Creating screencast videos
Some assignments require you to create and submit a screencast – a short video that records your PC screen and audio. For example, you may be asked to submit a poster plus a screencast in which you ‘present the poster’ by talking about the key points it contains.
You will a microphone, although all laptops have these built-in. If you have a headset (for online chat) that is also ideal. If you need to borrow a microphone, please visit LSS Reception.
Planning your screencast
Your screencast will not include input from your webcam unless specifically requested by your tutor; it will just show what is on your PC screen. This means that you can read from a script, and I recommend that you do so. Although some screencast software allows you to edit out mistakes, it is much better to make your recording as good as possible and avoid time-consuming editing.
Plan what you need to say, and write it in your ‘natural voice’ – that means the same way you would say it if you were talking to someone. Your script will need to meet professional and academic expectations, so it should not be too informal, include slang, or (for example) include ‘like’ as punctuation between phrases.
Time how long it takes you to read the script out loud. Pretend that you are speaking to someone, so slow down, add pauses and say the words like you mean them! You have probably been given a maximum length (e.g. 5 minutes) and you should aim to talk for at least 80% of that time (e.g. at least 4 minutes, but not more than 5). If your script is too short or too long you will have to edit it; avoid simply talking faster or slower!
When you are happy with your script, read it through out loud a couple of times to make sure there are no parts that are difficult to say and rewrite if there are.
What does your screen show?
You might simply show your poster full-screen, and that is the safe and easy option. If you are feeling more confident, you might decide to zoom in on an element (e.g. an image, graph or map) while you are talking about it and then zoom out to show the whole poster again afterwards. Not all presentation or screencast software makes this easy or possible, but PowerPoint has a built-in magnifier in presentation mode – see this help page for details.
Screencast software is available for Windows and Mac PCs. The professional choice is Camtasia Studio (Win/Mac) which has superb editing features and great online tutorials. It is expensive, but there is a free time-limited trial that you could use.
Your best choice is probably Screencast-O-Matic (Win/Mac) which works through your web browser. The free version has some limitations, such as a watermark and a 15-minute limit, but is fine for this type of assignment. If you want more, you can upgrade to get lots more features, including full video editing for only $18 per year.
How to use Screencast-O-Matic
Then click the link on their homepage to Start recording for free, install the software and get started!
The following instructions are for PowerPoint posters:
- Open your poster file in PowerPoint
- Start Screencast-O-Matic and select the option to record full screen
- Select your microphone and check that recording level is good. You should see green and yellow bars in the Narration area when you speak. Adjust the recording level if necessary (Windows or Mac)
- Start recording your screencast
- Display your poster full screen (e.g. presentation view in PowerPoint)
- START > read your script
- Zoom in/out of your slide at the relevant points if using that technique
- END > click ESC to quit presentation view
- Stop recording your screencast
- Trim (remove) the parts before START and after END of your recording
- Save as a video file (MP4) to your desktop
- Watch the video – are you happy with it? If not, learn from your mistakes and record it again! It only takes a few minutes.
- When you are ready, you can upload the MP4 file by carefully following these instructions.
Note that your video file must be less than 1.8 GB. If it isn’t, please contact the LSS Reception at least two days before your assignment deadline so we have time to fix that for you – you will need to share the file with us using OneDrive, Google Drive or DropBox, or bring it in on a USB drive.
- Published: 4 years ago