Revealed: How to Create the “Bubble Effect” we Famously Use in Our Video Tutorials

Hanne   68

Updated on February 17, 2020

On just about every tutorial video we post, we get at least one comment asking: "How did you managed to do that Bubble effect?"

In this video, Miquel, our in-house video editor, finally reveals his secret...   


Our Favorite Equipment

The key to getting this effect right is filming both live video and screencast for the full duration of the video.

What you'll need.

  • A good camera. We use a Panasonic Lumix G DMC-GH4 or Canon Eos 650D
  • A USB Microphone. When doing live video and screencast at the same time we use a microphone that's plugged in to the computer and use the screen recording software to record the sound. The microphones we use are the Zoom H1 and more recently the Zoom H2n​.
  • Screen recording software. Because we're all using a PC, the software we use is Camtasia Studio. For Mac users, a good alternative is Screenflow.
  • Video editing software. This is the tricky part. We use Adobe Premiere, which is part of the vastly overpriced Adobe CC suite. It's also more complex and more difficult to learn than most video editing tools. But you can do fancy things like this bubble effect...

Why This Works...

​Now, we did this tutorial because hundreds of people asked us how we created this effect but let's be clear... You don't NEED this in order to make good tutorial videos.

What really makes the difference here is the mix of screencast and live video. It makes the tutorials more enjoyable to watch because you have the feeling someone is still live with you.​

This stands out, because most people are NOT doing it. Recording live video is more difficult than simply being incognito behind a screen... But that's exactly why it gets noticed.

You can get a very similar effect simply using your webcam and screen recording software.

The video hosting company Wistia recently even released a tool called Soapbox, which allows you to create mixed live and screencast videos like this. There's no bubble effect, but it's by far the fastest and most inexpensive way we know, of getting the same benefits.

Just remember to watch straight into the camera when you're saying something to your audience!​

Hope you liked this tutorial! And if you have any questions you can leave them in the comments below.

by Hanne  August 16, 2017


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      • In the simplest of terms, here’s the directions:
        1 – When you first open screenflow, select either your built-in or external webcam
        2 – At the beginning of your video if you want to be featured, just look in to the webcam and do your intro as usual
        3 – Continue then with recording your desktop as usual
        4 – Upon completion, when you open the recorded video in screenflow, you will see yourself in a small video in the bottom right hand corner. Click on the Webcam/Audio section of the timeline and you will see the video outlined for editing. Simply click “Action” in your side bar and then grab the corner of the video and make full screen.
        5 – Proceed through your video until you no longer want to be full screen. Click on the webcam/audio timeline again and click “action again and then go to the sidebar and select the following:
        a) Cropping: You will see a left, right, bottom, and top bar. Adjust these bars until you are centered as much as possible. You may have to actually input higher numbers than the bars allow (i.e., the bars only adjust to 200, you may actually have to go to 500 or whatever number to center yourself)
        b) Corner Round: Scroll the bar all the way or until your corners are rounded. You may have to play with this and change the numbers out based upon how centered you are with the webcam
        c) Shadow: If ticked, untick

        You can drag and drop the bubble wherever you like on the screen and again, to make the circle perfectly round, just play with the Corner Round function and the Cropping. It’s quite simple once you get the hang of it. I’d be happy to do a video, but I want to follow proper etiquette here on the Shane and Hanne’s site.

        Hope that helps you.

    • G’day Betsy, I’m pretty new to Video and have just moved from YT Editor to learn iMovie. ( I know LOL) I plan to do some tutorials where I demonstrate it on the screen with talking over the top and then maybe back to my face live… I use Mac… is ScreenFlow the ideal for this, or can I do it with I Movie?? I don’t need to be super fancy just quality. sorry if my terminology is not great… Thanks

  • I have to say…hearing Miquel’s voice while seeing Stephanie’s face at the beginning of the video was really strange… particularly because I saw the video first on YouTube. 😉

    I know a lot of folks will be happy you shared this. This is one that is way over my head, so I will stick with screencast-o-matic. It does both screen capture and webcam, and I can use one or the other, or both. 🙂

  • Good to hear your voice Miquel,,

    I also wonder, how do you do with person voice and video recording. Are you recording them separately and syncing them later.

    I enjoyed the video.

    Thank you for that.

    • Hi Kose,

      We use the same zoom microphone, but plug in a lavelier mic. The sound is recorded on the memory card in the zoom and is then synced in Adobe Premiere.

  • Hi Hanne !
    Thanks a lot for making this video. I was actually looking for a useful tool like Soapbox – which I got to know about by going through this article.

    Does one need to take the paid services of WISTIA in order to use the Soapbox – which is being shown as a Free Chrome Extension ?

  • When I started the video and heard a male voice while there is a female in the clip, I that something is wrong. 🙂 But figured it out after few seconds.
    BTW, thanks for sharing will try.

    • Hey Pascal,
      In After Effects it’s even easier (If you’re acquainted with the software) and it gives you better easing options with the graph editor. Just select the ellipse tool, draw an ellipse with your video layer selected, so that it becomes a mask, and then play with the mask path’s keyframes and the layer’s scale keyframes. Voilà!

  • Funny! I just asked about this on one of your other blogs a couple of days ago… and voila the answer appears! Thanks a million team Thrive!

  • OBS is another tool that can help you do such things (and much more in terms of sources, mixing etc). Just a little more rudimentary. But its free :>

  • Hanne, do you think you could provide the files Miquel uses in the video? This way we could practice on our own 🙂

  • Can the bubble effect be done in Imovie? Can the live video be edited in Imovie the same as your are doing it here in Adobe?

  • Hi Hanne,

    Thanks for this tip/trick.

    On a separate note, I’m wondering… do you and/or Shane use scripts for your videos?

    On product pages, little tutorials for products, other kinds of videos?

    I’ve got some pretty complex software I’m selling, and I’m trying to make it easy to understand with videos.

    You guys do a great job with that, and I’m wondering if it’s all scripted or just flows naturally?

    Thanks again for all you do at Thrive, I love your stuff.

    • Hi Jim,
      Tutorial videos are unscripted. Sales videos are somewhat scripted.
      We always start by thinking what the big points are we want to convey.
      For Sales videos we will actually write out the text and see how it flows. But there is no prompter or other involved.
      Shane has a very interesting way of thinking about how to present something and that is in “boxes” first you decide what the big things are you want to present (the box) and then you make sure you deliver each of those ideas is a separate “box” so that there is no confusion in the readers mind.

      • Hanne,

        Thank you so much for responding.

        This is really helpful to me.

        You guys are the standard I’m aiming to simulate (eventually) with my videos, very clear, benefits appropriately emphasized, very straightforward.

        thanks again.


  • Great stuff. How come your post always come so timely? I am a newbie to video. Some newbie questions: Can we use a webcam to achieve the same effect, since the laptop is in front of us ?

  • Love this!

    Couple quick follow-up questions. How did you guys create the audio logo at the beginning of all of your videos (after the intro with the little jingle) and the animation at the end? I would very much like to create these for my businesses.

    • Our video guy made that in aftereffects. But you could find someone on a website like Fiverr or Upwork to make it for you!

    • Camtasia for Windows doesn’t have a masking feature at this time. There’s no way to get the circle crop, that I know of.

  • Thank you so much! This is a really easy to follow tutorial and I’m hoping to use it in an upcoming video for myself!

  • Thanks for the excellent Infos. Can you say in detail what setting you use on the cameras (fps, resolution, program, …) that would help a lot. Thanks.

    • Actually just the default from the camera… Just make sure the fps is the same between your camera and your screenrecording.

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