SnapStream Blog

How COVID-19 Impacted News Consumption

October 07 2021 by Kevin Johnson

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There’s no doubt that the world at large has changed drastically since March 2020. With COVID-19 sweeping the globe, change has become the constant in our lives. Work became remote, people became quarantined, businesses suffered, and news media consumption took several interesting turns.

With constant updates regarding the pandemic, there has been an influx of viewers seeking comfort, refuge, and information through news media. The Reuters Institute's Digital News Report for 2021, unearthed several key findings. We will discuss four ways that COVID-19 has changed news consumption. 

Shift to Digital 

Some sources suggest that screen time has drastically increased during the pandemic. In fact, HR News reported that time on mobile devices had gone up a whopping 76% since the start of the pandemic. This statistic shows that people have drastically increased the time they spend searching the web and social media. 

Because of this, viewers are constantly seeking access to news on their mobile devices. Scrolling through media to read updates, news articles, and videos is common for those seeking information about COVID-19.

According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, data suggests that significant attention is brought to mainstream outlets through Facebook and Twitter's ever-popular platforms. This presents an alternate avenue (than TV and newspapers) for news media companies to stay relevant, reach their target audience, and develop engaging content. 

A Demand for Accessible Updates

COVID-19 changed the perceived pace of news. Information from the morning could drastically change by the evening. With scientists and doctors constantly learning new information and politicians consistently trying to make adequate decisions for their countries, few things remained static. 

Because of the nature of the unknown, people were constantly seeking answers by searching the web and social media. This provided a sense of stability and comfort during a difficult time. 

The mass hysteria and fear have led to viewers wanting on-demand, accessible updates. Now more than ever, viewers want to log onto social media and have the most recent update at their fingertips. 

This presented a unique challenge for journalists and news outlets. There was a constant need to stay updated on politicians’ announcements and scientific developments. Beating other news media companies to the punch, to deliver updates first, was essential to become a reputable and trusted source. 

Decline in Print Demand 

Publishing and delivering print posed a unique challenge through the pandemic. While still respected, traditionally printed media has struggled to keep up with the on-demand nature that viewers now expect. According to Reuters Institute Digital News Report:

“print newspapers have seen a further sharp decline almost everywhere as lockdowns impacted physical distribution, accelerating the shift towards a mostly digital future”. 

Public Avoidance 

To say that COVID-19 was full of discouraging information and pessimism is an understatement. News has traditionally highlighted tragic information. The traditional credo "if it bleeds, it ledes" is known for a reason -- it's an effective way to increase viewership and engagement. However, with the pandemic dominating the news cycle, consumption of negative news reached higher levels.

Because of this, some viewers opted to avoid the news alltogether. This was likely a necessary decision based on mental wellness and to avoid overwhelm. However, this trend, of course, worried news outlets. 

To combat this, news organizations had to weigh how they could implement more positive, engaging, and uplifting ways to deliver information. Instead of focusing on the gloom of the situations, outlets could put a positive spin on the current state of the world. 

Conclusion

Many businesses had to pivot to survive during the pandemic. This was no different for news media. In order to survive, thrive, and overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19, media outlets had to change their methods and timelines of providing reliable information to viewers. 

Though this presented difficulties, many news outlets rose to the occasion by staying on-trend and altering protocols and processes when necessary.

 

Want to break news faster to keep up with the demand? Check out how SnapStream can help you be the first on Social Media with our cloud-based news and media workspace!

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What is SnapStream? (Spoiler alert: A cloud-based news and media workspace)

October 04 2021 by Kevin Johnson

So, what exactly is SnapStream? We are a cloud-based news and media workspace that gives you superpowers! We're how late night shows and major news organizations get those TV clips for their productions and social media channels. Learn more by watching this brief video!

 

Want to try the original news media video workspace for yourself? Try us free for 7 days to search and clip the biggest news moments as they happen.

Claim Your Free SnapStream Trial

Feature Friday: Sarah Eck

September 24 2021 by Bethany Goldson

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Well, hello there! Here at SnapStream, our people are everything and we like to show them off. This week, we'd like to introduce you to our leader of the Fantastic Four marketing team, Sarah:

How did you find SnapStream?

A former colleague of mine - who is also a dear friend - is based in Houston and introduced me to Rakesh. My degree is in journalism and I've always been a huge nerd for news and media, so I was excited to find an organization focused on that space.

What is your role here?

One of marketing's chief roles is to keep a pulse on what motivates our customers and prospects and to be a voice within the organization for how we can find new ways to make our customer's lives better and forge deeper connections with them. As VP of Marketing, I'm a champion for the SnapStream brand across all our channels to ensure we are connecting with the right customers to continue to grow the business. I also make sure my rock star team is enabled, empowered, and free of roadblocks so they can do their best work.

How have you grown with SnapStream?

What's crazy is that I've only been here for 9 months, but I feel like we've covered so much ground in that time. I learn new things from my team every day, and am definitely stronger in demand generation, data analysis, web development, and video production than ever. Plus I've gained a deep appreciation for what news and media professionals face in trying to grab audience share and engagement in the current environment. SnapStream has also afforded me the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and really dig into what it takes to be a digital publisher with a small team trying to create great content at scale.

What is your favorite thing about SnapStream?

Everyone probably says this - we have awesome people here. We're a smart, funny, eclectic, resourceful bunch. And even though I'm based in Dallas and don't get to see teammates in person very often, I still feel connected to everyone.

What do you like to do when you aren't at SnapStream?

Hobbies became a memory once my twin boys were born 4.5 years ago. When I'm not working, you can usually find me outside with the kiddos, my husband, and our greyhound Rufus. Given a few minutes to myself, I love to do crossword puzzles and read. And once my sons are a bit older, I hope to get back to my main passion - dance.

Problems with Modern Journalism

September 22 2021 by Celina Dawdy

 

Problems with Modern Journalism

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Over the past decade, the delivery methods for journalism have changed significantly. As traditional delivery channels, like the newspaper, get consumed less frequently, news organizations have had to change how they reach their audience. 

 

SnapStream recently met with John Battelle from The Recount. Calling upon his successful career, John shared his thoughts and ideas about modern journalism. John’s team was a pioneer in providing digestible, engaging information in the form of short videos on the internet. His method has spread like wildfire and provided significant interactions and engagement. 

With massive changes in broadcasting and journalism, many problems have arisen. We discuss, six main concerns that need to be examined to ensure a fair and adequate approach to sharing the news:

Misinformation

With more people having access to information sharing, more misinformation is shared than ever before. Media is now out of the hands of the passionate experts that founded their careers on active research and understanding. As this new wave of media has taken over, anybody can share information, and that information can spread among the masses. John details:

“Journalism has essentially been hijacked by extremely sophisticated and sometimes unsophisticated disinformation and misinformation campaigns,” John continues, “You have the ability to create missing disinformation and then distribute it as quickly as that clip we were talking about, which is, in fact, journalism, that every frame of that clip has been verified to be true and accurate. When you have that kind of speed where 100,000 people can see something in half an hour, and then 10 million people can see it by the end of the day - you have something that is a very big concern.” 

Misinformation goes beyond poor journalism and internet trolls trying to get a rise. In fact, it can occur when a team doesn’t fully understand or convey the context of a clip or photo. The context behind each source is as important, if not more important, than the source itself. 

John weighs on the importance of ethics in journalism:

 “There’s actually no secret to it. It’s just called editorial standards. This is what every newsroom has, and hopefully always will. You want to make sure you’re not pulling things out of context and that you’re delivering accurate information. And if you have a process by which you get it wrong, you acknowledge that and correct it.” 

More Bias

Today, people can consume information directly from social media. Because of this, there is a broadening chasm in content sources, driven by the individual consumer. This can create siloed thinking and foster source bias.

For example, if an individual appreciates the information shared from one particular source, they can “subscribe” to it and see everything else that source shares. People often subscribe to networks and information producers that support their political, moral, or ethical beliefs. This results in them no longer consuming information that doesn’t support their bias. 

According to Helpful Professor

“Without the need to have widespread mass appeal, new media target dispersed niche and ideological markets. Conservatives begin to only consume conservative media; and liberals only consume liberal media. People begin to only reinforce their personal views, causing social polarization.”  

Of course, this presents a significant issue and pushes people of various views further apart. People are less apt to consume information that doesn’t support their beliefs, resulting in them becoming more polarized. 

Monetization 

With streaming and new delivery mechanisms for media, the way news sources get paid also had to change. Traditionally, there were two revenue streams for linear television. Says John:

“One of them is cable carriage. So CNN gets paid a lot of money by the cable operators to run CNN on the bundle that they’re selling to their cable subscribers. The second, of course, is advertising.” 

Both traditional streams of revenue resulted in getting paid to be included - not watched. As long as your station or show created enough hype to get people interested, then you would see a paycheck coming in. This, however, has changed dramatically with modern television. 

According to John, modern media follows a new model:

“What we need, and fortunately, what we have is venture capital, which is risk capital that is willing to pay for the costs of making what you make. The revenue models start to get established in a turbulent and disrupting market. That’s exactly what television news is right now. That doesn’t mean we don’t have any revenue. We have event revenue, newsletter revenue, and revenue on social platforms.” 

However, monetization in modern media isn’t perfected by any means. It has a long way to go. John states:

 “I think individual creators should be able to make as much money as possible. But the truth is that media companies are very important players in the platform space. And to date, platforms have done a terrible job of supporting at-scale media companies. So, hopefully that’ll change over the next few years.” 

John also touched on the hope that advertising revenue will eventually be more readily available. 

Heavy Competition 

With traditional media, there were major players in the field, and small-time media outlets had a difficult time coming up. Though this was bad news for smaller outlets, it managed the amount (and quality) of information that the audience received. People weren’t as bombarded with news and didn’t require to sift through several different sources to find the truth. 

With modern media, there is heavy competition. Any individual or small media company can suddenly share information to the masses. As recently stated, this has led to significant sharing of misinformation. However, it’s also created an unhealthy consumption for the average consumer. 

According to Helpful Professor, “Small websites with fresh takes for niche audiences popped up, crowding the market with information. In this crowded media market, there is competition in all niches, and brands need to have a fresh take to get attention.” 

This results in seeking an angry captive audience instead of truthseekers. John stated:

 “It’s time honored. Get them angry, get them pissed off that the other guy is wrong, right? Make them scared that the other guy might be right and they’re coming from you. And they’re going to take away your X, Y, Z.” 

Software Incapabilities

With moving online, news sources have had to say goodbye to old tools, resources, and software. News outlets now have to adapt to taking their business online. This includes an entire new set of technology to ensure their production goes smoothly. John discussed some of the struggles that The Recount Media has had in transitioning and areas that other outlets might face issue

 “If you’re a startup, you have to be very careful about whether or not you put resources towards something that is not core to your customer facing mission. Our customer facing mission is to answer important questions for our audience - not be built on robust enterprise software.” 

John continued on to discuss some of the software he’s implemented for a smooth transition, including Slack, the messaging system:

 “As a matter of fact, we’ve built on top of Slack, a production system, which automates a lot of our posting, publishing, arching, and certainly all of our editorial conversation around this clip and that clip. Slack is literally at the center of how we produce.” 

For new players in the game, finding software solutions and adapting to new technology might be difficult, but it’s a necessary movement for the success of the business. 

Children and Inappropriate Information

Now, more than ever before, children can access inappropriate news and information. In traditional media, adult-appropriate content would be shown in the evenings, when the children were to be in bed. Media powerhouses were careful to share appropriate information to keep their broadcast family-friendly. 

However, with social media being inundated with haunting news and unfortunate events, children can gain access to photos, text, and videos. Helpful Professor weighs in, “As children have greater access to adult information, the innocence of childhood is being decayed earlier than ever.” 

Conclusion

Needless to say, modern media has a long way to go before matching the strength, power, and editorial standard of traditional media. Despite this, there are several positives to there being a change of consumption and sharing. In order to ensure a more stable media future, outlets and individual creators must be aware of the six downfalls, and work together to combat them. 

Interested in more info about media bias?

Check out our article on how source bias impacts online media engagement and answer the question - was Marshall McLuhan right? Is the medium really the message?

 

 

Snapcademy Clip Tip 2: Export to Twitter

September 07 2021 by Kevin Johnson

New Snapcademy Clip Tip Alert! Snapcademy is a snackable series of bite-sized learnings showcasing how to fully utilize SnapStream's blazing-fast, online video workspace. Check out Lesson 2: Export to Twitter!

 

Want to try the original news media video workspace for yourself? Try us free for 7 days to search and clip the biggest news moments as they happen.

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Neutralizing Media Bias: How The Media Research Center Uses SnapStream

September 02 2021 by Sarah Eck
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The Media Research Center (MRC) is a Conservative media watchdog group on a mission to neutralize media bias. Formed in 1987, the organization monitors dozens of hours of news every single day across 10-12 channels. In this blog, we will take a brief look at how SnapStream helped the MRC reimagine its archiving and workflows, make the transition to digital, and finally say goodbye to the VCR.

The Challenges

The MRC started as a monthly newsletter reporting on liberal media bias. To create the the newsletter, MRC staff recorded hours of TV news on videotapes - remember those? - and watched the broadcasts to provide analysis and a more balanced view. This process eventually gave way to video cards and DVDs, but still left the MRC with the challenge of effectively managing and storing archived footage.

The old process also meant that each show or segment could only be watched by one staffer at a time. Collaboration was a challenge and the only way to access recorded footage was to be on site. It simply became too much to manage.

The Solution

The MRC initially implemented SnapStream's news and media video workspace for its ability to be a "super-sized DVR system" and remove the need for a physical archive. As the MRC transitioned from a paper newsletter to a blog, Twitter, and Facebook as its primary channels, SnapStream became an even more valuable asset for the team. MRC users routinely fill their Twitter feed with commentary about key moments as they are happening.

 


"Virtually all of our blog posts include video. And we're able to live tweet questions and answers from White House press conferences."

-Brent Baker, Vice President
Media Research Center

 



Using SnapStream, the MRC team has been able to deepen its bench of those monitoring and analyzing the news because multiple people can watch the same content at the same time. And, because the platform is so easy to use, the MRC even gets its interns onto the system to start monitoring media and pulling clips right out of the gate.

Control and flexibility also increased for the MRC through its use of SnapStream. The MRC's deep archive is now easily searchable and can be accessed by its team members from any location. 

 

The Result

With SnapStream, the Media Research Center is able to more quickly and effectively fulfill its mission of neutralizing media bias. The team is able to analyze and provide commentary on coverage of pivotal events such as The State of the Union or political primaries within minutes. 

The MRC has also been able to broaden its programs to monitor more types of news and video content and provide comprehensive analysis. The watchdog now has eight specific programs, more than 217,000 Twitter followers, and nearly 1.8 million followers on Facebook. Through all of its channels, the MRC generated an average of 449.6 million impressions each week last year.


"SnapStream is critical [to our workflow]. It's become the backbone of our ability to record all the video we need and have it organized and structured, whether we're looking for it a minute later, a day later, or a year later."


-Brent Baker, Vice President
Media Research Center


 

In Their Own Words

Want to hear the full story? Hear the MRC's Brent Baker in his own words by checking out the video below.



 

ABOUT THE MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER

The MRC’s commitment to neutralizing leftist bias in the news media and popular culture has had a critical impact on the way Americans view the liberal media. The MRC is able to effectively educate the public about left-wing media bias by integrating cutting-edge news monitoring capabilities with a sophisticated marketing operation. 

The Media Research Center is a research and education organization operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are tax-deductible to the maximum extent of the law. The MRC receives no government grants or contracts nor does it have an endowment. The MRC raises its funds each year from individuals, foundations, and corporations.


Interested in more info about media bias?

Check out our article on how source bias impacts online media engagement and answer the question - was Marshall McLuhan right? Is the medium really the message?

 

 

Feature Friday: John Harden

August 20 2021 by Bethany Goldson

Happy Friday! Here at SnapStream, our people are everything and we like to show them off. This week, we'd like to introduce you to infrastructure wizard, John:

How did you find SnapStream?

SnapStream sort of found me! I had seen a job listing online and it sounded very appealing, but I knew very little about the company. I applied since I was looking for a new opportunity at the time. Not long after that, I was paging through LinkedIn and saw a repost from our company President, Tom Cabanski. Since we had worked together previously, I reached out to him and inquired about the job. He gave me some great insights and the rest is history!

What is your role here?

I am the Infrastructure Manager for IT. I work with Kyle Walton (Platform Engineer) and Daryl Paid (Infrastructure Administrator) to continually deliver and improve our systems and services for our internal and external customers.

How have you grown with SnapStream?

From a technical perspective, I am continually learning about both the product and how we deliver content. My experience in data centers, cloud, virtualization, and service delivery is good but signal is new territory for me. Beyond growing my knowledge of signal, jumping into a new role to position a company is always a learning experience. There is not a solution that is one size fits all or even one size fits most, so growth happens by evaluating the past, present, and future of the company.

What is your favorite thing about SnapStream?

The product is great, but the people are the true key ingredient. The teamwork and collaboration, experience, and desire for success I experience here at SnapStream is inspiring. We're like a team-fed reactor!

What do you like to do when you aren't at SnapStream?

I am always outside whenever possible. Fishing, camping, backpacking, hiking, sightseeing, and spending time with my family is usually where you can find me. I am also an amateur radio geek of sorts as I have talked to people on other continents using ham radio. I've always been a musician and studied saxophone in college. So if I'm not outside, I'm singing a tune to my fellow SnapStreamers on Zoom.

Q3 Release - See What's New in SnapStream 21.3

August 19 2021 by Kevin Johnson

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It's that time of the quarter again! We’re excited to announce the release of SnapStream 21.3, which adds shared encoder tuning as well as several bug fixes for improved reliability and a better user experience.

What is Shared Encoder Tuning?

Your encoder can now support integrated tuning from multiple servers. Not sure whether this applies to your system or how to take advantage of this new feature? Check with your admin or reach out to our Support team.  

 

Bug Fixes in 21.3

  • Master Nodes will no longer run any type of processor intensive tasks, such as showsqueezes for clip sharing.

  • Proxy file generation will halt and recover on the same cadence as recordings. This applies to Moco and on-prem SnapStream systems.  

  • The previous Miscellaneous settings for integrated tuning have been removed in favor of supporting the new Shared Encoder Tuning.

 

Schedule Upgrade to 21.3

These newest features are available as a software upgrade to your SnapStream news and media video workspace. Want to start using them? Have your administrator schedule an upgrade.

Our Support team will perform the upgrade via a remote session that usually takes no more than an hour so you can start using your new features quickly.

 

A New Era of Storytelling with John Battelle

August 18 2021 by Celina Dawdy

Good journalism is a superpower. 

With current events constantly evolving, journalism has taken a different road over the last several years. However, there's one crucial aspect that has stayed the same: storytelling. Journalism will inform, evoke emotion, and provide entertainment all in one effort. Because of its complex nature, it's a difficult art to master. We recently sat down with John Battelle, the CEO and Co-Founder of The Recount Media, to discuss how journalism has evolved and where it's headed.

John has been in the industry for decades. With that, he has learned to transform and evolve with changing platforms, mediums, and audiences. Due to his flexibility in his craft, The Recount has reached over 800 million views and over 2 billion social impressions. He manages this while still maintaining journalism ethics and credibility. This feat, though not impossible, is impressive with many challenges. 

For content creators, newsroom producers, and social media influencers, John provides a valuable insight into the world of media through video content. 

The Old Method 

Broadcasting and journalism have taken a drastic turn throughout the past few decades. Providing an audience with the news was originally a rigid task, which John referred to as "Suits on Set." 

Traditionally, people received their news by watching a news broadcast of their favorite reporters sitting on a mandated set and reading off a teleprompter. Though effective, it lacked creativity and visual interest. The audience rarely received a direct image or video that represented current events. The broadcast team also put their own political spin on the content, as John mentions:

"They tend to be coming from a partisan point of view. You're either Team Blue or Team Red. And the other sight, sound, and motion that's well established in journalism is documentary, [which is] long form."

"It struck [my partner] John Heilemann and me when we were starting the company that we were very much in a post-linear moment. Television was going through a significant shift and a major disruption - probably analogous to the shift from broadcast to cable. [This included] new forms of distribution, new formats, and new uses of video."

What had initially shown a significant impact on the audience was beginning to fizzle out. Where families would previously sit down nightly for the evening news, attention spans started to dwindle. With that, new forms of journalism and broadcasting were required to keep attention. John was one of the first to hop on the new wave. 

Generational Changes

With the digital age hitting our generation like a freight train, it's no wonder that television and journalism have had to adjust. Several different factors led to this change. 

Social Media 

With 3.78 billion social media users, there's an influx of sharing information and misinformation. Now (more than ever), less reputable sources can spread the news into the hands of billions of people. This has made a massive impact on the way that people digest and distribute information. 

Handheld Devices  

With the majority of Americans owning a mobile phone or tablet, information and news are now at our fingertips. This minimizes the need for people to catch the evening news or pick up the newspaper religiously. What was originally a popular format for news consumption has had a significant drop in views and readership. For passionate journalists, this has required a desperate change. 

Need for Digestible Information

Because information is available at our fingertips, we consume more news than ever before. This has resulted in the attention span for readers and viewers dropping drastically. According to Wistia, attention for online videos begins to drop after only 30 seconds, with a significant decline occurring after 60 seconds. 

Due to this, long-form journalists have had to adjust to short-form videos. 

Hip-Hop News

John and The Recount have been pioneers in leading the way to the new era of television. After identifying the new forms of distribution and format, the team at The Recount began to brainstorm new ways of news consumption. 

"Our mission and our ambition are to essentially reinvent television. In order to do that, we had to start with a clean slate and say, 'Well, what would we make if we didn't have to follow the sort of form and rules of traditional television journalism?' And that's when we came up with what John Heilemann calls Hip-Hop News." 

The idea behind Hip-Hop News is inspired by the ever-loved music genre, Hip Hop. 

"The idea is [based] on the form of Hip Hop by sampling. And reimagining the melodies from a base of music across decades and across genres and styles. It was a remix of the culture." 

The team applied this logic to television.

"The first products that we came out with when we launched about a year and a half ago, were remixes of all the videos that you find. Not only on traditional broadcast and linear cable, but also social media, audio, and even text, graphics, and graphical treatments."

This application led to a brilliant business plan, marketing idea, and hints towards the future of television news. 

The Recount began creating short, digestible videos that could easily be shared across all platforms. Some videos were as short as four seconds but provided enough insight and news to generate buzz and share valuable information to the masses. 

One of their most successful short videos got 100,000 views in only 30 minutes. This was a brief, four-second video that made a huge impact. The video was a comparison of Joe Biden versus Donald Trump when meeting the G7 leaders. The first clip showcased President Trump at the beginning of his presidency. As he met the G7 leaders, Trump pushed his way to the front so he could be seen by everybody. The video then introduces a clip of President Biden walking in a group with his arm around President McCrone. 

"It was a bit that they were so strikingly different. These two images ran side by side for only four seconds, but it's incredibly powerful." 

This is the concept of Hip Hop News. However, to master the art, journalists must be qualified and understand the context of the narrative they are trying to tell. It requires a lot of research, dedication, and time. 

Future of Journalism 

John also weighed in on the future of journalism. With more and more outlets transitioning to a digital model, there's a shift in news and broadcasting. As this shift has come to fruition, there has been a need for monetization and content management systems to support a new model. 

Though there is still a large change that needs to occur to optimize new journalism, the future is near. John provides insight:

 "As we move into streaming…[there's] a big opportunity to rethink the technical layer between production and publishing. It's super exciting. I think it's just as exciting as HTML in the late 90s. Before the emergence of Javascript and the other tools that led to the explosion on the web, everyone called Web Two. We're very close to television. I would say that in five years from now, it'll be a completely different looking field."

As John and The Recount continue to challenge modern-day journalism and provide unique insights into an ever-changing world, there's an opportunity to shift and improve while continually appealing to a broader audience. 

Conclusion 

For journalism lovers and broadcasters, there's value in understanding the changing news consumption habits of society. Applying recent trends, statistics, and knowledge can ensure that you stay on top of your game. Though this provides a significant struggle, it's both exciting and interesting to find new ways to produce information for easy consumption. 

Want to try the original news media video workspace for yourself? Try us free for 7 days to search and clip the biggest news moments as they happen.

Sign me up to try SnapStream

Creating Clips with a Screen Recorder? Consider These 3 Things First.

August 11 2021 by Sarah Eck

Most of us find ourselves in the role of content creator these days, whether we're trying to build a brand, disseminate news, provide commentary on current events, or figure out why we've been sucked in to using both IG Reels AND TikTok. (Okay - that last one is probably just me). 

As a result, we now have more tools at our disposal to create and edit video than ever before. Many of them don't require any video editing skills to use them effectively and a ton of them are free to use. 

Sounds great, right? 

I thought I'd try out a couple of screen recording tools to create some video content leveraging some third-party sources to augment one of my recent blogs. I figured, if a video content tool is truly easy to use, even my geriatric millennial self will be successful. A quick Google search turned up dozens of options.


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The short version?  I got the job done, but the whole experience was cumbersome, time-consuming, and the end result was just okay. Here are my three big takeaways if you're considering using a screen recorder for creating and editing clips of key video moments.

You Have to Know Your Source Content Inside & Out

For the purposes of my test, I was looking to grab some key moments from a virtual event I'd attended the week prior. There were a number of sessions with awesome content and I wanted to snag a few of the best quotes. I could generally recall what I was looking for but didn't know when in each session the key moment had happened. 

In this case, some of the sessions had provided transcripts which allowed me to find the correct timestamps to at least begin my search and start the edit. Without those, I'd have been stuck rewatching hours of content to find the moments I was seeking, making the effort take even longer than it would have. 

When going back to clip content that has happened previously, a better alternative would be a tool that provides a level of search capability or built-in transcription to find the exact moment you're looking for.

 

Be Prepared to Compromise on Precision

Starting and ending clips at the right spot can be tough, especially if you're aiming for a smooth end product devoid of "ums", "ahs" and other verbal transitions. I found this to be the trickiest part of the edit for two main reasons.

First - the screen recorders I tried are all built to accommodate recording new content. Meaning, they start with a countdown - which varies from 3 to 5 seconds, depending on the tool - before actually starting to record. This would be helpful if I were trying to record something new using my built-in webcam and microphone. Less so for clipping existing content. This feature meant that I either needed to have the reflexes of a cat (which I don't) or that I'd have to make sure I recorded more than I needed so I didn't miss the beginning of the moment I wanted.

Which leads to the second point on precision. When it came to editing out the extra seconds up front or at the end, I almost always had to leverage a fade in or fade out to cover the bits I couldn't edit out. This is because the mechanism to select portions to cut was limited to a slider bar. So the precision of getting to the right point was limited to my ability to get that bar lined up with the correct second. Spoiler: It took multiple tries and even a couple of re-records to get it right.

 

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What I found myself wanting was an option to advance or back up either by the second or by the frame to make sure I got the exact cut I needed so each clip would be as clean and precise as possible.


You'll Get What You Pay for When it Comes to Quality

I love a good free resource. Who doesn't? Content teams can't thrive without a few good ones in their arsenal. When it comes to clipping and editing video, however, I'd argue free isn't always the way to go if you're aiming for a high-quality end product. 

Among the free screen recorders I tried, the quality of my source content dictated the quality of the final clip. Meaning, there weren't options for maximizing resolution and, with a couple, there actually appeared to be some slight degradation as far as the overall clarity of the video. 

Additionally, there weren't options for exporting other formats beyond a straightforward clip. To really make the most of the moments, I'd have preferred being able to loop some of them or even create a GIF or two. Particularly for the time invested to find the moments and pull/edit the clips, I'd have liked to walk away from the whole experience with a number of variations on the output to feed all my different digital channels. 


Will I use a free screen recorder again?  For instances where I need to record my own VO or video over a presentation I probably will.  They make a ton of sense for this type of use and are easy enough to figure out. For clipping and editing video content, however, there are better options out there that result in a higher-quality end product and work more intuitively and quickly.

 

What is SnapStream? There's an unlimited amount of video content out there: 24/7 news channels, breaking news events, sports, talk shows, awards galas, entertainment shows, and so much more.

SnapStream makes a real-time news and media search engine that makes it fast and easy to find the video moments that support our customers telling great stories.

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