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Producing Demo Videos - Sharing Our Experiences

Lori Halley 22 April 2008 1 comments

We have recently put together first 5 videos demoing basic functionality of Wild Apricot software. This has been a great learning experience and we would appreciate any feedback on our videos (which are still work in progress!).

We also wanted to summarize the challenges and lessons learned in order to help others creating their own online instructional or demo videos.

Things to consider when you start:

  • Define the approach. Some people make detailed visual storyboards or 'scenario' scripts. We opted instead to start with a high-level script which outlined the most important features and topics that we wanted to cover - and leave the actual narration details to the person recording it. In our case the decision was driven by the fact that we worked with an experienced narrator who we felt could add a good perspective to our high level script.

  • How long the video should be?

  • How much time do you have to make it?

  • What screen resolution do you target for the final video? (So that you can record as closely to that to avoid compression artifacts as much as possible)

  • Prepare the database with appropriate demo data
  • Who are you trying to reach and what do you want to tell them? Having an end goal in what you hope to achieve from the video was very useful for creating an actual script. In our case we decided to focus on a high-level overview of key Wild Apricot functions - and provide the full workflow (e.g. not simply customizing the online member application form - but showing how it is then filled out and used)

  • Screen recording software. We considered a number of options and ended up selecting Camtasia Studio by TechSmith - it made both the recording and subsequent editing quite easy. We are also able to generate the final videos in a variety of formats (so we far we decided on Flash video).

  • Sound recording equipment (we used an Apple laptop and a good mike)

  • Do you have a good narrator? Finding a good narrator is not easy but really pays off. Ideally find somebody who both has a good voice AND understands the subject matter in depth to ad-lib. Otherwise your narrator would have to read a detailed script and that it is hard to do and might sound canned.

Lessons learned:

  • Leave some time for fixing errors. Some things will always go wrong, thank Murphy for that :-)
  • Save all of your video files (you never know the first cut may be the best)
  • Recording the video together with the sound worked out the best (vs. recording the screen first and adding the narration later), it made for more natural and better synchronized video.
  • No matter how good your script, post-editing is pretty much a given to remove unnecessary transitions and do overall cleanup (we have not quite finished in our videos below)

Below you will find our first 5 work-in-progress videos, any comments and or feedback is greatly appreciated. We plan to release more videos and want to develop a style that is informative, to the point and covers key points of  the topic - without overloading the audience with unnecessary details.

Let us know what you think!

Basic Webpage Editing Video: 

This video covers basic website editing functions: Editing and formatting webpages, inserting images and documents, links and tables.


Member Communication Video:

In this video we provide a quick overview of functions facilitating communication from your leadership team to your members and between your members:Filtering your member list to target a specific group; Sending personalized mass-emails to selected group; Blog module: creating posts and comments; Discussion forum module: creating topics and posting replies


Member Self-Service Portal Video:

Sending out membership applications and renewal notices, processing event registrations - all that can quickly eat up your scarce time. In this video we cover some of the basic member self-service functions: Member login; Member editing own profile; Member renewals and online payments; Self registration for events; Accessing secure member-only pages; Using private member directory; Private blog and forum pages

Event Management and Online Registration Video:

Wild Apricot's online event management and registration software automates the administrative trivia so that you can focus on putting together a spectacular event. It's fully integrated with your website and contact database to save you time. In this video we cover the basic event features: Adding an Event and setting up all event details; Event notices and reminders; Customizing event registration form; Event Calendar; Online Event Registration and online payment; Viewing list of attendees; Save Hours of Manual Processing With Automated Event Management

Online Member Application Video:

In this video we demonstrate how to customize membership application form and setup processing rules: Customizing member record fields; Setting up membership levels, application rules and renewal policies;Customizing automatic emails; Filling out online form by prospective members and payment; Tracking member sign-ups; Accessing member records

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 22 April 2008 at 10:18 AM


  • cpna said:

    Tuesday, 29 April 2008 at 6:23 AM

    Professionally, I have used Camtasia quite often for the type of screen recording. Your advice is sound.

    However, for most project, I would also recommend Captivate. It is an excellent tool, and is screenshot based. This means it captures screenshots as you record your demonstration, making it infinitely easier to edit than a screen recording. It also makes it easy to record audio seperately and insert it later.

    If you need full motion recording (spinning a 3D CAD model for example) Camtais will work better. But for most applications, I prefer Captivate.

    We often use Audacity (a free tool) for sound recording. In general a USB based microphone is superior to the standard microphone jack.

    Also, if you already have snaggit, even it can record full screen recordings, and I believe supports audio.

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