Screencasts for BasicGov now on YouTubeRobert | Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment »
I’ve just finished some video work for BasicGov, a really interesting Vancouver based company that’s addressing the needs of small and medium sized local government all over North America.
These folks are clever.
Using an SaaS (Software as a Service) model, they’re providing a package of admin and organizational tools to local governments.
Typically, these tools are only available through expensive enterprise software – and the little guys find themselves making do with patched together solutions for tracking things like building permits , code enforcement, or planning. BasicGov’s approach seems even more relevant given the current economy.
What these guys have done is distill the key services required and created a web-based solution. Their clients have no technology overhead to deal with, they pay on monthly subscription basis, so they can start without spending heaps of cash, and all they need in place is an internet connection and a browser.
The goal of this project was to provide a high-level overview of the suite of products – essentially an introduction to the concept of SaaS without ever using the acronym, and how these products help solve specific challenges faced by small governments.
BasicGov, wisely, is using YouTube as a key platform to distribute these videos.
It’s fitting, considering their own model.
Just like their own service, using YouTube allows them to get all the benefits of a large scale distribution platform, with zero overhead. The idea is to use the videos as an introduction to the services, not as a ‘how to’ per se – though we may do some of those later.
Creating the videos gave me an interesting insight into their product as well. The team sat down with me and walked though each of the 3 key modules. I took notes, but mostly I was just trying to get oriented. I’ve never worked in local government, so a lot of the details were new to me.
Often with this type of software, a casual observer (me) will find it difficult to retrace their way through the various functions. I was surprised when I logged on back at my office, and discovered I was able to work my way through all the pieces with ease. Which of course was one of the goals BasicGov laid out when they started.
We worked through an iterative process, using storyboards to identify key screens and copy.
I often use Final Draft A/V for this kind of thing, but in this case, I opted for Story Board Quick. I like being able to generate HTML and FLASH versions of the boards – I work virtually most of the time and it makes sharing the info with the client quick. I also strip out the copy and provide the client with a clean copy deck – often this is the easiest place for them to identify changes.
For screen capture, I knew I wanted something other than Camtasia. It’s not really a Mac or PC thing, I work with both (I do all my audio on PC). Given that I planned on editing on Final Cut at high resolution, I wanted something clean and lean that made it easy for me to get the screens I wanted, with the zoom factor I wanted, etc.
Through the process I created rough cuts for the client to review. These I provided to them in Flash Video – using Adobe’s CS4 media encoder. I was then able to load them up on a server for them to grab and review at their convenience. What this meant was that we were able to move through more iterations faster than would have been the case with ‘in person’ reviews.
Once we finalized the copy of flow, I created a ‘finished’ voice track to replace my working tracks. I record all my audio on a Sound Devices 702T through a 422 field mixer. Then I haul the audio into Adobe Audition for editing, and master with T-Racks 24, then haul the mastered files back into Final Cut.
Because BasicGov wanted to take advantage of YouTube’s HD options, everything was captured at 1280 x 720, and the YouTube versions, both regular and HD, looks great. You can see them here:
The team at BasicGov was a real delight to work with, and I hope we’ll do some more projects together soon.