While many instructors take advantage of the Lecture Capture system to record in a classroom and have access to the blackboard and podium computer, others may wish to make course recordings in their own homes. These are some simple steps to get the best quality recordings with Kaltura Capture, the University licensed video recording tool. If you’ve never used Kaltura Capture before, you may wish to take a look at one of the links below.
Beyond those nuts and bolts, though, are the setting and content of your recording.
Arrange your recording spot before-hand.
Place yourself so the room’s light is in front of you rather than behind you. If there is a window, do not sit with your back to it. If there is an overhead light, sit so it is ahead of you rather than over your shoulder. If possible, it’s best to have two sources of light--for example an overhead and a window, or an overhead and a floor lamp--so you don’t get a lot of shadows on one side.
Your microphone will be the biggest influence on your sound. The best home-recording sound quality will come from a headphone mic or a clip-on that you can attach to your collar. If you have a stand-alone plug-in microphone, place it just below and in front of you. Get it as close as you can without having your P’s explode!
If you are limited to the built-in microphone on your computer, there are still some steps you can take for better sound. One is to make sure you are in a quiet room, as free from road noise or household noise as possible. If you have a room with soft surfaces (upholstered furniture, carpets, etc.), that will give better sound than an empty room with tile floors. The very best sound quality can be found in a walk-in closet full of clothes! So if you are recording in a basement or similar annex space, consider hanging up a few blankets around your work area.
The best camera angle is facing you on the level. This can take a little ingenuity to get if you record using a computer’s built-in webcam. If you are, try using a box or a stack of your biggest textbooks to raise the laptop or desktop monitor until you can comfortably look at your webcam straight on. Setting the computer flat on the desk often gives an excellent shot up your nose, which is not optimal.
Before you begin, examine what will be behind you during the recording. While options may be limited for where you can set up your camera, try to choose a backdrop that is aesthetically pleasing. Look for qualities like depth and symmetry, sources of natural light from windows, or decorative items that express your personality or the topic of your course. Try to refrain, though, from having decorative items that would be distracting to students in your background. If you are filming in front of a bookcase, for example, you may want to rearrange some of the items on the shelf prior to filming. Before hitting record, also check to make sure there aren’t any edges or lines going behind your head, as that can be distracting. Such lines are often caused by wall or shelf edges, window or door frames, and floor lamps.
Next, consider the actual content of your recording. Neither slides alone nor a disembodied talking head are very engaging video content.
Record your material in 10-15 minute pieces. Not only does this decrease the risk of a single technical glitch ruining a whole hour worth of recording, but considerable research has shown that 10-15 minutes is about as long as anyone will pay attention to a video without pausing for some kind of activity that helps process the video content, e.g. a pop quiz or single paragraph response.
If at all possible, make sure you are in the recording! If you’re speaking along with slides, enable both the screen-capture and the web-cam elements of Kaltura Capture. That will add both to a single video. If you sit back far enough from the computer for the webcam to show your torso, then you have a better chance of capturing your gestures in the video, which makes you much more dynamic to watch. If you normally teach standing up, and if there’s enough room, you might want to elevate your recording computer even higher and move back far enough to stand while you’re recording. Try not to pace, though!
Make sure your slides are not crowded and that your text is fairly large. A video is a small container, even when maximized, and small text on the slides will be hard to read. Slides that either demonstrate a point as you talk about it, or that condense the vital points that your lecture expands on are the most helpful.
Consider also using a remote to advance your slides. It may feel silly when you’re only sitting a little over arm’s length away, but it will un-hitch you from the keyboard and give you more freedom of movement as you speak.
If you need to write freehand, you have a couple options. 1) If you have a document camera available, you can connect it to your recording computer. This will allow you to select the doc cam as your recording input. 2) You can use a capacitive stylus to write on any touch-surface you may have (iPad, Surface Pro, Wacom, even a large touchpad/trackpad in a pinch). You can find comparisons of some touch-surface alternatives here. This will allow you to write on a Google Jamboard as if it were a whiteboard, or on any other program that has annotation capability, such as Powerpoint.
If you have more than one screen, then presenter view will let you see your notes on one screen while recording the slide presentation on another. If you are recording with just one screen, for example on a laptop, then you will need to do one of two things. 1) You can print out your notes. 2) You can arrange your notes and slides in separate windows, and select only the slide window to record. You can find directions on how to do so here. Do recall, though, that the most natural looking videos come from speaking a little extemporaneously rather than reading directly from your notes.
If you would like to consult one-on-one with someone from LSA Instructional Video about making your own course videos, please feel free to request a consultation.