The Bombing Brain Blog

Tips for Recording Audio for your Short Videos

I’ve worked for educational institutions and with many amateurs who make short videos for the web. Usually for either screen capture demos or some sort of narrated promo video. Those who have been doing this sort of work for a while understand the need to carefully script out every action and word before recording. Those who have never done it before tend to think their improvisational skills are a lot better than they are.

“I want it to be spontaneous.” They say. “I just want to wing it.” Okay. That’s fair. You know who was never spontaneous? Steve Jobs. Martin Luther King. John Kennedy. Everyone you’ve ever watched give a speech and thought, “Wow, that sounds so natural and straight from the heart.” Not a word of it was improvised. Giving the impression of being natural and spontaneous and actually being spontaneous are two very different things.

There’s also a great misconception that “winging it” will save time. It won’t.

What folks tend to learn fast is that once the record button is pressed, a whole new world of nerves and confusion takes over. You babble, you say “um” more times than anyone can count, and you press all the wrong buttons. You realize half-way through a step-by-step process that you don’t have the right file to finish it. Pretty soon, you’ve done so many takes, none of which is good all the way through, and you’ve spent so much time that you realize you would have gotten it done and been to lunch by now had you just written up a script and plotted out your actions. And then your editor has to go in and spend another five hours cutting up your takes to make something coherent.

Sure, writing a script takes time. But it’s relaxed, no-one-is-recording-every-single-thing-I-say-right-now time. You can make mistakes. You can make changes. You can eat a sandwich while doing it. And you can collaborate with others, have them help you edit to find the best way to convey your message.

The goal is to minimize the part of the process (recording) that involves the most pressure. Once you have a script to rely on, the recording becomes far less daunting.

Writing a script and following it is the number one thing you can do to improve your demo videos. And practice. Always practice before hitting record.

We’ve been making some screen demos and other promotional videos ourselves lately here at Bombing Brain. And we always record from a script. Luckily, we have the best Teleprompter app in the world to help us. Set up that iPad or Mac laptop, pop your script into Teleprompt+, give it a few dry runs before hitting record, and the whole process of capturing audio becomes so much easier. And fun. Yes, it can actually be fun.

Gene at a recent audio recording session

Gene at a recent audio recording session

And we’ll let you in on another little secret. We record our audio separately from the video. Often, it’s not even the same person clicking the mouse and talking. Both people are following the same script though. (Yet another reason to have one.) This allows us to record our audio in the best possible environment, even if that doesn’t happen to be where our demo computer is. And it allows us to concentrate on one thing at a time, rather than trying to get both the audio and visuals right at once.