Before You Tutorial

I had planned to film a couple of tutorials at the beginning of January about using World Anvil as an author. I wanted to focus on how to use their site for world wikis and as a platform for stories. Plans have ways of moving sideways, however.

I have a Razer Kiyo cam. I bought it to use with Adobe’s Character Animator software. Worked well enough for that. I hooked it up, but when OBS Studio displayed the output, it was grainy. Very, very grainy. I thought maybe low light was the problem, but no, still grainy. That would not do, for recording a tutorial. I fiddled with parameters in OSB, read/watched a lot of suggestions, but nothing changed how crappy the video looked. So, yeah, fine for my original purpose, but not for recording.

So much for the Kiyo lighting my face, too. One selling point is the light ring, but does it look like it produced enough light to even reach me?

What to do? Well, I have a Samsung Note 20 that produces clear video in the same space I planned to film, so I might as well use it. I purchased a gooseneck holder that clips onto my desk. The phone holder can swivel, so getting a good position and filming will be fine. There are many, many different kinds of phone holders out there, some stationary tri-pods while others can wrap around tree branches. I did a bit of searching before I found one to fit my needs.

Screenshot of my phone video test shot, without the extra lighting and such I set up for the webcam. Still needs tweaking, but much better.

So, in light of this, here are some things to think about before you film, so when you get ready to sit down and press record, you won’t be stuck with WTF? and scrambling to find fixes to problems you never anticipated.

Suggestion 1: If you plan to film yourself for any part of a tutorial, make certain you have a webcam or a phone that is able to produce a video that looks descent. Do test runs. If you’re starting out, you don’t need to worry about a complete pro set-up, but grainy or pixelly images don’t exactly scream “Yes, I know what I’m doing.” Find a device that provides good quality video in the place you wish to film.

Make certain the filming area is well-lit. This can help with grainy video issues and let your viewers see your wonderful face clearly. If you are looking to purchase a light ring, read reviews to make certain it will actually light your face.

While it’s true you can use your laptop camera, it’s a stuck-in-place cam with little flexibility, which may not fit your needs. You should also raise it up to eye-level, which requires setting it on books or other items, and making the keyboard hard to access (looking down isn’t the best way to speak to your viewers. It can appear that you’re staring down at the desk, hinting that even you aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing).

Suggestion 2: Don’t film yourself for your first tutorials. Record your screen using OBS Studio (it’s free, and a staple among streamers) or other screen recording software (there’s lots, with varied price points. Though, for beginners, I’d suggest sticking to a free version until you’ve decided you’re going to make more than one or two tutorials). Then you get experience creating a tutorial without having to deal much with not-so-great video images.

Suggestion 3: Get a mic. Your webcam, your computer’s onboard mic, your phone, are usually not going to provide the quality of sound even a cheap mic can. Why? If you’re using them for filming, they’re stuck recording in a place that isn’t very close to you, so they may have difficulty picking up your words and recording clearly. I got a small USB mic with a tripod stand that produces great sound, and I can easily place it wherever I need it. You can use OBS to record the sound, whether you are using it to record video or not. You can also use Audacity (it’s free but finicky) or other software. Again, there are plenty of options at varied price points available.

Then you can write your tutorial! Yes, write your tutorial. Have you ever watched someone who doesn’t have a clear roadmap try to talk about their subject? You get more “uuhhmmm” and repetitions than you get tutorial. If you know exactly what you are going to talk about beforehand, in the order you want, you’ll be much better off, more prepared, and look/sound more confident. A tutorial is like any other presentation in that way.

Shiobe Rising: The Wellspring Dragons Book 1 and Trouble in Tindrel: The Wellspring Dragons Book 2 are available in Kindle format. Lapis of Nicodem, a serialized dark fantasy, is available for free at World Anvil. Follow me, Kwyn Marie, on Facebook and Instagram. Check out my author website, and the Wellspring Dragons book site as well as the Lapis of Nicodem book site. And if you like what you see, buy me a KoFi!

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