Over the past few years, lecture capture software has become as indispensable as email at a growing number of universities. While campus-wide deployments are increasingly the norm, lecture capture often starts as a pilot within a few courses, or as a departmental installation.
In these smaller deployments, faculty members may have to do a little more legwork on their own to determine best practices for effectively capturing classroom content.
If this sounds like your situation, we have some tips that can help you make the most out of your lecture recordings, and ensure that the information you’re presenting can be seen and heard clearly.
If you’ll be appearing on camera, we suggest wearing solid colors. Small, repetitive patterns such as houndstooth or pinstripes can appear jittery or distorted on camera, especially when viewed in a small window.
We also suggest wearing colors other than black or white near your face. Black clothing can create shadows and age skin, while white can wash out skin. If you prefer dark colors, try navy instead. Jewel tones are almost universally flattering and show up well on camera.
When you’re passionate about your material, it’s easy to forget that you’ll need to stay within the camera frame. One low-tech way to make sure that you stay within the capture zone is to place a small marker on the floor at the spot where you are in the center of the camera frame. You can refer to it during your presentation as needed to ensure you’re within a few inches of the correct place. We recommend painter’s tape, which can be easily removed without damage.
If you’re a more active lecturer, you may want to try using a camera with a wider angle lens, which will give you more freedom to move about the room. We like the Logitech C930e, which offers great video quality and a 90-degree field of view.
If you’re lecturing in a small room and you won’t be moving around much, you might not need more than your webcam’s onboard microphone. However, if you’ll be lecturing in a room larger than 10 people, or are the type of professor that likes to move around while speaking, we recommend using a wireless microphone so you can be sure your students can hear every word in your recording. One of our favorites is the Sony ECM-AW3, which uses Bluetooth and has a range of up to 150 feet.
Even with a microphone, it can be difficult to pick up the audio from in-class questions. When your students ask questions, be sure to repeat the question clearly so that your online viewers can understand what was asked. If you’re using Panopto’s lecture capture system, repeating the question ensures that the question (and your answer) will be indexed using our Smart Search technology. Your students will be able to search inside your lecture recording and automatically fast-forward to the point in your lecture where the question was asked.
If you use chalkboard or whiteboard during your lecture, you’ll need to pay special attention to whether or not your online viewers will be able to clearly see what you’ve written. Ideally, you should have a camera dedicated to capturing your whiteboard or chalkboard so that your students watching online can keep an eye on both you and what you’ve written.
With Panopto’s multi-camera capability, recording presenter video and the contents of your board is easy. Simply plug in an additional webcam and point it to your whiteboard or chalkboard. When you click “Record”, Panopto will record you, the content of your screen, and anything shown on your board.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Panopto’s video platform for education can help you record your lectures, flip your classrooms, and improve the student experience, contact us to request a free 30-day trial.