Video Tips for Home Recording
We have put together content and videos to walk you through some best practices and practical methods for successfully recording course videos at home utilizing the tools you have at hand.

Recording Course Videos

There are many reasons you may find yourself needing to record one or more course videos from your home. Whether you’re teaching a fully online course, flipped classroom, or you need to be out of town and miss a lecture day, the following videos will walk you through some best practices and practical methods for recording course videos with the tools you already have at hand.

Bookmark this page to quickly access new videos as we continue to add new resources.

Image: Man in patterned shirt recording a video from his couch.

Equipment & Considerations

Equipment needed, and recommended upgrade path to consider: Often, our first impulse is to go out and acquire equipment. We want to help you minimize the amount of gear you acquire. For many purposes, your computers webcam and built-in microphone are sufficient for making basic course videos. If you need enhancements, consider the recommended upgrade path below.

  • Bare minimum: Recording with your computer’s webcam and built-in microphone. For most people, this is enough.
  • First optional upgrade: Camera quality. For people who have a smartphone, this simple upgrade can have a high impact on perceived video quality.
  • Second optional upgrade: Audio quality. A professional/external microphone can significantly improve the perceived quality of your voice in a recording.
  • Third optional upgrade: “Prosumer” video and audio. For advanced users only, and those with the highest quality requirements, a DSLR camera and external microphone can have a significant impact on video quality. We do not recommend this for beginners. Get to know your personal tastes, and the needs of your audience, with one of the methods above first. Develop some experience over the course of a few classes before considering this upgrade.
Image: Smartphone mounted sideways in a tripod stand, capturing video

Recording with a webcam only

This video is for instructors who plan to make course videos using a webcam and a built-in microphone. If you have a smartphone, continue to the next video, which addresses how to record high quality video using your smartphone as an upgraded camera.

Webcam Pros & Cons:

  • Webcam Pro: Recording is a “one-touch” workflow; everything happens on your computer.
  • Webcam Con: Audio and video may be perceived as low-quality.

Basic tools:

  • A computer with a webcam and built-in microphone
  • Recording and editing software like Camtasia
  • A way to lift your camera to eye level (i.e. laptop stand or stack of books)

Once you have installed Camtasia, learn how to use it via Techsmith Tutorials. You can also schedule a one-on-one consultation through the ILI portal: www.rit.edu/tls/consult.

Best practices while recording:

  • Cover only one topic per video.
  • Aim for around 6-10 minutes per topic: the shorter, the better.
  • Supplement videos with written material.

When you’re done recording:

  • Export/share as a .mp4 or .mov (keep in mind that a video file is different from your Camtasia project file!)
  • Do not upload a raw video file to your myCourses shell! Upload your videos to video.rit.edu and link those to your course shell.
  • Make sure you have an Ensemble Video (video.rit.edu) account. If you’re not sure, email ol-media@rit.edu to set one up.

Recording with a smartphone

This video addresses how to record high quality video with your smartphone. This process will work with both Android phones and iPhones.

Basic tools:

  • A Smartphone
  • A way to lift your phone to eye level (i.e. phone tripod or stack of books)
  • Google Drive (or Dropbox) app installed on your phone, logged in with your RIT Google Drive account
  • Video editing software such as Camtasia

Best practices while recording:

  • Cover only one topic per video
  • Aim for around 6-10 minutes per topic: the shorter, the better
  • Supplement videos with written material

When you’re done recording:

  • On your smartphone, upload your video(s) to your Google Drive using the Google Drive app
  • When the videos have finished uploading, log into Google Drive on your computer with your RIT Google account. Then, download the videos onto your computer hard drive.
  • Edit the videos using Camtasia and export them as .mp4 or .mov files.
  • Do not upload a raw video file to your myCourses shell! Upload your videos to video.rit.edu and link those to your course shell
  • Make sure you have an Ensemble Video (video.rit.edu) account. If you’re not sure, email ol-media@rit.edu to set one up.

Tips for any kind of recording

Things to keep in mind when choosing a recording location

Image: Man recording himself on a smartphone camera, gesturing upward

Lighting:

  • There should be more light in front of you than behind you.
  • Soft, filtered light is preferable to harsh, direct light
  • If your face is too bright, balance it out by moving away from your light source or adding some light to your background.
  • If your face is too dark, remove light from the background or add a light source that faces you.
  • Keep the ratio of lightness:darkness in mind. All-over brightness is easier for webcams to interpret than localized areas of extreme brightness and darkness (i.e. open windows or shadowed corners)

Your background:

  • Plain backgrounds are ok but not necessary. It’s more important that your space is neat and organized.
  • Put some space between yourself and the wall whenever possible. Your camera’s autofocus will keep you the focus, while the space creates a more inviting image for your audience.
  • It’s ok to have windows behind you as long as your face has another light source and is brighter than the window.

Your setup:

  • Make sure your camera is at eye level. You may need to raise your computer up to a position that seems higher than natural, but this will create a more flattering image.
  • When recording, look into the webcam for “eye contact” rather than looking at your screen.

Best practices while recording:

  • Cover only one topic per video
  • Aim for around 6-10 minutes per topic: the shorter, the better
  • Supplement videos with written material