Before You Start Recording Yourself – a Checklist for Self-recording Video and Audio

When you are planning self-recording of video or audio, start by deciding exactly what you need to record, and ensure you have the best technologies for the desired outcome. These few tips will help you ensure that you achieve the best result.
Self-recording for social media posts, channels, e-learning platforms, and even professional presentations are more frequent than ever before. Anyone with a cellphone, or laptop can produce an excellent quality self-recording if they know what to do upfront, and editing processes to ensure the best output possible. Self-recordings of video and audio are a small representation of you presented out to the world, make it the best possible. Before starting a recording yourself, be sure you’ve read through this checklist first.


1. Plan your recording

When you are planning self-recording of video or audio, start by deciding exactly what you need to record, and ensure you have the best technologies for the desired outcome.

A few questions to ask to ensure your content conveys your intended deliverables are
  • Do you wish this to be formal, professional, or merely conversational?
  • What is the audience you will be sharing with, and have a good understanding of their needs?
  • The length of the recording can be impacted drastically by the deliverables, the audience, and the style – know all contributing factors upfront.

2. Script and storyboard your video

Storyboarding is a technique that helps designers to visualise the flow of their multimedia or training materials – courses, animations, videos or slides at the early stages of the project development. The storyboard is a sort of a first draft or a prototype of your training course or video. Good script and storyboard will streamline your recording process and can save loads of time in post-editing. Scripting will help you with phrasing the message you wish to convey. You will look prepared, professional, and in charge of your message when you have put a storyboard and script to it beforehand. If you are interested in storyboarding, check out these two posts explaining.


If you are ready to start your storyboarding adventure I have good news! You can get free storyboard templates I created for my projects. To get printable templates click on the banner below, subscribe and you will receive two editable storyboard templates straight to your email. Experiment, change and try what works best for you. Happy Storyboarding!

3. Use the right technologies

Most people either have a phone or laptop, which is enough to record a good quality video. For screencast, you might also use an option of webcam recording so that learners can see your face. If you need to demonstrate, perhaps you should consider two angles – which would then call for another device. Ask yourself a few questions before locking in on the technology to be used:
  • Does this require a screen recording to convey the message correctly?
  • Can this be done in the format required by shooting with your phone/laptop?
  • Do you need some external microphones for your self-recording?
  • Is there anything in this deliverable plan that is better executed with a camera?
  • What video editing software will you use to combine tracks and angles?


When you are sure about the technology and decided on all previous steps, you are ready for self-recording of video or audio.

4. Frame your shot

Whether you record your mobile, camera, or laptop, you’ll want to frame your shot. You can ask a friend to help, but if no one is available, you can use a mannequin or a hat on a stand as a stand-in. Try to choose a place with good lighting and an organized, tidy background. If you want a plain background, it is pretty easy to achieve with a large piece of fabric.

5. Set your focus

One of the biggest challenges of solo shooting is dealing with focus. Without a person behind the camera, you won’t be able to adjust focus in real-time. You can do one of two things:
  • Use the autofocus option on your camera.
  • Jump in front of the camera to rehearse your movements. When you know your position, replace your body with a stand or stick ( you can hang a hat or a coat on the stand or a back of a chair). Go back behind the camera and make sure you’re getting a clear image focusing on that object. Record it and test it on the bigger screen.

6. Test your audio levels

Audio quality is essential, so test it too. Use either auto audio-levelling function in your camera or your audio recording device. Or you can set your range manually by checking both your loudest and softest speaking voices. More about that is in the audio section.

7. Test your light.

Use daylight if possible. Try shooting near a window or bright light source, but remember, – the light source needs to be behind the camera and directed onto you and your faceβ€”the more light, the better the quality of your footage. With daylight, you need to be mindful of changes in intensity (clouds might move, the sum might be stronger, causing changes in colour tone or continuity of the footage).

If you are at your desk, use two or three three-point lighting setup. It doesn’t have to be anything professional (although camera lighting is affordable now), and you can use a desk lamp.

8. Take test video

The best way to check your shot is to take a test video. Record it and watch and listen to the playback on a bigger screen. If you have a script, read it while recording the test video. This will help you pick up any issues and make corrections. If necessary, record a few takes until you are happy.

9. Check the battery

If you are recording from your laptop, you probably will not have that issue, but if you use a mobile or a camera, make sure to double-check if it is charged.

10. Check the card/memory space available on your recording device.

You won’t be able to monitor it in real-time, so check upfront if you have enough space to record your video. Otherwise, the camera may fill up and turn off before you finish your take. Most cameras will indicate minutes and seconds remaining within the available space.
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Now you are ready to start self-recording of video or audio, just a few more tips and tricks for you to remember to make it the best experience possible:
  • Never use the zoom feature on your phone as it can make your video blurry. Instead of zooming, move your phone or computer closer to you.
  • Record the second audio track. When recording a video on a laptop, use an external microphone to record audio. If you don’t have a microphone, you can use your phone recorded. Set a laptop in front of you to record visuals, but use another phone closer to your face (but off-camera!) for better sound. It makes a difference in sound quality. When finished, you can combine both tracks in editing software.
  • Clap your hands at the beginning to help sync tracks later. This will create a spike of noise that shows up as a tall spike during video editing. If you’re syncing up audio to a different visual source, it helps to have a visual cue for where that start syncs.
  • Stop echo with household objects. You can do that by placing pillows, rugs, or blankets around to absorb sound. If you are recording a voiceover, you can also close yourself in your wardrobe to do that!
  • Record room tone that can be used later in post-production. Record about 30 seconds of the base sound of the room. The sound recorded in a quiet and noise controlled environment can be used later to cover audio gaps, eliminate white noise, and create smooth out transitions between scenes.


Photo: Photo by Gustavo Fring fromPexels
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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