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Screencasting is the digital recording of computer screen's output that usually will have accompanying audio narration. The term screencast is comparable to screenshot. If screenshot is a picture (or snapshot) of a computer screen, a screencast is essentially a movie, able to be enhanced with visual callouts and audio narration..

The Ross lab has the ScreenFlow screencasting software installed on each machine for your use. If you prefer to screencast from the privacy of your office, you may consider looking into other popular options like Camtasia.

Have a look at our Tech & Learning section to learn about how some professors at Ross are using screencasting to change the way they teach.

What follows are some tips and tricks to producing a successful screencast.

Prepare & Practice

At the very least, create an outline you can follow if you're narrating over your screencast. It's very difficult to successfully "wing it" as you go. Practice sitting upright and speaking aloud. Clear your throat, and have a bottle of water handy.

Clean Up the Desktop

If your computer desktop is messy, consider cleaning it up. Remove anything you don't want others to see. Close any open windows that aren't needed. Clear up any other distracting items that my be in the recording area.

Adjust Recording Frames

If possible, adjust the recording frame size so that only the windows needed will be recorded. For example, if PowerPoint runs in a small window on your monitor, shrink the recording area down to match so that everything else is ignored. Viewers won't have to strain their eyes to see only a single portion of the screen. This will reduce distractions and make important content more prominent.

Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

Learn the keystrokes for stopping a recording in the screencasting software. This will help eliminate any additional mouse movements and may make "trimming off the back end" in post-production unnecessary. (In ScreenFlow, hold Command and Shift and tap 2 to end the recording.)

Limit Mouse Movements

Limit moving the mouse as much as possible. Use the mouse only when needed to perform an action or highlight an object. This will allow for easier edits of any mistakes made.

Highlight Important Objects

In post-production, you can review your recording and easily add things like text overlays, visual callouts like bubbles and shapes, zooming in and out on particular areas of the screen, and highlights. This is a way to make your screencast stand out and use this technology to your advantage to do something not possible in a traditional lecture or presentation.

Project Your Voice

Project and speak slowly while recording. If you make a mistake, pause and start over from the beginning of your sentence to make editing easier. Don't be afraid to pause while recording to collect your thoughts. Any pauses can be edited out in post-production. Consider keeping a small notepad handy to mark down time-codes you want to revisit during editing (e.g., took a sip of water at 3:20, edit out.)

Add Inflection & Confidence to Your Voice

It's easy to slip into a monotone style of speaking. Add inflection to your voice. It may feel strange at first, but this will make you sound more professional and interesting. Consider saying certain phrases with a smile, which can often be "heard" in your voice.

Picture in Picture

The video lab's screencasting software, ScreenFlow, makes it easy to not only record the screen but insert a small frame of yourself in the lower corner as well. Consider that this will block (mask) that part of the screen, and may need more prep time than an audio narration alone would. If you decide to record with picture-in-picture, obviously make sure you look decent but also make an effort to maintain "eye-contact" with the camera.

Picture ON Picture

The video lab's color backdrop screens allow you to insert yourself into your screencast. For example, you could be standing on your computer desktop, pointing at icons, or you could just have an overlay shot of your face on screen in front of your slides. Take a look at how Professor Scott Moore uses this idea. This is an advanced thing to do, but with some practice can become quite easy.

Keep It Short

Try to keep your video short, concise and to the point. Most professors seem to keep their lectures right around 20 minutes or so. A lot of other screencasts are usually around 3 minutes. When you browse YouTube for videos like this, consider your reaction when finding one that's an hour--ugh! If you have several points or topics, or natural "breaks" in the lecture or presentation, break them up into separate screencasts.

Don't Get Discouraged

Mistakes happen and you have the ability to edit any audio or video mistakes that occur. Use this to your advantage. Unlike presenting something in front of an audience, live, screencasting gives you the ability to take as long as you need to make things perfect!


The majority of these tips come courtesy of the Carl D. Winberg, MD Presentation Practice Room.