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  • Cara North

How to get started with video creation for instructional design

Video and multimedia continues to be something that many instructional design job descriptions mention as a skill they would like their candidates to have. It can be expensive to get started and with all of the video products on the market, how do you know what is a good product to use? Also I just want to remind you it's not just about the tool, but it's about how you use it. Please note, I'm focusing on video creation and editing tools in this post so animated video tools like Vyond and Powtoon will be in another post. In this blog post, I'll share some free and low cost ways to get started, along with some of my favorite places to get vectors and B-roll for your video project. I'll wrap up with some tips for creating instructional video and end with a list of the pros in this space so you can pick up golden nuggets while scrolling through your newsfeed.

Adobe Premier Rush

Description: Adobe’s lower fidelity video creator and editor. Many instructional designers use Adobe Premier Pro, which is Adobe’s high fidelity video creation tool. Adobe Premier Pro only has a 7 day free trial which is why I recommend using Adobe Premier Rush if you’d like to try an Adobe product to take for a spin.

Compatibility: Compatible with mobile, Mac and PC. You will find with Adobe products, they have the cross-functionality across operating systems on lock. With that being said, their products are often large files so if you have an older computer or not a lot of free memory, you may want to take that into consideration.

Cost: You are limited to three exported videos with the free version of this product, so make them count. The cost of this is $9.99 USD a month if you’d like to keep it.

Getting started tips:

How it works: With Adobe Rush you start by selecting your media in the order you think you’d like it. You can always change this later. Load your media from your computer or if you have it shared in a Dropbox or other cloud storage place, you can grab it from there. Once you’ve selected the media you’d like to include in your video, you’ll be taken to the main creation screen that looks like this:

Additional help with Adobe Premier Rush:

Adobe support: https://creativecloud.adobe.com/discover/learn/app/rush A wealth of information to get you started.

TechSmith Camtasia

Description: A screen recorder and video editor all in one! Popular with instructional designers who make software tutorials and create SAAS (software as as service) learning experiences. TechSmith Camtasia is so popular it was the third highest mentioned tool among a 2020 sample of instructional design job descriptions and the highest mentioned video product. If you are interested in learning more about that and to see the skills that were most requested in an instructional design job description analysis, be sure to check out my peer-reviewed research in TechTrends.

Compatibility: Compatible with Mac and PC

Cost: You are limited to 30 days of use with the free trial but you get all the features of the product. If you’d like to purchase a license, I recommend purchasing the TechSmith Camtasia & SnagIt bundle. SnagIt is one of those tools I use on a daily basis for screenshots and quick clips of what I'm working on. It also pairs beautifully with Camtasia as I can take a snip and send it instantly to my Camtasia media bin. If you also purchase the maintenance plan, this will guarantee an upgrade to the newest version when it is available and give you access to the TechSmith certification. I really enjoyed going through this content and even got this sweet badge for my LinkedIn once I completed the certification:


This is for the license so it’s not a subscription and you own it outright. If you want to save 10% on your TechSmith order, you can use coupon code caranorth10 in checkout although TechSmith often has various specials throughout the year.

How it works: When you first open TechSmith Camtasia, you will have a tutorial project open that walks you through the user interface. The main way to build videos in TechSmith Camtasia is to use the timeline feature. Any media you want to use, you will drag to the timeline. The timeline also has tracks and you can layer media on top of each other using this.

Additional help with TechSmith Camtasia:

TechSmith Academy (free): This is TechSmith’s customer education and helps you get started. A wealth of information (you will need to create an account but it's free and you don't have to be a TechSmith customer): https://academy.techsmith.com/

Apple Clips

Description: A video creator tool that is mobile friendly with limited features. There are some pretty spiffy experimental features like AR though.

Compatibility: Compatible on iPhone or iPad only. This is a free software but be warned of the challenges in exporting large video files from iPhone or iPad.


Where to find graphics and videos?

If you can create your own assets, that’s always a good thing; however, busy instructional designers often rely on various media libraries to create B-roll in their instructional videos. So where can you go to find graphics and media clips for your next project?


  • Unsplash, photos and video that are Creative Commons 0

  • Pexels, photos and video that are Creative Commons 0

  • Pixaby, photos, videos, vectors & music that are Creative Commons 0

  • Mixkit, photos, videos, vectors & music that are Creative Commons 0

  • Undraw, vectors that are Creative Commons 0

  • Disabled and Here, diverse stock images, interviews and portraits with suggested alt text, Creative Commons 4-attribution required

All this is good but what does this look like in practice?

I'm so glad you asked. On my podcast, Instructional Redesign, my dear friend & co-host Joe Suarez puts on a masterclass on what this looks like doing the work.


Listen to this via the Instructional ReDesign website

If you don't have time to listen now, no worries, feel free like to scan the transcript.

What books do you recommend?

There are many books out there that can help you get started with instructional video and here are a few I'd personally recommend. These are affiliate links to support my cat Bib Fortuna in his quest to taste all the cat food. Thanks for supporting Bib (photo because if you are a fellow pet lover, you get it).




Rapid Video Development For Trainers, by the great Jonathan Halls, is a book so good that I have a copy of this and recommend it to folks on my team making videos, despite most having technical capabilities in video. Jonathan, who has a rich career working for media broadcast giants, pairs practical tips blended with his insider knowledge working in media. This is THE BOOK I recommend to people getting started.

How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck, much like the title should give you a hat tip to, this isn't a book if you are a super serious person. The author tells it like it is, and my favorite line by far is this: "If your video's not Good, it's gone. And so is all your effort (and time and money). Like an unheard falling tree, it makes no sound-except the sound of you whining." Yup, harsh but #truthbomb

Who can I follow that gives pro-tips?

There are a lot of wonderful people that you should be following for video pro-tips.

Jayne Davids












Jayne and her partner Kevin are the wonderful folks behind Ravieon, a video supply seller & certified TechSmith Camtasia trainers. I had the delight of meeting Jayne & Kevin in London in 2018 and if you want to see a sample of their work, check out the video below from the Training Learning and Development Community (TLDC) London Meetup.


Matt Pierce













I don't know if I have enough time to tell you how wonderful Matt Pierce is. He's just an absolute wealth of information when it comes to instructional video. Anytime I'm at a conference he's speaking at, I will go to his session and always walk away with a new nugget of knowledge. Matt also hosts an awesome series called The Visual Lounge on YouTube that I highly recommend.

Dan Keckan












I promise I'm not making this up, but Dan Keckan is one of the nicest people in all of learning and development. He is the CEO of Cinecraft, a corporate training film company out of Cleveland, Ohio that's been around since 1939. I still remember the award-winning interactive video that Cinecraft made for a client focused on decision making at work. His Twitter feed often shows some great clips throughout the years and I often learn about instructional video through the great content he shares.


Well that's a wrap for this post. What video creation tool do you like to use? Are there any tips or resources you plan on checking out from this post? Let me know below.


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