Create CAD Training Videos Using the Latest Technology

24 Jul, 2013 By: Robert Green

When it comes to tools and methods for making your own recordings, much has changed in the past five years.

USB microphones bypass your computer’s low-quality analog microphone jack in favor of a super-clean digital recording interface. Getting the volume levels properly adjusted on the USB microphone requires a little tweaking, but you’ll be rewarded with much better sound.

Tip: For better audio capture with a full-size microphone, invest in a pop filter (illustrated above) to reduce sibilance (hissing sounds), plosives (hard consonant sounds that are created with a burst of breath, such as the p in pit), and exposure to moisture (from your breath) that can damage the microphone’s diaphragm element.

You can find a variety of USB boom headset-style microphones at most any office or computer store these days. Headset units are great for presenters who want to stand up and move, while the desk-based units provide better audio quality for those who remain at the keyboard.

Tip: Make sure to get a headset unit with a microphone boom that can be positioned close to your mouth. Look for units that offer superior noise rejection to eliminate background sounds from your recordings.

Set Video Recording Parameters

Higher graphics resolution is always better — right? As a user I tend to agree with this statement, but as someone who produces training videos I have to think about my viewers and be considerate of their hardware environment. It is for this reason that I now record everything at 1280 x 720, which is suitable for playback on virtually any computer or a 720p HD monitor. The reasons I’ve arrived at this conclusion are:

  • If I record at higher resolutions, my videos can’t display on low-resolution monitors unless I do some extra production work.
  • If I use video compression to reduce a high-resolution video to display on a low-resolution monitor, it takes a lot of processing time and always creates distracting glitches in the final video.
  • Many people like to watch training videos on an iPad 2, which is even lower resolution than 720p, making the video-compression problems noted above even more acute.
  • Recording at lower resolutions keeps file sizes smaller and easier to move over networks later.

Video Storage and User Access

Ultimately, you’ll be creating a video library of substantial size. The logical questions are, Where will all these videos be stored, and How will your users access them? The decisions you make may very well affect how your videos will be produced and shared.

Here are a few example scenarios:

One office location. In this case, videos will likely be housed on a local-area network (LAN) that can move even large files with ease. These environments aren’t sensitive to file size, so you don’t have to worry about achieving compact file sizes or using streaming video technology (such as Adobe Flash).

Multiple office locations. In this scenario, videos will have to move over a wide-area network (WAN), which can suffer from limited bandwidth and slow transfers. These environments mean you'll need to think about streaming video, minimizing files sizes, or both. The bottom line is, users won’t watch your videos if it takes forever to download them over the company WAN.

Summing Up

Creating your own training videos does take a little thought, planning, and setup, but it will reward you with truly custom training that your users can take advantage of at any time — without asking you for help! I truly believe it is worth the effort and highly recommend that all CAD managers consider the possibilities for their own office environments.

In the next edition of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll explain how to set up the Camtasia recording software and your studio to get the best results and maximum flexibility, and show you how to create video output in a variety of formats. So get going with your planning and get ready to crank out some video! Until next time.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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