“It’s Like Writing a Play:” Make Screencasts Painless with Storyboards, Scripts

Screencasting is daunting—it’s no secret.

John Shaw HeadshotThe time and energy it takes to record, edit and publish high-quality videos is often much longer than the end product. Many of us make the mistake of diving into the thick of a project as well. This tends to lead to hours of frustration, eventually pushing us away from our video project and toward cat videos on YouTube.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When John Shaw of BravoSolution reached out to us with a recorded Prezi presentation he made with Camtasia Studio, we were pretty impressed by how informative yet fun his video was. After we spoke with John, we were even more impressed with his (and BravoSolution’s) approach to creating videos.

Start at the beginning

Time and time again, we hear video experts talk about putting in a little work before recording your video. It seems like a broken record, but John and his colleagues are great examples of this tip in action.

John is part of the Adoption Services team at BravoSolution, a multinational company that helps large organizations manage the strategic parts of the processes involved in buying and acquiring goods and services. His team is responsible for empowering the company’s consulting teams with the tools and knowledge they need to make their ultimate customers (e.g., government agencies, major conglomerates) as successful as possible.

“Before starting any video, we write down exactly what we want the viewer to take away from the video,” said John. “Then we make a storyboard to plan how we want the video to look and feel. Once we figure out what graphics we need, the sequence of topics to cover, and anything else we want to show the viewer, we develop a script. It’s a lot like writing a play.”

Their process is simple:

  1. Write down what you want to communicate with your video.
  2. Create a design sheet or a storyboard (depending on depth of the video) to plan what is needed to create the video and how it will all flow together.
  3. Write an audio script to guide viewers through the information.
  4. Record the visual portion of the video, leaving extra long spaces between slide transitions or areas in which you plan to include animations or call outs.
  5. Record the audio portion from your script.
  6. Edit and trim the video down to the video you envisioned at the beginning.

“If you get all the pieces together with enough padding between them, the editing process usually goes very quickly,” said John. “But if you make a video ad hoc, you start to fix things as you go and then parts no longer match up and the project snowballs into a big problem. You need to lock as much as possible into place at the beginning.”

Storyboard and Script

A part of John’s storyboard and script for his video.

Keep your eyes open

As helpful as BravoSolution’s video process is, it’s still up to the video creator to come up with their own vision of what the video should be. And that vision is best obtained by watching other videos.

“Figure out what kind of videos you like to watch first,” said John. “Pay attention to the videos that you find helpful or interesting and take notes on why they seem that way to you. Then, when you create your own videos, you can begin to use some of those tips and tricks to develop your own style.”

John also notes that good design is a key part to the success of a video.

“It really is important to think about the video beforehand,” said John. “Lay out what you want the end product to look like and figure out what it will take to get there. ‘Good design’ is having a clear objective written down, having a clear description of what you will build and an inventory of the pieces you will need to make it happen.”

Whether creating training videos for professional use or marketing videos to share business concepts infused with a little fun, John and his team have worked to standardize their videos. By doing so, they save themselves time, money and frustration while creating libraries of information for their colleagues and the public to use as needed.

The video John shared with us can be found here. Be sure to watch both parts to get the full experience.

To keep up with John, follow him on Twitter. And to learn more about BravoSolution, visit their website.