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Cleaning Up the Screencast

Once you have loaded your raw recordings into your screencast editor, what is your first step? Well, let me tell you my own workflow so you have a point of reference.

In Part 2 of this article series, I advised you against recording multiple full takes of your presentation. In my experience, a first-take recording preserves spontaneity and enthusiasm. With multiple takes, your presentation runs the risk of becoming flat and overly polished.

You’ll recall that if you made a mistake during recording, you simply kept recording. You inserted a pause and an audio marker (“mistake,” for instance). Now that we are in post production, we can find these spots in the recording timeline and snip them.

Another thing I always do in my screencasts is remove what I call “dead space.” These are the gaps in the timeline that can represent a number of different situations:

  • A pause in thinking
  • Waiting for a process (software installation, for instance) to complete
  • Making adjustments to the screen

I snip all of this space out in order to ensure that my audience receives an almost non-stop barrage of useful information. They don’t need to listen to three seconds of “dead air” in between my thoughts.

On the other hand, human conversation is dynamic. Thus, we want to be judicious in our snipping in the audiovisual timeline. Again, we need to avoid the possibility of jarring or distracting the audience. For instance, if one of our snips makes the mouse pointer appear to jump from one side of the screen to the other, this might be a problem.

I am a bit fanatical about removing “white noise” from my screencasts-stuff like the following:

  • Breathing noise
  • Coughs
  • Throat clears
  • Sneezes
  • Ambient room noise

Many audiovisual editing software packages include filters that can assist in performing noise reduction.

Finally, we want to be sure to mask any sensitive data from appearing in our finished product. For example, if I were producing a screencast that walked the viewer through Microsoft Office 2010 installation, I certainly would not want my product key visible on screen.

The good news is, as I said earlier, most screencast editing software includes a blur filter that we can leverage to mask this sensitive data. Other candidates for blur include the following:

  • File system objects (folders, files)
  • E-mail contents, including addresses
  • Web browser page titles and content
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