I thought I would share my experience of recording my SQL Server related services in Azure video. For those of you who do not know, that was the title of the video I did as part of last year’s Azure Advent calendar.
It was the first ever video like this I have filmed. I want to share my experiences so that it will help others looking to do the same. It will probably help if you watch the video yourself, so the link is here.
About Azure Advent Calendar
Just to recap, last year’s Azure Advent calendar was where a number of people in the community released videos relating to Azure leading up to Christmas. In addition, each video had a blog post to go with it.
You can see the full schedule for last year’s Azure Advent Calendar in detail here.
Since it was the first time I made a video like this I thought it would be a good idea to do some research. I figured out fairly quickly that I had to write a script before I even thought about filming.
I found writing a script to be different from anything I had done before. Because I knew I had to write down exactly what I was going to say. In addition, how I was going to do the demos.
Because things change at a fast rate in the Azure Portal I had to practice all the demos and write down everything in the script as I done them. Doing this made sure everything was up-to-date when it came to filming it.
In addition, I wanted to make sure I briefly covered all the SQL Server related services. Which meant I had to make sure I covered everything that was relevant.
Which included Azure Synapse Analytics. So, I had to check if that had changed the Azure SQL Datawarehouse experience in the Azure Portal.
Of course, I know some people have yet to see how some of these services currently look in applications. Which is why I decided to show both Azure SQL Database and Managed Instances in Management Studio.
Because of the recent updates to Azure Data Studio, I decided to show the Deploy SQL Server wizard in it. I thought it would be good for people to see how they could use it to deploy a Big Data Cluster. Which is a new feature that was introduced with SQL Server 2019.
I knew because of the what was in my script I would have to upgrade my audio equipment. After extensive research I decided to buy a Logitech Blue yeti USB Microphone for the recordings on the laptop.
I really like this microphone because it made a big difference to the audio quality. In addition, I really liked the fact that the USB cable provided was of a decent length. You can read about the one I purchased in detail here.
In addition, I wanted to record a 4K video using my phone instead of using a webcam. However, I wanted the audio quality to be as good as possible. Instead of buying a clip Microphone that was compatible I opted for another option instead.
I decided to purchase a Comica CVM-VS09 TC smartphone microphone. Because I could plug it directly into the USB-C slot into my phone. It made a big difference to the audio quality.
You can read more about that Microphone in detail here.
Because I had never done a video like this before I had to choose which application to use to create the video. In addition to doing some research online I also asked around on social media.
I actually looked at one application which was moderately priced at first. It looked like it had the features to do the job. However, I came to realise that more people were using Camtasia.
So, I downloaded the trial version of it to compare it to the other application. Which is how I ended up using Camtasia for the video.
One thing I really like about Camtasia is that if you use a custom screen size for recording part of a screen, it stays there until you decide to change it. I found this really useful when recording in the web browser, and when using Azure Data Studio to deploy a Big Data Cluster.
You can download a trial version of Camtasia for testing it here.
At the start of the video you can see snow over the top of the original image. I have to admit it took a bit of work to get this image.
In fact, originally I was going to use another slide from a free PowerPoint at the beginning. However, because of a delay in the site giving me the okay to use the slide in the video I decided to use the original Azure Advent Calendar image instead.
Whilst I was waiting for them to do the okay I ended up doing the beginning twice. One with the image I originally wanted to use and another using the Azure Advent Calendar image.
First of all, I worked with the image I wanted to use. Because it had been a while since doing anything like this with PowerPoint I looked online. Luckily, I found a really good YouTube video by Bernhard Kast here that showed how to do it with ease.
Afterwards I worked with the original Azure Advent Calendar image. First of all, I duplicated the original slide.
As you can see on the Azure Advent Calendar websitethe original image already has snow in it, and would look strange with extra falling snow. So, I had to remove all the falling snow in the original image to give me a clear blue background for the sky.
Once that was done I simply replaced the background on the duplicate slide and changed the alignment settings of the background image to get the text in the right place.
I then filmed a few minutes footage of snow falling with both images in the background so that I could use either. Which is the same footage you see both at the beginning and as part of the end credits.
If you watch the video you will notice the music at the start. For those who are curious, I don’t have any bells at home, but I do own a tambourine. Which is what you can hear me playing as the snow is falling.
Believe it or not doing the intro was one of the most challenging parts of the whole video. Because, I wanted to film it whilst sitting down casually somewhere instead of using a webcam.
I first went to record it at my desk in my office. It took many attempts, mostly due to lighting issues. However, in the end I had a really good quality video recorded that I was happy with.
However, when I tried to import it to Camtasia there were compatibility issues. In reality, I tried to convert it to a lower quality format to no avail.
Because of that I decided to try again in another setting. I decided to wait until the Christmas tree was put up at home. I had to go to extreme lengths to get the lighting right though, as you might be able to tell by how bright my eyes look in the video.
In addition, you may notice an echo in the intro. It was because of the size of the room, however I decided to keep it that way because I wanted the tree in the background.
After all, the video was being released on Christmas Day and I wanted the intro to have a very festive feeling. If you watch the intro you will see the efforts I went through to give it a festive touch yourself.
I will admit it took a few takes to film most of the screen activity. Having dual screens helped because I could read the script from one screen whilst doing the actions on the other.
Putting it all together
Putting it all together was really easy to do using Camtasia. And it allowed me to overlap footage, like the music taking place at the start whilst the snow is falling. I will admit I did decide to put extra slides in place as a deliberate space between each topic. Which I think helped.
As you can see at the end I even went as far as to put some credits at the end as well. In reality this used an overlap of the snow falling at the start over slides I created for the credits.
Because I had to write a post to go with the video I was very happy I had written my script. Because I was able to use this to create my post with relative ease.
Of course, because of the amount of material involved it does make the post longer than usual. In fact, it’s estimated to be around ten minutes worth of reading. However, I wanted to keep everything there to help others.
You can read the post in detail here.
I really had fun recording my SQL Server related services in Azure video, and I think I done fairly well considering it was my first effort.
I’d like to give a personal thanks to Gregor Suttie and Richard Hooper for giving me the opportunity to take part in this for the community.
If others want to share their experiences or advice you are more than welcome to do so below.