Recording a User Group Session - The First Attempt

We’ve been running the Telligent Community UK User Group for almost a year now, and I think we have now started to get the hang of organising them! As Telligent is a product used worldwide, and we are currently the only user group, we’ve been asked by a few people since the first session if they could be streamed or recorded for people who can’t get to London on the day.

With the new year, we decided to try a new challenge and record the sessions this year to be put on YouTube for people to view later. When looking at ways of doing this I didn’t manage to find a huge amount of posts on the topic, so this is my notes on how I setup for our first recording, and a call for help and suggestions on how we can improve going forward!

The Setup

WP_20160218_17_44_43_Rich_LIThis was our first session hosted at Which?, we wanted to be able to record the session simply and unobtrusively. The session was presented by Deborah Wyatt of talkheath who kindly agreed to be our test candidate for recording a session!

 

Video

WP_20160218_17_40_21_Rich_LIWe borrowed a Flip Ultra to record the video of the session, this was setup on a table to the side of the room, using a Joby GripTight XL GorillaPod Stand, and framed it to give a good view of the screen, and the speaker.

The flip was very simple to get running, and has very few options that you can configure (which could be a bad thing for more advanced users!). The model we were using is pretty old, and the video quality was good, but not amazing, as can be seen in the clip below, giving a 1.37GB MP4 file. The major problem with the flip was discovered a few hours before the session – the capacity meant we could only get 45 minutes of footage, most of our talks end up being 45-60 minutes, and this one ran to 70 minutes with questions.

Audio

WP_20160218_17_40_35_Rich_LIAudio was recorded separately using a Sony ICDPX240 Digital Recorder with external microphone placed on the lectern at the front of the room.

This worked surprisingly well, the audio was recorded in the “Super High Quality” mode, which produced a 100MB MP3 file. This definitely gave a better audio quality than the microphone in the camera the other side of the room.

The other benefit of recording the audio separately is it helped get around the limited capacity of the Flip, in the final video you will see the video fade out at around the 42 minute mark, but the rest of the session is captured from the audio.

Combining the assets with Camtasia

The video and audio tracks were imported into Camtasia Studio, and the Video track split into it’s audio and video components. A copy of the slides we’re exported from PowerPoint as PNG images and imported along with a background image, containing placeholders and the session details, this gave the following tracks in Camtasia:

Tracks

Background

VideoLayout-CorrectDateThe background image is heavily inspired by the NDC London videos, and used to layout the screen content and presenter video. The presentation content is given the most priority, with the video of Deborah still visible as secondary content. Details of the talk title and the user group are also provided for reference.

 

Video (including Audio)

The video file of Deborah was imported into Camtasia and the “Separate video and audio” option used to create one track containing just the video, and one track containing the audio recorded by the Flip.

Audio

The audio file from the digital recorder was added as it’s own track, this track was then aligned with the audio from the video, in a similar method to the one described by Scott Hanselman. This allowed the separate audio track to be synchronised with the video, once this was done the Audio track from the video could be disabled to give only the recorder track.

Presentation and Overlays

The screen wasn’t recorded as part of this presentation, this meant the main presentation had to be recreated in time to the video and audio tracks. The slides were exported from PowerPoint as a collection of PNGs which were then added to this track. The video and audio tracks were used as a guideline of when the presentation changed, and the slides were changed at those points. The overlay track was used to show hide certain elements of the slides and provide transitions. for example when a new bullet point appears.

This was a manual process, and only worked as the entire presentation was slide based, if there had been other screen content shown this would have been lost.

Releasing

The video was produced as a 1080p MP4 file using Camtasia’s standard settings, this took an hour or two to render, and gave a 190MB file. Once this was complete and the final result checked it was uploaded to YouTube. This took a little time to complete, and shortly after finishing the video was removed by YouTube for violating it’s terms of use, and with no other explanation. The removal was appealed using the form provided, and a couple of days later the video was restored to the site. The frustrating part of this process is that there was very little feedback on why the video was removed, how the appeal process was going, or even when the video was approved, I only noticed that when viewing something else on YouTube.

The Result

The final video is on the Telligent Community UK User Group channel on YouTube

What’s next

We’re planning on recording the next few sessions, and I’ll try and blog about what we learn as we go. I’m pretty happy with the results given it was a first attempt, the two main things to look at for next time are:

  1. Finding a video recorder with better capacity so we can capture the entire presentation
  2. Recording the scree. As presenters often use there own machines (and these can be PC or Mac) this would need to be something pretty lightweight.

If you have any suggestions on these, or ways to improve any of the process please let me know in the comments!


The next Telligent Community UK User Group is on Tuesday 22nd March in London, full details of this and future events can be seen on our meetup page.

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