Creating great content
Staring at a blank canvas can often be a daunting experience, staring at a list of tasks as part of a project brief perhaps more so. This section contains ideas, suggestions and guides to help you get started. Whether it is a simple screencast or a portfolio of content to support a research initiative, Mediasite can help.
What to record?
There are lots of tools for recording content, these pages focus mainly on the Mediasite Desktop Recorder. Which option you choose for recording will depend entirely on what you are trying to capture, 2 options are available, a screencast or a slideshow. A slideshow will basically take a still image of your screen everytime it detects change, for example a new slide. This is great for Powerpoint style presentations or images with no movement. A screencast will make a video recording of your screen including all mouse movements and keystrokes allowing you to capture animation, software demo's etc. The below decision tree may assist in explaining this.
Other tools are available to record your screen as well. Some of these allow you add captioning, call outs etc. This is particularly handy if you do not wish to have an audio commentary on your recording. Camtasia is a common tool although is chargeable: https://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html. Another option may be iSpring, although not as feature rich it is free! https://www.ispringsolutions.com/ispring-free-cam. Regardless of what you choose, you can still use the Mediasite platform to share your recordings although going forward recordings made with the Mediasite recorder may afford you more flexibility to change slides and edit etc.
Get the most from your webcam
Built in webcams in your laptop's screen are very handy and great if you are on the go but at your desk its worth looking at an external one. The equipment pages make a few recommendations but this short section will look at the webcam setup and how aye can make it better. If poor audio is the most distracting element of a presentation, then a poor webcam shot will come a close second. Here are a few tips:
1. Keep your webcam at eye level. Your audience wants to feel engaged with you, a webcam that looks up at you or down from the top of a massive computer monitor makes everything look out of perspective.
2. Watch your light, if you sit with your back to a window the camera will expose for the window, leaving you dark and grainy. Something as simple as a desklamp pointing over the top of your screen looking the same direction as the camera will work well. Always front light, never backlight.
3. Play with your webcams settings. Autofocus, exposure and colour are all things that can be adjusted in the webcams setup. It is well worth experimenting with this, the results will be night and day.
4. Finally, watch your background. No one is expecting a perfectly dressed set behind you, however some thought to your background will give your recording a more polished look, maybe a bookcase for example. Keep an eye on simple things though, if you don't want people to read notice boards and whiteboards, don't put them in your shot!
The link in the box below will take you to a Youtube video explaining webcam composition. This video is probably aimed at a different audience, but gives an excellent overview of what to think about when using a webcam.
Clear and concise
Just as you would for a presentation in a lecture theatre, it is important to keep slides clear and concise. Here are a few tips:
- Make all of your slides clear and easy to read. Lots of tiny details in a graph may be lost in a recording and the viewer may be on an iphone so unable to read it anyhow.
- Do not use animations such as slide transitions unless absolutely necessary, these can be distracting for the viewer. Remember, if you need animation you are going to want a screencast.
- Use high quality stock images if you don't have your own. Poor resolution images look poor, there are lots of sources for images on the web you can use legitimately, don't steal them from Google. Sites like http://compfight.com are great for images licensed under Creative Commons (https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/) or if you prefer sites like http://istock.com sell images commercially.