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Recording Lectures
Before You Hit Record: Recording Basics

Without a set shop, make-up department, or (even) camera operator, many key aesthetics that viewers have grown accustomed to may get overlooked when recording on your own. Following the best practices listed below will improve your students' lecture viewing experience. These tips also double as a checklist of non-technical elements that you can control to ensure minimum distraction away from your intended message/teaching.

Best Practices

  • Tend to the background. An attractive background is much more appealing than a cluttered one, so remove or cover overly distracting objects. If the background is very dark, make sure you have adequate lighting.
  • Tend to the soundscape. Every room has an inherent sound. Humans can learn sound patterns and "tune out" various noises, whereas many microphones cannot tune out noises. Appliance hum, open window street noise, barking dogs – all of these (and more!) are categories of sound that you should aim to dampen when recording.
  • Light yourself. Try to use the same lighting setup for all your videos regardless of the time of day you record. You may need to cover windows. You may also want to set up some soft lighting for you face coming from the direction of the camera. Harsh, single-point direct light, from any angle, will cause hard shadows and look unattractive.
  • Be aware of your eye level. Avoid angling a camera too far up or down your face. Propping a camera to eye-level achieves the best results.
  • Get a microphone. Your built-in computer mic probably isn’t horrible, but it’s almost certainly too far away to adequately capture your voice. Instead, using a clip-on microphone or a tabletop mic will improve sound quality; and most aren’t that expensive.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Make some serious attempts at practicing. Practicing will help you navigate the software comfortably, know the narrative of your lecture, and allow you to feel comfortable when recording.
  • Want more ideas? Check out this tip sheet for more information on how to create the best videos possible for your online course.
 
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The Media Commons at the Undergraduate Library offers loanable recording equipment
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Check out the multiple video tutorials on "Screencasting" at: http://go.illinois.edu/Lynda
(Search for "screencasting")