TeacherCast creates screencasts and instructional videos for the educational community. Through student inspiration and educator feedback, I have had the privilege of creating online courses and video tutorials on subjects such as Evernote, Video Editing, student communication and mobile classrooms. Quite often people ask about the tools that I use and my methods for creating these screencasts.
There are several great tools both freemium and premium that I use for creating digital content. Quite often, I just don’t have the time to use a free application such as Apple Quicktime and then transporting it into a video editor such as Final Cut Pro X to make the edits for exporting and uploading. My favorite tool for creating screencasts is called ScreenFlow from a great company called Telestream. It has a simple interface and has powerful tools to allow you to create amazing classroom resources.
Telestream ScreenFlow recently pushed an update that introduces some amazing features. Are you looking to create a video that not only shows your screen but your pretty smile? ScreenFlow can do that. Are you interested in teaching your students about a new iPad app by doing a screencast?? ScreenFlow can do that too! How about having a great app with the ability to publish to platforms such as YouTube, Dropbox, AND your Google Drive??? Yup…. ScreenFlow is the choice for you.
Setting up ScreenFlow
Once installed from either the Telestream Website or the Mac App Store, ScreenFlow gives you a robust dialogue box where you can set up your recordings. You can select from your various camera, and choose which microphone you wish to use. Screenflow gives you the ability to record not only from one camera but from multiple sources. Need support for your iPad or iPhone? ScreenFlow can even record these screens too.
Recording your Screencast
Once you have established your recording parameters, it’s time to start your recording. Learning simple keyboard commands will help you create your screencasts quickly. I have my commands set up as Command-2. This allows me to toggle on and off the recordings. One of the neatest features of ScreenFlow is the ability to hide your desktop icons. I often find my desktop screens very cluttered and this option allows my audience to see a clean screen and not a cluttered mess.
While recording, it’s inevitable that you will flub or mess up something. If this happens, my advice is to keep recording. Record everything… even if you have multiple takes… keep recording. This way, your final product will be one single video clip. If you stop and start your recording several times, your computer will now be dealing with multiple files and that becomes messy. No matter what happens, I find it’s always best to have one single source file at the end from which to edit. There are times where, during the recording, you need to wait for apps to load, or websites to come up on screen… just remember that the editing station is where the power lies in your screencasts. You can always cut this time away by editing rather than starting and stopping the video recording.
Editing your Screencast
Once your video is recorded, ScreenFlow automatically enters you into a VERY powerful video editor. Most of my screencasts are very basic and don’t nearly take advantage of the tools that are offered in ScreenFlow. My advice here is to keep everything simple and only bring out the bells and whistles where needed.
There are many tools that you can use in your recordings. You can choose to make a video of just your desktop screen, or if interested,d you can layer in your second video camera to include yourself in the final edit. The editing screen allows direct access to your Photo and Audio/Video libraries in case you wish to bring in extra screenshots or B-Roll video.
ScreenFlow is packed with powerful editing tools that can help make your users have a very enjoyable learning experience.
- Video: Scale your video larger or smaller. Include a reflection or border around your video. Create a Picture in Picture type of experience.
- Audio: Overlap audio on top of other audio using “Ducking”. Add audio effects and filters to your project.
- Screen Recording: Are you interested in showing your mouse on the screen? Would you like your project to show every place you clicked your mouse?
- Call Out: Highlighting various places on your screen including a zoomed in follow on your mouse pointer.
- Annotations: Draw boxes or shapes on the screen to highlight various locations. Create text effects on the screen for simple instructions.
Exporting your projects
There are dozens of options that are available when exporting. From ScreenFlow, you can directly export to YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive, and Facebook. You can also choose to export a master file at various sizes. My advice when exporting is to export directly to your desktop and then upload into these various locations. I also find my decisions for the export are all based on the size of the project I’m working on. If I’m working on a smaller screencast, perhaps 5 minutes or less, I don’t have a problem exporting to YouTube directly. If the project is close to an hour in length, it’s best to export to the desktop, and then upload from there. My reasoning behind this is that unless you are simply posting for fun, you will want to log into these services and play with the settings of your final project any way… so, to export to the desktop and publish at that point is actually saving you a bit of time.
When you are finished, I always backup my projects onto a secondary hard drive. I have often found that year to year, things change and it’s very simple to go back into a project and update for the new school year to adjust for updating websites or technologies.
I have been a ScreenFlow user for several years now. I also have been a fan of the other popular screencasting applications popular in the educational market. ScreenFlow provides users with a very simple interface from which to create projects in. Where I absolutely love using Final Cut Pro X to do my video editing, I find that more often than not, I am opening ScreenFlow to do simple video edits and projects. There are features of FCPX that I wish were in ScreenFlow, and of course, there are features in ScreenFlow that I wish were in FCPX.
There are several advantages to all of these. The important question is… what tool allows you to create your classroom resources quickly and effectively for your students to learn the best. What provides a great experience for the user not only now, but in the future.
ScreenFlow from Telestream is a great screencasting application that I would highly recommend to teachers and I think you will enjoy it too.
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