Wednesday, December 30, 2009

HD Tutorial For Youtube

I have published over 40 videos on Youtube. Almost all of them are tutorials about features in Blender 3D, the free, open source program that basically lets you create your own, presumably scaled down, version of Avatar, with all its special effects, on your laptop for free. The tutorials have become very popular. Many viewers of my tutorials have asked me how I create them. That's why I decided to make this tutorial on how to make a tutorial. It's a lot easier than you think. It's also quite inexpensive. Chances are, you have all the equipment you need. If not, you can buy a good microphone and earphones for under $100 at Best Buy, and less if you look around Craigslist or eBay. Everything else is free, available for download. I'm using Windows, which includes Windows Movie Maker, my video editor. It's sort of free. It's included in Windows. If you don't have Windows, or even if you do, you can use VirtualDub, downloadable for free at, instead. Interestingly, you don't need any video equipment, because all the video will be captured from your computer screen, using the free Camstudio screen capturing program. Of course, the steps here apply not only to Blender but to any program that runs on your PC. So let's get started.

Assuming you have a good microphone and earphones, the first step is to write down what you want to say. Forget about what the video will look like. Just create a script, using your favorite word processor, or Notepad or Wordpad if you use Windows. I know many people jump directly into creating the video. Maybe Youtube makes it too easy. But you'll feel much more comfortable if you take the time to organize your thoughts so that the end product will look more professional.

OK, enough lecturing. Maybe you have a special talent for speaking off the cuff. If that's the case, forget about what I just said and just do it. Well, that got Tiger Woods, and Nike, in trouble. Enough said.

Great! Now you have your script. The first step is to create the audio for it. I always create the audio first. The program I use is Audacity, a free, open source program, available at Download the latest stable version for your operating system. Follow the simple setup steps. The purpose of this video isn't to show you how to use Audacity. It's actually pretty easy. Those little circular icons work just like your VCR. After you have recorded your audio, you should edit out the hiccups, background noise, and perhaps amplify the audio or give it a bass boost. Read the Audacity online help and practice. You'll be a pro in no time.

Here are the Audacity settings I use. You set them in Edit-Preferences-Audio I/O
Device: Whatever audio devices generate audio input and output.
Channels: 1 (Mono) I experimented with stereo and found that it just produced an echo effect. Mono produces clear audio.

Click the Quality tab. Change the following settings:
Default Sample Rate: 44100 Hz
Default Sample Format: 32bit float

We want to create an MP3 file. Before we do that, there's another little, free program we need to download: the LAME MP3 encoder. Download and install it from This encodes our audio into MP3. Leave all the other settings to the default. Under Edit - Preferences - File Formats, enter the version of LAME that you installed, with a bit rate of 128.

Now record and clean up your audio. When it's ready, you should both save your Audacity project (in a aup file), so you can re-edit the audio if need be, and then do File - Export as MP3. Specify a directory, accept the defaults, and let Audacity do its thing.

My next step is to run Windows Movie Maker. I import the audio and drag it into the Audio/Music area. I save the movie maker project. As I'm creating the video part, I press the Play button to hear the audio. Hearing the audio makes it easier for me to follow the script.

The next step is to create the video part, using Camstudio. Download and install Camstudio from Again, read the help file if you want detailed information. To record in HD, you need a resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio. I set my screen resolution at 1280 x 720. Youtube is starting to accept 1920 x 1080. You can try. For me, 1280 x 720 is just fine. I record the full screen (Region - Full screen).

You also want to download the Camstudio Lossless Codec, version 1.4, so your video is compressed. Uncompressed video unnecessarily takes up a lot of disk space and takes longer to upload. There's a link to download and install it at, on the same page as the download for Camstudio.

Here's what I use:
Under Options, I check Do Not Record Audio and Enable Autopan.

Video Options:
CamStudio Lossless Codec V1.4
Set Keyframes every 20 frames
Capture Frames every 100 milliseconds
Playback Rate: 10 Frames Per Second (plenty fast for just about any tutorial).

Cursor Options:
Check Highlight Cursor. Use the big yellow circle. That makes the cursor follow your cursor around as you show things.

Now hit the Record button. When you're finished, hit the Stop button. Camstudio asks you to save the video file. Save it to the location of your project.

Finally, import the video into Windows Movie Maker. Synchronize the audio and video. Add a title and whatever effects you want. Save your project often.

When you're ready to Publish, publish to This Computer, choose a subdirectory and title. You need to change one thing to make the audio HD for Youtube. Click the More Settings button. Select Windows Media HD 720p (5.9 mps). Don't worry about the huge file size. The resulting WMV file is compressed to a much smaller size.

When Windows Movie Maker is finished, you have just one last step: upload it to Youtube.

That's it! That's what worked for me. I hope it works as well for you. Please leave comments on Youtube and hit the Subscribe button so you won't miss any of my videos.