Panopto for pre-recording lectures

Includes instructions on downloading and installing Panopto, some notes on recommended additional equipment, and how to get starting on recording.


[If you have already installed Panopto, you can skip to the Make a recording section]

Panopto is the recommended tool for pre-recording a lecture. In addition to being able to record a video of you giving your presentation (if you have a camera built-in to your laptop, or a webcam attached to your computer) it will also record any PowerPoint slides you use - automatically making clickable, timestamped headings from your slide titles.  It can record anything else you choose to display, which is particularly helpful if you use something other than PowerPoint for your on-screen content.

Obviously you will have to have a means to capture at least your voice. While most recent laptops will already have an adequate microphone and camera, most desktop computers do not, so you will need to get hold of an add-on device. While you could buy just a USB microphone for the audio, a reasonable quality webcam which incorporates a microphone need cost little more, and will obviously be a more versatile tool (and of course the video element can be switched off if desired). There are a great many on the market, but even Microsoft's own lower-cost offerings are perfectly suitable in most cases.

Our experience of Logitech kit has generally been very good. While it's probably wise to stay away from the very cheapest one, any of the others should be fine. The most expensive of the mid-range ones – the BRIO – is a relatively recent addition to the range and has been well-reviewed in several forums. The audio should be good enough with these to mean there’s no need for a separate mic. On the other hand, if you are content to use an existing camera, or the one built into a laptop, and you really do just want a mic, then the one that the Panopto team recommend is the MXL AC-404, but it is hard to find at the moment. As an alternative at about the same price-point, the Snowball is pretty well thought of – indeed we had one in the Faculty and it was fine, and we also had a Yeti, which is a little bit of a step up, and perhaps a bit more professional looking. Also at that slightly higher price, there are some more familiar high-quality names, with such offerings as the beyerdynamic FOX Professional USB Microphone and the RØDE Microphones NT-USB Mini.

In some circumstances you may also want or need to use a headset with a built-in microphone. It may be that you already own a suitable earphone/mic combination, as most recent mobile phones come with one, and that might well fit your laptop/PC. If not, Poly (formerly Plantronics) are a brand with a  reputation for quality in this area, and recent reviews suggest that the model(s) linked here are a good balance of price and performance. You will need to decide whether you prefer a single earpiece, or the greater isolation offered by two. The links go to a search results page rather than a single item, as you will also need to decide what connection type you need, either USB, or USB-C. (Both variants also include a 3.5mm jack plug.)

Panopto's editing tools are very limited, so it's probably (and fairly obviously) best to think of this simply as a mechanism for giving a delayed online lecture, though with the advantage of being able to pause for a break and come back to it later. It's not for making a movie. (But you can do as many re-takes as you wish!)

Unlike the online meeting tools mentioned below, you will need to download and install a program on your local computer in order to use Panopto. Depending on how your particular device has been configured, this may mean that you will need to contact a member of your local (e.g. college) IT team to complete the installation.

Click the big orange button to begin:

Start Panopto and download app

That should take you to this screen, from which you can download and install the app on your computer:

panopto start screen

Make a recording

Once installed, you can start to make recordings. NB. Even though you will be using a locally installed app, you must start your recordings from a Panopto web page, having first logged in through Canvas, so that the app can connect and store the recordings online.

If you have just installed Panopto following the steps above, you will already be logged in and ready to start, otherwise click this big orange button:

Start Panopto

panopto start recording

This will start the local recorder running (or bring up a panel with a button for you to do so):

panopto start recording


panopto file save locations

click to view larger image


Note that the recorder is offering to save the recording in the online folder from which you started, called 'uploads'. You can choose to save a recording straight into any online folder (WebLearn or Canvas) to which have access.


You should find that you can set each recording to save/upload directly into the correct folder on the Panopto server for that particular course. If for some reason the course folder is not apparent, use Faculty of Law | uploads

The final fall-back is for you to save it in your own 'My Folder'. This is also the best setting for any test recordings or 'rehearsals' you want to make. As Panopto's key functions (e.g. the time-stamped slide bookmarks and thumbnails that sit alongside the audio/video track(s)) run on their servers, there is no way to record and view a session on your local machine. Nobody can see your 'My Folder' (other the system admins) so you can save/edit/delete whatever you store there for yourself.

The flip-side of the fact that nobody else can see your 'My Folder', is that if you save a recording there and subsequently decide that you want to make it available in a course folder, we can't easily move it for you, though it's straightforward for you to do. Here's how to move it for yourself.

If you need to move a file to a particular course folder and for some reason that folder is not visible to you, please email Marina Amiconi to get it unlocked, and/or move the file.


Replay demo

click to watch the video


Apple users especially might find the short video linked here useful as it shows an alternative mechanism for downloading and installing the recorder, and how to make a recording and save/upload it to the Panopto server. (In case you didn't note it down when watching the video, here is a link to the relevant page within Canvas.



Further notes on saving/uploading can be found on this IT Services' Replay page, in numbered paras 1. and 3.

A few basic tips for successful video

  • keep the device steady while filming – probably by propping it up on something,
  • try to use it at about eye-level, and held as near to vertical as possible (not pointing upwards at an angle from a table-top)
  • don’t have it too close, as that will tend to make a face look slightly puffy, but
  • …not so far away that the sound is echo-ey, or not clear. (The audio is more important to your audience than the image [unless you are displaying a detailed graphic].)
  • Choose a well-lit place to sit/stand, preferably not with just a strong single light source above (or behind).
  • Think about your background, and try to avoid filming in front of anything too busy. Technically - if not necessarily aesthetically - a plain wall is probably preferable to, say, a colourful garden.
  • You don't have to shoot it all in one go - use the pause button.