Creating a Screen-Cast Training Video of Adobe Premiere CS6

Camtasia Sceenshot

Premiere Pro has been covered many times on websites such as Lynda, however our aim of creating another online screen-cast of Premiere Pro for CADARN, was to create a free resource at a very accessible level so that people with no prior knowledge of the software or video editing in general, can pick it up.  CADARN and it's partners use Adobe Premiere CS6 most of the time, all of the skills that can be learnt in this earlier version of Premiere are directly transferable to the newer Creative Cloud versions of the software.


Scripting the Screen-Cast

In order to create a concise resource without mishaps or unnecessary padding, we scripted the entire video.  This was also to ensure we covered what we needed to cover and to prevent ourselves from delving into the more advanced features of Premiere, which we feel may be too much for newcomers to take in.  

Creating the script proved a lengthy process which involved many stages, the first draft completed by myself covered all of the basics of video editing in Premiere from start to finish, talking about the interface to techniques in editing, basic sound mastering and exporting.  Lizi then took this draft and refined it to create a script that worked as though the teacher was creating an actual video project with the pupil following along, which included Lizi's expertise of many years in video editing.

Whilst the script was being refined, I researched various ways of creating a screen-cast by experimenting with various pieces of software including free options and more expensive options such as Adobe Captivate. In the end, Camtasia proved the most cost effective and expedient way of recording the screen.  Camtasia has the ability to edit the recording afterwards to a degree. For example the size of the mouse cursor can be adjusted later and mouse-clicking effects can be added if needed.

Once the script was ready, it was time to start recording which was quite a learning curve in itself.  It is one thing to just click record and start using some software whist talking about it, but it is something completely different to follow a script and use the software in a coherent way at the same time, whilst recording it all in and making sure it is all consistent, without mistakes.


Resolution and Other Practicalities

Firstly we needed to decide on the screen resolution we needed to record at, we knew the final outcome would have to be the standard full HD – 1920 x1080 pixels, but we also realised that some people do not view video content at this resolution on YouTube.  Plus we wanted to leave room for the chapter buttons that we have previously used in other CADARN training videos such as the sound recording video and the kit videos on the JVC and Canon Legria.  With other projects these chapter buttons have enabled us to make one long training video rather than splitting them into many smaller videos which is the norm on YouTube. We think this has worked and keeps things simple.

After some experimentation we decided that a screen recording resolution of 1680×1050 pixels provided about the right size, so that the screen icons were not too small and that we had some space for the chapter buttons.  Premiere needs quite a high resolution to run in, otherwise you are constantly scaling and repositioning the windows and toolbars.  So this 1680x1050 resolution enabled us to place the screen-cast within the standard full HD 1920x1080 with some room for our chapter buttons.

Camtasia SceenshotPremiere screen-shot of 1680x1050 sitting in a 1920x1080 video in Camtasia

(Note: using a dual monitor setup is almost vital here, one for recording the screencast and the other for the script and Camtasia, alternatively you could print the script out)


Recording Voice and Screen

Reading the script whilst operating Premiere was proving difficult and time consuming due to mistakes being made.  If mistakes were not made in the speech, they were made in the screen-cast, or vice versa.  This was due to having to look at the script and Premiere simultaneously.  Blunders such as clicking on the wrong part of Premiere whilst recording the screen-cast were the most troublesome mistakes as the Premiere interface had to be reset each time so as to prevent any sudden jumps or inconsistencies in the edit points.  So eventually a different tactic was used which involved recording the script alone in the recording room using just a Rode Podcaster microphone a laptop and Audacity.  Mistakes were still made, but it did not matter, as it was just an audio recording which could be easily edited or re-recorded until it was correct.  This way large chunks of the script were quickly beginning to be recorded and edited to provide seamless audio.  Once there was a substantial amount of the script recorded, I began to record the screen-cast separately.  This was a case of playing the audio recording and following along in Premiere, which was so much easier.

The training video is meant to be a progressive learning project designed to be a miniature real-life editing project, so it takes you through the stages and each step builds upon the previous one.

I developed a system of recording a section at a time of the screencast into Camtasia. I stopped the recording as soon as a mistake was made, for example clicking on the wrong button in Premiere. I would then save the recording as a screen capture file along with an Adobe Premiere file which contained Premiere's present state at the time of the recording, I would name the filenames of these two files the same.  Essentially I was building up a history of Adobe Premiere states in various Adobe Premiere files which coincided with the recordings.  This way I could go back to a previous stage of the video and re-record it without having to set-up Premiere again to look exactly the same.  

Another important method that worked very well, was pausing the recording in Camtasia which gave me time to check things over in the script, the Camtasia shortcut key for pause is F9.  I only developed this method later on, but it made things so much easier, as I could take my time more. 

Recording the Rode-Podcaster audio had its problems, none of which were due to the microphone. Some were caused by setting up the recording studio multiple times over different days. This would create variations in the tone of the recording, even though I recorded it in a sound dampened room.  I tried to replicate the setup each time, but this wasn’t enough. Slight differences in the distance I sat from the microphone, or the angle of the microphone have a noticeable effect. This meant some post processing had to be done on the various voice recordings in an attempt to keep them consistent.  Also my voice varied from day to day, which I couldn’t do much about.  But we feel that the end result of the audio recording is of higher quality than many screen-casts heard online and good enough.


Reviewing and Editing Premiere CS6 Screencast in Premiere CC

Eventually a two hour edit was complete which covered everything we wanted to cover, this however we felt was far too long. It also was not as coherent as we would have liked in places, for example sometimes my mouse movements were too erratic or I adjusted a parameter in Premiere without explaining why.

During the reviewing process, problems arose when we decided to change something early on in the edited screencast video.  Anything that needed to be changed could often create knock-on effects for the rest of the video.  For example, I had brought some footage onto the Premiere timeline that was for one specific exercise early on in the video and I forgot to remove it after that exercise was complete.  Then I recorded and edited a large portion of the rest of the training video, only to release that the unwanted clip was still there at the end.  I would then have to explain that I was removing it later as it was not needed.  This is just one of many examples.

So we decided to break the training video into 5 chapters, the first 4 being on average 30 minutes in length and the last one just 5 minutes. This would hopefully give us more flexibility in terms of changing things and making the editing easier, but most importantly; people do not want to watch a 2 hour-long training video, even with the chapter buttons we have used in previous CADARN videos.   

Rather than just splitting up the 2hr video, I essentially ended up re-recording everything, as once I had began fixing issues at the start of the 2hr video, I realised it would create inconsistencies with the rest of the video.  There were many fixes which involved overlaying small areas of the Premiere interface with corrected sections, I used Premieres ‘crop’ tool here a lot.  To cut a long story short, we felt that the first 2hr version was a trial run, so then it was time to create a more concise second version split into 5 videos.


CADARN’s YouTube Chapter Buttons

For this Premiere training video, I improved on our chapter button methods for use in YouTube over our previous methods used in videos such as the Legria tutorial.  We think our chapter buttons for YouTube work well, as they enable the viewer to jump to various parts of the video, which may be of most interest to them.

Premiere ButtonsScreenshot of Premiere CS6 with the chapter buttons, being edited in Premiere CC

This time I created more attractive buttons (in-keeping with the purple Premiere Pro logo) and inserted them into the actual video, rather than using the ugly YouTube buttons. This meant we could overlay the most see-through of the YouTube buttons we could find, over our designed buttons.  An important design feature of the buttons  was to make sure they were significantly different to Premiere’s interface, as we did not want to confuse the viewer into thinking the chapter buttons were part of Premiere.  Creating annotations and buttons in YouTube is quite a fiddly operation and certainly not the most attractive solution. All you need to do is watch the multitude of videos on YouTube and you will see the chunky annotation boxes and large text glaring at you to realise this is problematic.  So we like our designed buttons, with see-through YouTube elements.


Finishing Touches - Zooms, Highlights and Shortcuts

We thought it was important to highlight certain areas of the Premiere interface, particularly many of the small buttons, which are sometimes tricky to distinguish especially on YouTube, so I created purple boxes (to match the chapter buttons) as highlights for various items on the interface.  This, accompanied with zooming in whilst talking about certain areas of Premiere for example the ‘Source Monitor’ was our aim of helping the viewer to focus.  Similarly I added a shortcut-key box that would animated in and out whenever a shortcut key was mentioned, giving a visual cue for the shortcut.

Youtube HighlightsScreenshot displaying, highlights, shortcut box and a zoomed-in interface.


To Conclude it All

  • Recording my voice proved difficult to keep consistent in terms of sound when recording it over multiple days. I would advise leaving the microphone setup for the whole time you are screencasting if possible. In our case, this was not possible. 
  • Dampening the sound/reverb in the room, making sure the mic is pointing away from reflective surfaces such as table tops and keeping the same distance from the mic every time you record, not too close and not too far away, are all vital for good sound quality.
  • Scripting and planning worked out the best way to create this particular screencast, as it was a complete overview of Adobe Premiere covering many aspects of editing for the beginner.  If we had been focusing on more specific or advanced techniques in greater detail then perhaps a less scripted method would be suitable, but the aim of this training was to be clear and concise.  It is easy to become distracted with other parts of the software that may not be important to the current topic, therefore the scripting process forces you to stay within the limits you set out at the beginning when you decided on the goal for the video.
  • Making use of Camtasias pause function whilst you are recording works very well and gives you time to plan what you will do next.


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    Creating a Screen-Cast Training Video of Adobe Premiere CS6 by Matt Cawte is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution
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