Screencasting Tips: Make Great Screencast Videos with Scripts

Written by Amit Agarwal on Jun 30, 2008

Daniel Foster of TechSmith shares some of his favorite screencasting tips to product great looking marketing videos for SnagIt 9. Reprinted from the CS email newsletter:

1. Step away from the computer. (To brainstorm and storyboard.) Garr Reynolds, in his book Presentation Zen, suggests going analog during the early stages of scripting. His Post-it note storyboarding technique is a great way to capture your best ideas and organize them into a compelling narrative.

2. Spell everything out in detail. Yes, everything. Don’t just write the narration. Describe what will be happening on screen — in painstaking detail. This forces you to grapple with timing and transitions. If you put all your effort into the "tell" and don’t plan the "show" you’ll end up with a video that’s very tedious to watch.

3. Do "prototype" recordings early on to identify trouble spots. As soon as you have a rough script, record yourself reading it. Your ear will pick up on things like awkward phrasing and boring details. Likewise, do a rough recording of the visuals (where possible) to pinpoint spots where the action is slow, choppy, or out of synch with the narration. It’s easiest to fix these things while the script is still malleable.

4. Leave room for improvisation and innovation. No matter how thoroughly you script and test, when it comes time to put everything together something won’t fit. Necessity is the mother of invention, so think of these as opportunities to make a video that’s even better than you planned.

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