04 April 2012

Making youtube videos

Want to hear more about my hobbies? Probably not, but let me tell you anyway! I have been trying to make a video tutorial series called the B.L.H.T. (Big Long Hard Tutorial). It isn't a total fail, it is actually half way complete. And I am sort of happy with my creation. The problem is, it's harder than I thought.

First, I wanted to make it relevant to a wider audience ( I'm not some sort of Linux snob ), so the viewer should be able to follow along irrespective of the operating system they use. That means that the software used has to be available on the 3 big platforms ( Win Mac Linux ). Even though I use Linux religiously my job requires me to give relevant windows advice, so I'm always looking for cross platform software. Big WIN is VirtualBox since it will allow anybody to get an openSUSE Linux server for the tutorial. The big problem is that this way I have to go through VirtualBox itself, and that there are some differences between the versions for the different operating systems. Choosing openSUSE for the tutorial was because of YaST, it really helped me when I started using Linux about an year ago so it should be good for potential converts from windows.

The second problem was the networking. Not everybody has passed their CCNA exams and not everybody has worked at an ISP so not everybody can just figure it out. The tech savvy readers will laugh but I know people who don't understand the difference between a switch and a router, and I don't know a way to make a web server without a working network ( I really don't )! I played around with the idea of making several separate how to videos but I realized it would be more work and it would be harder for beginners to put the new knowledge in the right context, I sometimes need a little nudge to make the connection so I can't require from people to figure out that they need to do something from a separate video that they might not have watched.

Problem number three is accuracy. You are essentially giving information to people and only correct information has practical application. When giving lessons you set yourself up as an authority on the subject so you have an obligation to know your stuff. What I did was to read the VirtualBox user manual going through things I already know ( boring ) and some new stuff. Then I read the openSUSE startup guide and the reference for the topics I cover.

Four. The video production itself. Before I started I had no idea how to make the videos. I first tried recordmydesktop but I couldn't get the picture quality needed for the terminal text and there were constant video glitches. I had used it before on Fedora 14 but it didn't workout too good on Mint so... Then I tried FFmpeg and it was glorious, for convenience I use it through RecordItNow which gives you a nice GUI. Audacity to record the audio on a separate computer and Openshot for editing. If we are listing out software we can't forget inkscape which is used for creating nice transparent svg graphics for video overlays. Once you figure out how to use these things to make videos you need to do the actual recording. At first I tried to record the audio and then listen to it while recording the video ( I'm an idiot ). Of course you have to do them simultaneously, but then there is an awkward pause every two or so sentences while I look at the script. So I don't have a script anymore, just an outline of the things to say.

And Five. I am a Bulgarian, English isn't my native language ( in case you couldn't tell ) and although I know it pretty decently-ish it is still hard to focus on both a clear accent and technology stuff. But then I watched a blender ( not for kitchens, the other one ) conference and realized that I'm doing good ( -ish )!

I really hope that sharing my experience could help somebody else thinking about making youtube videos. If you have some video ideas just go for it, worst case scenario is someone will watch it! If you want to see my videos click here.