How I Record My MOOC Lectures (Updated)

I am often asked how I record and produce my MOOC lectures.  I have used various technologies over time, but this is my current setup:

Video: Sony CX650 HD Camcorder

Audio: I use an Audio-Technica ATR3350 plugged into the camcorder for audio.  If I am doing a screen-only recording, I either plug the ATR3550 into a USB adapter or use a Shure PG58 connected though a XLR to USB adapter.  I love how the Shure PG58 sounds when recording voice and so If I am not on the video I use it.

Monitor: Wacom Cintiq 13HD – Allows me to scribble on the text

Screen Recording: Quicktime on the Mac – I always record in 720p resolution so the fonts and top nav bar are as visible as they can be.

Scribbling Software: My preference is OmniDazzle, but it is no longer available and each upgrade of MacOS/X breaks it in a different way.   My second choice is Ink2Go.  I want to be able to select a pen, change its color, and clear the screen all with keystrokes that I can program into the Wacom.  Ink2Go insists on leaving its UI somewhere on the screen – which is frustrating.

I edit everything on the Mac using Final Cut Pro. I switch between several views depending on the content.  I always use free / no attribution music available on the YouTube Audio Library – I prefer no acknowledgement required music and then I add an acknowledgment :)

In terms of shot selection, if I have powerpoint that is low complexity and I will be weaving a story I like split screen.  If the slide has material that I want the students to really focus on, I make the slide full screen.  If I am going to get philosophical or make a mini speech I take the video full screen.  I like full screen video towards the end as I wrap up.   In the last few seconds, I slip in some music and then add a slide at the end with a picture and pointer to my course web site and bring the music up full.  Watch from here to the end to see how I wrap up a video.

For demonstration videos I do everything 720P with full screen on the demo to maximize readability.  I don’t show any video of me during demos but I add music and the picture / web site slide at the end of each video to tie back to my web site.

I record all lectures twice.   I first record and edit my own copy of the lectures and publish them on YouTube with CC-BY and then when we move a course to Coursera we re-record the videos using the University of Michigan style.  The University of Michigan style goes back and forth between full-screen lecturer and full screen slides – they are optimizing for a smaller screen.  Their videos carry a CC-BY-NC license which is too limiting for me to achieve my Open Educational Resources goals.

I record my copies lectures in my home office, my work office and even sometimes in a hotel room or at a beach.  I think it adds intimacy and interest.   The University of Michigan lectures are all in a studio with the same camera framing, perfect lighting and nothing in the background.  The UM quality is very high and results in a more polished video.   Ultimately there is much to like in both styles of videos.

I record the demos once and use them both in my open courses and Coursera.  It turns out that with the right microphones, you can get decent audio – but pretty video is much harder.   So the “no instructor video” strategy works well for demos.

I know this sounds like a lot of effort – but the resulting videos have a very long shelf life and the videos I produce and own can be published through a wide range of outlets to accomplish my sharing of OER content goals.

I hope you find this useful for your own lecture recording.