Video Recording with a Webcam: How to Use a Script and Keep Your Eyes on the Camera

In the last post, I talked about the issue of keeping your eyes on the camera (or appearing to do so) while recording a video, especially if you have a lot of points to make. The best option that allows you to constantly look at the camera while delivering your lines is a teleprompter. However, most people don’t have a teleprompter or know how to use one (I’m working on a new tutorial to show how to use a teleprompter).

So, I decided to investigate a simpler approach, which is to sit in front of a computer and record myself speaking to the camera–with a script. There are a few tricks to making this work, which I’ve summarized in the video provided below:

Recording a Video with a Computer and a Script

I recently launched a new YouTube channel focused on scientific writing. Although I’ve written several essays about writing (How I Wrote My Best Scientific Paper, How to Write a Scientific Abstract), I knew that a lot of people dislike reading long articles. More and more people, especially students, like to get their information by watching brief videos. So, I decided to begin sharing what I’ve learned about writing over a forty-year career in a series of videos.

I’ve been making video tutorials about science videography for six years now. So, using video to share insights about writing was a no brainer. The only question was: What video format would work best for this particular topic? I decided to try something simple and that would make it easy to cover a lot of material on camera.

I used my computer camera and an external microphone to record these videos. I had my script or list of main points on my computer screen where I could easily see them. The trick is to deliver the material in a natural speaking voice and avoid the shifty-eye syndrome. That’s easier said than done. But I thought I would try it for a while and then in a future post offer some insights into what works and what doesn’t.

Here are a couple of the writing videos I’ve posted:

 

 

 

How to Add Video to Your PowerPoint Talk

Have you watched colleagues give a conference talk or seminar containing video clips and wondered how they did it? Or perhaps you’ve tried embedding a video in your PowerPoint presentation, but it did not play well or at all? In a new tutorial, I walk the viewer through the steps to preparing and inserting a video into PowerPoint so that it plays properly. I used PowerPoint Version 2016 and a Mac for the tutorial, but the tools and options covered are also available for PCs.

If you have an earlier version of PowerPoint, some of the options I talked about may not be available. Also, if the host computer (used to project the slideshow) is running an old version (prior to 2013) of PowerPoint, you may have problems playing your embedded videos. The reason is that older versions of Windows and Mac use linking rather than embedding, and the path to the videos may not work. I’ve gotten around this problem (going from a Mac to a PC running older versions) by putting the PowerPoint file in a folder with all the video files (it’s good practice anyway to put all images and videos used in your presentation into a single folder). I transfer the entire folder to the host computer, and most of the time the videos play fine. If that doesn’t work, it may be a problem with the video format/codec not compatible with the host computer. The only fix is to convert all your videos to the format/codec compatible with that computer.

But the best way to avoid playback problems is to use your own computer during your talk.

How to Conduct an Interview While Filming a Video

As I’ve talked about before, conducting an interview is one of the biggest challenges the scientist videographer may ever face—especially at noisy venues such as a scientific conference. In a previous post, I described how I had conducted and filmed a series of interviews at a scientific meeting and pointed out what I had learned from the experience.

Now, I’ve created a short video that covers ten tips for conducting interviews while filming a video:

Use Video to Promote the Mission of Your Science Society

This week, the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) rolled out their new media initiative and YouTube Channel. Their website explains how video can be used by SWS members to share their work and why video can be beneficial to the SWS mission:

Exposure: Video can raise awareness of wetland issues, new research, and society activities.

Communication: Video augments other forms of communication, such as technical articles, but is a more accessible and modern way to share information that appeals to a broad audience.

Education: Video can enhance the public’s understanding of the importance of wetlands, can inspire current and future wetland scientists, and help in recruiting students to the study of wetland science.

The SWS New Media Team is currently soliciting videos from members and non-members with an interest in wetlands. If you are a wetland researcher or student studying wetlands…or just a wetland enthusiast, consider submitting a video (see the video preparation and submission instructions). If you’ve never made a video before, the following tutorial provides some basic guidelines for making a video with a smartphone.