I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Ray East, the “video tutorial guy” from BeLight Software. Ray is an American working in Ukraine for this interesting company which specializes in the production and distribution of Mac software and technology. In addition to this, Ray has also just started his own screencast production company, Mac Screencast Productions, dedicated to training users to efficiently make use of their software — using ScreenFlow of course!
Read on to learn about how Ray creates his screencasts, and lessons he’s learned along the way.
How long have you been screencasting and approximately how many screencasts have you made?
I’ve been screencasting for three years now, ever since I came to work at BeLight Software. New to the software business, creating screencasts was one of the first things I began doing in the company. Three years and over one hundred screencasts later, it’s become more than just a part of my daily grind. It’s a hobby. It’s something I enjoy. And that’s why I decided to launch the Mac Screencast Productions project.
For what purposes to do you make your screencasts?
The majority of my screencasts are video tutorials used to teach our users how to efficiently use our software, but I’ve also produced promotional videos and product overviews.
What kind of studio or set up do you have?
I move around quite a bit, so a permanent studio has never been an option. But I’ve always made sure that I have an empty corner in my apartment where I can put up my collapsable sound isolation booth made out of PVC pipe and heavy blankets. A bit funny to call that a sound isolation booth!
I do all of my audio recording and editing in GarageBand. I run a Sennheiser e815 through a Line 6 Tone Port to my MacBook Pro. I do audio and video separately, so the rest is done with ScreenFlow at the comfort of my desk.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of creating your screencasts?
The two most difficult aspects for me have always been planning and getting over the fact that often times I’m doing my screencasts for a raw program that still has bugs. A lot of times these bugs get in the way of recording a smooth screencast. But, you know, most times that can be fixed during editing.
What’s the process you use for creating your screencasts?
Well, it all starts with a good, thorough plan. From there I write a script and record the voice-over. I’ve always stayed away from improvising and recording both audio and the screen at the same time. And I do that so that I can focus on content, audio quality, and smooth mouse movement separately. I find filler words, the sound of keys being pressed, and jerky or quick mouse movement to be really distracting when I watch a tutorial, so I try to keep my viewers as focused as possible this way.
So once I record and edit the script, I do my screen capture in real time while listening to the soundtrack. I’ve found that doing that can really cut down on syncing video during post production. Then I put the audio and video together using ScreenFlow!
Do you have a screencast that you’re especially proud of?
I actually have two of them. One is the introduction tutorial for Roxio Toast 11. I had a lot of fun with the animation in this one.
The second is a tutorial I did for Disc Cover, one of our DTP programs at BeLight Software. This was my first time experimenting with animation, and interestingly enough, I did it all in Keynote! That was a real pain, but it worked out pretty well. At least I think it did!
What other programs/accessories do you use besides ScreenFlow to create your screencasts?
On the software side, I use Illustrator and Adobe After Effects quite a bit. All of the animation and callouts in the Toast 11 tutorial were produced using these two programs. The toaster animation is basically just a layered Illustrator file that I was able to give some life to using After Effects. The callouts were drawn in Illustrator. I then added transitions to them in After Effects, exported them to .MOV with the RGB + Alpha setting, and put it on top of my screen capture.
The only accessory that I use is one that Don McAllister mentioned in his Meet the ScreenFlow-er interview. That’s the ShuttlePro 2. It takes a while to get used to, but once you do, it’s a huge help during post processing! Thanks, Don!
What advice would you give to other screencasters or video makers?
Well, I have a long way to go myself, but I would really like to see more screencasters using a script and taking their time with mouse movement. The only other advice I would have is to check out what other screencasters are doing. Find an approach and workflow you like and go for it.
What’s the stupidest mistake you’ve made when creating a screencast?
I think I have a few screencasts that I could call my stupidest mistakes! Really, my first screencasts were hideous. But on a more serious note, I’d have to agree with Chris Beiting… Not saving enough during post processing.
Besides ScreenFlow what’s your favorite program for the Mac?
Hard to say. Probably After Effects and Photoshop. I really enjoy the workflow. It’s challenging and fun, all at the same time.