The IT Help Podcast-A Brief History (Part 2)

How do I make ’em? The first 2-ish steps.

In the last post I talked about one of the podcasts that I do for work, The IT Help Podcast. In this post (or the next couple of posts) I’ll show you how a Quickcast is made from deciding on a topic to uploading the finished product to IU’s podcast portal (PODCAST.IU.EDU). I’ll illustrate with the most recent Quickcast, # 67 What services do the campus call centers offer?

Step One: Choose a topic.

For a Quickcast the topic is always a single IU Knowledge Base document. The document has to be short but not too short and its content has to be something I understand. I avoid using a doc that covers only one campus. It’s better when the information is relevant to IUB and IUPUI and best when the topic applies to all IU campuses. Quickcast #67 is about the IUB and IUPUI campus call centers. People on the regional campuses can utilize their services but the podcast is really aimed at populations at the core campuses.

So once I’ve picked a KB doc I write the script. Scripts are simple. I basically take the text from the document and re-word it a little for spoken word format. I leave out some information if necessary to stay under the five minute mark. The five minutes includes the intro and outro which run about 2 minutes total.

Step Two: Create the visuals.

KB doc image.
KB doc image.

A video podcast needs motion to make it interesting. Without motion you may as well just have audio or just offer the information on a static web page. When I started doing these podcasts I didn’t know how to use Macromedia’s Flash for animation and I didn’t know about AfterEffects so I had to find a solution that would work for me and my limited skillset.

Well I knew PowerPoint could do animation and I knew how to use it and I had heard of a program called Camtasia Studio that could record the action that happened on the computer screen. That was my solution. and it worked and still works well.

I’ve recently acquired some pretty decent skill at using AfterEffects and since I’ve always kind of felt my PowerPoint/Camtasia production method was akin to cheating I thought now I can join the big boys and girls and start using grown up tools. Then I thought “that doesn’t make sense.” The tools I’ve been using work well for me and my podcast seems to be quite popular. Why change? For me, the only benefit to using AfterEffects is more control over the animations and smoother motion.  On the other hand with PowerPoint I get an easy to use interface with lots of tools for drawing shapes and access to Microsoft’s clip art.

As for Camtasia Studio. It’s designed to do what I use it for and each product upgrade makes things easier and easier. In addition to being a screen recorder Camtasia provides a nice editing interface and the best part is the numerous file formats to which I can output my productions.

I tried Adobe Captivate (which I thought would change my life) but it had problems with Windows 7 or the 64-bit version of Windows 7 or PowerPoint 2010 or some combination of those  things. I also didn’t like its limited audio editing capabilities.

So I’m confident that I’m doing the right thing.

I’m going to stop here and give you some time to digest. Check in next time for for stuff about recording audio, editing and final production.

Here are some more images:

Call Center services list.

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