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First video for API documentation course -- your feedback?

by Tom Johnson on Jan 7, 2016
categories: api-doc

This is the first video I recorded for my API documentation course. Since it's the first course video, I want to make sure my approach works well for later videos, so any feedback you have about it would be helpful. For example, you might comment on the lighting, background, length, on-screen text, my delivery, the audio or video quality, and other details.

Here’s the first video for my API documentation course.

Since I’m planning to make a lot more videos somewhat like this, I want to make sure I’m doing them right.

My Setup

Here are a few details of my setup:

  • iPhone 5 camera mounted on tripod
  • Audio recorded separately at 48Khz using Zoom recorder with phantom-powered lapel mic
  • ProCamera app for recording, with background exposure set to +2
  • 3 point lighting system with white paper background
  • Camtasia Studio for Mac for post-production editing


My biggest challenge was getting the background white. The ProCamera app allowed me to manually set the focal point and exposure, so I overexposed the background as much as possible to burn it in.

However, since I’m a one-man show in creating this recording, I had to ask my wife or one of my daughters to set the focal and exposure point on the camera, and hope they did it right. (Alternatively, I need to buy a mannequin about my same size.)

In post-production, I also added a “colorize” feature in Camtasia Studio, setting the color to white at 30%.

iPhone versus Canon Vixia

I initially bought a Canon Vixia HF600 camcorder to do the recording, but I found that the video quality on the iPhone 5 is about the same or better (at least in my recording scenario) than the Canon Vixia.

Also, the external microphone port on the Canon Vixia allows only microphones that have their own power supply. I didn’t want to buy the recommended WM-V1 wireless microphone ($200) when I already had a decent phantom-powered lapel microphone.

Also, the file sizes from the Canon Vixia seem unnecessarily large (e.g., multiple 4GB files for a 10 minute video) without any noticeable increase in quality.

The iPhone camera is pretty good, especially when you’re just creating Youtube videos. The file sizes are small too.

The white background approach

As for the approach with the white background and on-screen text, I was trying to imitate this example video. The example has a basic white background behind a presenter. Text appears over the background to reinforce what the presenter is explaining. I watched most of this guy’s videos and liked his approach, so I wanted to try it myself.

Overall, I know I need to get more practiced with my hand gestures, my eye focus points, and other body movements. But what do you think of this first video? Any feedback? How could I make it better?

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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