal'. With the aid of a pop filter you can get very close to your mic without the audio capturing every little breath. By being closer to your mic, you can lower the gain and reduce nearly all background noise. Now, granted this can be hard when you 'have' to be on camera, but in that scenario, you should use a good quality lapel-mic.
Do you agree?
What do you think first-time instructors should invest in: audio or video?
Leave your thoughts and comments below.
Warm regards, Rob.
100% agree. Over time I've even been using less and less video in my courses - at least for my students, they want to see code, not me.
Also bear in mind more and more students are watching our courses on tiny screens on their mobile devices. Clear audio is required for a successful course. Fancy video should only be attempted once you've got audio nailed, and there are plenty of successful courses out there with minimal talking head videos. And don't start messing with green screens until you've got clear audio first.
- Frank Kane