How to create a podcast using Screenr, (free, web-based screen recording software) and iMovie, including adding narration and a company logo.
Screenr is a free tool that enables you to do screencasts, that is, record your actions on a screen with an accompanying narration, perfect for demonstrating how to use software. It’s part of the Articulate suite of e-learning tools and is web-based so you don’t need to download anything. You just sign in with your Twitter, Facebook, Google or Yahoo account; click the ‘Record’ button; frame the part of the screen you want to record and then share the link.
…Actually, I found it to be not quite that straightforward. First of all, it came up with a warning advising me that some parts of the application (Java) presented a security risk. I allowed it but this isn’t good. Due to further problems with Java, I couldn’t get it to work in Firefox at all. I had better luck using Safari, although the screen recorder frequently didn’t load and I had to keep refreshing the page to get it. Having looked at the Screenr Forum, the Java issue affects all browsers and can also be upset by software upgrades. There are some suggestions there from Articulate staff, however, about how you might get it to work.
Once the screen recorder has loaded, recording is pretty easy and the quality is quite impressive. You’re shown a preview of your recording and can then save it to ‘My Screencasts’. You can play them directly from there (viewers can also comment and share) or you can upload them to YouTube or download the .mp4 file. As I wanted to join my short screencasts together I downloaded the .mp4 files and imported them into iMovie.
Screenr automatically makes your screencasts public (although they are really difficult to find on the public stream unless you look straight away). They can be deleted though.
If you can get it to work, Screenr is a great tool for recording screencasts.
Alternatives to Screenr
- QuickTime X (mac) – this has been included since Apple introduced the Snow Leopard Operating System and includes the ability to record your screen.
- Expression 4 by Microsoft (PC). See this excellent review by Dr Jason Truscott
- Screencast-O-Matic – this is free and is web-based (so uses Java) or you can download the app (recommended). It works on both mac and PC so looks really promising. I haven’t tested this fully yet but will use it for my next screencast – I will report back!
Below is an introduction to using iMovie.
I recorded narration with my screencasts but, on reflection, it’s easier just to record the screen and add the narration in iMovie as then you can make sure it matches what’s on screen. I was creating a podcast about the various tools in VitalSource eBooks, a piece of software I’m not very familiar with. This came through in the screencasts as I tried to read a printed script while demonstrating on screen. Thankfully you can separate the audio from the movie so I was able to re-record the narration and edit any onscreen hesitations. I was also able to add still images and music to liven it up a bit!
I also added the University logo onto the video using the picture-in-picture function in iMovie. Here’s how to do it…
- Record narration separately unless you’re really confident in using the software you’re demonstrating
- Read your script or notes from onscreen – this avoids paper rustling, your voice sounds better and it’s easier
- Try and do your recording in one sitting. I found it odd how my voice changed in tone and volume on different days.
- Don’t mix embedded audio Screenr clips with recorded iMovie narration – the embedded clips didn’t play when uploaded to YouTube.
- Make sure your final movie (podcast) is less than 10 minutes long – YouTube won’t accept it otherwise. Although, ideally they should be much shorter than this, about 3-4 mins.
- Listening to your own voice while editing is just awful – be warned!
- See more podcasting tips on Plymouth University’s TEL website
- If you would like a more detailed overview of podcasting attend a Podcasting workshop (Plymouth University staff only)