Screencast-o-matic is a very affordable software that you can use to create screencasts, screen recordings, and instructional videos. I’ve used SOM for years and highly recommend it. It’s pretty easy to use and most folks get up and running pretty quickly. However, some users may find that their first few videos aren’t as good as they expected them to be. Here are some tips to improve the quality of the recordings.
Use Maximum Resolution Available
If you plan to upload your video to YouTube, Vimeo, or any other online host, it’s likely that viewers will want to view your video in full screen mode, especially if you are recording a web page with text. If you record at a low resolution, then the video will be fuzzy when viewed full screen.
If you’re recording on a laptop, check the maximum resolution of your laptop screen in your computer’s display settings. Many business class and inexpensive personal laptops often have maximum resolutions such as 1366 x 768, which is not Full HD. If you can only record on a laptop, make sure you use the “Full Screen” setting in Screencast-o-matic (both full screen . While full screen is only a few pixels more than the 720p setting, you’ll be capturing as much resolution as possible. It will still be a bit fuzzy when played full screen, but perhaps not as bad since you are capturing every available pixel on your screen.
Use an external monitor or TV
If you have one of those laptops with a low-res screen, you can increase the resolution by plugging into an external monitor or TV. As an example, my laptop only has a max of 1366 x 768, but when I plug into an external monitor, the resolution is 1920 x 1080 (full HD). This means that if I record on the external monitor in full HD, Screencast-o-matic captures the monitor resolution and the video will not be fuzzy when played on full screen mode on YouTube.
Once you plug into an external monitor, check and adjust your display settings. You can probably increase the resolution to full HD (1920 x 1080) on most modern monitors.
Get a better camera
If you are using an inexpensive or business class laptop, your webcam probably stinks. It might have a maximum resolution of 720p, that is okay for Teams and Zoom meetings, but it just won’t cut it if you want crisp on-camera video of yourself.
Use an external webcam
One option is to use an external webcam. My preferred brand is Logitech. They have a variety of webcams at different price points, but just choose one that is Full HD — you don’t need 4k for instructional video. I use the Logitech C920. I especially appreciate that you can use either the LogiCapture or G-Hub software to customize your camera settings. This keeps you from looking like a Smurf if the white balance is off, or like you are in a witness protection program due to poor camera exposure.
Use your phone’s video camera
If you don’t have a better webcam (or they are sold out due to a global pandemic and everyone’s working from home) you can also use your phone to record yourself. I suggest using a tripod to hold your phone and avoid shaky footage. While most phones have both a front-facing (selfie) camera and a rear-facing camera, the rear-facing camera is generally a better camera and offers a higher maximum resolution. While it may seem easier to see yourself while recording on the selfie camera, you’ll have much better results using the rear-facing camera on your phone. Make sure you set the camera settings to Full HD (1920 x 1080).
Once you record your video, you need to get the video file on the computer that has Screencast-o-matic installed. The file will be too large to email, so you’ll need to either transfer via USB or a cloud service (OneDrive, Google Drive, etc. ). Use the Import button in Screencast-o-matic to import the file into the editor. If you are importing the phone file into a video you recorded of your computer screen, , you will probably need to adjust the audio volumes to match since they are from two different audio sources.
Use an external microphone
Typically the mics on our laptops are not very good. If you want to get better audio, I suggest using an external microphone. This can be as simple as a conference call headset or your phone’s earbuds. If you want to get more elaborate, the Blue microphones are highly recommended and easy to use.
If you are using an external webcam, that audio is generally better than you computer’s mic, but it will pick up extra noises around the house/office.
Check out some tutorials
I hope this post helps you improve the quality of your videos. I’ve found the Screencast-o-matic tutorials useful in building my skills as well. Finally, check out other blog posts on home office and video production setups. I especially like this post that offers suggestions for setups at different price points. Good luck!