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Video Recording Tips

As COVID has pushed many conferences, classes, and other events online, pre-recorded videos are becoming a popular presentation format -- in part because they improve accessibility and bypass the technological risks inherent in live-streamed video meetings. Below are some tips for how to successfully record a slide-based virtual presentation. For more detailed information about adapting to a virtual format (adjusting content, rethinking slide design, modifying your delivery, etc), click here.

NOTE: Once you're all set up, I highly recommend doing a brief test recording to ensure everything is working properly. I know the pain of finishing a full presentation only to discover a critical flaw like the sound wasn't working. Don't let that happen to you!

A Quick Note About Your Face...

Having a little thumbnail video of your face can actually make a big difference in audience engagement, so I definitely recommend including it! Zoom makes this easy. Also, if you don't want people to see your messy room, you can use a virtual background. Some nice Caltech-themed backgrounds are available here.

This is probably the easiest way to record your voice, slides, and face simultaneously. You should already have a free Zoom account through Caltech (for details, click here). Follow these steps to record your presentation:

  1. Sign into your account and launch a meeting
  2. Select "Share Screen"
    You can share your full desktop or just the slideshow application window (e.g. PowerPoint). If your presentation includes media clips with audio, be sure to turn on "Share computer sound"
  3. Launch your slideshow
  4. Hit "Record"
  5. Did you already do a test recording? If not, do it now!!
    You'll have to end your meeting for the video to be exported. Check the video to make sure your voice is clearly audible and everything looks the way you intended.
  6. Once you've done a successful test recording, go ahead and do your full presentation.
    Note: In virtual presentations, it's harder to guide the audience's attention. Click here for details on how to record your mouse cursor as a moving pointer on the screen. And for tips on guiding the audience's attention without a pointer, click here.
  7. When you're done with your presentation, stop the recording and exit Zoom. Your video recording will be processed after you leave the meeting room.

Important Layout Considerations

Note that the thumbnail video of you will appear in the top-right corner and CANNOT be moved (even if you think you've dragged it elsewhere, it'll still appear there in the recording). This is yet another reason to record a test video first, to ensure the thumbnail doesn't block any important content on your slides. If necessary, you can close the thumbnail video altogether. (but we won't be able to see you. sad.) More information on Zoom recording layouts is available here.

AV Troubleshooting

Sometimes Zoom recordings are a bit choppy (especially if your internet is slow). If you find it's TOO choppy to hear you clearly in your test recording, try the following:

  • Make sure you're recording locally, not to the cloud
  • Close other applications on your computer
  • Stop other activities that steal internet bandwidth
  • Turn off Zoom's automatic audio processing:
Zoom audio screenshots

  • If it's STILL too choppy to hear you clearly after making the adjustments above, try switching the webcam video to non-HD, or turning it off altogether (again, it's sad to not see your face, but that's better than not being able to hear you)

  • PowerPoint has a function to record a narrated slideshow. For instructions, click here
    • Note: This does NOT record audio during transitions between slides. To avoid truncations in your voiceover, you're supposed to include a "brief buffer of silence" at the beginning and end of each slide. This is quite obnoxious, IMO.
    • The other downside is we can't see your face.
    • If you choose this method, be sure to export your recording to a video file (otherwise it's just a PPT file with embedded narration).
  • For Keynote instructions, click here ("Record a voiceover narration")
    • Specifics are similar to the PowerPoint info above.
  • Some presentation software (e.g., Google Slides) doesn't have built-in recording capabilities. Instead, you'll need to use Zoom or other third-party software.

  • Screencastify is a popular choice. Here's a brief tutorial for recording Google Slides presentations using this option.
  • Logitech Capture is the software I prefer to use. I find it to be quite intuitive and powerful, and the quality is much better than Zoom. And you don't need a Logitech webcam -- it works with whatever equipment you have.
  • There are lots of other choices out there. Here's just one list of free options. Whatever you choose, remember that the ideal goal is to capture your voice, slides, and face simultaneously.

CC-BY license

This article by Dr. Robyn Javier is licensed under CC BY 4.0