I was introduced to Screencast-o-matic by Phil Bradley who mentioned it on his blog. I first tried the free version which allows you to record applications on your desktop. This free version is limited in that you can only work on one project at a time, and has limited editing options – just rewind and re-record. The paid version has much better functionality, particularly the scripted recordings feature.
This allows you to build up your videos in segments. First you create a script – you can copy and paste one into it, or type straight in. (see image left).
Each line of script becomes an individual segment of recording. Note that you can’t format the text with paragraphs or bulleted lists.
The second step allows you to record the audio – you can do this one segment at a time, or just keep recording, hitting the next button to move down the script you have created. You literally just read what you have put in the screen – no messing about with printouts.
Finally you add the video. You can capture a tour of a website, any application on your desktop or a presentation. The audio plays out to you, and you determine what you capture as the pictures to overlay it. Again you can do this one segment at a time. If you make a mistake you can just re-record the video over again.
The final step is to publish the finished product – and there are a range of options for doing this.
As a scripted recording you can choose to have the script display as captions beneath the video – great for accessibility purposes.
It is also possible to create videos that are web cam based, or web cam plus desktop. I haven’t tried these as I prefer the scripted option for accessibility, but may use in the future.
why i like it
For me this product makes creating videos so much simpler. The fact that you can build it up in layers, and each layer can be edited separately means that you can fine tune your product. Being able to record the audio separately from the video means you don’t have to worry about what you are saying as you are trying to capture something on your screen at the same time. So there is less chance of error.
I used this at CILIP on the CILIP VLE to create a number of videos for short courses on there. In the Teaching Large Groups course by Barbara Allan, I was able to upload the script provided by Barbara, record the audio with her in a short morning session, then add the images myself at a later date. This meant that I could make the most effective use of her and my time, and meant I only needed an hour or so of Barbara’s time to produce a number of recordings for the course.
The fact that we can include the script as captions also supports accessibility for our members. Members have asked for this feature – not just those with hearing loss but those who work in open plan offices and wish to watch without the sound. So it is nice to be able to add this automatically as part of the production process. Automatically generated closed captions on sites such as YouTube can leave a lot to be desired.
improving the videos
Having simplified the capture process with this software, it frees up time to think about how I can improve the videos I create. Key things I am trying to do are as follows:
- Reduce the time spent on a single static slide – as this can be boring for the end-user
- Use more graphics – such as images sourced from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ to make the presentations more visually appealing
- Using animation on slides with smartart graphics to add impact and visual effect
Although the closed captions are really useful, having undertaken a MOOC that had a lot of video content one thing I found annoying was that the transcript lacked diagrams included in the presentation. This meant you had to watch the video to get all the info – even if you had bandwidth problems. (Perils of living in the valleys!). So I am thinking about adding the transcript created from the slides in PowerPoint as well as the closed captions, as I feel that will give our members the choice of watching the video or viewing the images plus text.
Using Screencast-o-matic has really made me think about how I segment and construct a video. In particular, what makes a suitable chunk of narrative and what I want to accompany it. Hopefully this reflection and evaluation means that as I progress in this, the content I produce increases in quality and provides a valuable resource for the CILIP members.
I have to say I really like the tool – it is simple to use, and allows me to do my job more efficiently. It is also quite cheap. If you want to create some quick videos then it’s worth giving this a try. There are plenty of tutorials on the site to help you use the product, and it has a very simple easy to use interface.