I would be remiss if I didn’t start out by mentioning the Baremetrics blog post about creating amazing gifs. That was my first introduction into how to make feature videos and it includes some very helpful examples. I am going to piggyback off of their ideas and incorporate some of my own to show you how to make engaging, focused feature videos such as:

Step 1: Breakdown a Feature

You need to be able to describe some important aspects of the feature you are highlighting in the video. What does it add to your software? How does it help the end-user? If you cannot articulate the details of the feature, then it will be hard to make an engaging video. Try to get 3-6 major points of the feature as well as some pain points that make this feature necessary.

Step 2: Video Outline

At a broad level, the video outline should look like this:

  • Introduction: Tell us what feature you are highlighting
  • Pain Points: What issue does your feature solve for the user?
  • Feature Overview: How does it solve the issue, what does it look like?
  • Important Feature Details: Any details about how it works and why it is awesome!
  • Call to Action: Give them a link at the end of the video to buy something, or see more.

Because we do not intend to add a voiceover to the video, a proper length can be anywhere under 1:30. If you need more than 90 seconds to get your point across then you might think about changing your approach. At the same time, anything less than 30 seconds may not make a great video. It may make a better GIF instead. This is all up to you, but timing is very important! Don’t try to fit too much information into a short time window. Be clear and focus on the major points.

Step 3: Record Your Screen

The only software you need to make the video is Screenflow. You will be able to record your screen as well as edit the video, add text, backgrounds, and audio to your project. You can start a free trial here: http://www.telestream.net/controls/screenflow/download-screenflow.htm

It is vital that your viewers get a clear view of what the feature will look like inside of your software. I have just a couple of tips to try before recording:

  1. Eliminate any distractions from your screen that might take away from the feature.
  2. Optimize your data on the screen

The quickest way to accomplish this is within the inspection window in your favorite browser. If you go to your feature and inspect the page you will be able to select elements on the screen. Then you can simply delete those elements that you do not need.

Below is an example of how removing elements can help focus your video without losing meaning. By removing the noise your viewers will be able to see what the feature actually looks like. In the example below you will see that I have removed non-essential descriptions and options so the user can see the tabs (which are highlighted as an important aspect of the feature) as well as the actual filters feature we are introducing.


Before Cleanup


After Cleanup

Once your screen is clear and focused, cmd+shift+2 will start (and end) your recording. Go slowly and deliberately through the features. There is no need to stop recording between sets as you will be able to split your clips inside Screenflow later. However, if you make any major mistakes it is easy to discard an entire recording and start again. I recommend doing everything twice in case you like one take significantly better than the other.

Time Saver Tip: it is wise to copy your html from the inspection window and save it to a local file. This way, if you need to record this screen again later, you can always just pull it up from your local file.

Step 4: Create your Video

To start your video project, create a new document. The most import piece of this new document setup is your video dimension. You need to set your video dimensions to something that will directly upload to Youtube. This will probably either be 720p, 1080p or 1440p. If you screen is smaller than that then I would recommend trying a larger monitor to record your features. The higher your video dimensions, the better quality video you will get.

Once you are on your new document it is fairly beginner friendly. However, it will still take a little time to figure out all the ins and outs of the editing part. Instead of trying to give you a long tutorial on how to use Screenflow’s tools, I’ll just tell you the important parts you’ll need to know and understand:

  • Callouts: Highlights one part of the screen, can blur/darken other areas (focus)
  • Video Actions: zoom, move things on the screen (engagement)
  • Texts: Write to the screen (direction)
  • Clip details: edit aspects of a clip, such as playback speed
  • Clip Transitions: change how a clip begins or ends

Those are the major pieces of your video. You can have a great feature with clean recordings, but if they are not focused and directed properly you will still lose the audience. At the same time, too much video movement can be really hard to follow. For your first video, I recommend moving at a VERY slow pace. You will think the video is too slow, but your audience will be able to follow along. I’ve never had to go back and play a piece faster, but I’ve had to slow my videos down many times.

One trick I’ve learned is that the ‘canvas’ on your Screenflow project will not render the same as other colors. So, instead of changing a canvas color on Screenflow, I use a .jpg of a solid color as my background. You can drag and drop the .jpg to the bottom of your timeline and extend it from beginning to end. This will ensure a uniform color between objects on your video and the background!

On that note, never use backgrounds on your Text objects. Just use the foreground text and crop your video so that the background color is behind the text. I know this seems a little deep for this introduction, but you will look at this later and know what I’m talking about!

I do not have time to give you a detailed tutorial of how to make your videos in Screenflow. However, what I can do is provide you with the Screenflow project that was used to create the SugarChimp Field Mapping video above. You can download it from DropBox here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/idtuhdj28wr587f/AABryw8mC51imR8ju6sJ6UO0a?dl=1

Step 5: Audio

Finding great audio for your background music can be a bit of a chore. I have found Audio Jungle to be of great help in getting professional quality music at great prices.

You will want to search for keywords to set the mood for your video. Some that I’ve had success with are: ‘Happy’, ‘Ukulele’, and ‘Whistle’. You can also set the genre, such as Corporate. Find something that keeps the audience engaged without being too over the top. Vocals are not a great idea at this point. They are often distracting.

You will import the music into the project. Then just add it to the bottom bar of the project screen. Because your raw audio will probably be blasting, I recommend dropping the volume down to 50-70% using the audio tab on the right side of Screenflow.

*Adding a voice-over on the video can be a whole new task. I do not recommend doing that at this point as it can easily sound cheap or homegrown. We will save that part for another time!

Adding Audio

Step 6: Exporting

Once you get your video looking spotless within Screenflow it is time to Export it to let others see your masterpiece. This process can be a major pain! I searched high and low for great ways to get our video exported and looking good, but still ran into a multitude of issues. So, I am just going to skip right to it and tell you how I finally exported successfully to Youtube with the best results.

  1. Navigate to File > Publish to > Youtube
    Publish to Youtube
  2. Set the Video Encoding as high as possible along with the frame rate. You need to make sure that your Dimensions line up between your project and your encoding! For my projects, that means 1440p and 60 fps. Then check the ‘Use Motion Blur’ box to keep transitions as smooth as possible. It is wise to Save a copy to disk so you can have a local copy as well. When ready, choose Next.
    Configure Youtube Settings
  3. You will need to connect your Youtube account to this Screenflow account. Once that is done, you will choose how to upload the video with Title, details, etc.
  4. You need to change the thumbnail for the video on YouTube after it has uploaded.

That is a good starting point as you try and gain exposure for your new or updated add-on. Remember to plan what you want to get across to your viewers. Then direct the video to clearly and cleanly tell that story. Let me know if you have any questions below. I look forward to seeing any videos that you create as a result of this walkthrough. Good luck!

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