LaunchPad > Video Assessment Program Video Recording Checklist

Document created by Digital Support on Jan 4, 2018Last modified by Digital Support on Jan 10, 2018
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Live webcam recording in LaunchPad

To get the best quality from your live recording, check these items before recording:
 

  1. Camera quality
Webcams
If using a Mac, be sure to check compatibility first. Not all retail webcams are Mac-compatible. Also, other cameras that have a webcam driver will often work fine with LaunchPad.

Camcorders
For offline recordings that you upload, camcorders are a great option because they have higher quality. For live recording, in general camcorders do not have a webcam driver for PCs, so they can't be used for that function. Video quality note: You'll want to record in standard definition (VGA) video size, so you don't create an unnecessarily large file to upload. 

Mobile devices 
Smartphones and tablets can be great recorders, but will not record a live stream. For best results, record using your device's video recorder, then save the file to your computer and use the upload feature to add it to your activity. 
Video quality note: You'll want to record in standard definition (VGA) video size, so you don't create such a large file to upload. 

Classroom/IP cameras
Some built-in classroom cameras have webcam drivers for PCs, and can be used for live recording if the webcam driver is installed (for example, on the built-in classroom computer). Your IT people can investigate if such an option is available to you.
 
  1. Internet connection
Make sure you have 0.5MB/s (500K) or better upload speed at www.speedtest.net. We strongly recommend a wired connection on the recording computer. (Use a USB extension cord or longer network cable to position your camera optimally.)
 
  1. Computer readiness
To maximize your computer’s recording resources:
  • Close other browser windows and all other open applications
  • Minimize USB devices connected
  • Plug in laptops (“Power Save” modes can reduce performance)

Note: LaunchPad will not work well in a virtual desktop environment.
 
  1. Test your video and audio 
First and foremost, check the audio bars on your record screen to make sure you're getting sufficient sound. Move the record volume slider up/down as appropriate to capture the right level.


You can also check the inputs at the top of the record box to make sure it's using the correct camera and mic.

If your video and audio are not working, make sure to run through our Adobe Flash document to ensure your settings are correct. 

See the Recording tips below for best practices on setting up your recording environment for optimal video and audio. Create a test video in the same environment (room, recording computer, camera) you’ll be using and make one or two practice recordings to ensure quality. 
 

Offline recording (mobile device or camera)

If you are recording offline using a phone, tablet, or other camera, you'll want to minimize your upload time by recording at an appropriate resolution, so you won't create too large a file. Some specific tips for different recording devices:

Cameras or Other Devices - set your device to record at a standard or VGA resolution (720x480, 640x480, or 480x360). This will usually create a video of sufficient quality, but small enough for an efficient upload.

No matter what, after changing your settings, do a quick test recording to make sure you like the results.

Mobile device orientation note: Be sure to orient your phone/tablet to the desired rotation before you press the record button. If you rotate your device after you start your recording, your video will play back sideways and cannot be changed later. We generally recommend using landscape (horizontal) for your recording (so it's wide, not tall), unless you have a really good reason to record in portrait orientation. (NOTE: Vertically-recorded videos will work in LaunchPad). 


Recording tips

First, run through the items above to make sure your recording device is ready. We highly recommend a test video before your actual recording to ensure everything is working well. Then check the following tips for best results.
 
  1. Positioning the Camera
For in-class presentations, ensure you’re capturing all of the presenting space, including any on-screen slides.

For teacher observations, position the camera as best as possible to capture the widest classroom area. However, be sure you can still pick up quality audio. (See Audio tips below.)

For self-recording, be sure your head, shoulders, and elbows are in the picture frame. You should allow a little space above your head, below your elbows and on the sides, so your hands aren't cut off at the ends of the frame. If you are too far away or too close to the camera, viewing is difficult.

 


 
  1. Background
If possible, stand in front of a solid colored background. Be aware that some cameras do not record bright white backgrounds very well. Remove clutter and make sure there is nothing inappropriate showing.
 
  1. Lighting
Make sure you have adequate lighting. Particularly, try to have more light in front of you than behind you. Otherwise you may be shadowed badly. Household lamps may help if doing self-recording.
 
  1. Audio
Don't forget to test your audio! Test different recording distances from the mic to find the best spot. 

For self-recording, be sure to sit an appropriate distance from your camera. (Being too close can result in garbled/poor audio.)

For in-class presentations, be sure the presenters project their voices well and stay turned toward the mic source. You may wish to try a remote mic or any other mic source that can be used by the Flash recorder in LaunchPad.

For teacher observations, using a camera such as the Logitech Orbit that is designed for room recording will usually be better than a desktop webcam for audio. Alternatively, you can use a remote mic or a mic/camera combo device.


Troubleshooting

Why is my recording screen black?

Recording screens go black if there is no camera activity; Adobe Flash is not updated, installed or enabled; or the Video Assessment Progam software does not have access to your camera. Go to the Adobe Flash website to update or download Adobe Flash.


Why is my video choppy or blurry?

LaunchPad captures the video delivered by your webcam according to your webcam quality, computer performance, and the speed/reliability of the internet connection to the recording computer. (Please note that virtual desktop environments will not work well with LaunchPad. Lag and choppy video quality cannot be corrected in a virtual environment.)

If the video quality is poor, do the following:
  1. Make sure you've optimized your recording environment for the best possible quality. That includes computing power and internet connection.
  2. If you are still unable to make a quality recording in your environment, you may wish to either record with offline equipment (video camera or mobile device) and upload your video, or record in a different environment (different computer and/or internet connection).


Why won't my audio work?

There are a few things that might cause your audio to not work, but first you should make sure Adobe Flash is up-to-date and enabled on your browser. Visit the Adobe Flash website for more information. 
 
If your audio plays back garbled or with poor quality this could result either from the mic/camera being too close or too far from the presenter, or poor microphone hardware. Do some test recordings with various distances to identify which is causing the issue. If needed, try recording with another webcam. LaunchPad will record whatever audio signal is sent to it from your recording hardware.

If you have no sound on your video then it is most likely because your microphone settings are not correct. Make sure you have the correct microphone input selected from the drop-down menu on the top of your recording screen. Also you can test whether LaunchPad is picking up audio by watching the audio meter on the lower left. Red indicates the audio is too loud, yellow is too soft, and green is good. You can adjust how much sound is received by moving the slider next to the audio meter. 

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