Need a video for your WordPress plugin?

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Need video for your WordPress plugin?Video isn’t so easy after all

You’ve just finished coding your WordPress plugin and are pretty excited to share it with the world.

You decide, in your delight, to shoot a quick video to demonstrate some of it’s features. After all, you can buy Screenflow, right?

And it can’t be that hard. You know your plugin better than anyone.

And that’s when you realize that you’ve built an entire system optimized for writing code. Not producing videos.

Is there a slight buzz of your hard drive in the background of your video? Yeah, that’s not good.

Did the kids run into your office right in the middle of your recording? Yeah, that’s not good.

What about those verbal ticks (“um”, “uh”, and more)? Yeah, that’s not good.

Or the audio that sounds like you were in a tin cup? Yeah, that’s not good.

Then you get it all done, upload it, and discover that the aspect ratio is off? Yeah, that’s not good.

It turns out – it’s really easy to create a video that doesn’t show you in your best light.

Can I introduce you to two resources you need to know about?

The first is my friend Jason Tucker. He’s my partner and the host of WP Watercooler.

His site is filled with tips like these:

If you happen to live in Southern California, he can be found at many of the various WordPress meetups – helping record or stream their content. And, of course, you can reach him on Clarity.fm where you can ask him questions. Jason is the perfect “do it yourself” resource that will help you figure things out on your own.

My other friend, Shawn Hesketh, is better known for his video tutorials at WP101. J

ust like Jason, he’s also available to answer questions on Clarity.fm.

But more importantly, Shawn can create videos for you (if you ask nicely, and tell him I sent you).

If you don’t feel like learning the difference between three different categories of microphones (omni, uni, bi), or video compression options, never fear. Shawn can solve all of that for you.

When I think of quality video tutorials, there’s really only one name in the WordPress space – and it’s Shawn Hesketh.

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Three things about Shawn Hesketh

If you walk into Shawn Hesketh’s man cave (sorry, I meant office), you’ll immediately notice three things.

  1. First, he keeps his office ten times cleaner than mine. (I hate him for that.)
  2. Second, he has a dedicated environment for creating optimal videos (with great lighting and sound).
  3. Third, it’s really a man cave. He has a sign to prove it.

Bb34-uvIQAAvZsL What matters most, however, is only the second point.

He has a dedicated environment just for video creation.

I don’t have that. Do you? The reason we likely don’t is because we’re not professionals at it.

Shawn is.

I like professionals. Because they’ll do the job faster and better so that I can focus on what I can do faster and better.

You have two options

In the end, you really have two options.

The first is that you spend more time at Jason’s site so that you can learn everything you need to know to do it yourself.

This gives you the most control with some cost savings, but may take a little time.

Alternatively, you hit up my friend Shawn and ask him to create some videos for your plugin. It may cost you a bit more, but the quality will immediately impress your audience.

Either way you choose, I’m pretty sure you’ll be thrilled to know my two friends.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

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  • http://www.wp101.com/ Shawn Hesketh

    Thanks for the mention, Chris. Stoked to be mentioned alongside Jason; that guy really knows his stuff. Guess you can tell we both geek out about this stuff — obsessing over all those tiny details hardly anyone else notices. But it’s worth it when the end result is a killer video that makes our clients and friends look like rock stars! :)

  • http://themes.fastlinemedia.com Robby

    “It turns out – it’s really easy to create a video that doesn’t show you in your best light.”

    Ugh, it’s so true. I’ve been tasked with creating a video for our plugin and it’s been one of the most time consuming projects yet. Nailing all of the requirements to make a good video can be such a huge endeavor. From sound quality, resolution, compression/buffering, voice-over performance, etc, there are so many factors that have an influence on the overall quality/effectiveness of a promo video.

    After reading your post and thinking about it again, I may have to throw in the towel and hire a a pro go at it. As always, thanks for your references!

  • David

    Nice post Chris. From my own experience at creating videos I can vouch that sound is critical. You can spend the money getting a high quality cardioid (directional) mic and good software but if you don’t have a quiet environment to record in you are wasting your money – even running your audio files through noise removal programs can be an uphill battle.

    • http://www.wp101.com/ Shawn Hesketh

      You’re absolutely right, David. Actually, sound engineering is my background, which is why I enjoy that part of the process so much.

      When I’m actually recording audio, I use a vocal booth from Auralex (MAX-WALL) to create a quiet—but temporary—environment. I often recommend their DeskMAX for podcasters and screencasters who don’t want to commit to a permanent sound booth in their office. In fact, I think it’s an even more important purchase than the mic itself, at least initially.

      Great point!

  • Vedran Fak

    Great post Chris! While I generally agree with what you wrote, not everyone can afford a professional to create their video. This is especially true for fresh developers releasing a free plugin (or their first paid plugin).

    Another thing worth nothing is that video editing/production is no different than any other skill… improving takes time. After 30 or so videos, I’m still not happy with how they look and sound, but they are definitely better than they were when I started.

    Shawn and David are correct in saying audio is important, it really really is. And while there is no real substitute for good equipment, Audacity’s noise removal feature is doing wonders for my Rock Band microphone :)

    The point I’m trying to make is… don’t be afraid to suck, especially if hiring a professional isn’t really possible. The following video helped me a lot in terms of editing and producing a video. It’s done by one of educations for Camtasia Studio. It’s fairly long (30 minutes), but definitely worth watching.
    http://www.screencast.com/t/0xQgD2IMe4D3

  • Pete

    As a long-time video maker (for my classes), here are some inexpensive ways to get high quality sound.
    1) Get a good mike. Most headsets have the mike too close to your mouth – you’ll get a lot of breath sounds and “pops”. The Blue Yeti costs about $100 and is well worth it. It not only does cardiod, it does dual cardioid, omnidirectional, etc…

    2) Get a pop filter

    3) Make a Porta Booth – it encloses your mike on all sides but the front. You can make a cheap one for about $40-50. Here’s a link http://harlanhogan.com/portaboothArticle.shtml

    4) If you really want to make kickass videos, get Camtasia – it costs a bit but gives you all the bells and whistles you need. And you can get it free for 30 days.

    5) Second the nomination for Audacity. Particularly for normalizing, tweaking pitch (I drop the voice about 5% to get a more manly sound), and for noise removal.

    • Vedran Fak

      Can confirm, Camtasia is freaking awesome!