Embedding video in your online help

More note taking at sessions at the Quadralay WebWorks Publisher RoundUp. This session is with Stephanie Cottrell Bryant, author of Videoblogging for Dummies. She’s an ePublisher user who embeds video demonstrations of software within online help.

Customers love video embedded in the online help. Time saving for them, and no need to attend a training class. Her customers love it, love it, love it.

Tool kit she uses – Camtasia studio, Framemaker, and WebWorks ePublisher.

Need a script – but you might already have it, like a list of steps in a task.

Annoyance – don’t take your whole desktop while capturing screencasts. “Your desktop icons are like seeing your underwear on a clothesline.” :)

Also, don’t show the time of the day (like 4:00 AM) that you captured the screens, it’s sort of too much information.

Sizing of about 320 by 240 is about the right size for YouTube. Or 480×360 if you need something slight larger. If you’re delivering the video on a hard drive (installed as part of your product), you can make it even bigger. But for Internet or CHM deployment, keep it small.

Record audio first, then replay the audio while you record the video – the timing will be easier to get synched up.

She likes to use a “highlight click” feature that shows a subtle red circle showing where you click on the screen. She also modifies the cursor so that it’s larger and a yellow color while capturing the screencast.

She “cropped” out the first part of the video where she moved the screen around to the optimal location.

She recommends Flash for video output (.swf file). But if you know people are using Windows, you can make Windows Media files. If you know they’ll only be played back on an iPod, make a QuickTime file. If you want to send these video files to someone else and they don’t have Camtasia, save them as AVI – they’ll be larger files but the recipient will be able to compress them as needed and make another format. Also, any video editing software can edit AVI files.

If you want to use embedded video within an HTML file, don’t use Flash, however.

Goes into Frame, creates relative path to the movies (which is in Files folder within the ePublisher directory system), then generates the HTML using ePublisher.
She uploaded javascript to the WebWorks wiki that writes the embedded video code in on the fly, so that Internet Explorer doesn’t put a popup in front of the user, complaining about the embedded object.

In the javascript call to the video file, she’s adding an extra 10-20 pixels to the height dimension so that the player bar shows up at the bottom.

She uses conditional text in FrameMaker called “Passthrough” for all her javascript code so she can put it right into her FrameMaker file.

2 Comments

  • November 7, 2007 - 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Your posts are just getting more and more helpful. I can’t tell you.

    My company was just bought by a bigger fish, and they’ew big into DITA. How do I know anything about DITA, because I read your blog!

    You rock!

  • November 8, 2007 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    Wow, Cat, that brings a big smile to my face! Thanks!

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