I'm not cheap, just frugal. If there are tools and techniques available that can get a job done for not cash out of pocket, I will at least evaluate them. Some tools (software packages) just don't cut it when it compares to the industry standard so you need to be willing to try a few before you find a gem. I'm not a big fan of free trials either because at some point you have to pay or learn another tool.

The open source software community comes to the rescue for people like me who are looking for a bargain! There are a few tools that I recently used with great success to produce YouTube videos. I was inspired to produce videos for YouTube after seeing the success Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income Blog had with YouTube and podcasts on iTunes to help drive traffic to his site.

I'm not a Mac user and I know that Mac is the way to go for graphics editing, video production, blah, blah, blah. I need to find some Windows tools that can do what I need because I just bought a new PC.

Introductin to Video Production

My foray into video production fell into three areas where I needed a great piece of software that was easy to use but not so simplistic that it looks like a elementary school production. I needed:

  1. Screen Capture (aka ScreeCasting)
  2. Video Editing
  3. Sound Editing

My plan was to break the task out into chunks. In the past I tried to get the video right on the first take and it never works. I got so frustrated taking multiple takes and the pressure to get it right drove me crazy. Here is how I do it.

Screen Capture

I used CamStudio (http://camstudio.org/) which is a free program similar to Camstasia but without the $300 price tag. It does a great job for what I need. I capture a section of my screen 1280 X 720 pixels. This will give you a wide-screen aspect ratio video. I use this for demonstrations of what I do on my PC or I can use it to capture a black board by using PhotoShop. I use a black background and a white brush to draw while I talk. Like a blackboard.

Here's a production tip I got from a friend. Create a story board of the video. Just chunk it out into sections like a comic strip. Doodle some pictures, add description of what it is and a few bullet points of what you want to say.

Video Editing

Not that I have a video clip, I need to do some editing to clean it up and reduce the long pauses and mistakes. I use the Windows Movie Maker (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/moviemaker/default.mspx) to edit the raw video. When I capture the video, I will talk out loud but not record it. Movie maker lets you add audio tracks to the video.

Structure the video with a intro segment with a title, the body with the meat of the video, and a closing. This way you can reuse the common parts of the video. I have a ending segment with it's own audio track so I can re-use it and not record it each time.

You can add captions, effects, animations, all kind of cool stuff and it's FREE.


This one I'm still learning. Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) is also an open source program that allows you to capture, edit, and export audio to mp3 and wav formats. I'm sure there's a bunch more but I stick with the simple stuff. You can layer tracks, delete sections, re-record sections, and tons more. It really saves me a bunch of time because I just record and don't worry about getting it perfect. One tip that I found to help, use a script. It's hard just to wing it and not get tongue tied.

I need a microphone so I tried using my 10 year old webcam but they don't support Windows 7. I managed to find a microphone I had in a drawer. Someday I will get a better micrphone. They cost around $100.

That's a Wrap

After I get the video produced way I like it I'm so sick of watching it that I don't want to do a final review. Wait a day to let it get cold and look at it with fresh eyes before you put it up on YouTube. I produce my video in High Definition 1080p, Why? Because Google recommends it. It looks killer in full screen mode on my 23" monitor.

You might not become the next James Cameron but you videos will stand out from the crowd.