My Recording Setup

With the school moving 50% of every class online due to corona, I had to quickly get onboard with preparing lecture videos. Unfortunately, Panopto that the school paid big bucks for did not work for Linux. This meant I had to get creative with my solutions.

First thing I did was to get a good microphone, and clean up the background to make it a bit more interesting than a few books and empty shelves. With the physical space now under control I could move onto software concerns.

I teach technical courses, which means I can not just talk over a slide deck and call it a day. I need to be able to demonstrate coding in an IDE, commands in a terminal, AND a slide deck. So I turned to the streamers’ darling OBS studio. It is an incredibly polished piece of software that does everything just right. Have I mentioned that it is also open source? I have set up several scenes (collection of video/audio sources) for my different use cases.

I have one for capturing the pympress output for slides, another for browser capture, yet another for Rstudio… You get the gist. OBS allows me to mesh and weave different capture setups to create the right video for the occasion.

Then I needed a video editor to edit the bloopers out and mesh different video files together. I went with Openshot. It has a very intuitive interface and is easy to use. One feature I sort of like they implemented was to automatically pick the same codec format for the output as it is for the input. Nevertheless, with OBS and Openshot combined I was able to create some pretty nifty videos.

I learned a few lessons in the months since I started shooting.

1- Be ok with good. If I tried to edit out every “erm”, or “ah” (and my guilty pleasure “right?!”) I would never be done with these videos.

2- Be ready to shoot a couple times. You will never get it right the first time around. Resigning to the repeat performances from the get go allows for a more positive attitude.

3- Try to minimize your editing needs. Editing and re-encoding takes time. Better keep your videos short (also good for pedagogical reasons) and use OBS’s pause function than to edit together 16 different videos.

Now when I watch the videos I shot the first month, I get the urge to re-shoot them. Then I remind myself of lesson 1. Good enough is good enough.

I guess there is quite a few of us out there recording their lectures now. I hope this post will be helpful.

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