5 (tasty) Ingredients for Creating Professional Software Tutorials

videofactsFor this post, I want to share some tools I’ve used to create awesome looking software video tutorials.  There are lots of options out there, but choosing the right tools will make your experience much more pleasant.

We’ve all probably watched videos on YouTube on “how to do” something software related (okay, maybe just me).  Most people don’t spend any amount of time making these videos look decent, so all you get is a tiny or blurry picture with echo-y and low volume.

I cringe.

If you want to create software tutorials, you probably fall into one of two camps – you are creating tutorials for existing software or you are creating tutorials for software your company makes. Either way, these tools are for you.

1. Video Capture Software

I recommend: iShowU HD Pro (found here).

This software is super easy to use and has many recording options, can capture keystrokes, “follow mouse” options, and works with Final Cut.

Take my advice: don’t go with free software.  And don’t use a web-meeting software to screen capture either.  Your meeting software may offer recordings, but that is not their specialty.

2. Sound Recording Hardware

I recommend: Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone (found here).

I use this microphone paired with a Tascam audio recorder (instead of my computer’s input) and then pair up the audio file with the video file after everything has been recorded.

Your computer’s built-in microphone is terrible.  Accept it.  At a minimum, find a microphone that you can hookup to your computer to record the audio.

3. Video Editing Software

I recommend: iMovie (found on most any Mac computer).

Using a video editing software allows you to not only tweak the audio and cut the video, but also then lets you insert titles at the beginning and ending of your video – easy branding.  iMovie has come along way and has more than enough features to get professional looking tutorials.

4. Storage Container

I recommend: Vimeo.com.

If you are making videos for your own software (or your company’s software) use Vimeo.com.  It looks more professional than YouTube and you can do more customization if you purchase a premium account.

If you are making videos just to help others (for example, Excel Help) then use YouTube.  Your audience reach will be much further.

5. Patience

I recommend: having patience.

This is an important ingredient as you may need several takes to get the video just right (you accidentally clicked on the wrong part of the screen, moved the mouse too fast, or did things out of order).  Take the time to both re-record and edit.  Watching videos of people doing things incorrectly and then saying “sorry” in the video is embarrassing (yes, I am embarrassed FOR the person) and not professional.

I personally record the audio while I am making the video all at the same time, and then just edit parts of the audio if needed.  Conversely, you could record the whole video piece and talk through the tutorial, but then re-record all the audio afterwards.

What are you waiting for?…go create some tutorials!