24 Oct

My video making toolkit

A while back, someone asked me if I would compile a list of the tech every academic should have in their personal toolkit – particularly for teaching and learning. I’ve decided to break this up into several posts, each of which will outline my tech toolkit for particular teaching and learning activities.

First up, my video making toolkit.*

I make lots of short videos because I don’t lecture. Ever. Or at least very, very rarely. I make three styles of videos:

Different styles of videos need slightly different equipment and software, but I’ve been experimenting with a view to putting together a simple kit of essentials.

After quality, portability and ease of setup are the most important considerations for me. I’m portable, so I need my recording gear to be portable too. I work from home a lot and when I am in the office, I desk hop. My desk is in an open plan space so when I record, I generally do it in a meeting room. This means I can’t leave my recording gear set up, so I need to be able to set up and pack down my gear fast.

Shopping list

I’ll cut right to the chase for those who don’t want to read my ramblings. These are the key tools in my video making toolkit.

And now for the detail…

Presenting to camera

I’ve been presenting to camera primarily using my laptop webcam or a video camera for a while now. Neither is ideal. The laptop webcam produces dodgy quality visuals, and while the video camera produces better quality video, it’s not a practical option because I don’t always have it with me. (Plus, the quality of the audio when I record using the video camera isn’t great – see the first example above).

My iPhone is my constant companion. And it turns out it’s a great tool for making videos of myself talking to camera.

In addition to my iPhone 6, I use the following gear:

For quick, informal videos (like the ones I post at the beginning of each week to give my students a heads-up on what we’re doing that week) can be shot, edited and shared all from my iPhone. All I need to make that happen is iMovie on my iPhone and a YouTube account.

The Loud and Clear mic is a new addition to my kit – so new that mine is still winging its way to me. I borrowed a colleague’s to try it out and was really impressed.

How it works

This little video illustrates what you can do with a smartphone, Loud and Clear mic, Glif and Zipshot tripod. I shot this on my iPhone 6 and edited it in iMovie (just tidied up the beginning and end of the video), then uploaded it directly to YouTube. Total time taken to setup, record, edit and hit the upload button: about 6 minutes.

Screencasting and slidecasting

For screencasting and slidecasting, I use:

For both screenasting and slidecasting, I use Camtasia to record my screen and my voiceover. I edit the video in Camtasia, export it, and upload it to YouTube. You can upload it directly to YouTube from Camtasia, but I have preferred settings that give me a good balance between quality and file size, so I prefer to export them first.

There is another option for slidecasting: recording audio and then syncing it up with slides. This used to be my preferred method for making slidecasts but over time, I’ve found it’s quicker to use Camtasia. It’s also possible to capture your screen with something like QuickTime. I’ll outline alternative methods in another post down the track, because Camtasia is pretty pricey and there are ways you can make slidecasts and screencasts using free tools.

The Yeti microphone is triple awesome because it lets you record in three patterns: cardioid (uni-directional), bi-directional, and multi-directional. I love my Yeti, but it’s not something you can throw in your handbag. It’s big, bulky, and really, really heavy. Heavy enough that I had to take it out of my checked baggage the first time I took it away to get the weight down. And then the security guards had a good laugh at the size of the microphone in my handbag. I have one of these at home and we have some in the office too so I don’t need to lug it around. If I didn’t have on in both places, I probably wouldn’t use it as much. But the audio quality is great.

How it works

This video was made using my Yeti and Camtasia. It sounds a little bit ‘hollow’, but that’s not the microphone’s fault! My home office has an eight foot ceiling and is tiled and I don’t have any soft furnishing in there. If I record in the lounge room, it sounds even better. And I was losing my voice when I made this so it is a little bit husky!

What’s next?

Recording room

We are currently kitting out our recording room in the office with green screen, lights, tripod and so forth. Once we finish putting this together, I’ll share some info about that here too.

I also plan to set up my home office with lights and a green screen too, so that I don’t have to mess around with lamps and tidy up every time I need to shoot to give me a decent backdrop.


I want to do some experimenting with my Yeti in omni-directional mode to help me with capturing interviews for use in my units. I need to do a little bit of research on how to make this work.

* Many of the items in my toolkit have made their way into it through my team’s grant funded Mobile RaT Lab project.