So you have a new course you want to create. That’s great!
Before creating your next course, however, you should STOP and follow these tips. We have a recommended list of video, software, and audio equipment you can use to get the very most out of your lessons.
We will cover 3 recording scenarios here — you can choose any one of these:
- DIY (Do It Yourself) Webcam Setup
- A Screencast-based Setup (recording your computer screen while talking)
- A Professional Talking Head-Style Setup
To create a great cover image for your course, we also included another section:
Check out which scenario works best for you below.
A quick disclaimer: Our judgment here is based on what we at Dubata feel gives you the BEST value & quality, while not spending too much money in the process.
1. DIY (Do It Yourself) Webcam Setup
For a DIY Webcam setup — which requires you to use a webcam while recording your lessons — our recommended webcam to use is the Logitech C920 HD (currently $60 and the #1 webcam bestseller on Amazon). It’s simply a USB camera (which records up to 1080p quality) that can be directly plugged into your system, and it works with both Mac and PC. You can also use it for private consultations as well.
Press Play on the video above to see a promo vid from Dubata’s Founder & CEO Vic Oyedeji. Users have reportedly used this webcam for the last 5 years without any issues, so you should be in good hands here.
Our recommended microphone is the Blue Snowball mic (around $70 on Amazon) — which is the mic you hear in the video above. The Snowball mic is also a USB device that can directly be plugged in your computer.
However, if you aren’t planning on doing any “2-sided” face-to-face interviews where your mic needs to pick up on both sides, then you can save extra money by getting the USB Blue Snowball iCE microphone (around $50 on Amazon).
As far as the audio quality goes, there basically isn’t any difference between the $70 & $50 mic. They both sound great and last you a few years.
The only major difference between the two is that the $50 Blue Snowball iCE mic doesn’t allow 2-sided recording, and is best for picking it sounds only in FRONT of the mic — which is what you would be doing while making video lessons anyway — so the $50 iCE mic is most likely the way to go.
And while you’re at it, make sure you get a Pop Filter as well (only $8 on Amazon). It attaches directly to the included small mic stand that already comes with the Blue Microphone. A pop filter is great for preventing the loud “P’s” and “T’s” when speaking into the mic, and is a standard for most radio stations and almost all recording studio microphones.
The video below shows youtuber AmpWilliams speaking into the Blue Snowball iCE w/ a pop filter — along with a custom mic stand (which is a little different than what comes with the standard Snowball mic).
If you want a higher quality sounding mic, you can get the Blue Yeti USB mic (which is also made by the same company that made the Blue Snowball mic). They run around $110 on Amazon.
And if you feel you want something more professional, then the Heil PR40 mic will work. This mic is known as the holy grail of podcasting microphones. It isn’t a USB mic however, but we will explain how to properly set it up in the “Professional Talking Head-Style Setup” section below.
In all — the Blue Snowball iCE mic will do you just fine.
But whatever you do — DO NOT USE YOUR LAPTOP MIC FOR YOUR LESSONS!
To record video to your computer, you can use the later versions of Quicktime, which is free for your Mac and/or PC computer. To record yourself using Quicktime, select the New Movie Recording option — or to record your screen, select the New Screen Recording option. Make sure you configure your audio as well during setup.
For Screencasting and Webcam recording software at the same time (meaning recording your screen AND your face), you can use Screenflow — which also includes video editing as well (for Mac only).
Another great software to use is Camtasia — which is a go-to screencasting software for both Mac & PC.
A great flow to record the DIY-style lesson:
- Use Quicktime to record your video via your webcam, then
- Export the video to either Screenflow, Camtasia, Premiere Pro, or Final Cut Pro for editing
- To record & edit BOTH your webcam & the computer screen (screencasting), you can use either Screenflow (for Mac only) or Camtasia (for Mac and PC)
If you’re going to record with a webcam, you will need lights to project on the main “subject”, which in this case is yourself. The more the light, the better — as long as it’s not “too bright”.
An easy, free solution is to put your desk in front of a window during the day and use the outside as your lighting. At night, however, that will not work.
A great solution is to use 2 (two) paper lanterns with some fluorescent light bulbs, and put that right over your desk — right behind your webcam/computer. For this to work, you will have to use a light socket and some sort of backdrop stand (like this one) to hang them.
In all, for about $50 – $60 you should have the cool, soft lighting that you’ll need in your recordings.
2. A Screencast-based Setup
The video above is known as a “screencast” — which is a recording of a computer’s desktop screen accompanied with someone’s voice (usually the person making the video). Most video teaching lessons are done using screencasts.
Since there isn’t any webcam used to make a screencast, the only items needed are a recording software & a microphone.
For the screencast recording software, the top ones to use are:
- Quicktime (which is free for Mac & PC using the File > New Screen Recording option)
- Camtasia (for Mac & PC)
- Screenflow (Mac only)
- Screencastify (free for anyone using Google Chrome)
Just make sure you are recording at a high resolution (either 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720). This will ensure that your videos are high definition quality.
Also note that if you screencast using Quicktime and you want to edit your video, you will have to export your video as a .mov (or .mp4) file, then import into another video software (such as Camtasia, Screenflow, Adobe Premiere Pro, or Final Cut Pro).
As the same for the previous section (DIY Webcam Setup), for Screencasts the Blue Snowball iCE USB mic will work. You can also use higher-end microphones, like the Blue Yeti USB Mic or the Heil PR40 podcasting mic, although that last one isn’t a USB-based mic.
Just remember that your audio is important, so don’t ever use your built-in laptop mic to record audio!
Since you’re only recording what’s on the computer screen, lighting is not needed for a screencast-based setup.
3. A Professional Talking Head-Style Setup
The main difference between this “Professional Talking Head-Style setup” and the “DIY Webcam Setup” we explained earlier is that the Professional Talking Head-Style style is used for promos, interviews, and demonstrations.
It also boasts a better video (and audio) quality than the easier DIY Webcam setup. In addition, you can have a better “depth of field” — meaning a more “blurry” background — which makes the intended subject look that much better.
For the camera, a Canon T3i or a Canon 70D DSLR camera will do. The above video was shot using a Canon 70D. The 70D is great due to it’s autofocus system and it’s touch screen. A great low light alternative camera to use: the Sony A7S (here’s a clip).
In addition, you would need a standard zoom lens like the Canon EF 24-70mm. If that’s too expensive for you, than the Canon EF-S 10-18mm is another great option, especially for the Canon 70D and its autofocus system. Finally, don’t forget to get a video tripod. The Ravelli Tripod is great for holding even larger cameras.
In all, there’s a lot of cameras out there from various manufacturers (besides Canon). If you have some free time be sure to take a look at them by typing the camera name/model on youtube.
Since you will be away from your computer in this setup, a USB mic like the Blue Snowball iCE will not work in this case. Instead, you can use a “shotgun mic” or a lavaliere (lapel) microphone that clips onto your shirt.
A great lapel mic to use is the Sennheiser wireless lavaliere set, which is an industry standard for wireless mics.
A cheaper lapel option is to get the Shure WL185 Lavalier Microphone (under $110 on Amazon). For this particular option to work, the lapel would need to connect to a XLR Preamp, which would then connect to a long XLR cable. The XLR cable would then be connected into an external recording device (see 2 paragraphs down). Although this option is cheaper, users have stated that the audio sounds great, even outdoors (assuming there isn’t too much wind out there), and doesn’t pick up much background noise.
However, since all three mentioned mentioned mics in this section are not USB and require an actual microphone input…and since most DSLR cameras don’t have great microphone inputs, you will have to use an external recording device like the Zoom H4N (and a Class 10 SD Card) to record the audio.
To set it up, you would:
- Plug the microphone input(s) from either the shotgun mic or the lapel mic into the H4N
- Press record and speak into the mic (to record the audio)
- Take the audio from the SD card (which is used to “store” the audio from the H4N) and transfer it into a video editing software, like Camtasia, Screenflow, Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro.
As you can see, this requires a little more setup.
Similarly, can also use Heil PR40 mic (which was briefly mentioned in the DIY Webcam section) and plug it into the Zoom H4N to capture the audio.
If you’re recording indoors and close to a computer, an alternative method is to connect the Heil PR40 mic to a free studio audio program like Audacity to record the audio. And in order for that to work, you will have to connect the Heil PR40 mic into an audio interface like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, which would connect via USB to your computer and work with Audacity.
In all, there’s no shortage of ways to record audio for your professional video. But similar to the laptop, the only thing we ask is to NOT USE THE CAMERA’S BUILT-IN MIC for your audio recording.
As mentioned in the previous section, the best video recording (in the case, editing) software you can use are Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. If you’re looking a cheaper option, you can use either Screenflow (Mac only) or Camtasia (Mac and PC) — however your editing capabilities will be very limited with those options. Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro would work best.
Ahh the lighting. Never forget the lighting.
For home setups, just like the DIY Webcam setup, you can use paper lanterns with some fluorescent light bulbs. Don’t forget to use a light socket and some sort of backdrop stand (like this one) to hang them.
If you use a better camera, they will still look great without great lighting. You can even use a big window while recording — just as long as the window is BEHIND the camera, shining on you.
You can also use a Lowel lighting kit for a even more professional look. It may take time to setup, however, so if you already have the paper lantern kit prepared then you should be in good hands.
4. Create A Great Cover Image For Your course
Many times, a great cover image for your course represents a great first impression. First impressions are important. Very important!
One recommended (and free) place to create a cover image is at canva.com. They have many great templates out there, as well as infographics and other forms of “posters” for you.
The other place to create a great cover image is the traditional Adobe Photoshop CC. Assuming you have the program, photoshop is a great place to create a cover image for your course. But if you can’t afford Photoshop right now, then canva.com is the way to go.
5. Keep Your Great Video Quality, With A Small File Size
If you want to keep your file size small, while keeping your great video quality: First, export your video file from your program of choice in a H264 setting, then click here to read this article.
In all, whatever setup you decide to use for your video lessons (DIY Webcam, Screencast, Professional Talking Head), the bottom line is to make sure your videos are in high quality — since that’s what we require here at Dubata.
So here’s to making and selling great videos — while making an impact to various students around the world.
– The Dubata Team
(Special thanks to all of the youtubers who videos we used, as well as VideoSchoolOnline.com for the inspiration)