Tips for Shooting a Demo Video For Mobile Development
I was asked to record a video for for AppDev, a company that creates training materials for developers. When the company began, it was focused on Microsoft technologies with mostly enterprise desktop and web development. With the rise of mobile in the last few years, AppDev decided to branch out and include mobile in training courses. So they contacted me about doing the advanced video series for MonoTouch 5.2.
I’d love to dish on all the A-list celebrities that showed up at my AppDev video shoot, except that didn’t happen. There must have been some big awards show or something somewhere else.
Lack of celebrities aside, I want to say what an awesome experience I had on the shoot. The AppDev staff was really great and super-friendly. Speaking in front of groups and doing instructional sessions is nothing new for me. However, speaking on video is a much different experience than I was used to. Here’s why.
The Setup and the Lessons
Showing up to the AppDev offices on a Monday morning, I met the crew and then it was time to get down to business. There was a small booth like you see when people are recording music. Three monitors setup; my computer, the computer that I doing my slides or demos on, and then finally a computer where I can monitor the recording of what I’m doing.
On the other side of the glass is the sound guy (while I was there it was either Zach or Scott) and the technical producer (John). Doing my slide deck with really no audience was a strange experience. However, I did notice that it helped me slow down a bit. I was able to think through my thoughts a little more clearly. It also helps that you can easily fix any mistakes you might make. What I wouldn’t pay to hear some of the outtakes from this session.
Another thing that surprised me was how long it takes to get six hours of content recorded. You might think you’ll just run through six slide decks (which are an hour each) while you hit record, getting done in a day. Well, that’s not the case.
You have to make sure that you don’t pop your p’s or let your voice trail off. There are lots of little things that you have to be mindful of so that the finished product is something that is usable, enjoyable, and informative.
One of my favorite parts of the shoot was being able to do demos of code and the concepts that I talked about. Usually at a conference or other speaking engagement, you are somewhat limited with what you can do because of time constraints or other uncontrollable factors. With this medium, it’s really like a one-on-one with the person who’s going to watch your video. You end up treating it like a private session and can really walk them through the code.
There were a few demos that, thanks to content in the Twitter public timeline, made them unusable. We didn’t realize while shooting, but several inappropriate tweets were visible from the public stream. That’s part of the problem with incorporating social media into any type of demo. We eventually went back and cut out the actual browsing of the public timeline and instead showed me looking through some very “safe” hashtag searches.
We also ran into some limitations with the simulator. Some of the code I wanted to run just wouldn’t work with it. Since we had no way of really showing them running on the phone clearly, we just had to talk through the code and leave the actual running to an exercise for the end user to complete themselves.
I got to cover some of my favorite things about developing with MonoTouch:
- Using MonoTouch.Dialog to quickly build iOS User Interfaces
- iOS5 Twitter integration
- Using SQLite-net for handling databases
- iOS5 CoreImage – Especially the part about creating Retro camera effects
- Creating a mutlitasking app
- Using Objective-C Libraries in your MonoTouch code
The videos are in post production now and should be out in May. You can get a sneak peek on what all is included in the finished product.
Have any other helpful tips when it comes to shooting demo videos? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Tags: .net, app development, AppDev, Apps, cell phones, csharp, demo video, digital marketing, iOS, iphone, mobile, mobile marketing, mobile web apps, Mono, Monotouch 5.2