I got this question from my internet/one trip I took to San Francisco nerd friend Jesse:
I am hoping to do some video tutorials soon. Programming and Unix stuff. I’d like them to be nice. Probably camera on my face in the corner and my screen occupying most of the space.
Any uh “idiot” tips for a newbie to this? I was just going to use my MacBook camera and mic to start, and if the mic sucks buy a good one.Jesse Atkinson / @jsatik
Screencasting is basically a catch all term for what I generally do on many of my videos on YouTube — record the computer screen along with some commentary for demonstration or instructional purposes.
So What Did You Tell Jesse?
What I told Jesse is:
- The MacBook mic does suck.
- The MacBook webcam sucks as well.
- …not that you shouldn’t try it with those first.
If you’re the kind of person who follows through on ideas no matter what, then buy some of the gear I’m going to mention below.
If you’re more of a “I’ll see if I like doing it and maybe I’ll stop the first time I have to spend more than 5 minutes editing video or audio of myself“, then go with the built-in gear and wait until you’re sure you want to do this more than once before buying anything.
Ok. I Want the Gear. Stop With the Philosophical Questions.
(There are affiliate links ahead. I make a couple bucks if you buy something from the Amazon links below.)
Just like I mentioned in my Gift Guide for Someone Who Wants to Get into Podcasting blog post, the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone is a great mic to start off any audio adventure with. And while you can certainly get away with using your built-in Mac mic, your viewers will thank you for having a voice that’s much easier to understand and hear when explaining whatever a “UNIX” is.
Available to buy from:
The Logitech C920 series is a great webcam to get. The current model in early 2019 is the C922x. It should be around $70USD / $100CAD and will work great for screencast recordings as well as any live-streaming, Skype or Google Hangouts, or FaceTime calls you do on your Mac.
Available to buy from:
You can use macOS’ built-in ability to record the screen with QuickTime — Apple has a support doc detailing how here — but that doesn’t give you many options to edit your video once you hit stop.
Besides being a pretty powerful video editor, the coolest feature of Screenflow is that it records your webcam, computer screen, and even your iPhone/iPad all on separate video tracks. So unlike using QuickTime to record, you can move your webcam video around on the screen during your recording. Or make the computer screen half size while you’re demoing something on your iPhone.
For example, in my Instagram 101 series I have my webcam, desktop screen, and iPhone all on the video at times showing what I’m doing on my iPhone while you can still see and hear me talking about what I’m doing. If you tried editing that all together inside of iMovie or even Final Cut Pro, you’d get a headache pretty quickly.
Screenflow is worth every dime if you’re doing any amount of screencasting on the Mac. (Plus, I know folks like Justin Jackson use it as a video editor for video they didn’t even record inside of Screenflow.)
The ATR-2100 comes with a mini tripod that works well enough. But depending on how your desk is configured, a boom arm can help you stop bumping the mic / desk and creating extra noise on your recordings.
This boom from Neewer isn’t going to win many awards — but at $14USD, it’s not going to break the bank either.
Publishing Your Screencasts
Once you’ve got a video recorded, you need to show it to the world. There’s plenty of options for where you can publish it, but I’d recommend one of the following:
- YouTube for free + a huge potential audience. But your videos can get lost in the ocean of content available to viewers.
- Vimeo is good for a bit of control over how your player looks, who can embed it where, and avoiding giving more analytics to Google/YouTube.
- Wistia would be my recommendation if you’re wanting to host the videos yourself and get analytics + a beautiful looking player. It’s a big jump from their $0 to the $99/month plan, but if you need to be able to show return on your video dollar/time investment, the analytics and marketing details from Wistia will be much easier to justify to your boss or bank account.
As with any projects involving video and/or audio, the sky is the limit (of your bank account). There’s always more you can do to improve your studio / recording space including:
- A green screen from Elgato.
- Acoustic foam, music bed, new headphones, and more.
- Tips for getting better audio when recording.
- Creating transcriptions of your screencasts or podcasts.
Got an idea for something I didn’t cover? Leave a comment below or tweet at me!
Want More Tutorials Like This?
There’s a couple ways:
Leave a comment below if you’ve got a suggestion for the next video tutorial I should make!