Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Screen Cast - Impressions

As a final project for our Technical Communication (introduction) class, we had to create a presentation with voiceover in PowerPoint. Among the many helpful services available to students, NJIT provides us with Camtasia Relay and  good tutorials explaining how to install and use it.

I created the presentation slides in PowerPoint, using the most common animation effects, and recorded parts of  my online portfolio with voiceover to demonstrate its functionality (or, in some cases, lack of functionality).

I think the transitions are smooth and easy to follow. The PowerPoint part works well with the speech and the animations fit well into the presentation. I know my voice in these recordings needs work, as I tend to be quiet and I over-correct myself sometimes. I tend to be "nervous" and grab to hard to the script, where I need to learn that I can let get gp at times and go on a short tangent, especially if it's funny or helpful.

I was reading from n a script I wrote beforehand while having my finger over the page down key (I placed instructions telling me when to click or when to wait a second for a quick break and so on). Overall, the presentation was made up of six different segments, recorded separately, which I lated put together - including the transition affects you see. (These were created in Camtasia, but are also possible in PowerPoint between the slides.) With some practice, I'm sure I can create some amazing presentations.*

(Tom Johnson explained: presentations take place in front of a live audience with a live speaker; screencasts are recorded and edited, usually shown as live feed like the one I made. I will address my presentations as screencasts from now on)

Overall, I was surprise to see how many options I had to choose from: animations in PowerPoint, powerful authoring tools in Camtasia, and finally, the ability to include comments and even subtitles in YouTube. These tools make screencasting almost as easy as writing this post on the blog, and far more effective.

With so much available "power" to create good screencasts, I have to wonder, why most screencasts I've seen as a student this semester were so plain and dull...?

(Originally, this post was longer and included a rant about PowerPoint screencasts in my school. I decided to take this part down and try and experiment more with screencasting before offering a more constructive criticism.)