Producing Effective Video Documentation

Matt Sullivan


What does it mean to produce video documentation, anyway? What makes it effective? There are a number of tools, methods, and production techniques that make up the answer to that question. Depending on who has requested the video documentation, how will it be used, and the timeframe and expense to accomplish the project, you might be "asked" to produce the video using:

  • a video or webcam with QuickTime or other software
  • a tool for enhancing PowerPoint presentations like Adobe/Articulate Presenter products
  • screencasts or webinar recording software like Connect, WebEx, or GoToMeeting
  • interactive simulation software like Captivate
  • working with interactive 3D

This six-week course provides exposure to each of these methods, with best practices provided by Matt Sullivan, who teaches video techniques and technical communication online as a core part of his business. In addition to the topics listed above, you will learn proper techniques for audio recording and editing, video lighting, and publishing to a variety of servers and formats.

Session Descriptions

Session 1: Discussion of video documentation styles and optimizing audio setup

In this initial session, we will see examples of each of the video techniques presented in sessions 2-6. We will discuss the needs of individual attendees, and explore the options available.

Session 2: Video lighting, video blogs using popular webcam recording options

Many laptops and displays have integrated webcams, and webcams give you an easy way to personalize content with recorded video. In this session we will look at practical lighting solutions that will improve the quality and professionalism of your webcam video.

Session 3: Enhanced PowerPoint and scenario-based training with audio and video

Let’s face it: PowerPoint is everywhere, and not likely to go away soon! In this session we’ll see how a PowerPoint plug-in like Adobe Presenter can quickly produce professional recorded presentations, including “talking head” video, custom intro clips, titles, and other branding options. (This software demonstration is not a Presenter training class.)

Session 4: Screencasting and webinars

Screen recording, or screencasting, is a popular way to demonstrate computer functions to a new audience. In this session we’ll look at options for recording activity offline, and look at options for reusing webinar video content as part of a training and documentation effort. Adobe Presenter and Apple QuickTime Player will be used in demonstrations.

Session 5: Demonstrations and simulations

Different than screencasting, demonstrations/simulations are more professionally presented to the end user. In this session we will discuss best practices for creating demos and simulations, using Adobe Captivate as your software recording tool. (This software demonstration is not a Captivate training class.)

Session 6: 3D and wrap-up/review of topics and projects

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is a working 3D model worth?! In this session we will look at how U3D files can enhance documentation and provide a rich experience for the end user. We will use Adobe FrameMaker to place a U3D file, and automatically create links for the existing views and animations contained in the file. Students will be able to download the final PDF to experience the file firsthand.

We will also wrap up and review the different video techniques discussed in class and discuss student successes and challenges encountered while implementing the techniques learned.

Presenter Biography

Matt Sullivan focuses on the intersection of tech comm, eLearning, and content marketing. In addition to presenting at national conferences on tech comm, he helps folks manage and deliver their content to elearning and mobile platforms. His blog at has lots of useful information on these topics. He is the track manager for the 2014 Summits Content Development and Delivery track and presents each year to local STC chapters and online communities. Matt is an online trainer for STC and other national training organizations. His classes range from Adobe tools training (FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Captivate), to tech comm video production, to online branding via social platforms. You can connect with Matt on most social platforms by searching for his mattrsullivan username.