Our next subject in the Meet the ScreenFlow-er series is Dr. Timothy Jenney. “Dr J” is a wonderful example of how great screencasts can be created by even people with little to no video experience. He has some great advice for newbies, about which he says, “Oh, that I had access to this sort of information when I began three years ago!”
“Dr. J,” the host and producer of Accordance Bible Software’s Lighting the Lamp series, really is a doctor. He holds a Ph.D. in Ancient and Biblical Studies from the University of Michigan, and other graduate degrees in History, Biblical Languages, and Near Eastern Studies. An avid Mac fan (he has had one since 1984!), he has been a pastor and campus pastor (ten years), a college professor (17 years), and a screencaster (3 years). Currently, he works for Accordance Bible Software, as both a field rep and screencast host. In his “spare time,” he is an adjunct professor at Regent University, School of Divinity. He is a published author and editor and last year co-founded a digital publishing company with his wife, the Digital Word Publishing, LLC (www.tdwp.com).
Married for 36 years to Gloria, they have two children. He loves a good cup of coffee (Sumatra, mild roast, please), listening to great music (especially the old jazz ballads), and reading sci-fi and fantasy (just about anything!). They enjoy camping in the great outdoors (now in a trailer), laughter, and good bar-b-que. Tim plays electric bass. Gloria plays keyboards. They both sing and are involved in their local church in Winter Haven, FL.
Enjoy Tim’s insights!
How long have you been screencasting and approximately how many screencasts have you made?
“Lighting the Lamp” first aired in the spring of 2009 and we’ve used ScreenFlow from the very beginning. We average a screencast every couple of weeks and have produced more than 80 of them to date.
For what purposes to do you make your screencasts?
The screencast is sponsored by Accordance Bible Software. It offers tips for studying the Bible, reviews of resources for biblical study, and training on bible study software for our users.
What kind of studio or set up do you have for making your screen recordings?
I started in a spare bedroom, but have moved to a dedicated studio. I use a mid-2011 17″ MacBook Pro, an iPad and an iPhone, and a Samsung HD television as an external monitor.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of creating your screencasts?
The hardest thing for me personally has been getting used to seeing my own face and reviewing it critically. It took me a long, long time to get the proper lighting set up in my studio. I wish I had just gotten something like the InterFit 117 kit (available at both B&H and Adorama) from the very beginning.
What’s the process you use for creating your screencasts?
Each podcast series has its own color palette, design, and standard layout. I usually design a new one every time we release a new version of our software—and try to upgrade the production quality at the same time. I have access to our company’s artwork, but often have to request the original PhotoShop files in order to scale and adjust the layout appropriately for the screencast. I use both Acorn and the Adobe Creative Suite for designing illustrations.
Within the series, I select a topic, then usually use MS Word’s outlining view to list all the things I want to cover. Once I arrange them in some sort of logical order, I create a Keynote slide set, with illustrations, builds, and a script and send them to my boss for approval (including proofreading). While I am waiting, I start blocking out the video clips I need to record.
I have a “stock effects” project where I keep all my standard builds, the introduction and the conclusion (These too change with each software version.). I use “Save As…” to create a new episode, then all my builds are already in place. It’s a great timesaver. [Hey, have you ever thought of adding a “template” function to ScreenFlow? (just thought of that…)] [Ed. note: Yes, that is a feature that we have considered… if someone were to add this as a Feature Request, we definitely pay attention to the # of votes these requests get. The more votes it gets on the Feature Request page, the more argument we’ll have to implement it.]
Do you create a written script? Do you record audio and screen recording at the same time, or at different times?
I use a script for both my video takes (intros and wraps), as well as my Keynote presentations. I also record audio and video (computer display or webcam) simultaneously. The live demo segments are a work in process. I’ve gone from trying to illustrate all the techniques in the podcast in a single long clip, to making a number of shorter clips and weaving them in. Sometimes I record the audio, then listen to it while I demo the software. Sometimes, I do the reverse. I think I’ll finally have it figured out in another year or so! 😉
Are there processes you’ve changed as you’ve gotten more experienced?
I recommend setting the computer display to the same size as the screencast canvas—and the desktop color to the same color (or pattern) as the slide background. It saves an incredible amount of time. I also use the pixel perfect positioning in both ScreenFlow and Keynote to make the transition from static screenshots to live screencasts as smooth as possible.
Do you have a screencast that you’re especially proud of?
Absolutely! We just released our first 720p screencast: Accordance 10: First Look.
What other programs/accessories do you use besides ScreenFlow to create your screencasts?
I use several clipping programs (Grabber, Voila) to capture screenshots and short video clips. I usually weave these into my Keynote presentation and record the whole in ScreenFlow, where I also edit. I also use ScreenFlow for longer screen captures and the “talking head” segments. And another really important piece of equipment is my Contour Shuttle Pro 2 . It’s been an invaluable aid to editing quickly.
What kind of camera do you use?
I started with an original Apple iSight camera, which has amazing warmth for facial tones, but have since switched twice. I moved first to Apple’s internal FaceTime HD for its superior resolution, then to a Logitech C615 (the superior C910 would not fit inside my teleprompter). I used iGlasses 3 to adjust the warmth and color on the two latter cameras. The second change wasn’t made for resolution, but because typing on my MacBook Pro made the FaceTime webcam shake. I now use a wall mount to make sure my video shots are stable. A decent teleprompter is the key to eliminating “shifty eyes” when recording a video while reading a script, so I use Bodelin’s See Eye 2 Eye (available at Amazon.com, though be sure to get the proper one for your set up: internal or external webcam.).
What kind of microphone do you use?
My audio chain is an EV RE-20 (dynamic broadcast mike) into Cloud microphone’s Cloud Lifter into an RME Babyface. The RME includes its own virtual mixer (TotalMix FX), which has an integrated EQ and special effects. (All available at www.sweetwater.com). I’ve found condenser mikes too sensitive for my studio; I can’t eliminate the background noise. The RE-20’s natural warmth compliments my voice, just as it has done for generations of FM broadcasters. The RME is my third A/D converter. I couldn’t be happier with its natural warmth and intelligibility.
What advice would you give to others about improving their screencasts and videos?
Practice makes perfect. Do each ‘cast as well as you are able, then move on to the next. No matter how sharp (or bad) your first episode is, you’re going to get better over time. You should see my first episode! (wince) Our company was so proud of it back then, now we can’t wait to replace it. The technology has improved dramatically, my skills have sharpened considerably, and our software has gotten better as well.
What’s the stupidest mistake you’ve made when creating a screencast?
It’s got to be releasing my first screencast. It’s still on line, if you want to look for it. [No, I won’t provide the link. It’s coming down as soon as I find time to make a new screencast to cover the topic!]
Besides ScreenFlow what’s your favorite program for the Mac?
Accordance Bible Software, of course! 😉