Foliotek Developer Blog

How to Record, Edit, and Produce Videos with Text Overlays

Recently I had the opportunity to create a video to build a greater understanding of one of the products our company sells. Working for a small company I wear many hats and it turns out I needed to get a new hat called "Videographer". So I thought I would share a simple post on my process in an effort to help anyone in need of wearing a "videographer"hat to not encounter the same pitfalls that I did.

Why Build a Portfolio

I recommend making sure you have a flash based camera. It makes the transfer of the video VERY EASY. Ideally you have more than one of these cameras so you can move back and forth between two different shots. We used two Sony HDR – CX160 cameras.

Sony HDR – CX160

Make sure you have a solid script written and reviewed by a few people. It sucks to have to redo the video shoot over and over as you tweak the script. I like to use Google Docs so multiple people can tweak the file at once. Using the "comments" feature works great. Once the script is done, you can make a quick teleprompter using a laptop, MS Word, and a music stand (or some other type of stand). Make sure the screen of the laptop is almost directly behind the camera so it is fairly hard to tell whether the person is looking at the camera or reading off of a screen.

Make sure you have a good microphone for the audio. Quality audio is huge. We actually had a wireless microphone sending a signal to a receiver on the camera. This is a bit high end. If you can't swing that, then make sure you have a boom mic set up, the typical camcorder mic ain't gonna cut it.

Transfer the video and audio to your computer. Download Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Audacity (freeware). You'll use Premiere Pro to edit the video, After Effects for the typography details, and Audacity to clean up the audio.

Put your video(s) into Premier Pro and before you even begin editing, export your best videos audio only from Premier Pro. You can do this by exporting "media" and choose "audio only" from their drop down options as a wav file.

To only export a single audio stream you'll need to mute one of the audio channels. Then open Audacity and import your audio there. In Audacity you can clean up typical noise related junk the mic picked up. Here is a quick video on cleaning up audio in Audacity.

Audacity Noise Clean Up

Add your audio back into Premiere Pro as a second audio file. Expand both the original audio file and the additional audio file you just added and zoom in as much as possible. This will allow you to sink up the new "cleaner" audio file with the existing video. It far easier to sink with the original audio than it is trying to sync with the video. Remember to “mute” the original audio file once the new cleaner file is synced up. You don’t want a double audio sound.

With the two video feeds, start to place keyframes on the top video layer in obvious places where it would be good to shift from one video angle to the other. Always place two keyframes directly next to one another so you can fade in and out from 0 – 100% easier. Once all the keyframes are placed. Set all of the in/out transitions from one video feed to the other. There may be a better way to do this, but in my limited amount of learning time, this worked best for me.

Now the hard part. Listen to the video over and over and make a clear outline for where you think it would be good to add some text overlays. I found it better to have more overlays than less. Nobody likes to watch a talking head. After the outline is done, it's time for Adobe After Effects. This is where the real work happens.

In After Effects the best way to handle everything is in < 20 second segments. Oh and PS, you'll want as much RAM for this project as possible. I had 8 Gig with a quad core xeon processor and my machine was lagging on me :(. Now the key to After Effects is bringing in that same audio track you edited with Audacity so you can line up your text to the audio as best as possible. Now it is just a matter of building out all of the After Effect Compositions you will need to import into Adobe Premier Pro.

You'll probably spend the bulk of your time creating text effects with After Effects. Make sure you check out Adobe's "animation presets." The titles of the presets suck and you can't see a preview of any of them, but if you add them to a composition and play with them, they are easy enough to remove.

Oh, and if you don't know how to use After Effects, head to your trainer ( and type in "text effects in adobe after effects," you should be good to go from there. I probably watched 1.5 hours of videos over the course of two weeks.

As you complete the Effects, render their output and dump it into your Premier Pro sequence lining up the audio just right. The final step in the processes is finding a cheap audio track with the correct licensing to rest beneath the entire video. You'll want to tweak the DBs on the music audio track you pick so they don't overpower the presenter, but that's a walk in the park compared to messing with After Effects. I found my music here

Export the video as a Media file and blamo you are done! 10 simple steps. OK… not so simple. The video above took about 40 hours of "learning" and production for a 2 min. 30 sec. snippet. I'm betting the next production takes 15 hours or less.

If you are getting ready to do some video, I'm hoping this was moderately helpful. Adobe now has monthly licensing available for their top end products. So it is possible to only spend $100 on software if you only need it for a month. Otherwise you're out 1,500k (ouch). If you are really quick, you can use their 30 day trial and get 'er all done before the trial ends. I did :)