Tutorial: Producing Screencams in Camtasia Studio

Client Approval Cycle
When working for a client, delineating and communicating the approval cycle is absolutely critical to workflow efficiency. I usually work through three stages.

First, I supply a script with a storyboard, which the client can change as much as necessary. Revisions at this point are cheap because nothing has yet been recorded. However, I advise the client that after script approval, major changes will result in additional fees. It’s critical to make this point clear, because otherwise many clients will simply delay review until the screencam is complete, at which point changes become very expensive and time-consuming.

Once I get script approval, I create a "draft" version of the project with narration. I put draft in quotes because it’s my sincere hope that the project is as close to final as possible, with the possible exception of adding the final voice-over talent to replace my scratch narration. On the other hand, it’s tough to comprehend how these projects will look solely from a script, so expect the client to make at least some minor tweaks. In one engagement that involved 10 separate video files, about 50% of my drafts were final; the others required further tweaking.

Typically, while creating the draft, I’ll notice a few necessary script changes, such as a window or mouse click that I forgot to include in the script. If these are minor, I make them without telling the client; if they’re major, I’ll send an updated script with track changes enabled in Word so the client can easily see and approve the changes.

Most of my client work has involved professional voice-over talent. In these instances, after receiving comments back from a client, I make the required changes to the video or narration and send an updated draft with my own narration back to the client for final approval. Once I have final approval, I send the final script and the final draft screencam to the narrator. After receiving back the final audio, I integrate that into the final draft to send to the client.

Hopefully, this is the third and final stage. It is critical that the client understands, up front, that any changes made to the final video, especially those involving voice-over talent, will involve additional charges.

Script Creation
The script creation process varies by project type. If I’m producing a simple tutorial for my own use—say, illustrating how to create H.264 files in Apple Compressor—I write the script while working through the steps for that operation.

I tend to provide very detailed audio with precise instruction of the required procedures. For example, I wouldn’t say, "Export the file to Compressor." Instead, I’d say, "Click File, then Export to Compressor." In my opinion, this level of detail assists the learning process by providing both visual and audio cues.

It’s not important that you adopt this style, as you may have your own thoughts in this regard. Rather, you should pick an approach—detailed or casual—and apply it consistently throughout the script. This is especially critical with work produced for third parties, since you don’t want the client to say, "You delineate all necessary steps here, but not here."

When working up a screencam "advertorial" for a client, the process is more complicated. In most instances, the client has a printed brochure for the software program or web service that they’d simply like converted to a script. Sounds logical, but it never really works, for several reasons.

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