My Very First Screencast: Taking The Leap.
Posted on May 3 2016
I am a self-taught front-end developer. I owe a large portion of what I know to some incredible individuals who took the time to create video tutorials — paid or free — and make them available to the world.
Before working in front-end, I was a primary school teacher. I always loved teaching, and still very much enjoy doing code mentoring with colleagues and clients.
I also always enjoyed video editing.
Over the past near decade, I’ve been cutting clips of travel / family stuff on my personal YouTube account, but never anything web-development related.
Doing something about it
I always had it in the back of my mind. I also always had that fear of not bringing anything new that most of us have when it comes to submitting a talk, a blog post or… video tutorials!
English is also not my mother language. I am very fluent, but it still adds a level of insecurity to put yourself out there in a foreign language.
Last New Year’s Eve, I came up with a simple resolution: start doing a video series on something in 2016.
On the 1st of May, I did what I should have done much earlier: become pro-active. I ordered a decent microphone — the Blue Yeti, more on that later — which would sit on my desk and make me feel stupid for not making any use of it.
A few minutes after ordering the mic, I got really excited and started writing down the scripts for the first few videos of my first series called Jade/Pug Tips in 90 Seconds. The simple fact that I knew I now had invested in this mic instantly made me get the ball rolling.
A mental shift
Most importantly — I had a mental shift about the fear of doing things. Yes, there are other screencasts about Jade out there. Yes, some may be more advanced.
The fact is: I don’t care. I am doing my own things, and bringing my own contribution to the wonderful web development community. I feel good about it — and take pride in trying to produce some high quality material.
My first steps
A few days later, my Blue Yeti arrived from the post. It is bigger and heavier than I expected. The resistance and clickity-ness of the metal knobs give a very high-end, pro feel about this device.
Minutes after the unboxing, I was already recording my first video. I was blown away by the sound quality (in my monitoring headphones, that is) and record the first video clip in a couple of takes.
What I somewhat expected, but thought would be a non-factor because of the crisp monitoring sound, was the following: recording audio in a large, square room without carpet or curtains is not a good idea. The echo is nasty.
Here is the intro video in question. I’ll let you be the judge on the amount of echo in my voice. You can also tell it’s my first screencast ever. I have stage fright, even if I’m alone in my home office.
Despite the average audio quality — I am happy with this first video.
I have done it.
My first bit of screencast material is out there on youtube. It announces a full series coming up — which again pro-actively makes me commit to deliver.
I am currently committing to deliver to a whopping YouTube follower base of… two users. But still! 😂
A questionable DYI Recording Booth
Following the poor audio quality on the first video, I went ahead and googled some DYI soundproofing / echo killing tips, and spoke to some great people in a few Slack channels.
I also remember from my audio engineering 6-month certificate at SAE, 15 years ago, that fabric sucks up a lot of echo and a wardrobe is therefore a cool place to hide and record some sneaky audio clips.
I don’t have a proper wardrobe anymore, but I got a mean towel rack that, enhanced with my two winter hoodies, made for a pretty good, slightly random recording studio.
Here’s what it looked like. Yes, I zipped the two hoodies together to the top and ducked my head under there.
The dodgy, "don't try this at home" recording booth.
I received some good feedback on this setup, and some people shared similar stories of coming up with random pillows / curtains / clothes to scare the echo away.
It most definitely worked
All I can say is the effort was well worth it. In about 5 minutes of intense engineering and with a budget of zero dollars, I brought a significant improvement to the audio quality of my recordings.
If you watched the first video, you should hear a clear difference in this one. I also noticed my stage fright voice going away within the first 5 seconds of talking, and I was then much more comfortable. Must be getting some experience!
That’s much better, right?
A few minutes later, I had video #3 uploaded.That’s it for now. I will wait for my pop filter to arrive early next week before continuing with the series.
The bottom line
So, why am I telling you all this? To be honest, I am not quite sure. All I know is I am really happy to have finally started doing the series.
It's really not much. But - and this is the key here - I have put myself out there and produced something. I have stopped talking about it and have actually started doing it.
Take the leap
Each one of us, in web development or any other field, have some ideas / challenges in our mind. We tend to make up excuses, consciously or not, that give good reasons not to do it right now.
I challenge you, dear reader, to do it. Whatever it is that is brewing inside you. That thing you think about sometimes, but never get to actually make it happen.
I challenge you to take the leap.