Set up your recording space

Setting up your recording space correctly is essential to ensuring your learners have a good experience with your course. Learners need to be able to see and hear your video without distractions like buzzes, pops, or a shaky camera. The good news is that you don’t need a professional studio to create your course. Learn how to set up your recording space right at home.

Before you begin

Keep in mind that you’ll have different setups for different types of courses. For screencast videos, you’ll record your computer screen and do a voice over for audio. For videos of you teaching directly, you can record yourself as a “talking head” or performing a task (meditation, management skills, building Arduino, etc.). You can also use editing software after you’ve completed recording to create a combination of screencasts and footage of you speaking.

Select your recording tools

See our list of recommendations for every budget.

Camera: You may already have a camera at your fingertips. Try starting with your computer’s camera or try using your mobile phone’s camera. If neither of these are high enough in quality, you can purchase a webcam or look into investing in a DSLR.

Microphone: Good-quality audio is crucial for your learners’ learning experience. You’ll want to avoid using a built-in microphone on your computer or mobile phone as the quality is just not high enough. You may want to invest in a good-quality, hands-free microphone that’s stable, reduces background noise, and is small enough to be barely visible in the video. Or you can use a table-top microphone. Either way, it’s a good investment in the quality of your course. 

Screencast software: You’ll need screencasting software like Quicktime Player, CamStudio, or Jing. Some are free and may come with your computer, others will need to be purchased.

Lighting equipment: At first, try out natural light. If this isn’t enough, then try adding lamps and lights that you have at home. If you’re still not getting enough light, we recommend a three-point lighting kit.

Set up your audio

  • It may sound obvious, but make sure your external microphone is plugged in correctly to your video recording equipment.
  • Check the gain in your microphone settings. Gain determines loudness of the audio that comes into the microphone. If the gain is set too high, you might hear an electrical static sound in the recording.
  • Check the audio output settings of your microphone. It should be set to stereo instead of mono.
  • Speak loudly, clearly, and directly into the microphone. For best results, speak at 6-12 inches (about 15–30 centimeters) distance from the microphone. Do not speak too close or far away from the microphone. 
  • If you hear a popping sound in your recording, especially with “p” sounds, use a pop filter. This is a filter you can attach to your microphone that helps to absorb that popping sound. Popping sounds can cause unnatural spikes in your audio and be distracting to your learners.

Set your camera’s recording and export settings

Make sure your camera is set to the the right recording and export settings:

  • Aspect ratio: This is the proportion of width and height of a frame. The aspect ratio of your video needs to be either 4:3 or 16:9.
  • Video resolution: This represents the quality of the video, which is determined by the number of pixels (p) in the frame. Your video resolution must be 720p or higher. A high definition (HD) video has a resolution of 720p or higher.

Set up your recording space

Here are some best practices for setting up a recording space in your home:

  • Setting-up your space. Dampen the recording room to help absorb any echo. You can do this by adding soundproofing acoustic panels to the room or use simple remedies like putting up blankets, cushions or pillows, and couches to avoid picking up any echo in your recordings.
  • Computer background for screencasting. Maintain a clean computer desktop to avoid any distraction from the actual course content on the screen. Make sure your browser and tabs are clean and free of non-course related content.
  • Lighting for a “talking head” video. If you record indoors, sit by a window where the light hits you from the front or from the side and not from behind you. The main subject of your video should be clearly visible and well-lit. Avoid shadows in the background or on your face. See how to set up your equipment.

Frame your video shots

Here are some tips regarding camera placement and movement:

  • The subject of the video should be in the middle of the shot or on the sides using the rule of thirds. Think about your frame as a grid of 3×3, separated into nine equal parts. You’ll want the focal point of the video to be along the lines or their intersections creating a more interesting visual.
  • If you are creating a “talking head” video, imagine you are having a face-to-face conversation with your learners. Don’t be too far away from the camera or too close. Don’t put the camera too high over your head or too far below your face. 
  • Make sure your camera is steady. Use a tripod or put your camera on a steady surface. Don’t try and hold the camera yourself.

Get ready to record your course

Here’s a checklist to get you prepared to record. Plus, here are some best practices to ensure your learners have a great learning experience.

If you have questions about your recording set up or have questions about what experienced instructors use, visit our instructor community where you can connect with instructors, ask for advice, and search conversations.

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