This document is a living guide to help us improve the quality and consistency across all our tutorials. It focuses on practical tips about writing, recording, and editing. For notes on education, see Education in online tutorials.
Creating great videos starts with planning, writing, and recording good footage. I detail my approach to this in the video below.
To record and edit efficiently:
When it comes to editing:
You will save a lot of time if your source material is clean and your speech precise. If you don’t take the time to plan, you will limit the quality of your tutorial.
You should always record:
Your footage should be smooth, not choppy. Be careful that the framerate does not drop in your recordings. To do so, I recommend you to do a test recording at the start of recording sessions or when you change your recording environment. This way you’ll ensure that the visual quality and audio levels are working as expected.
You should suppress or close any program that can distract the viewer from the tutorial:
Avoid waving the mouse cursor as you talk. Put the mouse or stylus down when you’re talking, and you’re not pointing at anything in particular. The motion can be distracting.
Set the desktop audio channel to record at a low volume so it doesn’t cover your voice. I keep it at -20db to -30db most of the time in OBS Studio.
When you make a small mistake or need to re-record a sentence, clap in front of the mic. This produces a sharp vertical line on the audio waveform that makes it easy for the editor to find and remove the faulty parts.
The closer you are to the microphone when you record, the louder your voice will be relative to the sound reflected by your environment. You should place the microphone no more than 50cm away from your mouth if you can.
Don’t place your mouth right next to the microphone if you still move your head while recording: your movement will cause significant changes in your voice’s volume.
The voice should be normalized at around -6db. Use other YouTube videos or one of your recordings with good audio levels for reference. Always check your edit against the reference before exporting your video.
Mouth noises happen when your mouth is dry, or after drinking coffee, tea, and some other beverages.
If you drank one of these, try to brush your teeth, tongue, and palate before recording.
Keep a bottle or a glass of water next to you to stay hydrated.
The mouth and vocal folds move thanks to muscles. To articulate to your fullest and to get the most out of your voice, you need to warm up, like before any exercise. At least for a minute or two.
The longer the recording session, the longer you should warm up.
Here’s a short vocal warm up from Julian Treasure’s TED talk. You want to warm up your lips, your tongue, and your jaw. The siren exercise then focuses on the vocal cords. To improve pronunciation of specific sounds, add a few tongue twisters: they’ll serve both as an exercise and complete your warm up.
If you’re struggling to explain something while recording, clap, and take the time to breathe and to think. Rehearse the complex idea in your mind or in front of the microphone. You can leave the recording running in the meantime. When you’re ready, do a clean and confident take. It’s easy to edit the long silence out later.
Use one of the default interfaces and, when possible, the default interaction mode for the program covered in the video.
E.g. for Blender 2.80 and up, left click is the default to select and grab objects. As viewers stumble upon videos organically and generally won’t watch them in a particular order, the tutorials should stay close to the programs’ default settings. There are some exceptions for tools like the shell, vim, or emacs that, once you’ve learned the basics, you are meant to customize a lot.
Make the program full-screen whenever possible. Many programs use the F11 key or a related shortcut for that.
The font size should be large enough for the video to read on a tablet, or depending on the video, on a large mobile phone in landscape orientation. If the program supports it, increase the font size to 20pt or more.
For instance, in Godot, I use 20pt for the editor’s font and 23pt for the code. Past 20pt, the editor’s layout can feel too packed.
Use a program like Key-Mon to display key presses, mouse clicks, etc.
You can install Key-Mon using the Python package manager:
pip install key-mon.
That way, even if you forget to mention a keyboard shortcut, the viewer can see it in the video. This also reinforces vocal cues.
Avoid abrupt cuts in both the audio and the video. You should cut mistakes and long silences or hesitations, but avoid cutting too much between words.
When editing live action footage, like interviews that are face camera, inserting many cuts can make the video feel robotic or sped up. There’s a natural rhythm to the human speech we should preserve.
Assume the viewers are facing new information and have a big cognitive load when watching educational videos. Anything that makes it harder to keep track of what the teacher is doing increases that load:
That is why you should use the visuals, audio cues, and your voice to make understanding minor details of the tutorial as comfortable as possible.
Mention and show things such as:
When navigating around the interface or documents, show how you get there with the mouse cursor. If possible, also tell the viewer where you are going.
Often, there are situations where we have to move from one side of a program to another.
For example, after creating a node in Godot, in the docker on the left, we configure it in the inspector on the opposite side of the screen.
video.blend template includes an animated pointer arrow.
Use this arrow to help guide the student’s eye to small icons or when jumping to a distant area of the interface. Especially when it’s not obvious on screen.
If you use the Gnome desktop, you can place it in the
~/Templates directory to register it as a template when creating new files.
The template comes with three layouts:
The video editing layout displays the graph editor in the top-left to animate strips and transitions.
You can use the animated arrow to point at specific elements, for example, at icons in a Godot tutorial.
To do so, you’ll need to install and activate the VSE Transform Tools add-on.
I placed the arrow before frame 0 on the editing board so it won’t appear in the render. To add a new arrow and position it:
The first transform strip has some animation on the translation and blend_alpha channels. The topmost transform effect allows you to move or rotate the arrow while preserving the animation.
You can save time on repetitive tasks and increase your productivity following conventions and using simple programs.
To be as efficient as possible, follow the same process and naming conventions to record videos. This helps to later batch-process videos using code.
Try to record several videos in a single recording sessions and name them as you go. For series, start each recording with a two-digit number. For new videos, change the number.
Here is an example with three video projects recorded in five segments:
01.intro-fsm.flv 02.importing-start-dir.flv 03.state-class-01.flv 03.state-class-02-fix-end.flv 03.state-class-03-fix-end-2.flv
When a video is made of several recordings, you can number the parts to keep them sorted.
Create a folder for each series where you will place all the recordings.
With these naming conventions, you can then create projects in batches using a command line script.
The fish shell script below creates a blender video project for each set set of recordings, following the naming conventions above.
It creates a directory for each video project, create a blender project from a template, and move all the footage to a subdirectory called “footage” in each folder.
For example, from the files above, the script will create the following structure:
. ├── 01.intro-fsm │ ├── 01.intro-fsm.blend │ └── footage │ ├── 01.intro-fsm.flv ├── 02.importing-start-dir │ ├── 02.importing-start-dir.blend │ └── footage │ ├── 02.importing-start-dir.flv ├── 03.state-class-1 │ ├── 03.state-class-1.blend │ ├── footage │ │ ├── 03.state-class-1.flv │ │ ├── 03.state-class-2-fix-end.flv │ │ ├── 03.state-class-3-fix-end-2.flv
To use the script, you need:
How to use:
#! /usr/bin/fish set temp_file mktemp for v in *.flv; string replace .flv "" $v >> $temp_file; end for i in (cat $temp_file | uniq -w 3) mkdir -p $i/footage mv (string sub -l 2 $i)*.flv $i/footage cp ~/Templates/video.blend $i/$i.blend end rm $temp_file
The script creates the blender projects for you. Then, you can:
for i in */*.blend; blender $i; endto open each video and edit one after the other automatically.