Marketing/Video how-to guide

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This page provides some tips and guidelines for creating videos that demonstrate LibreOffice features.

Overall goal

Before you even write the script or start any screen recording software, think about a clear goal. You don't just want to "show LibreOffice being used" - but rather, think of how the viewers should feel at the end. Should they have learned something new about the software? Should they feel more confident to try a new feature, or contribute back? Should they be convinced to download it?

Length

The video length depends entirely on what you want to do, but for marketing videos, shorter is better. Analytics from our LibreOffice 5.1 New Features videos showed that 60% of viewers make it to the end - and those are for short videos, quickly showing new features in succession, with a soundtrack. Attention spans are short.

Try to not focus on one particular aspect for too long. If a feature is especially hard or complicated to explain, it may not make sense to include it in the video. At the most, show a screenshot of it and tell viewers to explore more via a link to the release notes.

Assets

We like our videos to be available under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. If you're using other sources of audio or video, make sure they too can be redistributed under CC-BY. The CC search page is a good resource for finding video footage and background music with appropriate licenses.

Script

Write a draft of the script before any filming, so you know exactly what you want to say. You may need to tweak this as you perform screen recordings, but it will help you to avoid going off track. Break the script up into small components, and number them; this will help you to find them later, and if you upload the script onto the wiki for others to translate, they can easily reference the different parts.

Remember that many viewers may not have English as their first language. Use simple, clear and active text, avoiding idioms or other expressions that viewers may not understand.

Audio recording

Generally, a standalone USB microphone will produce much better results than in-built laptop or webcam microphones. Decent USB mics are available for around $/£/€20 - but check reviews first. Another item you may want to invest in, especially if you make a lot of videos, is a pop filter. This helps to avoid 'popping' noises when you say words containing plosive sounds (Ps and Bs) directly into the mic.

You can perform the audio recording at the same time as the screen recording, but you may be so focused on the on-screen action that you add 'umm's and 'ahh's or don't focus on clear pronunciation. In which case, do the two parts separately.

What happens if your audio turns out bad, or you can't do it at all? Don't give up! Ask on the mailing list to see if someone else wants to contribute their recording.

And if you're doing a video without a voice-over, make sure to add a background soundtrack. Use YouTube's music library or find a suitably licensed song yourself. Don't upload completely silent videos!

Screen recording

Free and open source screen recording software is available for every major operating system. Note that some will record background audio as well, so if you've decided to record your script separately, remember to silence the audio from the screen recording.

A white desktop background and minimal clutter is important. Clear up desktop icons, close other windows, and make sure LibreOffice is in full focus. See this video as an example - it just shows LibreOffice, nothing more.

A note about the resolution/size: don't use regular screen size - the video will likely be played in a smaller resolution or embedded in a website, and not full-screen. So if you can read fine in 1080p monitor, doesn't mean you can read it if the video is played back in 720p - so that also should be kept in mind. Consider users watching on tablets or even smartphones. So shrink the window or if your desktop provides it, use a scaling factor to enlarge LibreOffice / the icons / everything.

Zooming and panning can be useful, when it's necessary to focus on a very specific feature (or simply show something that's too low resolution for normal viewing). But don't overdo it - viewers want to learn about the software, not be dazzled by special effects. Think about aspect ratio as well, and whether your video will end up with black bars on the side on eg YouTube.

Encoding

Use a lossles codec to record your screen if you have the diskspace available. H.264 is pretty efficient in lossless mode for mostly static content - but what format to use also depends on what post-processing you want to do. But rather use a lower framerate than have a washed-out/blocky video if your computer cannot keep up with the recording. You don't need 60 frames per second for a screencast.

When you're done

Once your video is ready, upload it somewhere (eg your personal YouTube channel, or a file sharing service) and post it to the marketing list for feedback. If everyone is happy with it, the marketing team can share it around, eg via @libreoffice or other means. It could even be added to the official LibreOffice YouTube channel.