How-to: Video creation for textbook authors and instructors

Video creation for textbook authors and instructorsVideos are increasingly integral to the learning process. As a textbook author, you can increase the value of your book for both students and instructors by creating and publishing videos linked to your content. And as an instructor, videos you create to supplement your course can help students review and retain material outside the classroom.

You can get started making your own videos with nothing more than a modern computer. Using functionality that’s built into both Windows 10 and macOS, you can create a screen capture video and narrate along with it.

Windows 10

Creating a screen capture with Windows 10

The Game Bar in Windows 10 was originally intended to record video gameplay, but it allows you to create a screen capture of anything, including step by step work with applications, or just stepping through a slideshow.

  1. Open the app you want to show on the screen during your recording, then press [Windows] + G.
  2. in the window that opens, click the Yes, this is a game. box to open the Game Bar.
    Windows 10 Game Bar
  3. Click the Turn mic on while recording button near the center to enable the microphone for your recording
  4. Click the Game Bar Settings button near the bottom left, then in the dialog box that opens, scroll down to the Audio to record section and click All. This ensures that the recording will include your narration.
  5. Set up the screen as you want it to look in your video. This may include opening any files you’ll be using and maximizing the application window.
  6. When you’re ready to record, click the Record from now button (or press [Windows] + [Alt] + R). Recording begins, and you can start talking and walking through your demonstration or slides onscreen. To make sure everything is working, start by recording just 30 seconds or so as a test.
  7. When you’re finished recording, click the Stop button near the top right corner of your screen.
  8. Open the Videos > Captures folder, which is the default location of recordings, then double-click the video you just recorded. The video opens in the Movies & TV app that’s built into Windows, unless you’ve installed a different program and made that the default.
  9. Click the Play button to view your video. Note that the Game Bar does not record the mouse pointer as part of the screen capture, so you won’t see it as part of the video.
  10. If the video looks good and the sound is reasonable, set up the screen again for the start of your video, press [Windows] + G, then click Record from now and record your video.

Trimming a screen capture with Windows 10

Once you have a final recording that you’re happy with, you still may have some extra footage at the start and/or end of your video as you got going or finished recording. You can use the Photos app built into Windows to trim the start and end of the video.

  1. With your video open in the Movies & TV app, click the Edit in Photos button, then on the menu that opens click Trim. Your video opens in the Photos app, and the timeline is displayed along the bottom.

Photos Timeline

On the timeline at the bottom of the video, there’s a white circle at the start and end of the timeline, as well as a blue circle at the start. The blue circle shows the location of the current frame in the video. The white circles indicate the start and end of the video. You can trim the start by moving the circle on the left to the right, and you can trim the end by moving the circle on the right to the left. Each time you change the trim amount, you can click the Play icon in the middle of the window to play through the trimmed version.

  1. When you’re happy with the trim locations, click the Save a copy button in the top right of the window. A trimmed copy is saved to the same location as the original. The copy uses the same filename, with the word trim appended to the end.

Drawing on video frames with Windows 10

You may find that you’d like to highlight items on the screen during your screencast. You can use the Photos app to add some simple markings to your video as well.

  1. With your video open in the Movies & TV app, click the Edit in Photos button, then on the menu that opens click Draw. Your video opens in the Photos app, and a palette containing a few tools is displayed near the top center of your video.

Drawing Palette

  1. Click the Ballpoint pen tool, then click the color you’d like to try.
  2. Play your video until you come to a place where you’d like to add a marking, such as a circle or an arrow, then pause the video.
  3. Click and drag to draw on the current video frame.
  4. When you’re done marking the frame, click Play. Notice that the markings fade away after a couple seconds.
  5. Click the Save a copy button on the right end of the palette. A marked copy is saved to the same location as the original. It uses the same filename as the previous version of the file, with (2) at the end.

Publishing a video with Windows 10

Once your video is ready, it’s time to share it with the world. Many platforms are available for publishing videos, and the Windows Photos app lets you export directly to many of them.

  1. With your final video open in Photos, click the Share button near the top right corner. A menu is displayed showing potential apps and destinations.
  2. Click the destination of your choice (YouTube is a common one), then follow the instructions to publish your video.
macOS

Creating a screen capture with macOS

The QuickTime application included with macOS allows you to create a screen capture of anything, including step by step work with applications, or just stepping through a slideshow.

  1. Open the QuickTime Player app, then in the dialog box, click Done. The app displays a dialog box to select a file to open, which you can ignore.
  2. Click the File menu, then click New Screen Recording. The recording tools are displayed, but the recording won’t start until you tell it to.

QuickTIme Player Recording Tools

  1. Set up the screen as you want it to look in your video. This may include opening any files you’ll be using and maximizing the application window.
  2. When you’re ready to record, click the arrow next to the Record button, make sure Internal Microphone (or the microphone you’re using) is selected, then make sure Show Mouse Clicks in Recording is selected. This option adds an on-screen effect to highlight when you click the mouse.
  3. Click the Record button, then click the screen to record the entire screen, or follow the instructions to record just part of the screen. Recording begins, and you can start talking and walking through your demonstration or slides onscreen. To make sure everything is working, start by recording just 30 seconds or so as a test.
  4. End the recording by clicking the Stop button in the menu bar. The video you just recorded opens in QuickTime Player.
  5. Click the Play button to play the video. If the video looks good and the sound is reasonable, close the test video without saving it, set up the screen again for the start of your video, return to QuickTime Player, and record your video.

Trimming a screen capture with macOS

Once you have a final recording that you’re happy with, you still may have some extra footage at the start and/or end of your video as you got going or finished recording. You can use QuickTime Player to trim the start and end of the video.

  1. With your video open in QuickTime Player, click the Edit menu, then click Trim. The Trim bar is displayed along the bottom of the video. You can trim the start by moving the yellow handle on the left to the right, and you can trim the end by moving the yellow handle on the right to the left. Each time you change the trim amount, you can click the Play button on the left side of the Trim bar to play through the trimmed version.

QuickTime Player Trim Bar

  1. When you’re happy with the trim locations, click the Trim button on the right side of the Trim bar.
  2. To save the trimmed video, click the File menu, click Save, specify a location and filename, then click Save.

Note: Unlike Windows 10, macOS does not include a simple tool for drawing on video frames.

Publishing a video with macOS

Once your video is ready, it’s time to share it with the world. Many platforms are available for publishing videos, and QuickTime Player lets you export directly to many of them.

  1. With your final video open in QuickTime Player, click the File menu, then point to Share. A submenu is displayed showing potential apps and destinations.
  2. Click the destination of your choice (YouTube is a common one), then follow the instructions to publish your video.
Optional upgrades for additional features

Some video makers are fine with the results they get using basic tools. But if you find yourself wishing for additional features or better sound, you can purchase a couple tools that will enable you to create more professional videos.

If you’d like to annotate your screen with text labels, shapes, or other content, you might consider buying software for this purpose. Camtasia is a popular tool that records video, lets you annotate it, and supports many sharing destinations—a one-stop shop for creating screen capture videos. Another option is Screencast-O-Matic, which combines a web browser extension with a downloadable tool.

If the audio you record has extraneous sounds and/or distortion, you may find it useful to borrow or purchase a professional headset that’s engineered for the purpose. Recording headsets generally have earphones that let you hear the audio being recorded, as well as a covered microphone that you can position to best capture your voice.

Even if you’re a writer at heart, recording and publishing videos can add an extra dimension to your academic materials. A good video can help users understand your material in new ways, and can also allow you to make interesting extra content available that might not have fit in the final text.

If you’ve ever encountered students who don’t like to read (and who hasn’t?!), you know that videos are a crucial piece of how learning happens today. Step up to the plate and have some fun making your own instructional videos!


Sasha VodnikSasha Vodnik is a textbook author in the computer sciences discipline. His most recent publication is HTML5 and CSS3 Illustrated Complete, 2e. He is also an author with Lynda.com / LinkedIn Learning. Learn more about video creation for textbook authors and instructors at Sasha’s TAA Conference session in Santa Fe on June 15, 2018.

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