Some ‘splaining tools explained

Pictures are worth a thousand words
Also: tl;dr
Also also: videos

I’m all for a good read, but let’s be honest: pretty often, you just need to learn a skill or follow steps or something. And then, the instructions being written isn’t actually a good thing. It’s boring, and doesn’t necessarily emphasize the important parts. Luckily, there are lots of ways to make instruction videos. I’m highlighting three options today. Plus a couple bonus options that doesn’t quite fit with the others. Enjoy!

The slide way

Platform/software:  mac, keynote, vimeo. Price: free! (Once you get the mac, that is) Process: – make a keynote with slides/illustrations/transitions/etc. – record a video in keynote (play->record slideshow). – post to vimeo. Pros: – very flexible. You can use whatever fonts and images and whatever you want. – very fine tune control on graphics as well as your script. Cons: – lots of steps needed: you need to make an entire keynote plus a script. – you need to record the whole thing in one go unless you want to then stitch it together in iMovie. Best Uses: complex instructions where you can’t go through the instructions as you explain them. anything involving pictures you’ve already taken. Example can be found here.

The whole shebang

Platform/software: mac, QuickTime, vimeo. Price: free! (Once you get the mac, that is) Process: – open QuickTime and decide what you want to record (whole screen, just part of the screen) – click on the triangle to record voice as well. – post to vimeo. Pros: – most flexible: want to record using three different apps on your screen while explaining what you’re doing? No problem. Want to focus on just part of your screen? Also no problem. Cons: – you better get it right the first time. Especially if you’re demoing an app while speaking, you need to multitask very effectively. – the screen may lag if you’re doing particularly complex stuff or have many windows open. Best Uses: showing multiple apps and/or steps in an app where you can discuss it while showing it. Example can be found here.

The new hotness

Platform/software: iPad, Adobe Voice. Price: free! (Once you get the ipad, that is) Process: – make your slides and voice over in the app. Voice does the rest, including hosting. Pros: – easy as pie. (Mmmm, pie) – you record in snippets, so mispronunciations and inopportune sneezes won’t derail your effort. – easy to share, including embed code. Cons: – limited options/graphics/fonts – it’s only editable on the iPad, and Adobe owns it maybe? Best Uses: telling stories and/or short instructions of a minute or two. Example can be found here.

Bonus: the static

Platform/software: mac and PC, clarify. Price: $29.99 Process: – open clarify, follow instructions. Pros: – piece of cake simple. Mmmmmmm, cake. – multi-platform. I don’t have this for the PC but I imagine it would be particularly useful there, since the screenshot system on the PC leaves something to be desired… Cons: – it’s not a video. (duh) – it’s not very pretty. Best Uses: when you need to share instructions to be printed, reference materials that will be looked at a lot.

Bonus: storify

Platform/software: Any web-enabled computer, storify Price: Free! Process: – add items from around the web on storify. – follow instructions to post or embed your “story”. Pros: – pudding simple. (why is this not a thing? Piece of cake, yes. Easy as pie, yep. But no pudding or ice cream or cookies. I’m coining it. Pudding simple. Boom.) – multi-platform. – the easiest, most coherent way to bring together lots of web sources (news snippets, tweets, instagrams, etc.) Cons: – it’s not a video. – as its name clearly indicates, it’s not meant for instructions but stories. – it collects and orders web content, not photos/docs you have on your computer. Best Uses: telling stories from disparate sources. For instance, UMW used this after commencement this year. Infinitely better than that horrid overpriced graduation video my family insisted on getting back in the 90s. FINAL NOTE: yes, I realize the irony of reviewing these systems in text form instead of a series of videos. Turns out, though, there are limits to my procrastination: making all those videos would just take too long.

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