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Making screen shots not boring....

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Grant WilberMaking screen shots not boring....
by on Nov 15, 2012 at 9:57:01 pm

I'm gonna be doing alot of work for a software company and they are gonna be doing alot of tutorials or showing off features in their software. I hate just the basic screen shot (even if its 'live) as it feels boring. Any ideas or videos you've seen on how to spice things up? For example I'm thinking about trying to just video the actual screen sometimes to keep it a little different.

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Todd KoprivaRe: Making screen shots not boring....
by on Nov 15, 2012 at 11:16:02 pm

As someone who uses a lot of training videos, I'd ask you to please not add anything that distracts from the content.

Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
After Effects quality engineering
After Effects team blog

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Dave LaRondeRe: Making screen shots not boring....
by on Nov 16, 2012 at 1:01:22 am

Well, I can think of a few things:
  • Don't let the presenter just talk and demo. Work from a script to get all the presentation points correct and in proper, logical order. Write the copy CONVERSATIONALLY, the way people TALK. Don't write the copy the way people write. It's God-awful boring to listen to when you do that. Not to mention confusing.
  • Edit the screen-captured video to the pre-recorded narration. Don't trust that the screen capture will be recorded just as you need it. It won't be.
  • Use AE for what it's good for: effects. For example, a line might say, "You'll find all the tools for this project along the left side of the screen, right here." You should highlight or circle the section of the screen the narrator is talking about.
  • Use animation to draw the viewer's attention to the proper portion of the screen with animated arrows & circles. Scale panes on the display up & down, using a drop shadow to further point out the change in scale. You might even think about adding sound effects!
  • Don't be afraid to add clarifying text. Using the the example above, the flow of work may begin with a tool on the left, which is used in a box in the center, and when the work is complete, it's dragged into a staging area on the right side of the screen. The SCRIPTED copy should tell the viewer about that handy little factoid, and it should do it conversationally. The clarifying text could then reveal itself a phrase at a time: "Begin with the tools on the left", "Do the work in the center box", "Drag to the staging area on the right".

You can ANIMATE stuff in AE. You should do so to clarify the presentation.

It does indeed add time and expense to the project. It also clarifies what the viewer is seeing, keeps viewer interest high, and improves the viewer's experience. If the viewer doesn't understand the demo or gets bored to tears watching it, how much money have you actually saved by doing it the cheaper way?

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA

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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: Making screen shots not boring....
by on Nov 16, 2012 at 8:40:03 am

You got some great advice from Todd and Dave. What can add is that if you have certain parts of the video where nothing happens on the screen (e.g. the presenter talks over a interface) try to think of a way to animate a simple schematic of what the voice over talks about. Even a simple animation of keywords from the voice over will do.
Here's an example:

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist

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