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Pattern: Live on Tape


Also Known As

Videogram, Recorded Presentation, E-Mailing It In, Screencast


When travel issues, time conflicts, or budget constraints prevent you from delivering a presentation onsite, video-record your talk as if you were giving it to a live audience.


Sometimes your (or your company’s) schedule or budget won’t permit you to deliver a presentation in person. Recording the presentation and delivering it in an asynchronous manner to others is a sign of respect for their schedules above yours. And your recorded materials can reach a much wider audience than a live talk. It’s difficult to get additional people to attend a live presentation at a given time in a given location. It’s trivially easy to forward a link to useful recorded material.


It’s easy to think of Live on Tape as a mere replacement for an in-person presentation. But this pattern can also fit the bill for a wide variety of smaller-scale and less-considered presentation forms. These include demonstrations of products to managers, of ailments to physician coworkers, of testimony to attorneys, or of defects to technicians and programmers. Rather than expensively colocating critical individuals in a conference room at a specific time, you can send the video file for consumption at any free moment each recipient might have. It’s much easier for them to make maximum use of their small available moments with a portable video file than it is to gather at a predetermined time to watch a live demonstration.

Live on Tape is easiest to implement for presentations in which most of the action takes place on the slides and in the audio channel. The pattern becomes increasingly challenging to leverage the more physical objects the presentation uses—for example, evidence that audience members are expected to examine manually. It would also be difficult to implement for presentations that use interactive imaging-display technology (to rotate and fully observe an MRI or CAT scan image in its three-dimensional richness, for example), although you could approximate such a sequence through embedded use of the Lipsync pattern.

Live on Tape enables you to deliver a higher-fidelity experience than a mere flat file would impart to your audience. You can communicate more nuanced information in an impressive, multisensory (auditory plus visual) way. Any audience expecting a lifeless, static PDF of your presentation will be delighted by the better experience they derive from your recorded live performance.

A Live on Tape version of your talk can be slightly disappointing if the audience expected to see you in person. But if you’re careful to manage such expectations—especially advisable if your schedule is complex and volatile—you can mitigate the risk of audience disappointment.


You can implement Live on Tape in a several ways. We describe them here in order of least time-consuming to most time-consuming.

A portable solution—available for use in just about any location and situation—requires only a phone stand and a modern smart phone that offers high-definition resolution video recording.

For a more crisp form of application demo or presentation recording, use the camera built into desktop monitors or the lids of notebook computers simultaneous to capture user actions on the desktop. Render your final presentation as a picture-in-picture of the presenter in the corner of the larger desktop capture. Operating systems generally include native applications to capture video from these prevalent built-in cameras as well as video of a user’s desktop interaction. Third-party screencasting applications are generally required to composite the two video streams.

As in the Lipsync pattern, make sure you cover, remove, and hide any distracting elements on your desktop that don’t relate to the presentation. A solid color desktop wallpaper works best and actually aids the compression (size reduction) and download speed of the final video.

Known Uses

Apple often has a very limited number of seats at its announcement events, especially those held on the Cupertino campus. In a twist of Live on Tape, the presentations are crafted to suit two audiences simultaneously—the one in the seats at the venue and the Internet audience that consumes these informational sessions as soon as they hit the web. Numerous events of this style are hosted on the Apple Events site,5 as shown in Figure 5.8.

Figure 5.8

Figure 5.8. Apple’s page for Live on Tape videos

Related Patterns

This pattern is an application of the Lipsync pattern to an entire presentation rather than just a portion of it.

Live on Tape is often a compromise alternative to a proper Live Demo.

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