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ProCasts' Blog about Professional Screencast Production

Homepage demo video for hedge fund software provider

One of our more challenging jobs has been the construction of a homepage demo video for a top five independent alternative fund administration company.

We worked with Butterfield Fulcrum via their London office to create this homepage demo video that explains their services to first-time website visitors, you can see the video on their homepage and below.

The challenge was to communicate the integration of their processes, people and technology without getting bogged down in detail.  We also needed to tell a high-level story that would be relevant to possible clients and their investors since investors increasingly want transparency in the managing of their money, even though they may not use the system themselves.

“We believe that screencasting is a compelling new way of marketing our company and the team at ProCasts were true professionals and a pleasure to work with.” – Sheona Griffiths

We ran a workshop with Butterfield Fulcrum to fully understand their software, their clients and the needs of possible viewers.  From there we constructed several story ideas and concepts for the animated segments.  Richard created animation concepts, the story formed and after several draft videos we settled on the correct story.  You can see the finished video below:

If you’d like a homepage demo video that explains your product then just get in contact.

Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.

ApexAuctions support videos

ApexAuctions now have a set of four support videos which teach new users how to perform common tasks when they’re bidding for used machinery and industrial equipment :

  1. Creating an account
  2. Registering for an auction
  3. How to change your password
  4. How to bid

The videos are there to help more users help themselves.  Currently some new users get frustrated and have to phone the tech-support line at ApexAuctions at the end of each auction.  The videos address the most common questions that are asked and they will be embedded at the most sensible places in the site.

Adam has blogged about the videos on their blog.

Creating an account:

Registering for an auction:

Changing your password:


Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.

mindOnline Demo Videos for Macmillan Publishing

Recently we delivered four demo videos to Macmillan Publishing that explain their new mindOnline language-learning product to teachers and students.

We worked directly with their product lead and script writer to create four screencasts from 2 minutes to 5 minutes that show various aspects of their product.  The videos are now hosted on their main landing page and component list page.  Here’s an example:

The process included prototyping the initial screencasts, iterating with the scripter and working with a new American narrator.  Much of the material was static so we developed ways of calling out and zooming in to the material to focus on the key visuals.

The four videos are also available in our YouTube account:

If you are interested in having demo videos like these for your product just get in contact.

Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.

New homepage screencast for WebFaction.com

We’re very pleased to deliver another homepage screencast, this tour explains Remi Delon’s excellent WebFaction web hosting system.  Also see Remi’s announce.

In this screencast we tell the story of a new user who is looking for hosting:

  • He knows that he wants a powerful hosting system with shell access
  • He knows that it needs to be easy to learn
  • He wants assurance that others have found it easy to use

We accomplished the above by recording the necessary scenes and playing them back at a higher speed (necessary because a lot of slower actions are performed), we also added 4 custom animations and used Andy for the professional voice-over.

The speed of the screencast is critical – given the mass of ISPs a person might survey when trying to find the right one for them we wanted to convey the entire message without having any of them get bored and click away.

If you want a screencast like the following for your site, do get in contact.

Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.

Just over 90% adoption of .MP4-compatible Flash 9+10!

This is a follow-up to my January post Less than 90% adoption of .MP4-compatible Flash 9+10? The short story is that the mp4-compatible Flash installations number just over 90%, up from about 86% back in January.

This means that if you solely use .mp4 to present screencasts to the world, you’re missing out on 10% of your viewership because they won’t be able to view mp4 content (they can view .flv content just fine though).  The critical version number is 9.0.115 – if their Flash version is 9.0.115 or above then they can view .mp4 videos.

As before I’ve used three sites that I have control over – ShowMeDo with a large, international audience, my own blog and the main ProCasts site.

The monthly visitor counts are:

Counting the percentage of visitors who have Flash Player 9.0.115 or better we see:

  • ShowMeDo.com 93% (it was 86% back in January)
  • IanOzsvald.com 86% (it was 84% back in January)
  • ProCasts.co.uk 93% (it was 96% back in January – but this was from a smaller data set that was more likely to show a big variance in monthly figures)

Across the three sites the average number of players that have version numbers definitely below 9.0.115 were 1.75%.  The number inbetween (approximately 7.5%) didn’t reliably report their version number – either these were not real Flash players or they may have been very old versions.

As I stated before – if you’re thinking of just using .mp4 videos to show your screencasts then you risk losing 10% of your potential viewership.  If all your viewers are on the Mac or iPhone then it might make sense to go with .mp4 but otherwise I’d suggest either staying with .flv (that’s what we do in ProCasts) or using a player than can support both file types.

Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.

100,000 Views for our AdblockPlus.org Screencast :-)

I am most chuffed to say today that our screencast for the Firefox plug-in AdblockPlus has been viewed over 100,000 times since March!  That’s 566 per day – cripes!

I’m also rather pleased with the 289 positive scores and lovely comments.  Ok, ok, I’ll stop feeling so pleased!

We created the screencast with Wladimir Palant (AdblockPlus’ maintainer), the goal was to show how useful the plug-in is everyday and to show even Firefox newbies just how easy it is to get started.  In the meantime we won a few awards with TechSmith and YouTube which is rather nice too:

Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.

Camtasia for Mac released

I’m happy to see that after participating in the beta programme for TechSmith’s Camtasia for Mac, they’ve successfully launched.

They’re listing a $99USD price (1/3 off of the standard price) during the launch period.  I was running it on my MacBook, it seems to be as solid and useful as ScreenFlow (the main competitor).

I didn’t use it so much as we were forbidden under the terms of the NDA from releasing anything we recorded – as a professional of course I like to share my work :-)   Now that I have a full license I suspect I’ll be playing with it some more.

Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.

MockupScreens Tour – Prototype a GUI in 5 minutes

We’re rather proud of our latest screencam for Igor of MockupScreens.com.  Igor’s tool lets you quickly prototype a user-interface for desktop or web-based software.

“I needed a screencast for my product for quite some time, but actually doing it always got too complicated somehow. Then along came Ian and he helped me to get both the message right and the beautiful screencast online. I’m still fascinated by the ideas Ian and his team came up with to avoid any issues that arose during the making of the screencast.” – Igor Jese, CEO of MockupScreens

For this production we’ve taken a new approach:

  • Richard and Ian tell the story of a Client and Consultant (this is our first 2-voice narration) working together on a new prototype
  • We use a speeded-up section to build a part of the interface in just 15 seconds (this bit is very pretty!)

We’re very happy with the result – rather than just spelling out the features instead we take you on a relevant, context-laden tour of the package showing you all the tools that satisfy a prototyper’s needs.

The speeding-up with animated stop-watch is a nice mechanism to convey a time-consuming scene quickly, whilst still showing you that we start from the basics and build to the final product.

Kudos where it is due – our idea for the two narrators comes from Joel Spolsky’s wonderful FogBugz 6.0 tour where two of them lead us through a chatty tour of their bug-management tool.

Richard has a write-up too.

Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.

ECMerge Screencam Tour – a Diff Tool for Programmers

Armel at Ellié Computing wanted a short tour screencam to to demonstrate all the features of their ECMerge diff tool.  Diff tools help programmers, graphic artists and office workers compare different versions of files.  Programmers use them to compare source-code files, graphic artists can compare images and office workers can compare Word files.

We worked with Armel to identify the key features of ECMerge and the needs of his users, then we created a script.  Armel also created a demo screencast for us using Jing to show the main features in action, this helped us to understand his application faster so we could create the script sooner.

By watching the tour you’ll see how their Diff tool works.  If you’ve seen a programmer’s diff tool before, you may be surprised to see ECMerge highlight the differences between images and Word, OpenOffice and RTF documents (I used to be a programmer so I knew of the tool but seeing images diff’d – that was cool).

Richard has also written this up.

Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.

Crunch Tour for Disruptive Freelancer Accountancy System

Crunch.co.uk offer a new type of on-line accounting solution for UK freelancers.  Their system combines both a book-keeping system and in-house accountants who manage and sign-off the yearly books.  Nobody else offers this service in the UK…and that’s a part of the problem.

Many freelancers didn’t ‘get’ the idea, Darren Fell (CEO) came to us to get a homepage screencast that would explain what they offer to first-time visitors.

We had a crazy-short delivery time to fit in with their launch requirements, we met the deadline and now our screencast helps explain to first-time visitors exactly what Crunch offers them and why they should sign-up.

“An outstanding service! Procasts did a staggering turnaround within 1 week. Now it’s live it’s made a startling difference to bringing customers on board.  If you don’t have a ProCast on the front of your website, get one now! In my view this is the only fast and coherent way to convey your product or service proposition in 3 minutes.” – Darren Fell, Managing Director Crunch.co.uk

Several prominent freelancers had explained privately that they hadn’t shouted about Crunch, even though it is local and sounded useful, because they hadn’t seen it in action.  Once our screencast was complete these same mavens were able to tell others to watch the video and see it in action, making the idea behind Crunch far more easy to transmit.

We chose to tell the story of how you, the Freelancer, would use Crunch to add an invoice, add an expense, bill the client, add the resulting payment and see your overall financial position.  The screencast also discusses how banks will be integrated into Crunch’s offering later so you need never login to your bank to see if a payment has arrived, and how they’ll automatically sign-off your accounts at the year-end.

The creation process included identifying the target users and their needs, building the right story and integrating key benefits into the script.  We used Jing with the client (thanks Michael!) to see how they used the application and from there we scripted the final narration and actions.  Richard worked on the animations and Andy White voiced the narration.

Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.

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