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Recording a Training Video

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  rev. 18/05/2011        

A training video will be used by many people, so it requires more planning and care than a support video.  The technical part is an optimization's a trade-off between a number of variables

File Size

Smaller is better, because it takes less bandwidth when a user wants to view it.  If the file is too big and the internet connection is not fast enough, it means waiting for the video to download, possibly ruining the entire learning experience.  In most processes, including ours, the original video is recorded in a large high-quality format.  Later it is converted to a lower-quality compressed format suitable for streaming over the internet.

Viewable Screen Area

More screen area is better for the user but it produces a bigger file, creating the file size problem described above.  The first way to improve screen area is to remove unnecessary toolbars at the top and bottom.  Windows and browsers have easy ways to do this.  Beyond that, there are a couple ways to trade off this variable.  The first is to record the full application window, then resize (reduce pixel dimensions) during conversion.  We have found that even a small amount of resizing badly degrades video quality.  The second approach is to run ManagingEnergy in a smaller window.  This doesn't work well because elements in the UI tend to run into  and overlap each other, which is just the nature of The second approach, which we have chosen, is to record only a portion of the application window.  In our process, a fixed-size box follows the cursor around the screen, so the user is seeing only a part of the UI at any time.

Video Quality

Clear and readable is better.  The original recorded file will be high quality, just the way it appears when you are using the application.  The compressed video quality will be lower, according to choices made during conversion.  Too much compression, and the video becomes unreadable.

Audio Quality

Similar to Video Quality.  Higher bit rates and sampling rates create slightly larger files.  Strangely, we have found that higher sampling and bit rates do not necessarily mean better sound quality...they tend to add background noise (fuzz).  Sampling and bit rates that are too low make your voice sound scratchy.  Also, stereo doesn't sound any better than mono.  Stick with the recommended settings that our testing has found works best.

After lots of experimentation, we have arrived at a standard process using specific tools.


Keep it to a single well-defined topic.

Write out the script beforehand, and check the flow through the application.

Plan it for three to seven minutes in length; no longer.  Use a dry run to confirm the timing.

Production Tools

Camtasia Studio 7

 Installation Name: Jorge021205


These tools were used for early videos, and have been replaced by Camtasia Studio

Easy Screen Capture Video v2.0 (ESCV) - Capture screen area, mouse, and voice-over.
 Installation Name: 5958

Any Video Converter Professional (AVCP) - Converts large *.avi files produced by ESCV into Flash video files (*.flv) which are much more compact.


Headset - We have been using a standard Logitech USB Headset.

Wheel Mouse - You can use a non-wheel mouse, but the wheel makes it easier to scroll.

Current Production Process

We are using YouTube to stream our training videos, which gives us the option of producing very high quality videos that allow the user to choose their preferred viewing resolution.  We produce the videos at the highest HD resolution supported by YouTube (1280 x 720), then YouTube produces two lower resolution versions automatically that users with smaller screens can choose.

Make sure you have Camtasia Studio on your computer, and that you have two screens and a headset.

Use the freeware tool Sizer to set the browser window to a size that makes the browser content exactly 1280 x 720.  With the standard toolbar and the Google toolbar visible, this is 1288 x 898, but you may have to play with Sizer and Camtasia Recorder a bit before you get it.

Run Camtasia Recorder according to these  directions

A guy named Bill Myers has a library of great videos showing how to make high quality YouTube videos  using Camtasia.  His YouTube name is guerillabill.  Follow these instructions to make your videos.  The key points are:

Save recordings in *.avi format.
Record, edit, and publish in 1280 x 720 resolution, 30 fps.
Publish as QuickTime (*.mov) files, at 30 fps.
Save audio as 16 bit stereo.

This process will create bigger files for upload, but the quality is worth it.  We've done many tests to find this setup, and it definitely gives the best possible results.


Presentation through our website is done using Flowplayer, an open-source wrapper that provides playback controls. For instructions on how to link a video using this player, see the article in the IT Management knowledge base.


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