Recording lectures – where quality counts…

lecture theatreI was recently asked by a colleague for some pointers on recording a high profile guest speaker so that the video can be made public. In cases like this quality is clearly an important factor, though if you can’t just call in a professional video team, you may just have to do it yourself using the best equipment you can. If the room where your event is taking place is not enabled for lecture capture, I would start with one of two approaches or think about doing both and then editing the results together after the event.

  1. AV have two sets of cameras; one set (Kodak zi8) are very simple to use, small and cheap, OK for recording simple talking heads / student presentations but not for high profile speakers. The other set (Panasonic TM700 HD Camera) are much higher quality and would, along with a wireless mic set, produce something that is far more acceptable for public dissemination. It should be noted however that neither camera is of broadcast quality. You can book equipment from AV through this link (make sure you get a tripod and wireless mic too): http://www.york.ac.uk/campusservices/avcentre/bookings.yku/newbook.cfm
  2. Use screen recording software (Camtasia) which can be installed on the presenters machine to record on screen activity (PowerPoint slides) and voice. This should be tested thoroughly in advance as any problems may affect the live delivery of the presentation and the results may be more suitable to teaching material than for public dissemination.
Which ever approach you will decide to take you will need to think about:
  • Framing –  how close in on the speaker do you want the video to be? Decide whether you want the speaker, the slides or a combination of both. The closer you get to the speaker, the greater the benefit of seeing the speaker speak, zoom too far out and you might as well have just voice and slides unless the speaker is particularly dynamic.
  • Sound – the most important part of the recording, I would recommend recording sound separately as well as on camera and always use an external mic on the camera if you want it to be usable
  • Lighting – this is likely to cause you problems if you want to record the speaker and their slides. To play it safe focus on the speaker and use a separate camera to record the on screen activity or just edit the still images of the slides in later where required
  • Operating the camera – you should ideally have someone who’s sole responsibility it is to frame the speaker, monitor sound, light, recording space, power etc and who can follow the speaker if they move about.
When you have recorded the presentation you will then need to edit the footage; perhaps this can be restricted to cutting off the start and end, perhaps you will want a shorter version or cut sections out for copyright or confidentiality reasons if members of the audience participate. You can also combine multiple cameras, integrate video with still images of slides or overlay a higher quality audio track in this post production process.
When you are happy with the finished recording you should think about converting it to deliver through whatever platform it is intended. This might mean converting it for streaming or perhaps you want to release this as a podcast that has been optimised for access on mobile devices. Whatever the chosen destination I would suggest that you record and edit in as high quality as possible and then convert for whatever platform you need as the final stage.
The e-learning Development Team can provide training on Video editing and using screen capture software – give us a shout to discuss.
A good overview of recording lectures can be found on the JiSC Digital advice site: http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/movingimages/advice/basic-guide-to-videoing-lectures

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