John Kaster

Behind the Screen

You can be a BDNtv star!

with 3 comments

Submitting BDNtv episodes

While we receive many article submissions for BDN through our getpublished system, we don’t receive that many for BDNtv episodes. This is probably because

  • The current getpublished system doesn’t make it easy to submit these, and
  • most people probably think we wouldn’t accept them

So, I’m going to provide some guidelines for creating BDNtv episodes, for providing either the raw footage for

  • someone in Developer Relations (probably me!) to use to produce the final output, or
  • for you to produce the final output yourself.

(The chance of you getting something published is probably better if you give me the final flash output, by the way, so I just have to publish it rather than edit and produce it as well.)

If you have something you’d like to post as a BDNtv episode, feel free to contact me about it. I’m working on getting a system for posting candidate episodes available, but that won’t be available for a while yet. When you contact me with the location of the flash file, also provide the description you think I should use for posting the episode, and the presenter name to use.

Recording instructions

Here’s some setup notes and suggestions for capturing your Camtasia (or Turbo Demo or whatever else you want to use) presentations for subsequent output to flash, for BDNtv or other uses:. While most of this information applies to Camtasia, I think the instructions are applicable for almost any kind of screen recording software you might want to use. As long as the output is something we can play with high resolution and relatively low bandwidth, is cross-platform, contains audio (unless it’s really well annotated), and in widespread use (like Flash) we can use it on BDN. If you want to use an output format other than Flash, you can always attempt to persuade me to use it.

General setup

  • Get familiar with how the capture software works. Watch the tutorials (or at least the product tour) at
  • Use Tools|Options|Hotkeys in the recorder application to set your pause/start recording key for Camtasia to the PrtScr key or some other key that does NOT conflict with a product keystroke
  • Use Tools|Options|Hotkeys in the recorder application to set your stop recording key to Ctrl+PrtScr or some other key that does NOT conflict with a product keystroke
  • Set your display resolution to 1024×768
  • Turn off display acceleration when capturing (Camtasia gives you a check box for this)
  • Auto-hide your Windows taskbar so all 1024×768 is displaying the product you are talking about, not something else
  • Use a lapel microphone or other good microphone, and do a quick recording/replay test to make sure your audio is clear and clean
  • Mute your speakers
  • Close any instant messaging system you use, and any other app that pops up unsolicited windows

Recording instructions

  • Start the recorder application and minimize it
  • Set up your application to begin your capture
  • Capture the entire screen (which is why you set the resolution to 1024×768) because tool tips or other dialogs may be cut off otherwise.
  • Turn on capture audio as well
  • Whenever switching to another view or application, stop talking before you switch views. This makes editing easier. Contrary to what you might think, editing the audio is far harder than editing the video because you can see each frame of the capture, but you can’t hear each frame.
  • When you start recording, wait a second or two before moving the mouse or talking to make sure audio is being captured as well.
  • Use the “pause recording” key liberally. Pause, plan out what you’re going to say and do for the next 15-30 seconds, turn on recording again, wait a second, and do your immediate plan. Press pause again, plan the next segment, and record it.
  • Speak slowly, clearly, and leave pauses between the points you are making. That way, when you mess up, it will be much easier to edit out the mistake.
  • If you make a mistake, stop talking, take your hand off your mouse, record a second or 5 of silence, and complete the capture for that segment of your recording, saving it to a file. Even though Camtasia Studio makes it easy to cut selections out of the middle of a recording, it is easier to trim the beginning and end.
  • Name your capture files with both descriptions and sequence information, i.e., Intro1.avi, CreatingProject2.avi, CreatingClass3.avi, CreatingClass4.avi, etc. That way, it is easier to put those pieces together when producing the master. It also makes it easier to mix them into different sequences for other needs.

Producing Flash output

  • File|Produce video as (Ctrl+P in Camtasia studio) brings up the production dialog. Select Macromedia Flash (SWF) Movie file
  • Press Next, and set the frame rate to 10 (for longer replays, a frame rate of 5 usually works fine as well)
  • Press Next, and if you’ve captured at 1024×768, simply leave the Largest video size radio button selected. Otherwise you’ll have to change the resolution to make sure it’s not larger than 1024×768. (The majority of users STILL have either 1024×768 or 1280×1024 as their standard resolution.)
  • Press Next, and you’ll see the watermark dialog. If it’s going to be a BDNtv episode, use the bdntv.gif file for the watermark image. If it’s for one of the Turbo products, you can use turbotv.gif file for the watermark image. Either put it on the lower left or lower right, and set opacity to 10% so it’s barely visible. Horizontal and vertical offsets of 1% usually work fine. Also be sure to turn off embossing.
  • Press Next, and select the output directory and name for the file. Use a web-friendly file name with only alphanumeric characters and no embedded spaces. Then wait until it’s done, and play it.
  • The last step is editing the generated HTML file to replace the title with an appropriate title for the recording. There are four files generated by Camtasia’s flash output, and all are required for playback on BDN: the .html landing page (this is the one you need to put the title in), the .swf file, the _config.xml document, and the _controller.swf.

Written by John Kaster

March 4, 2005 at 3:10 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Good tips, thanks for sharing!

    One thing I would recommend is to do a test recording and then watch it. Pay attention to nervous habits you might have as you present – things like saying "Um" a lot (usually means you didn’t use the pause and prepare tip), or wiggling the mouse when you talk.

    I would recommend you don’t talk and move the mouse both at the same time. Then your mouse moves are very deliberate and your speaking is not distracted. You may have some very specific things you say while you move the mouse, like "select the TSmily component by clicking on it" but avoid talking about something not related to what you are doing with the mouse.

    Be excited about what you are talking about. This can often times be the hardest part. If you don’t have some feeling behind it, then the people watching won’t have any feeling about it either.

    Jim McKeeth

    August 21, 2006 at 8:53 am

  2. One last tip: If you find yourself highlighting things to draw attention to them (really common when doing a demo) then set your highlight color to yellow instead of blue (the default color). You will want to set the highlighted text color to black.

    Dark text on a light background is much easier to read then the reverse.

    Jim McKeeth

    August 21, 2006 at 9:00 am

  3. Thanks for the additional tips, Jim. I’m sure people will find them helpful.

    John Kaster

    August 21, 2006 at 10:39 am

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