Tutorial 37: how to record your talk (audio and slides) on a Mac

March 16, 2020

When I gave the talk about vertebral orientation for the 1st Palaeo Virtual Congress at the end of 2018, I had to prepare it as a video — so I saved it on YouTube so it would outlive the conference:

Having figured out the practicalities of doing this, it made sense to similarly make a permanent record of my SVPCA 2019 talk, The Past, Present and Future of Jensen’s “Big Three” sauropods:

I promised back then that I would put together a tutorial post on how to make these videos; then I forgot all about it. Thanks to David Roberts for reminding me: here it is!

I’m using a MacBook, so the details of what I write here will be appropriate for that platform. If you’re on Linux or (heaven help you) Windows, then there will be similar software that you can use. Perhaps commenters could tell us what that software is?

Anyway …

1. Preparation

Set yourself up with a microphone. You can get a simple headset for £20 or so on Amazon, and it’s well worth doing for the improved audio clarity over what you’ll get with the inbuilt mic. Test that it’s working with the Sound panel in System Preferences. When you talk, you’ll see the input level meter moving.

Cue up your presentation slides, ready to go.

(Oh, and obviously: be sure to have practiced your talk so you know what you’re going to say on each slide.)

2. Recording

Open the QuickTime Player application. You’ll find it in the usual Applications area, having installed as part of the operating system.

Its user interface is a bit odd — it basically doesn’t have one, apart from the menus. If you inadvertently click onto another window, and so switch application (for example because you’re writing a blog post) you won’t be able to click on the QuickTime Player window to bring it back to the front, because there isn’t one. If this happens, Cmd-Tab until you reach it.

From the File menu, choosen New Screen Recording. A small recording window pops up. (It, too, has an audio meter, so you can see the microphone signal.)

Make sure that the volume at the bottom is down to zero: all it does is play back what you’re saying into the mic, which is distracting and could potentially cause feedback.

There’s a small drop-down menu to the right of the red button:

Be sure you’re using the right microphone: not the internal one if you have a headset!

You want to turn off Show Mouse Clicks in Recording, as they will just be distracting visual noise. (You’re probably using arrow keys to move through your slides anyway, but some people use mouse clicks.)

Click on the red button. A message pops up in the middle of the screen:

Click once anywhere on the screen. The message will disappear and a tiny Stop button will appear up in the top right of your menu area. It’s the square-in-a-circle to the far left of this screenshot:

You are recording.

Start your slideshow, making sure you are in full-screen mode. Give you talk, paging through slides and speaking just as though you had a live audience.

When you have finished, exit the slideshow. As you come out of full-screen mode, the tiny stop button will reappear, along with the rest of the menu bar.

Click the stop button.

3. Cleaning and exporting

What happens now can be disorienting. The recording is complete, and QuickTime Player will now display it in a window. That window fills almost the entire screen, and contains a copy of the screen, so you can easily lose your bearings and assume you’re looking at your desktop. You’re not. I find it helpful to drag that playback window down to a smaller size, to reduce that confusion:

You can click the Play button to watch your talk back. Take a moment to feel pleased with your fine presentation.

Now from the Edit menu, choose Trim…. You will see a video playback window similar to what was there before, but now with a yellow trimming timeline at the bottom:

Drag the left handle of the yellow bar forward, past the early part of the video where you were starting up the slideshow, and drop it where the presentation has gone full-screen, just before when you began the speaking. Similaly, drag the right handle backwards, before the end part where you came out of full screen and hit the tiny Stop button. When you’re happy with both ends, hit the Trim button. (You can do this as many times as you need to, so if in doubt, leave more of the video in place rather than less, then trim a bit more off.)

If you wish, you can save the project in QuickTime Player’s own format (FileSave…), but there’s not much point unless you’re going to come back and edit it further.

What you need to do is export the video in a format that can be uploaded for viewing. Choose File → Export As and pick a resolution: the software offers 4K, 1080p, 720p and 480p. As always, there’s a trade-off between file-size (and therefore upload time) and image quality. For something that’s intended for viewing on YouTube, my feeling is that 720p (i.e. resolution that is 720 pixels deep) is plenty.

Choose a filename, and hit the Save button. The result should be a .mov file which you can watch in QuickTime Player (natch), VLC or any standard media player.

4. Uploading

You might want to reposit your video file somewhere official, such as an institutional repository. That makes sense. You should probably do that, for posterity.

But the reality is people are going to actually watch your talk on YouTube. Go to youtube.com and log in. Hidden away in the top right is a tiny tiny video-camera icon, rendered in pale grey on a dark white background.

This, believe it or not, is a way you upload a video. Click it, and choose Upload video from the menu that pops up. From here, it should be a matter of following the instructions.

Don’t forget to give your uploaded video an informative title such as Mike Taylor on “Should science always be open?” at ESOF2014, and a description containing everything the viewer might want to know, such as

Mike Taylor’s talk from the session “Should science always be open?” at 1:30pm on Wednesday 23 June 2014, in the Glyptotek Hall, Carlsberg Museum, Carlsberg District of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The three speakers were each given ten minutes to expound their own area of openness (open access, open innovation, open data), and that was followed by round-table discussion and a panel. Mine was the first talk of the three.

See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITH4FFbhqmk

The slides are hard to make out in this video. You can download in:
Powerpoint format: http://www.miketaylor.org.uk/dino/pubs/misc/Taylor-ESOF2014-yes-science-should-always-be-open.ppt
PDF format: http://www.miketaylor.org.uk/dino/pubs/misc/Taylor-ESOF2014-yes-science-should-always-be-open.pdf

Then click MORE OPTIONS near the bottom of the page to get the License and distribution section. You can use this to change the terms from the Standard YouTube Licence (basically all rights reserved) to Creative Commons Attribution (CC By). A few more clicks and you’re done.

Go to it! Never let one of your talks go unrecorded. Think about how much time and effort and expertise you’ve put into your talk, and about how many people could benefit from it. The Past, Present and Future of Jensen’s “Big Three” sauropods has been watched more than 300 times — which is means I’ve quadrupled its audience since I spoke to less than a hundred people at SVPCA.

Publish!

6 Responses to “Tutorial 37: how to record your talk (audio and slides) on a Mac”

  1. arctometatarsus Says:

    Note: PowerPoint allows to you to record narration within the app itself.

    Under “Slide Show” select “Record Slideshow”. You won’t have the sound editing capability, but it can be played back within PowerPoint itself. (For Office 365 the file can be “Save As…”ed .mp4 or .mov files as well.)

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, artometatarsus, good to know!


  3. Thanks for this. Ironically, a colleague told me about Quicktime’s screen-capture capabilities on Friday, and I used it to record some demo videos for my students. Though: no microphone but the computer’s internal one (!), and I didn’t realise I could export directly to a HD video from Quicktime. I uploaded the .mov directly to YouTube, and it seemed to work, though it took a while for the higher-quality version to be available (I was worried that it would be a nasty SD video forever!)

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    Ha! I was too late to be of use!


  5. Not at all! It will be useful for others, I’m sure.


  6. […] Seven years later, I finally figured out that QuickTime Player, which comes as one of the core apps on a Mac, can do this. […]


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