On Making and Using Screencasts

Screenflow logo

image: Screenflow application

I make a lot of screencasts, both for use in presentations where it is impractical to have a live demo, as an educational tool to introduce new concepts or technologies, and for use on websites as promotional material.

Thankfully, being a Mac user I have some awesome software that helps me do a great job. Rarely just one tool, most often a combination of ScreenFlow, iMovie and Skitch.

I always felt I should blog about the process I go through, but I’ve been beaten to it by Stu Green of HaloWeb (writing for Web Design Depot), who wrote this great post on ‘How to Make a Screencast for Your Website‘ earlier this week.

Highly recommended reading.

One thing I’d like to see added to the post is the differing mechanisms to screencast iPhone applications (or more generally, mobile applications). There are a few great examples out there. Of course there are the original iPhone Ads which appear to be iPhone screencasts overlayed on top of static ‘hands holding iPhone’ images and/or videos. Clearly professionally produced. But there are other great examples too, like the Tweetie screenscasts produced using the iPhone Simulator combined with SimFinger. (Of course, you could just screencast the Simulator itself but it really doesnt look as good). The good folk at atebits have put together a guide to SimFinger screencast production here.

Of course, the best screencasts observe the laws and rules of movie making, and to this end some research into the tips and techniques used in movies (fades depicting passage of time, gear shifts implied by changes in music or scenes etc) is a must.

But at the end of the day, it’s not the technology used in the screencast, or the professionalism of the result, it’s the story that people will remember, and share, and buy because of. So more time spent on the storyboarding phase up front will reap huge rewards in the final product. A great example of this is the educational videos produced by Common Craft – not a screenshot in sight (well not a real one anyway) but still an amazing way to communicate a story through video.

Oh and keep them reasonably short. I reckon 2-3 minutes maximum.

Seen any great screencasts? Feel free to comment and link to them on this post.

Be Sociable, Share!

One thought on “On Making and Using Screencasts

  1. Tweets that mention On Making and Using Screencasts -- Topsy.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *