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Video Production: One Novice’s Workflow

Like lots of us, my work pretty quickly shifted this year to emphasize remote instruction. And remote instruction means (among other things) instructional videos. And I have never made an instructional video or any other kind of video that wasn’t just pointing my phone at something cute my nephews or pets are doing and then sharing that with friends and family. So… I don’t know what I’m doing. Like, not at all.

Last spring I made a few videos using our institution’s lecture capture system, Panopto. (Insert shudder here about the panopticon…) Pros: I was able to get up and running with no-frills videos quickly, and I really appreciate any help I can get with accessibility features like captions. Cons: editing is extremely limited, and I just couldn’t get it to do some of the things I needed.

Me in full video-projection mode

So over the summer I watched some YouTube videos about making videos (very meta), and then I faced down almost a week of script-writer’s block, and then I spent a week writing a whole bunch of scripts. And I made myself a slide template so that my videos would have a consistent look to them, which I’m hoping will help me mix and match them for the various courses I’ll be supporting. And now I’m deep in the weeds of video production.

Here’s the process I’ve developed so far:

  1. Write a script (trying to get things down to 5 minutes or less means I can’t risk too many tangents, and making videos that people may need to watch more than once means I can’t risk too many stumbles, so scripts are where it’s at for me right now)
  2. Create slides in PowerPoint using my template
  3. Export the slides as large-ish JPEG images
  4. In QuickTime, record a “movie” of me going through the script. (I don’t use my face through the whole finished video, but if there’s any part of this where I want the video and audio synced up, it’s when my mouth is moving, so it’s easiest for me to just record this all and then overlay it with other stuff later where all I need is my voice.)
  5. In QuickTime again, record any screen captures I’ll need of me navigating through things or whatever.
  6. Sometimes I need screen captures of me drawing or annotating PDFs or whatever, and I do those on my iPad.
  7. In iMovie, edit the places where I stumbled or whatever, and then drop in the Slide images and screen captures (usually sped up to x2 or x4 speeds) where appropriate.
  8. Sometimes I need to do more voice-over work in iMovie.
  9. Export my movie to my computer
  10. Import my movie to Panopto
  11. Use Panopto to generate auto-captions and then go through and edit the captions as needed.

If the video isn’t super specific to a single course, I’ve added two more steps:

  1. Download the caption file from Panopto
  2. Upload the movie and the caption file to YouTube

Now I have two places where students can find my videos:

  • Panopto: easy to feed into their Moodle courses, etc, and familiar on campus for course-related viewing
  • YouTube: easier to stumble across or use for less formal work

And through all of this, one of the big things I’ve learned is that it is absolutely possible to be super corny and super boring all at the same time! Weeeee!

My main other take-away is that need to figure out a teleprompter situation. Right now I’m not very happy with the fact that my eyes are always just slightly down from camera even though I’ve pushed my script up as high as I can on my computer screen. Recommendations for good set-ups are welcome!

Published inRandom Thoughts


  1. One thing I’ve learned is to wear a bright red scarf to record my face. That way, I can always record wearing that scarf, and it will look like I recorded everything on the same day.

  2. Oooh, good tip!

  3. Here’s my workflow:

    Create a slideshow with slides that mix together screenshots (some of which are annotated) and traditional slides with text, graphics, etc. Before I can to writing the script, I really need to work through the progression and ordering of the content.

    Once I feel like I’ve got all the slides that I need, I use the notes section for each slide to write out the script. Having the slide up in front of me as i write the script helps me make sure what I say reflects the actual wording/labeling of what’s on the slide, something that matters when we’re looking at a screenshot and need to direct the viewers attention to some particular thing on the screen.

    Once I’ve got a draft of the script, I create a Word document with a one-column table on it. In each row, I paste in the script from a slide. Then I print out the script and read it aloud a few times so I can hear just how crappy and awkward some of my first draft script is. After revising the script, I then print it out to use when I get to the recording phase. The reason why I use a row on a table to enclose each slide’s script is so that when I am recording, the table lines are a nice visual reminder to me to click the advance to the next slide.

    Since I’m working from home and am not able to use Camtasia, which makes it easier for me to capture audio and video at the same time but edit them separately, I have a different approach to recording. I try to capture the whole thing in one take. If I screw up, which is often, I do it again. Using SnagIt as I do at home for this process is not ideal. I know that in theory that I can edit videos and stitch different parts together in editing software, but I’m just too lazy want to do that. Somehow it seems to work out okay-ish for me to slog through multiple takes instead.

    Once I’ve got a video that I can live with (low bar there, eh?), I upload it to Kaltura, which our college uses for video hosting. I let Kaltura generate captions and then spend about 30 minutes cleaning them up (“No, I said “Stephen Francoeur,’ not ‘Stephen Frank or’.”)

    I fully expect that these videos will get out of date within 12-24 months, as database interfaces and our library website are all constantly changing. My operative rule for getting videos online is “good enough for now.”

  4. Ha! Panopto comes up with all kinds of wacky ways of saying “Jastram” but I bet Kaltura is always all smug and thinks it’s got your name 100% correct…

  5. I kind of like to think my last name contains a hidden Boolean operator.

  6. The ultimate Library Nerd Name!!!

  7. I’ve now had a chance to watch a few of the videos on your YouTube channel. Wow! You could do that as a freelance gig for other libraries. They are so well done. The audio is great, the graphics are great, and your presentation style is so engaging and polished.

  8. Wow. Thank you so much! That really means a lot to me.

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