03 February 2013
If you look around on Youtube and other video repositories you will find that many tutorials are available for open source projects. I my self learned Gimp qiute fast using these small videos. Many of the videos are produced by absolute amateurs but never the less brings a lot of value to the projects.
'These videos are an important part of marketing but also a simple way of teaching users how to do stuff with your application.
Unfortunately LibreOffice don't have a tradition for making tutorials or promotion videos. I would like us to change that.
I have made a few tutorials but none of them is close to being perfect. I'm also an amateur when it comes to making videos. Never the less I would like to parse my experience to others both in LibreOffice but also in other open source project.
If you have comments or if you can help me with additional knowledge - please don't hold back :-)
Before you even begin thinking of making video tutorials you need to get some software. But before that you need a piece of hardware to run your software on. And of cause you do. But I mention this explicitly because when it comes to video and audio editing the hardware configuration is essential. Even a recording of your desktop actually requires quite a lot of effort from your hardware. I recommend at least 4 Gb RAM and a dual core processor. I am using Ubuntu Linux 64 bit on a 4Gb Ram machine and I don't always have enough power.
We need some tools, right?
Yes. First of all you need a program to record your desktop. I find that Recordmydesktop suites my needs. I'm some kind of a KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) person. Recordmydesktop does what the name says: It records my desktop and saves it as a video file on my hard drive. Other programs does the same and its completely up to you. Recordmydesktop is in most Linux distributions repositories so search for it.
A nifty little tool I have found is the key-mon project (http://code.google.com/p/key-mon/). This is a small window on your screen that shows what happens on your keyboard. Remember the desktop recorder doesn't record your keyboard and key-mon just shows any keyboard activity on the screen so that this will be recorded as part of the video. If you want to explain shortcuts and other keyboard tricks this is absolutely a nice tool.
You need some image editing software too. I usually use Gimp but from time to time I need to edit scalable vector graphics too so I recommend also to install Inkscape. Both applications are probably in your distribution already.
Editing the video is what is the key issue. I prefer OpenShot but you can use Kdenlive or other programs if you like. OpenShot has been criticized for being unstable and that it lacks advanced features but I find that it suits my needs and when it comes to stability its not more nor less stable than other applications. When OpenShot crashes its usually because of lack of ram on my computer.
If you want to use speak in your video you will first of all need a good microphone. The built in microphone will usually NOT do the job. I have a set of earphones with a microphone that didn't cost much. But I know that others prefer to record the voice on a mobile phone witch is actually a pragmatic solution.
You might find that OpenShot can do what you need with the voice track but if you need to edit or fine tune you voice take you might find Audacity a nifty tool. I think Audacity is state of the art when it comes to audio editing.
Before you even think of recording anything you must plan the project. First is to create whats called a story board. Imagine what you want to do in your video and write it down. Break the video down into scenes. Write down precisely what is to happen in each scene. For each scene you should also plan whats on the screen before you start. An empty desktop or the application open? Should you prepare a document?
Remember that when you shift from one scene to the next you might want the two scenes to be linked together in the way that the second scene starts exactly as the previous scene ended. Write that down.
My experience is that the more you prepare in the story board the easier the rest of the work will be. You simply can't prepare enough but experience will show you.
Do you want to make the complete tutorial in one shot and speak as you take the scene? Or do you plan to take each scene one by one and then cut/paste everything together when you are done? You can even do the complete video and cut it together and then record the speak later.
If you plan to take everything in one shot you will need to rehearse several times before you record it. If you prefer this strategy you will most likely end of with a great tutorial but with a lot of small mistakes. But if you rehearse before you record you can do it. Some of the best tutorials on Youtube are made this way.
I prefer to take each scene one by one. That way I can re-take a scene if I make too many mistakes. I also prefer to record and add the voice at a later time. One reason is that I either ask somebody else to speak or that I need to record the voice in a different place.
On the other side some of the best tutorials are actually one long take. Take a look at this example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8OTSC_iVT0
This is a video where you can feel the soul of the author. You kan feel that this guy really loves what he is doing. If we edit too much we will end up having a nive video but with no spirit. The key is in the voice.
My office isn't a good place to record voice because there is too much background noise. Besides that the room is an office with hard walls and floor. In professional sound recording studios you will find that the room is covered with soft material to avoid sound reflections. You can imitate that by using a room with soft walls and heavy curtains. The best place to record voice is actually in my bedroom.