Become Better at Screencasting: Tips from Anton Bollen

This year at Screencast Camp, things were pretty low key for me until it actually started. As part of the video team, we committed to capture footage, images and video interviews with attendees and staff. If that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, during Friday night session planning, I was asked if I would put on a live episode of the Forge. I was actually a little worried as soon as the topic was mentioned; mostly worried that no one would really want that topic.

Well, it turned out alright and we had 11 guests in the studio for a special recording. The show wasn’t without incident though. We had just replaced the computer we use for streaming and recording, plus we hadn’t tested the audio system. So you’ll see a little rust in this episode, but regardless, our guest, Anton Bollen, TechSmith German Evangelist, provides some great tips about becoming a better screencaster.

The show clocks in just over 8 minutes. Or you can check out some of the highlights below.

Can’t see the video? Watch it here.

Anton’s Screencasting Tips for becoming a Better Screencaster

Anton BollenIf you’ve never met or not heard of Anton Bollen, you are missing out. This guy is a gem of a person. I met Anton when I first started working at TechSmith. He had already been an intern for a few years, and was deep in the middle of our tutorial creation process. I had the privilege to continue to work with him over the next several years, continuing as an intern and then as he joined full time to create tutorial videos. You might even recognize his voice from the Jing Project tutorials.

Anton is a master screencaster, he scrutinizes and picks apart videos like a mad scientist, making sure that the mouse cursor is timed perfectly. He learned a lot through trial and error, but frankly, has an intuition that has been honed and skilled through years of experience.


Anton’s Tips

instagram tip 51. Stop hating your voice. It’s yours, it’s the way you sound (Why your voice sounds different). Anton suggests getting over it. He suggests that, even if you have an accent or some other distinguishing feature of your voice, you should embrace it. You might find, as he has, that you will be recognized by your voice.

2. Along the same line, a lot of people want to use green screen (sometimes called chromakey) to introduce camera video, but a few things to think about. First, it’s not going to look perfect the first time you try. You should get your green screen and lights and practice and play around. Get a feel for how things work, what set-up works best, and go from there. You will be better off spending some time experimenting and figuring it out, before you have to create a video that you want to show to the public. Definitely you should watch a few tutorials to help you get started.

3. Use real world content in your screencasts to mix things up and create more opportunities to engage with your audience. anton_europeAnton mentioned he uses an intro and ending that is him on screen. He does this to introduce the video with the focus on him, and end the video in a way that he can thank the viewers. This is one way that you can connect with your audience. While these little clips may only last 10-20 seconds it is important to think through what you’re going to say. Anton said it takes him usually 3-4 recordings to get a take that he wants to use.

4. Speaking of experimenting, make sure you experiment a lot. Anton mentioned he watches other people’s tutorials, videos, and even movies to find ideas and inspiration. Once you see something you like, try it out. Even if Camtasia doesn’t necessarily have an option for the effect, there might be way for you to create it yourself.

family_guy_feedback5. Finally, the best way to get better, according to Anton is to seek out feedback. Don’t just seek out the back pats and the praise, find and listen to the feedback that is critical and even mean. Take it seriously and work on it. That’s how you will get better consistently.

What’s up with the Forge?

I’ve been asked a few times what was happening with the Forge. I don’t want to bore anyone with the details, so I’ll spare those, and leave it at: It’s been busy around here. I had hoped that with a new role I would be able to dedicate more time to making the Forge even more awesome, but sort of the opposite happened. Along the way though, I’ve learned a ton that I still want to share.

The Forge Crest

So despite season 4 being truncated (although we did crank out 48 videos in 24 hours), I’m excited to state that we’re picking up some momentum again. No definite plans on the next show date (yet), but we’re making lists and getting ready to record like crazy. The goal is to keep the shows short and provide useful information. We’ll still plan on interviewing guests and getting other perspectives, but also want to provide tips, tricks, and how-to’s as well.

If you’ve got an idea for a topic you want to see us cover–no worries–either leave a comment or tweet at me @piercemr with the hashtag #TSCForge.

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Matt Pierce

Matt Pierce is a Learning & Video Ambassador at TechSmith. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, he has ten years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith. Teach him something @piercemr