How to Create Video Actions

Ever since I started creating short-form video tutorials, the question I get more than any other is related to an effect in my videos.

The effect people ask about is where I move from a talking head to a screenshare tutorial, while my head goes into a bordered circle at the top of the screen.

I use Screenflow to edit my videos. You don’t need to use Screenflow to edit yours. But this is how I do it.

I’d love to say that there’s an easy shortcut to accomplishing this effect. But there isn’t a template that helps create this effect. Instead, it took me weeks of trial and error.

It’s not that this is hard by any means. But it’s something I had to make happen with the tools that were available to me.

The main thing is you need to understand video actions. A video action will have an initial state and a finished state. An example with my videos…

1. Initial State: The talking head video takes up the full screen
2. Finished State: The talking head shrinks and is cropped to a circle and moved to the top

Screenflow then fills in the blanks to make that action happen smoothly.

There isn’t even an obvious way to create the circle, though I may be missing something. I scale the talking head video down, crop it to a square, and then round the corners.

I then include three layers when editing:

1. The screenshot or video I’m talking about
2. The outline color file that will be around my head (usually black)
3. The base color file around my cut-out head

I create nearly identical video actions for those two image files to move from a rectangle to a circle (but slightly larger) that execute when my talking head action does.

The end result is an initial video action to discuss something on the screen and then an action to move back to the talking head.

If you’re curious, I’ve found that it’s easiest to simply take a screenshot of what I’m talking about instead of syncing a screen recording. I then use video actions and scaling to move around the screenshots to give it some movement.

If you already use Screenflow, hopefully this helps. If you don’t use Screenflow, don’t feel like you need to use it to get this effect. I’m sure you can replicate this with most video editing software.

The main thing is that you don’t need to do what I do. Imagine what it is you want your videos to look like and find a way to execute it.

Of course, it may take some trial and error and lots of patience. But it can be worth it!