Cool tools for Technical Authors – video equipment

We’re sharing some of the tools we use at Cherryleaf. This time we’ll look at video recording.

screencast screenVideo is becoming an important medium in technical communication. In addition to screencast videos (walkthroughs of application screens), software like Camtasia and Captivate enable you to include video of people in your presentations. Doing this creates a more TV-like presentation and a more professional feel to your output.


umbrella lightsOne of the biggest challenges with recording good quality video is making sure your video isn’t ruined by shadows in the background, and that presenter is lit correctly. So one of the most useful pieces of equipment we have are are LED continuous photography umbrella lights. These project a soft, natural light.


photo studio backdropAnother issue can be finding a suitable recording location which doesn’t have anything in the background which that distract the viewer.

Photo studio backdrop kits are an affordable way to solve this problem. They can be put up and dismantled in a few minutes, and can be bought for next to nothing on eBay.

The kits typically come with black, green and white cloths. If you have lit the room correctly, the green cloth will allow your video software to remove the background (known as chroma key or green screen). You can then have the presenter superimposed onto another background.

Digital cameras

Sony-RX100M3In many cases, the camera built into your laptop, or even a webcam, will do a decent job at recording your presenter. If you want to record from two different angles, “on location”, or at the highest quality, then it’s worth getting a digital camera that can also record video. We use a Sony RX100 Mk 3 digital camera, for reasons David Pogue described far better than we ever could. It’s fantastic, apart from two things: it’s not cheap for a compact camera, and its zoom isn’t good enough to get close ups of conference speakers when you’re at the back of the room.

Adjustable height desk

Revolt deskWe’re big fans of adjustable height desks. If you want, they enable you to work standing up (which is far more healthy for you) and to have your desk at a slope (useful for left-handers).

When you’re recording your videos, they work well as a base for your camera and laptop.


Microphone pop screen

pop screenplosive

One of the other important pieces of equipment we use is a microphone pop screen. As the presenter tends to be directly in front of the camera, it increases the number of plosives on the recording. A simple microphone pop screen absorbs these blasts of air, and minimises any distortions on the audio track.

What do you use?

Share your suggestions below.


Ellis Pratt

Interesting – I presume it’s to do with hardware maintenance. I guess another option in the future will be to use Google Glass for videoing in small spaces.

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