Video Best Practices

This guide is intended to help content creators create good-quality video recordings for lessons on Learn.WordPress.org.

Choose your video software

There are numerous software alternatives for creating demo videos, including paid and free apps. Some software combines recording and editing functionality into one, such as Camtasia and Descript, which are among the most commonly used apps among Training Team contributors. Here are some suggested software options:

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Combined screen recording/editing software

  • Camtasia – Professional-level screen recording and video editing software geared to educators and instructional designers, among others. (Mac & Windows)
  • Descript – Includes screen recording and video editing functionality, as well as built-in transcription. (Mac & Windows)
  • OBS Studio – Can be used for both live streaming and recording, comes with a “studio mode” to preview before going live. A Discord is among this app’s support options. (Mac, Windows, Linux – open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL.)
  • Screen Studio – Comes with recording and editing features, includes bells and whistles like the ability to zoom in on screen actions, and change cursor size. (Mac) 
  • Loom – Screen recording and basic video editing app includes trimming and stitching options, and transcriptions and captions. (Mac & Chrome extension)
  • ScreenPal – Combo screen recording and video editing app includes speech-to-text captions. (Mac, Windows, iOSiOS The operating system used on iPhones and iPads., Android & Chromebook)

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Screen recording software

  • QuickTime – Free app includes basic screen-recording and trimming functionality. You can also “Add clip to end” to join another piece of video. (Mac)
  • Zoom – This video-call software can also be used for simple screen recording. (Mac, Windows & more)
  • Windows 11 screen recording – Microsoft provides some options for recording your screen. (Windows)

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Editing software

  • OpenShot – Calls itself an “easy to use, quick to learn, and surprisingly powerful video editor.” Features include unlimited tracks, animation, video effects, and a title editor. Available in several dozen languages. (Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS – open source.)
  • Shotcut – Features multiple dockable panels, video effects, audio and video filters, and support for many video formats. (Mac, Windows, Linux – open source.)
  • Kdenlive – Multi-track video editing app includes a 2D titler, effects and transitions, and a themable interface. (Mac, Windows, Linux – open source)
  • iMovie – Basic video-editing app with a simple UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing., free from Apple. (Mac)
  • Canva – Drag-and-drop basic editing includes resizing, trimming, and cropping. Offers animations, effects, filters, transitions, captions, and multiple audio tracks. Basic features are free; also has a paid Pro version. (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, web-based version)
  • More open-source options for editing video.

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Set up your audio

Clear audio is very important, as poor sound detracts from what you’re sharing, pulling the focus away from your all-important content. There’s a saying that audio quality isn’t often well-appreciated until something goes wrong. Just think of the roar of an airplane engine obscuring a key portion of a sentence, or a distracting refrigerator hum! 

Here are some audio tips to keep in mind when recording:

  • Choose a space where there isn’t any background noise and where you won’t be interrupted by anyone.
  • Ask anyone around you to try to stay as quiet as possible.
  • Close all windows and doors.
  • Turn off any noisy appliances or air conditioning. Feel free to turn your aircon back on in between recording sessions, but remember to turn it back off!
  • A small or medium-sized room with no echo provides the best audio quality. If you won’t be appearing on camera – and aren’t claustrophobic! – you can even try recording in a smaller enclosed space, like a closet.
  • If there is noise that you can’t control, find another time to record, or try testing noise reduction software such as Krisp, RNNoise, or in post-production with Adobe’s Enhance Speech.
  • If possible, put pets somewhere so they won’t make any distracting noise. Your cat may be miffed at having to stay outside your recording space, but it’ll make for a much smoother recording experience – as long as they’re not scratching or meowing at your door, trying to get in, of course!
  • A separate microphone or one built into your headphones records better sound than the built-in laptop or monitor mic, so always try to use an external mic. In addition to providing better audio quality, an external microphone shouldn’t pick up the sound of your typing and mouse clicks.
  • Before recording your content, test the sound quality and placement of the mic to make sure it’s consistent by making and playing back a short test recording. 
  • Wear headphones while testing and setting up your audio – even if you don’t intend to wear them during the “real” recording. This will let you better hear the audio quality and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Turn off your cell phone during recording. Mobile phone frequencies can cause audio interference even when in silent mode.
  • If you get tongue-tied or make a mistake and need to start over what you were saying, pause first for at least a few seconds, so there’s a clean place to trim the shot during editing.
  • Rather than writing out every single word you’re going to say, try bullet points instead. While writing out a full script is tempting, it can sound unnatural if you read it back.

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Follow accessibility guidelines

To reach as many people as possible, we should ensure that our lessons are accessible. When creating videos, follow the Training team’s accessibility checklist.

Bearing the accessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessibility) checklist in mind, we should:

  • Include a copy of any code examples shown on video within a transcript or as text.
  • Narrate what we’re doing and where we’re going within the dashboard, rather than relying solely on someone being able to see what we’re doing on screen. For example, when recording a video that requires a user to navigate the WordPress dashboard, describe the process – e.g. “Edit a post, click on the Post Editor’s Options button, click Preferences, Panels, and enable the Custom Fields toggle.”)
  • Make sure videos include captions and/or transcripts. Consult the handbook guide to creating transcripts and captions for lessons.

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