CSE442 Data Visualization (Winter 2022)

Final Project Video Production Guide

Each team must create a 2-minute screencast with narration showing a demo of your visualization and upload it to YouTube. We will create a playlist for all projects in the class. We plan to show all videos in the last day of class, so all videos must be strictly no longer than 2 minutes.

Organization and Structure

To create a video that successfully demonstrates your project, make sure to state who your audience is, what your goals are, and how your project addresses those goals. Given the time limit, it is generally not a good idea to simply show all the features of your system; you should identify what is interesting and focus on the interesting parts. In particular, you should show insights that the audience can discover from your project!

Your video should be understandable by itself; you should not assume that the viewer will read your project summary. Therefore, most videos will need a short introduction explaining the goals and context of the work. Your video should also be understandable to viewers who are not familiar with the subject.

Be sure to include the title of your project and team members and the URL of the project at the beginning of the video!


Videos require much more planning and preparation than many people think. Before recording begins, prepare a detailed script of the video, including a written version of any voiceover text at each scene. A common and often effective strategy for videos that use voice narration is to record the entire narration at a comfortable pace, leaving gaps in the audio for important visual transitions, and fit the video accordingly. You can do minor adjustment in video editing software to fit all the visual transitions with the audio. This is not how one would record a feature film, but it is a useful strategy for a demo video.

Once you’ve written a voiceover script, find someone who doesn’t understand what you do and make your presentation to them, just like you were practicing a talk. Incorporate their feedback before you record your voiceover.

Exposition and Presentation

The expository style of your video presentation will greatly affect its impact. Here are some tips:

  • Use both video and audio.
  • Try to make your point once, and make it effectively; avoid being repetitive.
  • Always explain what is about to happen or what is most interesting: as the narrator, tell the viewer where to look and what to look for.
  • Visual aids, such as callouts, annotations and captions, can help orient the viewer. You may also include slides and images in the video to present other details about your projects. Fades to black can be used as transitions between scenes, but they should not be overused.
  • Avoid visual distractions, such as idly moving the mouse in a screen-captured video.

Recording Basics

Record in the highest possible quality and resolution, even though you will compress the final video. Maintain the quality of the original recording throughout the editing process; leave compression to the last step.

Audio quality is as important as image quality to the overall impact of your video. Try to avoid recording the noise of computer fans and disks. It is generally better to record the audio separately, by doing a voiceover in a studio or other quiet room.

Use a high-quality microphone if at all possible. Headset and ear pod microphones typically provide better sound than a built-in laptop microphone. Also be careful not to introduce obvious differences in voice volume or quality across recording takes.

Avoid holding a microphone in your hand while recording. If you have a separate microphone, support it with a microphone stand. A hand-held microphone will inevitably lead to uneven volume in the recording.

Screencasting / Video Editing Software

Here are some free alternatives:

  • Mac Users. You can use QuickTime to make screen and audio recording. You can also use iMovie to edit the video.
  • Window Users. You can use CamStudio to make screen recordings. Microsoft also has Windows Movie Maker.
  • Mac / Windows / Linux. OBS Studio is a free software package that supports video and audio recording, incuding support for multiple simultaneous inputs such as screen capture and camera video. However, you will need to use a separate package for subsequent editing.

Some screencasting software also offers free trials:

  • ScreenFlow offers an unlimited trial but adds a watermark to your videos :(
  • Camtasia offers a 30 day trial for both Mac and PC.

Example Videos


This document was adapted from the ACM CHI video guidelines and the Harvard CS 171 Visualization screencast guide.