Creating Video

Table of Contents


As knowledge workers, we have to learn to communicate knowledge about our work audio-visually. Recording video is an excellent form of asynchronous communication to reach and communicate with our audience. With audio-visual content, we can speak directly to our audience and deepen our connection with them compared to relying only on the written format. These reasons make creating videos an essential skill for the modern knowledge worker.

Recording Screen and Audio

The easiest way to start learning video recording is to record only screen and audio. It is less intimidating and requires less equipment and setup than recording a video input from a webcam or self-facing camera. It is also easier to edit and often less resource-intensive, requiring less disk space and rendering time.

To record videos, we need video recording software and a studio microphone as described in the microphone section of the Workstation page. The studio microphone is necessary for high-quality audio, which is essential for high-quality video.

I recommend Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), an open-source, cross-platform software for live-streaming and recording videos. We can install OBS Studio on Ubuntu using Snap. We need to connect OBS Studio to removable media to change the output directory to something other than the home directory.

sudo snap install obs-studio
sudo snap connect obs-studio:removable-media

After installing OBS, we should configure the default settings for video recording. From Settings > Video, set the Output Resolution to the same as the Base Resolution, ideally 1920x1080. Also, set frames-per-second (FPS) to 60. Optionally, change your output directory to a custom directory, such as ~/Videos/Recordings.

Next, we should create a Scene called screen+audio and add Sources for Screen Capture and Audio Input Capture to the scene. Since our viewers do not need to see the top (or bottom) panel with the system clock and applications pinned, we can hide it from Screen Capture > Properties and set Crop Top to 25 pixels. To remove background noise, we can set a noise filter for input audio from Audio Input Capture > Filters and select method Speex with a suppression level of -30 dB. We recommend Speex instead of RNNoise because Speex does not create artifacts to the soundtrack. 3Blue1Brown has an excellent Livestream setup tutorial for recording videos and live-streaming with OBS. Now, we can start recording videos.

Video Editing

Once we have recorded lots of video clips, we need to combine them into one seamless video. Basic video editing consists of joining, clips, and cropping clips, and adding fade-ins and fade-outs to the clips. Finally, we must render the edited video into the desired output format. For editing and rendering videos, we need a video editor.

I recommend Kdenlive is an open-source, cross-platform video editor. We can install Kdenlive on Ubuntu using Snap and connect it to removable media.

sudo snap install kdenlive
sudo snap connect kdenlive:removable-media

After installing Kdenlive, we should configure the default settings. To ensure that we are always using high-quality video for project settings, navigate to Settings > Configure Kdenlive > Project Defaults, and set HD 1080p 60 fps as your default video profile.

We should render our videos to WebM-VP9, a high-quality open-source video format designed for the web. We do not recommend using WebM-VP8 because it has noticeably worse quality than VP9. If your publishing medium does not support WebM, you can always render the video to the proprietary MP4 (H264 or H265) format. Video rendering is the most computationally intensive part of creating videos and takes longer time on slower computers.

Publishing Videos

Once we have finished creating our video, we can publish it on an online video platform. Video platforms allow us to share our videos with other people. They also act as search engines making it possible for people to find our videos organically.

I recommend YouTube Studio, a platform for YouTube video creators to upload and manage their videos. Creators can add details such as descriptions, tags, and playlists to their videos. YouTube studio also has a system for managing comments and analytics, which are useful for creators.

We can upload videos to YouTube by pressing the Create button, and then the Upload videos button and selecting the video file we want to upload. YouTube will then process the video to a format that is efficient to load, compatible with different devices, and supports various video qualities.

Next, we should add relevant details such as title, description, and tags to our video. These details make it possible to find our video from search. We should also add a custom thumbnail to the video. Thumbnails are essential for making people interested in the video. We discuss how to design thumbnails in the next section.

We can add timestamps to the description in the format below. YouTube will automatically create a table of contents for the video, which is useful for instructional videos. Make sure the timestamps start from 0:00.

Video description.

- 0:00 Timestamp 1
- 1:23 Timestamp 2

We can also add the video to a playlist of similar videos. Lastly, we can set the visibility of the video to private, unlisted, or public. Setting visibility to private is useful if we do not want to publish the video as soon as we have uploaded it. We can then set it to publish the video at a particular time. Unlisted visibility is useful for sharing the video privately. Finally, we want to set visibility to public once we are ready to publish the video for everyone to see.

We can see our video statistics from the analytics dashboard. For example, how many viewers per video and how many people are watching our videos. Analytics can give us valuable insights into improving our videos to keep people interested in them. However, we should not naively believe that a higher view count or watch time itself means that our content is useful or high-quality.

We can also manage and respond to comments from the comments dashboard. Responding to high-quality comments might be worth the effort. However, it can be infeasible if you receive a high volume of comments. On the other hand, we should always ignore poor-quality comments. The internet is full of people who have nothing to do but criticizing other people’s work because they are incapable of doing the work themselves.

Designing Thumbnails

Thumbnails are images used to display the unplayed video and when we share video on social platforms. They are essential for communicating information about the content and creator of the video to the viewer. Thumbnails provide viewers an easy way to access the relevance of the video to decide whether to watch it. We can design thumbnails using graphics design software.

I recommend Canva, a web application for graphics design. In Canva, we can create a new thumbnail by clicking the Create design button and selecting YouTube Thumbnail. A simple thumbnail design consists of the title, images relevant to the tags, and background color or pattern to contrast the other elements. Optionally, you can add a real-life or profile photo of yourself. You should enable rulers and margins from File menu. Make sure that your elements are aligned aesthetically and contained within the margins. Finally, you can download the finished thumbnail and add it to your video on YouTube Studio.