Create CAD Training Videos Using the Latest Technology

23 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.

Five years ago, I wrote a two-part series about creating your own CAD training videos. I postulated that video learning would become much more common (it has) and that more CAD managers would be using video technology to manage their staffs (they are). However, I haven't seen nearly as much use of the medium as I had expected, and one reason is the learning curve required to become proficient at creating your own videos.

Over the years, the tools I use to create videos have changed substantially, and my methodology for building great training exercises has evolved. So in the next few editions of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll take you through the process of creating your own videos — from setting up your recording environment to honing the final product. Here goes.

Choose Your Studio

Let's be clear: You’re not going to build a multimillion-dollar recording studio. You will, however, need to create an environment that enables you to record videos with proper screen resolution and noise-free, high-quality audio. To do this, you’ll need a quiet space to record and the equipment and software to get the job done.

My preferred "studio" is simply a large desk in my carpeted office. The carpet absorbs ambient noise, and I keep all the doors closed and the phones muted to prevent interruptions. You’ll have to think about where you can set up your studio in your office or, if noise can’t be avoided there, you may wish to record at home.

Gather Equipment

Now that you’ve decided on a location, you can start assembling the components of your studio. Of course, you can opt for a minimalist or luxury setup, but I’ll strive to describe a compromise that enables great results without breaking the bank.

Computer. You need a computer that is robust enough to handle the CAD software you’ll be teaching; nothing is worse than watching a training video where the software clunks along and/or crashes. The recording software I use doesn’t place much load on the machine during recording, so a good, fast CAD machine is almost always adequate for creating videos.

I use two different computers for recording videos, depending on where I am:

  • On the road. When recording live presentations, I use my VAIO Quad-Core i7 laptop running 64-bit Windows 7 with 8 GB of RAM and a 32-GB ReadyBoost cache. This inexpensive laptop allows me great mobility and good recording performance while on the road.
  • In the office. For work in my studio, I use an eight-core workstation running 64-bit Windows 7 with 32 GB of RAM and a solid-state drive (SSD) to reduce disk delay to essentially zero. This setup provides very fast, glitch-free recording and video production.

Software. In addition to the CAD software you’ll be demonstrating, you’ll need an audio/video recording software application; I use Camtasia Studio by TechSmith. Camtasia is an industry standard and one of the very few video-editing tools that is comfortable in the Windows and Mac worlds.

Camtasia can produce videos in a variety of formats (Windows Media, MOV, QuickTime, Flash, etc.), and it supports a variety of consumer and professional audio formats and interfaces. Camtasia isn’t free (or even cheap, at $299) but it does everything I’ve ever required to make professional videos. You could cut down a tree with a $30 axe, but it is a whole lot easier with a $300 chainsaw.

To test out the software for yourself, download the fully functional 30-day trial version.

Audio hardware. Narration is very important part of training videos, so high-quality audio is an integral piece of the overall experience. A good microphone is a must. I recommend a USB-interface microphone such as the Blue Snowball, Blue Yeti (that’s what I use, as shown below), or an MXL 990.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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