Apps and tools for creating better screencasts and presentation videos
More and more teachers and professors are creating original video content to support their flipped and blended learning approaches, and for good reason – it’s never been easier.
Educators often start by converting powerpoint and keynote presentations into video resources. This is an easy way to get your feet wet and learn the basics of creating original content for your students (read our blog post for some tips). However, improving the sound and visuals you’re able to capture and produce can make dramatic improvements to the overall quality of your videos.
Key to this is having access to dedicated screen capture software and a good quality microphone. This allows you to try some more varied production techniques which can help make your videos more engaging, such as:
- Recording yourself explaining a concept can give your videos a personal touch.
- Mixing existing presentation materials with other media (relevant video and audio clips) helps to shift the pace and make the content more visually interesting.
- Adding notes and animated visual elements (like arrows and highlights) to existing materials can help highlight and emphasize content and aid explaination of concepts.
There are hundreds of apps available to help incorporate these approaches into your videos, so it can be a little daunting trying to choose the one that’s right for you. Below, we’ve looked at a range of image and screen capture apps to help take your video projects to the next level and a couple of high quality, affordable microphones to help you record better sound.
Image and screen capture software
Free and pre-installed with Mac OS, QuickTime X is one of the fastest and easiest ways to record your screen or capture video from your built in iSight camera on a Mac. Just launch the app and click File > New Screen Recording or File > New Movie Recording.
+ Easily capture video from your iSight camera, everything on your screen, or a smaller areas of content.
+ Record accompanying audio from your built-in microphone or another audio input device.
+ Show your mouse clicks in the final recording.
- QuickTime only contains basic ‘trim’ editing – you’ll need to use a video editor such as iMovie (free) to produce more complex projects.
Techsmith’s SnagIt is a free screen and image capture app for Mac and PC. With SnagIt it’s easy to capture, edit and annotate still images and produce basic screen recordings.
+ Capture both video and still images.
+ Add Crop and annotation effects to still images (add arrows, graphics, text notes and filters).
+ Easily record your entire screen or smart-grab windows and smaller areas of content.
- No video trim or edit capabilities.
SnagIt’s big brother: Available for Mac (Camtasia) and PC (Camtasia Studio), Camtasia is a feature-rich video editor, specifically designed around producing screencast-style videos.
+ Robust capture tools for recording your screen (entire screen or a smaller content selection).
+ Powerful and easy to use timeline-based editor makes it easy to combine existing lesson materials with screen recordings, video content, images and audio.
+ Easily add Annotations, transitions, animations and a range of effects to your projects to help illustrate concepts, highlight content and aid visual explanation.
A more cost-effective, Mac-only alternative to Camtasia, ScreenFlow is designed to help you record your screen and edit video.
+ Easily record your entire screen.
+ Timeline-based video editor with available effects, transitions and animations.
Bad sound is probably the easiest way to put students’ off watching a video all the way to the end.
If you’re planning on recording yourself speaking as part of producing your videos it’s a good idea to get a dedicated microphone to make sure the quality of your recorded audio is up to scratch. We can personally recommend the following products:
Blue’s Snowball is an affordable microphone popular with enthusiast musicians and podcasters.
+ Record much better quality audio than your PC’s built-in microphone.
+ Perfectly suited to recording spoken word at home or in the office.
- Designed to record audio sources close to the microphone (ie. spoken word) – not a versatile solution for general audio recording.
Apogee’s MiC combines a small, simple design with a studio-quality microphone preamp, allowing you to easily record professional quality spoken word, vocals, acoustic instruments and audio for live-action video.
+ Simple, portable and versatile design.
+ The MiC has also been designed to work with Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch products.
+ Can be used to record sound during video production (on a boom pole)
If you’re serious about producing great video content for your students it’s a good idea to invest some time in choosing the right software (and tools) to help create the kind(s) of videos you want to produce. You’ll find that the production process gets easier and the quality of the results should speak for themselves.
Of course, once you’ve finished producing your videos it’s time to share them! MediaCore makes it quick and easy to safely and securely share your videos with students. If you don’t already have a dedicated MediaCore site you can sign up for a Free Educator account and get started today.
We’d love to hear about what kind of content you’re already creating for your students, what you have planned next and what you’ve learned already- send your stories to email@example.com.
Read this next: How to transform your PowerPoint and Keynote presentations into video learning resources
There’s a number of ways to create video resources from your existing presentations. In this post we’ll take a look at one of the easiest – transforming existing PowerPoint and Keynote presentations into video resources. Read more