Naga Chokkanathan

Few Tips For Recording PC based Demo Videos

Posted on: June 17, 2011

Last few days, we (a small team in our office) were working on recording few product demonstration videos. We had zero skills in recording any kind of video (for that matter, I don’t even click still pictures in my mobile camera!). But due to some other restrictions, we had to do it on our own, with very limited support. We struggled, made lot of mistakes and finally completed our task. I thought of sharing some learnings, which may be helpful to someone trying this for the first time:

  • Have a script ready – review / rewrite it at least twice
  • After the script is perfected, do a live demo (not recording), this way more items will get added to the script, to improve the conversation style
  • When you are entering test records, don’t use names like “Test account” etc., use proper names – preferably generic names which can be understood across the globe, instead of localized names
  • When doing this dry run, make sure there is a ‘story’ – If the connection is missing, no one is going to watch a series of moving pictures for 10 minutes
  • If your script contains lot of text as bulleted items, consider moving them to a slide inside your video. You don’t have to read it out, just show it for few seconds, interested people will pause the video and read the contents themselves
  • Make sure the script starts with a good introduction (With your company name / logo as the video background) and a summary (With your contact details as the video background)
  • During recording, keep a print out of this script and read from there – Believe me, this works much accurate / error-free than when you are talking from memory or making-up statements on the fly
  • Before recording, Make sure the room is closed, All mobiles inside switched off / in silent mode, all land line phones disconnected, A/C turned off
  • Similarly, Make sure that the PC in which you are recording has no Chat / Email applications running – they may pop open a message at a wrong time and spoil your whole recording. If possible, disconnect internet for the duration of recording (unless and until your demo needs internet connectivity)
  • If you are doing a demo from a browser, hide unnecessary toolbars so that you get maximum space for the demo and avoid any distractions – In most browsers, you can hide everything including menu bar!
  • Check your recording with a sample video, replay it, make sure everything is perfect (including audio) before moving on with your first recording
  • Don’t record the whole computer screen (unless and until it is absolutely required) – Resize your demo window to 70% of your screen and only record this portion
  • Record your video with the maximum quality possible – Don’t worry about file size, later you can always downsize it losing quality, but the reverse is not possible. A video may be played in a computer, a mobile,, a TV Screen or projected to a very large screen – Your final video should be ready for all these, that’s why the ‘best possible quality’ recording makes sense
  • During your recording, make sure there are no unnecessary pauses – you can achieve this by making your script as a multi-part document – You can record one part at a time and later stitch these videos together (This is also beneficial if you make a mistake in between, No need to restart the recording from the beginning – Just redo this part and you are safe!)
  • Use a USB Headphone / mike for recording – They provide the best audio experience
  • During recording, make sure there are no unnecessary mouse movements, or worst, keeping mouse in top left corner when you are explaining the bottom right corner – Mouse should always point to the area you are talking about
  • It is better to have (at least) two people recording a video – One demonstrating the product and the other talking about it
  • For each part, have some cue in the recording for start / stop (like the clap board used in film shootings) – You may just say “Start” (in the beginning) and “Stop” (in the end), which is an indication for the person editing the video to cut after / before these statements so that the video in between is captured properly. Otherwise, they may cut some important portion from your video, causing disconnect in the flow
  • When recording a new part, make sure there is continuity from the previous part, Means – what was the last screen you had when the previous part recording ended? It should be the first screen in this part – Else the final video will be jumping from here to there and confuse the viewers
  • You switched Off the A/C, Right? The room gets heated-up fast and can get very uncomfortable – Take a 5 minutes break for every 30 minutes of recording and switch on the A/C, After the break, switch it off and continue recording
  • On an average, recording a 5 minutes demonstration video takes around 2 hours of recording (and re-recording), Followed by another 2 hours of editing / stitching etc., (for amateurs like us)
  • After all the recordings are over, replay each part (before editing) and decide if any part needs to be recorded again
  • During editing, make sure the new files are saved in the best possible quality (Called “High Definition Video”), If you export them to a low quality format by mistake, you may have to re-edit them again, in case you need a higher quality video later
  • After editing stitch the videos together (in “High Definition Video” quality) play back and make sure there are no disconnects
  • When uploading your video to websites like Youtube, Upload the best possible quality – the website will automatically resize it as per the device
  • Use proper tags / description when uploading to Youtube. They help a lot when people are searching for your video / similar videos
  • Most important tip, Once you finish a recording session, re-recording a video is very difficult. Even if you have the time and energy, getting that mindset back is near impossible, Hence, do it right the first time, record again and again in case you find mistakes, but don’t leave things for a later day – it will never happen and potentially can spoil your video output or worst, you may drop the whole video because of a silly mistake in between
  • In a nutshell, rules for making an amateur product demo video are similar to making a decent movie – solid script, quality time spent in recording the parts, crisp editing and release in good theatres for best reach 🙂


N. Chokkan …

17 06 2011


1 Response to "Few Tips For Recording PC based Demo Videos"

Wow, thats a lot of bullets for some tips. But this is great article. Very specific. With that, Id like to share this short video which talks about Top 10 Best Practices for Product Demos with two folks from Design Reactor.
Something I think that’s relevant to the article.

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