Jesse Whitehouse
How I Make A Screencast
A good screencast combines good video and good sound. The video should make sense even if the speakers are muted. And the audio is useful even when the display is turned off.

I started making screencasts for Redash this year. Here’s what I know about making a good one.


Record at 720p resolution. It’s legible and good-looking on a phone, tablet, or PC. You will struggle to fit everything into view at first. But keep trying. The exercise adds clarity to each video and it gets easier with practice.

The trick to focus a viewer’s attention is to hide unneeded information. I shouldn’t see a browser interface unless you’re teaching me how to use it. Likewise for your file manager, desktop image, or applications pinned to the task bar1. If you remove this cruft, 720p feels cozy not cramped. Which is partly why it’s my default.

If your video absolutely requires more pixels, at least optimize your video for the devices your viewers use most. Keep the DPI reasonable: anything larger than 1080p is illegible on a smartphone but looks fine on a tablet. Avoid titleboxing or letterboxing by matching your users’ screen aspect ratio. It’s almost always 16:9.


Research shows that effective learning boils down to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic queues. That means the average person might watch, listen, or follow along in their own way. But they may not do all three. An excellent video could, in theory, compensate for bad audio or vice versa. But you shouldn’t assume that this will be true for all viewers. Which is the primary reason to make your videos accessible.

Accessibility isn’t just for the disabled. Sighted users will listen while your video plays in the background. And the deaf are a minority among those who use closed captions.

You should probably record your audio and video separately then glue them together with screenflow or camstasia.

Record in a quiet place. Minimize background noise. Practice your timing and cadence. Don’t prattle. Write a script 2. Use a good microphone.

Edit your audio in audacity or reaper. Don’t make your listeners turn their headphones up or down. Use a noise gate and a dynamic range compressor. Mix it to -6db average. Record in mono but mix in stereo. Don’t worry about EQ.

Use your script when your finished to create captions for your video. Don’t trust YouTube to do this for you. First class subtitles will delight your viewers.

  1. If you visit a webpage in your video, crop to show only the viewport. Use a solid color for your desktop background. Navigate Windows Explorer or MacOS Finder offscreen. [return]
  2. A script will help you add captions later on. [return]
August 2019