Capture this! - behind the scenes

Lecture Capture?

What is a lecture capture you ask? Well, its exactly what you might guess, capturing a lecture. Now the trick is to capture the lecture professionally so you can use that information at a later time.

I recently returned from a lecture capture trip in Shanghai China for the 2009 Coca-Cola Food Safety Conference. I figure what better way to share the information about what lecture capturing is than to share my experiences first hand. Here are a few videos that will help explain what a lecture capture is.

Equipment Overview:

Behind the Scenes in Shanghai

There are many different ways you can capture a lecture or presentation. Typically the "low-end" consists of just a screen capture of the presentations with audio. Normally I am required to capture at a high production value so that includes the presentation slides, audio and external video that are then edited together to create a digital asset that can be used for sharing, dropped into online learning environments, or burned to DVD as training materials.

Typically to capture a lecture you need the following items

  • Screen capture software (Screenflow, Camtasia, etc.)
  • Audio recording device (hard line, wireless mic, built-in laptop mic, etc.)
  • Video camera (stand alone camera, web cam, etc)
  • Still camera (optional)

When on location, there is really only one rule...everything ALWAYS goes wrong. Your laptop will crash, your camera will freeze, your batteries will die, you will lose power, your tapes will jam, your hard drive will tear itself apart. So to prepare for the certain uncertantity of equipment failure I can offer three suggestions, all learned the hard way.

  1. Use the high quality professional equipment where possible. This seems like a no-brainier but seriously, spend the money for high end gear, its expensive for a works, and it works better than the cheap stuff. This is especially true with microphones and cameras, do not skimp on those, buy the best your budget can afford.
  2. Test your equipment and setup thoroughly, again this seems like an obvious statement, but in the heat of the moment when you are supposed to capture a once-in-a-lifetime speech or presentation and something goes wonky you better know how to set that white balance, or fix that audio level on the fly quickly without having to "figure it out".
  3. Have a backup plan. I can promise you this, at some point something will go wrong, so plan ahead. You should have a plan in case each component fails. If your camera fails what will you do? If the laptop freezes up, what will you do? If your batteries drop on you half way through a presentation and they were supposed to be fully charged what do you do? You should have answers to all of these so WHEN they happen you will be prepared to handle it right there on the spot and you can minimize the "damage" of losing footage.

More and more often grants for workshops and conferences are coming with stipulations that the information given at these events be shared openly for the greater good. This is where a lecture capture comes in, with the lecture capture you can preserve the information presented so participants can get access to the information again, and so those who were unable to attend the actual event can still benefit from the information presented.

For this event, the content created will go directly on a website used for food safety training for industry professionals. You can see the agenda, pdf versions of the presentations at once the produced lecture capture videos are finished they will be posted to that site.

If you are interested in learning more about these types of captures drop me a comment and I'll get back to ya.