Just like a lot of people, I was rather thrown into the deep end when it comes to recording lectures and videos for learning and teaching. I have written about my set-up and my way of recording and editing using Webex in a previous post: How I record accessible videos for teaching

Since I wrote this post in September 2020, I have recorded a range of videos – lectures, interviews, introductions, summaries and overviews. Through this process, I have changed my set-up and system to be faster and more efficient.

My kit

  • Logitech headphones (even though I recently bought the Audio-technica ATR2500x-USB mic with boom arm)
  • PowerPoint and Doodly
  • QuickTime player (free with iMac)
  • iMovie (free with iMac)
  • Microsoft Stream (free with Office365)

Recording equipment: The Logitech headset quality is really good but after reading The Ultimate Guide to Microphones for Academics, Scientists and Educators in 2021 by Dr. Echo Rivera, I decided to get a proper recording mic and the recording quality makes a big difference and it directly impacts auto caption quality.

PowerPoint: I make my slides with PowerPoint and then export the slides as mp4 with 30 to 60 seconds spend on each slide. I time animations e.g. lines appearing within PowerPoint. You can also create gifs with Power Point. I use this to create little intros for example. Also note that your slide design will be different if you want to turn them into videos. For example, I don’t have too many animations on a slide but rather break the animations down and add more slides. This helps with video editing especially, if like me you record your audio separately. If you want to know more about creating great slides with PowerPoint I highly recommend checking out the great resources from Dr. Echo Rivera on their presentation skills blog and videos.

Doodly: We purchased Doodly for the team at work and I use it to create intro animations or to break up interview style videos by posting the question in a speech bubble with a voice over. I haven’t done Doodly only videos but I can see how this can work well for short overview videos.

QuickTime player and iMovie: These are free with my Mac and I love them. However, there are a whole range of other free options out there e.g. Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) (Find out more about OBS) . I do recommend that you record your voice separately and not within PowerPoint. This also allows more flexibility with the video as you can add transitions or add other video content.

Recording styles

I tend to record three different types of videos :

Voice over: For this I record a voice over for each slide and then edit it together with the mp4 file created from my PowerPoint slides. This allows for fast recording and if I make a mistake it’s easy to just re-record one slide rather than a whole section. If you have a good set-up you can even record over different sessions and no one would notice.

Visible video + Voice over: I started doing this recently to give a personal touch. I start with a piece to camera giving a quick introduction to the video and then switch to voice over, as described above.

Visible speaker window: I’m going to do this more, now I have figured out how to do Picture in Picture editing with iMovie. I also recently read that learners are more engaged if they can see the presenter in the video. To do this, I record myself using my webcam and then add this video as a small window into the video I created from my slides. If you do this remember to keep some space on your slides for the speaker video so it doesn’t obstruct anything. You can always add a space holder box onto your slides.

Processing / Editing

iMovie: As I said above, I edit everything in iMovie as it was free with the Mac. Other free software is available and I recommend you spend some time watching YouTube videos or playing around with it. You will get faster over time.

Office 365 Stream: I use Stream to generate auto caption files for my videos, which I then download and edit. Stream lets you edit the caption file within Stream but it’s very clunky and just takes too long. The downloaded text file can be edited a lot quicker and you can add information e.g. [music playing]. I then either re-upload the edited captions file to Stream or use the caption file on another video hosting site like YouTube. Editing the text file also means you can do a quick scan for things Stream gets wrong and for short videos you might even remember what you said. If you record from a script this is a quick check against that as well. I would always double check the final video against the caption file to make sure transitions etc are in time with your audio.

Stream is great to host my work related videos because only staff and students from my institution can access these and downloads can be restricted. Stream will also show you stats for your videos and gives the option to comment. Videos for a wider audience are uploaded to YouTube, I tend to keep these unlisted so they can’t be found through search, but anyone with the link can view them.