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How to Create Great Video Content: Part 4 (Talking Head)

Posted by Sandi Lin on March 15, 2014

In last week’s part 3 of How to Create Great Video Content, we looked at screencasting. Today we discuss the talking head style in detail. This technique shows the face and shoulders of the presenter as they speak into the camera.

Production

The first priority you need for the talking head technique is a camera. There are many devices you can use that vary in cost, convenience, and level of video production expertise needed.

  • phone - you can use the video feature of the camera app, easy as it sounds
  • tablet - very similar to the phone process
  • webcam - built into your computer
  • camera or camcorder - great quality but this option can get expensive

Once you decide on your camera type, you may be itching to begin. Before you start shooting, here are some production tips to consider.

  • use a script to help your pace and delivery
  • turn your phone or tablet horizontally
  • tripods can be helpful for stabilizing your shot, and you can find inexpensive ones for as little as $7 - $20 (depending on the camera type)
  • use a microphone for better audio quality: USB-style if you are using webcam, or clip-on for the other devices
  • you don’t need professional lighting, just a well lit space!

talking-head
Photo by Yuri Samoilov Photo / CC BY

Editing

For the next phase of the talking head creation process, you will need video editing software. Popular programs include:
Apple Final Cut Pro (Mac) - search apple support for an overview or a number of detailed help resources
Adobe Premiere (PC or Mac) - over 50 help tutorials can be found in the Adobe Support & Learning center

Exporting your video

Once you have your content set and have finalized any editing of the footage, you will want to export the files to their final format. Here are some best practices for finalizing your video files for online course delivery:

  • there are many video file formats, but MP4 is among the most commonly used
  • use H.264 video codec
  • use progressive frames instead of interlacing (ie. 720p vs 720i).
  • use a screen aspect ratio of 16:9 to prevent black borders from displaying around the frame

The unique benefit of the talking head technique is that it puts you in front of your customer. Facial expressions, hand gestures, and a personal touch can add a lot of value to your message. There are lots of options for executing the talking head technique. This can be both overwhelming and beneficial. Decide on a budget, assess the tools you have already vs. need to purchase, and determine what camera type you will use. You can then use the information above as a checklist.

Any feedback on what has worked for you (or not)? Leave a reply to share your experience!

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