Revisiting the use of PiP footage of the lecturer in screencasts

As you know, my screencasts these days usually include a small picture-in-picture (PiP) video of myself in one of the corners, recorded via a webcam attached to my laptop (as part of the Camtasia-recorded screencast). I feel that this adds a personal touch to the videos. However, it may be that this isn’t as helpful as I think it is. Here are some possible issues.

  • There is a fairly common view that the PiP footage actually distracts from the rest of the video. While watching me speak, you might not even notice that I have started writing.
  • At points where I am writing on the tablet, the viewer may not find close-ups of my head and/or facial features particularly helpful/appealing.
  • If the camera is further away, then when I am writing on the tablet you can’t really see my face anyway.

I have, at least, taken to writing with my tablet on an inclined surface, which leaves some of my face visible when I am writing on the tablet. But the issues above still, largely, remain.

Some have suggested that the PiP video should only be there at the start and finish, and not in the middle. Or perhaps (as suggested by Birgit Loch in a comment on an earlier post) I should have larger PiP video at the start and maybe at the end, and small corner PiP video in the middle.

Well, now you have a chance for a direct comparison. Because of a problem with the synchronization in my recording, I have made two versions of my latest “DPE” screencast, Definitions, Proofs and Examples 4. The first has me there in the corner throughout (synchronization is out by maybe a second by the end). The second has me there just up until the point when I first start writing (about 2 mins 47 seconds in).

So, apart from the problem with the synchronization, which style do you prefer?

Generally, would it be best if I was there precisely when I am talking and not writing? That would probably require more editing than I would want to put in for a 30-hour module, but might be a possibility for one-offs (or maybe even five-offs like DPE).

I will also look into the option of flash-controlled side-by-side videos.  I’ll report back when I have made one of these for comparison.

Joel      November 21 2011


One response to “Revisiting the use of PiP footage of the lecturer in screencasts

  1. There are a couple of options for ‘side by side video’ in camtasia:

    Exporting the presentation with a menu:

    Exporting the video and the screen capture next to each other with both of equal size:

    In both of the examples above the video was filmed separately from the screen capture and the two merged using Camtasia.
    You can see one of the drawbacks of embedding the video in the screen capture in this way here: (the video is superimposed over some of the screen content).
    I like the way that you get around this with your ‘template’ that allows space for the video.


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