At Wistia, we’re used to shooting videos about software. We’ve tackled issues like glare on screens and editing screencasts, and we’ve tried our best to make otherwise boring videos more visually engaging.
“Recently, my team came up with a pretty neat method for making screencast videos,” he said. “We created an After Effects template that cuts out the ’shooting your screen’ step. We don’t even need the camera any more.”
“Holy casserole,” we said. “Tell us more.”
We chatted a bit with Jeremy about the motivation behind the template and how it’s improved his production workflow.
What are the largest challenges of shooting product videos for software?
One of the biggest challenges of shooting a product video is filming the computer. This Wistia guide definitely helps a ton, but there is still a lot of time, effort, and equipment that goes into shooting a screen and making it look professional. And then once that’s finished, you still have to edit everything. This gets really labor-intensive if you need to produce a bunch of videos.
“There is still a lot of time, effort, and equipment that goes into shooting a screen and making it look professional.”
What prompted you to build this template?
We used to have a really time-consuming process for making screencast videos. Basically, we would recreate the web page in Photoshop, and then animate all the mouse moving, button clicking, and UI animation in After Effects. This let us get really close up on things without losing resolution, and we could add some cool blurs and 3D motion. This video Wick Video made for RealScout demonstrates the effects you can achieve using this method:
The result was really good, but it took a lot of time, and it wasn’t scalable. The Shooting Your Laptop Screen guide sparked the idea of creating a template that would allow us to use actual screencast footage, but still look pro.
In what ways does the template improve your production process?
The template allows us to skip the entire process of filming the screencast on the computer. All we need is a still image of a laptop and the screen capture footage, and we’re good to go.
“The template allows us to skip the entire process of filming the screencast on the computer.”
How does the template improve your videos?
The template lets us change "camera" framing with the click of a button. This means we will always be able to show the exact part of the screen that we need to show, like a close-up of a button click in the upper-right hand corner.
Editing the screencast lets us simulate anything that might ordinarily take time. For example, if we’re showing the Sticker Mule proofing process, we can show the "order" button being clicked, and then immediately cut to a different angle to show the proof arriving.
What do you need to shoot before using the template?
We recommend scripting, narrating, and screen recording beforehand (just like in the Shooting Your Laptop Screen guide). We use QuickTime and a MacBook Pro with Retina to record our screencast footage. This lets us do the close up shots without sacrificing resolution.
You’ll want to edit the screencast before bringing it into the template. This means cutting out all the loading screens, and matching it up perfectly with the voiceover. Export the edited screencast footage at the highest resolution possible.
You can drop the footage into After Effects, then cut to the different angles you want, all with a single control.
Secret: We used the template to record the video (about the template) at the top of this page!