My next subject in the “Meet the Screen-Flow-er” series is our good friend, Chris Beiting. Chris is a talented and professional screencaster. In fact, we’re proud to mention he was the talent behind our four ScreenFlow 2.0 teaser screencasts.
Being a freelance motion designer, voiceover performer, editor and screencast jedi definitely has it’s challenges, but Chris recommends giving it a try: “Not working for “The Man” is at the same time extremely rewarding and super scary. It took me awhile to get used to being in shorts around the house every day. My wife loves that I work from home and I know the dogs do too. If you have a chance to ditch your typical “day job” then go for it. With the job market the way it is, people have to get creative… freelancing and working for yourself in this business is becoming very popular.”
Chris has some great recommendations and a very solid workflow. I hope you enjoy the interview with him as much as I did:
How long have you been screencasting?
I’ve been producing screencasts for almost three years. In addition to screencasts, I also produce videos that are necessarily screencasts in their pure form, but have ScreenFlow elements in them. I’ve produced probably close to 200 screencast/ScreenFlow videos in that time. Some of them are 30 seconds, some of them 10 minutes.
Prior to ScreenFlow I used iShowU but nothing is as easy or as powerful to use as ScreenFlow.
For what purpose to do you make your screencasts?
Typically it’s for a client who has a new piece of software or application they want to show off. I’ve also done a lot of training videos using ScreenFlow as well.
Do you do all the work for all your screencasts? Or is it a collaborative effort?
Both. Typically I offer a one-stop shop. I create the scripts, perform the voice over and edit it all together. There are a few clients who have copywriters and creative people on staff so they take some of that load off of me. It really depends on the client and what they need or have budget for.
What kind of studio or set up do you have?
I keep it pretty simple. I do all my heavy lifting with my MacBook Pro 13″. I work out of my home so I took a spare bedroom and made it my office. My dogs hang out with me here as well.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of creating your screencasts?
Getting the vision of what the customer wants. Typically it’s not just a straight screencast; there is usually a marketing piece that goes before and after the demo or screencast. For me, figuring out what that is and how it will carry through the piece is the most difficult part. Once that’s figured out, the rest is easy.
What’s the process you use for creating your screencasts?
My process typically starts with the outline or script. I always, always, always create a script… ! I’ve run across quite a few screencasts online that just have terrible audio… they used the external mic on their laptop and the fans kick on, or you hear them typing on the keyboard. The worst thing you can do is fill your recording with ‘Um’s & Ands’. Nothing takes away from a screencast more than those things. Using a script changes it from a simple screencast to a production. And I think that’s important.
I record the voiceover from the script and edit it down. My background is in audio/video so I am comfortable working with my voice… so that’s a plus.
Next, while playing back the voiceover I’ll go through the motions of what actions need to be done in the screencast. Once I can do it without stumbling around I record it a few times.
I’ll then use the built-in editor of ScreenFlow to piece together the best ‘takes’ into a cohesive piece.
Do you have a screencast that you’re especially proud of?
I have two. Once is the overview I did for Telestream ScreenFlow. It was awesome to produce a video for a product and company I feel are doing quality work.
The other was for a company called Daymarck. The one was one of those examples where the screencast is wrapped in marketing. This one featured all hand-drawn images. The client, BlueSilver out of Chicago, submitted this for a Chicago BMA award (an advertising award) and it won gold. It beat out video work from companies like Motorola and GyroHSR which had HUGE budgets and countless meetings. My video was done in my spare bedroom with my dog laying behind me on the daybed.
What other programs/accessories do you use besides ScreenFlow to create your screencasts?
I have a policy. I don’t do anything camera-based. I don’t want to see myself on video, and I’m quite certain others don’t either 🙂
As far as a mic, I use a Rode Podcaster. It is a USB mic that is just fantastic. I do all my post processing of audio in either GarageBand or Adobe Soundbooth – depending on what my needs are. I have had my eye on the Blue Yeti. It seems to be pretty sweet as well.
For a lot of my work I augment ScreenFlow with some motion design in After Effects. A lot of times I’ll get storyboards from clients and animate them — and I need a program like After Effects to do it. The output from ScreenFlow goes right into AE… it’s all part of my workflow. I also use Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere Pro for editing. I’d use Final Cut, I just haven’t bought it yet.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out screencasting?
Using a script is key. Eliminate those ‘Um’s’. Also, get a good USB mic.
What’s the stupidest mistake you’ve made when creating a screencast?
Typically my problem is not saving enough. I push ScreenFlow and my Mac pretty hard and I’ve been bit by not saving or something and have lost a whole day’s work. Back up often… seriously.
Besides ScreenFlow, what’s your favorite program for the mac?
There are so many! I use Adium, After Effects, Chrome and Tweetie on a daily basis… not to mention StarCraft 2, but that’s for another time!
Thanks Chris! Check out Chris’ website to see some of the great work he’s done.
Beiting is the real deal. This guy makes amazing stuff in a spare bedroom. He’s a prime example of a free lancer who is worth every penny and more. His skills combined with some great software (Screenflow especially) mean he beats the big boys at their game all the time. I’m going to hire him myself to teach me some tips b/c he’s a great communicator and the best screencaster I know.
Aww shucks thanks. Thanks Lynn! If anyone needs my services please get with me via my website!
I just switched to the Blue Yeti and the voice quality is excellent. Not to mention, it has a coolness effect to it 8-). I just reviewed your screencast intro for Screenflow and learned about freeze frames and speed up and slow down. Thanks
Amazing work, Chris. Are your final voice overs really recorded there at your desk or do you have a setup w/ additional insulation?
Yup at my desk. But they’re super compressed and have limiters on them to reduce echo and background noise.
Thanks for the reply Chris! I’m new to audio, and limited by the materials in my room. “Super compressed” and “limiters” doesn’t mean a lot to me at this early stage: any chance you could link to a guide or tutorial?