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Easy Movie Creation - Camtasia Tips and Tricks

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Quick and easy guide to getting the best results from Camtasia studio when creating screencasts - includes a short movie demo.

As a product developer or web site manager, Camtasia Studio can be one of the most powerful tools in your developer's arsenal.

With Camtasia Studio, you can quickly create tutorials, articles, even full length how-to CDs.

And unlike other video production methods, with Camtasia Studio, you don't need cameras, lights, or other video equipment.

All you need is Camtasia Studio, your computer, and a microphone.

In many cases, you can create a Camtasia studio production and have it up on your web site in under ten minutes.

Ease of Use

To say that Camtasia Studio is easy to use is an understatement. Basically all you have to do is start Camtasia recorder to capture your screen activity and voice narration.

After you complete the screen capture, you then drag the capture into Camtasia Studio Producer to edit and produce.

To show how easy this can be, view My 2 Minute Guide to Producing Movies with Camtasia - a movie I created with Camtasia showing how to use Camtasia.

If you watched the above movie, you saw that creating a screencast in Camtasia can be incredibly easy. (By the way, it took me less than 10 minutes to set up for, record, edit, render, and place that movie on the web.)

Flexible Output

One of the greatest features of Camtasia Studio is that it can render the completed production either as a video or as a web-ready flash production.

This means you can place the productions on your web site, on your CDs, even on your DVDs.

Camtasia Studio can even create a user interface menu using the Camtasia theatre feature. This menu system is ideal for CDs (or your web site) and makes it easy for visitors to choose from a selection of videos.

Getting the Best Results with Camtasia

Right out of the box, you can produce excellent results with Camtasia. But, with a little tweaking, you can get higher quality productions, in smaller, faster loading files.

Here are my Camtasia Tips and Tweaks:

  1. Use a USB microphone - You'll get far better results in both audio and video quality if you use a USB microphone when doing voice narration of your Camtasia screen recordings.

    The USB microphone uses less computer resources, and records far better audio than an analog mic connected to your computer's audio card.

    USB microphones such as the Plantronics DSP 500 are affordable, and can make you sound like a pro on your audio recordings.

  2. Free up resources - Before you start recording a screen, close all programs not needed during the recording.

    Unnecessary programs running in the background can consume computer resources, thus starving Camtasia of memory and CPU needed to record screen activity. Close every program not needed for the screen cast.

    Doing this results in smoother screen recording, and better playback quality.

  3. Clear the clutter - Before you start recording, close any unused menus or side bars that may appear within the screen you are planning to record.

    These unnecessary menus take up valuable screen space, and can add unneeded clutter and confusion to the captured screens.

    If capturing web screens using a browser, be sure to close the top and side panels menus (especially in Internet Explorer and FireFox browsers).

  4. Size the capture window - The quality of the output and the final file size is directly related to the size of the screen you capture. The larger the screen, the more quality and user compatibility problems you will encounter.

    For best results, resize the window to be captured so that it will fit on viewer's screens. That means, in almost all cases, you will want your captured windows to be smaller than 800 pixels wide.

    For best results, I generally resize the window to be captured to under 600 pixels wide.

  5. Choose a pointer - Before you start recording your screen, choose a cursor pointer that will be easily visible to those who watch the screen cast.

    You can find a number of pointer options in the Camtasia Recorder. To select from these different cursors, in Camtasia Recorder, select 'effects', then 'options', then 'cursors', then 'highlight cursor'.

    From the drop down list, select 'circle', and check the 'translucent' check box. Then click 'OK'.

    On my screencast, I use a bright red cursor pointer (find it in our download library).

  6. Plan your production - Before you actually start recording the screen, do a trial run. Go through the process you plan to show in the screen capture, and do the voice narration.

    Discover and remove any potential problems before they occur. It may be necessary for you to move or resize the screen so that all elements of the production fit inside the space you are recording. Better to find this out and resolve the problem, before you actually record.

  7. Keep it short - The best screencast productions are those that are clear, concise, and to the point. Avoid long productions (over 3 minutes), and avoid editorializing when recording.

    For my own productions, I always strive to keep them one minute or less.

    If the subject matter can't be covered in two minutes or less, it is almost better to break it up into several short productions rather than one long one.

  8. Speak slowly and clearly - When recording, speak slowly and clearly, and don't say more than is necessary.

    Show the details on the screen and provide clear narration.

    If you make a mistake during your narration, just move the cursor back to where it was before you made the mistake, and continuing recording from that point. You can remove audio and video mistakes in editing.

  9. Edit with care - When editing your screen captures, start by reviewing the entire capture to see how much editing is needed. If a lot of editing is required, it might be easier to simply re-do the capture.

    If limited editing is needed, start by fixing any audio problems. Doing this is the quickest and easiest way to clean up a screen cast.

  10. Avoid adding video effects - Even though it is easy to add video effects such as transitions, and pans and zooms in Camtasia Studio, doing so can significantly increase the file size of the finished production.

    Adding just one transition to a Camtasia production can increase the file size by 2 megabytes.

    Avoid the transitions and special effects.

  11. Render for compatibility - If you are rendering the results to flash (which is the preferred method for web casting), do not resize the flash screen size. Doing so negatively affects the quality and file size of the production.

    Other render tips - put a check in the 'use preloader' box. Set the production to pause upon loading - this allows the viewer to start the production when they wish. And select 'basic controls ' for smaller,faster loading file sizes.

    See complete flash output procedure in my My 2 Minute Guide to Producing Movies with Camtasia.

Easy, Easy, Easy

Once you make the investment in Camtasia Studio and start using it, you'll understand why I love this program so much.

It makes creating valuable content (whether for web pages or CDs), easy.


Printer-Friendly Format
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