When texts falls short, Screencasts step in. Discover How Screen recordings convey knowledge and create understanding.
Imagine a colleague faces a problem with the use of a software.
Usually a sequence of the following things starts to happen: one shoulder tap, then one email to IT-support after the next, the IT-support getting back with clarifying questions – and back again.
Communication goes back and forth like a ping-pong ball, but the solution doesn’t occur, or it occurs just so, so late.
The emails contain confusing explanations of what was clicked and what should be clicked. Texts are sent that describe how to use the software – but no practical and quick help.
Sometimes none of this helps. But what does, then?
In these situations, a video is worth a thousand words – or 100 emails. These are situations in which so-called screencasts are used.
What Exactly is a Screencast?
A screencast, also known as screen recording, is a video recording of the computer screen. Think of it as a dynamic string of screenshots woven into a coherent, instructive story.
The screen recording is then often supplemented with audio narration with further explanations and sometimes also extended by web camera recordings.
It is also possible to transmit the screen in real time. In this case, we speak of screen sharing.
And when immediacy is key, live screen sharing steps into the spotlight, allowing for real-time collaboration and problem-solving.
How do screen recordings work?
There are numerous providers of screencast software on the market.
Depending on the tool you use, you start with defining factors such as image section (capturing the entire screen or just a certain area), video and audio data compression for creating different files.
Then, you start the recording by hitting on the record button and the video data stream is created from the sequence of individual images.
Once the recording has been completed, the video can be edited to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the software: for example, by cutting and dubbing or inserting additional elements.
The finished screencast can also be exported and shared on portals such as YouTube, sent by email or via a link and saved.
What are the main use cases for screencasts?
The fields of application for screen recordings are numerous: screen recordings are used for webinars, e-learning, instructions and tutorials or even Let’s Play videos. The target group is therefore also broad and ranges from customers, colleagues and followers to friends and family members.
What are screencasts and screen recordings good for?
Where screencasts shine:
Screencasts have the obvious advantage that they simply depict abstract processes on the computer. Instead of lengthy explanations and descriptions, they provide a visual presentation of exactly the processes that need to be executed.
Especially complex tasks and processes can be illustrated very conveniently and quickly with screencasts. This visual support is often easier to follow and can lead to improved understanding. Studies show that screencasts can be an efficient tool for improved learning. They offer an easy way to document, create demos and share knowledge even across time and place. In addition, the demand is high: customers sometimes ask specifically for videos as a substitute for written explanations. It is no coincidence that YouTube, after Google, is the second largest search engine in the world – moving images are more demanded than ever.
Nevertheless, screencasts also have their disadvantages. Their production is costly and requires some experience and clear planning. Once a screencast has been created, it cannot be updated as easily as a step-by-step guide, for example, when software updates are made.
Where screencasts fall short:
Screencasts also have their weaknesses for users. Videos can quickly become very long, especially when dealing with complex topics, and require a lot of time to watch: They are, after all, following the video maker in real time.
Rewinding back and forth is also difficult because you never know what important detail might be presented in the next minute of the video.
Screencasts do not provide a good overview, but usually require viewing the entire video. For questions about small details, screencasts are not the right medium to convey information.
For these reasons, screencasts should never stand alone as a communication medium. In combination with a helpdesk, customer support and written step-by-step instructions, however, they can be an extremely helpful medium for customers and colleagues to pass on information.
Lengthy videos and complex editing can create barriers rather than solutions, especially when software updates render them outdated. The FlowShare approach is different. It’s a tool that respects the fast-paced nature of the corporate world and the high value it places on time and clarity.
What are alternatives to screencasts?
When focusing on teaching the use of specific software or troubleshooting application problems, the alternatives to screencasts can be particularly tailored to enhance learning and user engagement:
Alternatives (or additions) to Screencasts:
- Step-by-step Guides: If you think you still need to create single screenshots and type texts manually if you want to create a step-by-step guide – you are greatly mistaken. With tools like FlowShare that automate the entire guide creation process, capturing the entire step-by-step guide does not take longer than taking a video of the process. You can capture and annotate screenshots to create clear and concise visual guides. Plus, you can always revisit, and update it easily without having to redo it from scratch. Work instructions in addition to videos can increase retention and cut down the learning curve significantly. These kind of guides can be consumed at the user’s own pace.
- Interactive Tutorials with Simulated Environments: While step-by-step-guides are still static documents either offline as a PDF or online as HTML pages, interactive tutorials and interactive product demos take it a step further for an immersive experience. If you want your audience to really experience the process instead of just watching you perform it in a screencast, interactive demos are the way to go. This is particularly useful for mastering software navigation and troubleshooting without the potential for costly mistakes in a live environment. Or if you wanted to do screencasts for showcasing your product.
- Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs): DAPs like Userlane provide interactive, on-screen guidance directly within the software environment, offering a hands-on, learn-by-doing approach that can be more engaging and effective for users needing to understand specific functionalities or troubleshoot issues in real-time, presenting a practical alternative to traditional screencasts.
- Microlearning Modules: Short, focused training modules, often video-based, that cover specific features or problems within the software. Platforms like KnowHow Nugget Finder or Avendoo allow for the creation of such targeted learning experiences.
- AI-Powered Video Tutorials with Synthesia: Leveraging AI platforms like Synthesia can provide custom video tutorials where digital avatars guide users through processes or troubleshoot issues, making the learning experience more personal and scalable. If you are looking into creating how-to guides and video tutorials to show how to use applications, the Integration between FlowShare and Synthesia provides the quickest way to high quality video tutorials.
- Webinars and Live Demos: These allow for real-time interaction where instructors can respond to participant questions and demonstrate software use cases or troubleshooting live, which can be particularly beneficial for complex or new issues.
Screencast in the Age of AI
If you are looking for more than just a screen recording but want to produce screencasts at scale – look into new tools like Synthesia.
In the era where AI is not just an assistant but a creator, screencasting has found a revolutionary counterpart in Synthesia, a tool that’s changing the video creation landscape by allowing you to generate AI-narrated videos swiftly.
This platform eliminates the need for traditional filming, offering an array of customizable AI avatars that can narrate and explain software functionalities with human-like subtlety and interaction.
Coupled with FlowShare, Synthesia enriches the instructional experience, creating a dynamic that overcomes the rigidities of conventional screen recordings.
For a detailed exploration of Synthesia’s transformative approach to video tutorials and its integration with FlowShare, enhancing both employee training and customer support, delve into our in-depth article here.
This collaboration marks a new epoch of intelligent video production, offering an engaging, cost-effective, and time-saving solution that’s adaptable to your company’s evolving needs.
Practical guide to recording your screencast
A good example of successful usage of successful screencasts our FlowShare customer MaxBrain. The software company used FlowShare to create 50 learning nuggets in a week. Those learning nuggets included step-by-step-guidance but also a screencast. FlowShare helped creating a script for the video making it the perfect combination.
In this way, the company offers the perfect solution for every need. Customers can decide individually which format works best for them and get help from the chosen format.
To enable you to successfully create your own screencast as well, we have a few tips and tricks for you here. If a few basic things are taken into account from the very beginning, nothing will prevent you from creating your own successful screencast:
Checklist for a successful screencast
1. Clear the screen:
Check your desktop before you start recording and hide private elements or content that should not appear in your screencast. A plain background can convey professionalism and avoid distraction from the video flow.
2. Define a clear goal:
Be clear in advance what exactly you want to say with the video and what content you want to convey. Avoid too many goals at once, but keep them short, clear and simple.
3. Determine processes: Screenplay
Even if processes are actually routine: When the screen recording is running, some people tend to suddenly forget which sequence they wanted to demonstrate.
That’s why the following always applies: first define exactly which clicks you want to record and in which order. Afterwards you can capture this sequence for yourself in a small script.
A documentation tool like FlowShare may be your helpful sidekick when creating a screenplay for your screencast as it allows you to capture every step of your process automatically.
4. Define standards
Especially for a series of screencasts it is worthwhile to think about video standards beforehand. These define the key data of your recording and a uniform framework. Standards can be, for example, a consistent screen resolution and video length, as well as recurring elements such as the start image, the author’s name or explanatory boxes with additional content.
5. Precise actions and smooth mouse movements
When the recording is running, the following applies: Follow your previously set up script in a structured way. Don’t become hectic, but take your time and do one action after the other. This is the only way to ensure that your viewers can follow you easily later. If the screen is large, it is often worthwhile to highlight the mouse pointer additionally. In this way the viewers will always know exactly what action you have performed at the respective position.
6. Use the right screencast tool
Benefit from the technology! Screencast tools have become highly developed. Even free software sometimes offers extensive additional features and editing options. So have a look at different providers and choose the optimal screencast software for your individual needs. Criteria that play a role here are, for example:
- Compatibility with your operating system
- Export formats
- Recording length
- Editing functions
- Sound recording options
- Adaptation to mobile devices
So far so good – you should be prepared for your own screencast – almost. There are a whole host of different providers of screen recording tools on the market and that’s where the final challenge lies: Which software should you use for your own screencast? The decision may be very difficult given the large selection. To give you a little help, we will not stop here. In another blog post, we support you in your decision and give you an overview of the various software solutions: Which providers are there on the market? And how do the different tools differ?
Stay tuned – and of course in flow!