Creating video from your computer screen. Easy? Nope.

I’m here to tell you that making a video off your screen isn’t as easy as it sounds, not if you’re worried about quality.

It took me parts of three days — many, many hours — to create a short video introducing the features of our new site. (We’re scheduled a launch Aug. 25.)

Among the problems I had to figure out:

  • Improving the quality of the text. I’m not sure why I expected it to be crystal-clear sharp, but with the tools I have it’s not possible. I need to try it on my larger, high-def monitor, but I don’t think it’s going to make that much of a difference.
  • Enlarging the page so people could see the smaller features. I’m using a MacBook Pro, and I figured out how to enlarge the screen using “universal access” in the “system preferences.” After some experimenting, I was able to get the settings right. I checked only “smoothed images” and “screen image moves only when the pointer reaches an edge.” (This is important if you don’t want your whole screen to move all over the place when you drag the cursor.)

I used Snapz Pro X to record the screen. I tried a couple of other programs, including the more expensive ScreenFlow, but none in my price range worked better than Snapz Pro. In the end, I used several jpegs and just panned and zoomed in Final Cut Pro (I’m still using FCP 6), because the quality was better on the still images.

By the way, I used “fixed camera” and “smoother” in Snapz Pro, and exported the video using the “animation” codec, at 30 fps. I tried other codecs and frames, but this one seemed to work best.

It’s still not perfect. For one thing, I can’t figure out why there is a ghost cursor. If anybody has an idea …

Oh, and it helps to have people on staff who know how to do voice-over. The narration is by J.R. Labbe, director of our editorial page.


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