Making Help Videos


Intro - I have a question about converting your official Audacity Help Pages/Tutorials to short videos and wonder if this has been done already, maybe at youtube somewhere? Of course, I know there are MANY help videos at youtube and have 100s of thousands of views, yet I see many as being made up to 8 years ago. As for me, my most popular video on my youtube channel has 124k views and took me just 3 mins to make (this video is growing in view counts all as time carries on, as opposed to getting views when published, then being forgotten).

1, For example, on this page: there are 3,014 words which at 200wpm will take 15 mins to read…
So, I am wondering if I made a video, whether I could get that video to just 2-3 minutes. It may be a challenge.

2, Another challenge is to make two different styles of Help Video A, Instructional videos and B, Constructivist help videos - in other words how a child may just ‘play’ with the audacity screen, click on things and see what happens. I did this a week ago while listening to some music, my mind was wandering and I started using audacity as a sound word processor copy/pasting – and having a lot of fun. The extension being how far a user (like a child or a user who cannot read the text) will get on using Audacity to the full. A ie adding a new track for labels…

3, I have started a tentative Audacity Audio Editor 2.2.0 playlist on youtube, just three video right now. Video one published 4 weeks ago is once again started off with a few views and then gathering views as time passes - very encouraging.

I’d be delighted to hear from any other Audacity users who are making or thinking of making Help Videos with version 2.2.0 onwards. I’m sure we would all like Audacity to appeal to a whole new generation of users, especially those who are young.
As a former classroom school teacher my heart goes out to anyone who wants to learn, and especially those people who are SO CLOSE to getting it right.
… One example from a comment on my video, “I’m using 2.2 and everytime I try to record it starts the recording at the end of the existing audio instead of creating a new layer” … Of course SHIFT+R would have done it, but the user did not know, or could not figure it out…

Many Thanks, Mike

ps I have used the words ''Audacity Audio Editor 2.2.0" as a lead term and ''Help Videos" - Of course there are many words like ‘Tutorial Tips Support ‘How to’ etc…’ And even searching the is forum with keyword help returns zero results ie

refs: My video with 124k views
Audacity Audio Editor 2.2.0 Playlist -

Note - I use Audacity 2.2.0 on a windows 10 laptop …

There are reasons there are no official Audacity videos.

The manual pages are far harder than they look. They go through repeated revisions and corrections before they’re published. Most video producers are only interested in one-pass shoots and go for coffee.

One recent production is instructive. Someone shot a tutorial with errors and omissions and submitted it. Turns out they weren’t interested in correcting the errors or adding work for the omissions, so the ratty YouTube video is still up there, full stop.

What do you do when Audacity posts an update? Somebody has to go through all the videos and correct/revise them. This last update to 2.2.0 has some very serious graphic changes and I wouldn’t be surprised if any older videos would have to be completely scrapped to start over.

Also there’s the matter of Audacity running on all three computer platforms and the occasional graphic differences.

And then there’s editing. I am not interested in watching someone make a mistake and forcing me to sit through correcting it. Editing, a universal truism, takes five times the length of the production, and that’s an average. ‘No editing’ is not an option.

I stopped watching instruction videos. I can’t scan through them rapidly. The man pages are designed in major blocks so I don’t have to read the stuff I don’t want.

So that, in brief, why there are no official videos.


As we’ve been discussing with mikedownes by email, this is probably the biggest benefit of having someone that is specifically interested in making educational videos about Audacity (rather than just making YouTube videos about ‘stuff’). YouTube makes it relatively easy to maintain playlists, so as Audacity evolves, so can the playlist. That means removing videos as the become obsolete, and replacing them with new videos.

Of course, some videos will age much faster than others. A video that is specifically about which buttons to press and which menu items to select will become obsolete as soon at those buttons / menus change. Videos about how to approach a particular type of task may remain relevant much longer - so long as the video is clear which version of Audacity was used in the video, minor changes to menus / effects / buttons / themes… may not detract too much from the main ‘lesson’ of the video.

To avoid confusion, I think it would be useful for the video to say which platform Audacity is running on, but the vast majority of Audacity users are on Windows (as is mikedownes).

@mikedownes, One thing I noticed about the first video in the playlist was that you were getting the same help page each time you selected an effect. In each case the message was telling you to select some audio for the effect to act on. If you actually did that (selected some audio before opening the effect), then the “?” button in the effect would give you information about the effect.

The second thing that was perhaps not as clear as it might have been; if Audacity was installed on Windows using the (recommended) EXE installer, then that will install locally the version of the manual that goes with the version of Audacity that is installed. No need to search on-line for the help (which could be a different version). The same goes for Mac users that install from the recommended DMG download - that also includes the specific version of the manual for the installed version of Audacity. For Linux users, the manual is not installed by default, but may be downloaded separately.

I didn’t want to suggest it couldn’t be done, it just far more involved than most people think. It’s a cousin to all the people who smash against quality standards when they first try to record for AudioBooks.

I missed one in my wet blanket post. Any elf can edit and correct a text post. By convention, some elves gravitate to the work, but it doesn’t have to be.

Scene shifts to video corrections. See where I’m going with this? Editing a YouTube isn’t recommended and my originals are all QuickTime captures.

And…We’re done.


I do indeed :slight_smile:
One of the things that I like about these videos (I’ve not yet seen them all), is that they are bite-size tutorials (and I assume not too long to make each of them). If they were longer, or more involved tutorials, then editing and error checking would be hitting the 5:1 / 10:1 ratio of editing time : viewing time. With bite-size tutorials, minor gaffs can go in the comments, and if any major gaffs, then scrap it and replace. I like the ones that I’ve seen so far, and no major problems yet. The viewing figures say that other people like them too :slight_smile:

Another thing that makes me nuts is the videos that assume they’re slow-talking to a three-year old. I know how to play the video again if I miss something. Really. It’s the miracle of computer technology.

I love the CGP Gray videos. Not only does he regularly go at a dead run, I swear he edits out “breathing.” This makes the videos even more attention grabbing than normal because you catch yourself breathing for him.

I did think of a completely evil thing to do to screen out the One-Pass-and-Done producers. “Here’s a four minute video with mistakes and dead or slow portions. Cut it down to three minutes and get back to us.”

It doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Any first-pass video with normal pauses and mistakes.

That’s the video version of ACX-Check.


With bite-size tutorials, minor gaffs can go in the comments

I don’t know that I agree. The goal is to get the most meaning and technique from a clear video. Not and: “Oh by the way, there’s mistakes, see below.”

I did see a video version of a Man page that worked well. I think I saved the URL…

I saw one “how to make a guitar” video that blasted over the deadly boring bits at x5 speed. That’s amazingly effective if you keep the point of view constant. I don’t need to see you real-time plane down the neck into shape.

I’ll take your word for it.


“Man page” should not be capitalised. (
Yes you can go back and edit your post much more easily than editing a video, but it’s only a minor detail, and hardly detracts from the meaning of your post, I don’t see it to be necessary for you to correct that “minor gaff”. A pedant may disagree :wink:

Same thing with a “bite size” tutorial. No need to go through, how to download Audacity, how to install, how to install FFmpeg, how to set up your recording device … if the purpose of the mini-tutorial is to introduce, for example, the Auto Duck effect. Just jump in with a project that has a vocal track and a music track: Here’s one I made earlier

As a child, Blue Peter was one of my favourite TV programs, and back then it was “Live TV” - highly educational, entertaining, and not edited at all. Other than (some) sporting events, live TV has become a rarity, in large part because it is astoundingly difficult to do well. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be done well.

@kozokowski - thanks for taking the time to comment and for the hat full of suggestions. One of my aims is to make audacity appeal to a ‘new set of users’. It’s a guess but i bet you have been using audacity for a quite a few years?

Of the 800 public videos i have at youtube, my average audience retention is 73 seconds. I make short videos to help people learn, videos that leave the viewer with a new skill with immediate actionable points. I rarely make edu/info/tainment videos. I cannot fly a helicopter, but searched youtube ‘how to’… i found two kinds of videos those that were interesting with loud music and gave me a buzz to watch and those who actually talked through step by step what each lever and pedal did in the cockpit – of course the ‘level headed calm videos’ were much harder to find.

@steve i like your idea of bite size. As a teacher the BBC did a whole series called Bitesize for the Year 6 SAT exams. On making yesterday, at 4:30 was far too long. I like to ONLY cover about THREE teaching points in a video - anymore and people get stuck, good test when a person tells another a phone number to write down, ''012 345 678" etc sets of three work well …

thanks if i write any more here - i am clearly not making new videos :slight_smile:

One small technical point. I’ve noticed that in your videos, when you play sound from Audacity, it is often much louder than when you are talking directly. In one case the music playing in Audacity was so loud that I turned down the volume on my laptop, only to find that when you started talking again, I couldn’t hear you properly.

Ideally, the sound from Audacity should be a little quieter than when you are talking, as what you are saying is the more important sound.
If you need help setting that, let us know how you are set up and I expect we will be able to help.

Ah yes many thanks - I use OBS Studio - so need to look at audio mixer settings – all my fault and thanks for letting me know…