Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Getting Started with Camtasia for Windows

Here are basic instructions on how to get started with Camtasia on Windows.

What is Camtasia?

A “screencasting” program that allows you to record whatever is on your computer screen with audio.  Good for software demos, how-to videos, recording PowerPoint presentations, and much more!

How to Install Camtasia on UWEC computers 

(not available on personal computers)
* UWEC users should contact the Help Desk if you have problems 36-5711

  1. Using Internet Explorer (required) go to appstore.uwec.edu. 
  2. Search for Camtasia (the search box is on the top right and you may have to scroll over to find it). 
  3. Click the Install button on the bottom right. 
  1. Open the Self Service app (I just search for it in the spotlight)
  2. It doesn’t matter if you login or not. 
  3. Camtasia should be listed. Click install.
    1. Note that Camtasia for Mac is very different from the Windows version. This post focuses on Windows. 

Planning for your first video

  • Get a decent microphone and a quiet place to work since you will need to record audio. (We hope to have a recording studio in Old Library later in 2014!) Avoid using the built in mic, in most cases, because they are usually not high quality and they will pick up a lot of room noise. Here is a blog post with tips on recording audio. 
  • Figure out where you are going to store your footage. The files can be large. 
    • The projects drive is good for temporary storage (up to a year). Staff and faculty can create personal projects folders by going to mass.uwec.edu/projects and logging in. 
    • UWEC people can get an archive drive by contacting the Help Desk. 
    • I rarely save my working files, unless I have made lots of edits. It is possible to get the files back out of YouTube and edit some aspects if necessary. 
  • Figure out where you are going to put the video when you are done. YouTube, Vimeo, V-Brick, screencast.com - here is more info on that aspect. Instructors have no requirements; staff should check with others in their department to see if they already have a YouTube account, for instance.
  • Figure out what you're going to say and do! Don't go into this blind! I usually have bullet points or steps. I rarely use a script because I find reading while recording difficult and listening to a conversational voice is more engaging (rather than a voice that sounds like it's reading). I know people have different preferences though and some people have to use a script. If you want to be fancy, you can make a script, record video, then record the audio. I am not that fancy! 
  • Practice. I practice while recording just in case I get it right on the first try, or it's a low stakes video that can have a few mistakes (or editable mistakes). Getting used to recording yourself takes a while. Expect your first videos to be very time consuming. It gets easier though. And try to get over hating the sound of your own voice! Pretty much everyone hates the sound of their own voice. 

The Process

Here is a video from the Camtasia website that shows the recording process. My only suggestion contrary to this video is to not record in full screen, unless you know you are definitely going to zoom later, because it reduces your available space and adds distractions to the video, such as the programs you have in your task bar, the time, etc.

1. To Start Recording, Open Camtasia Recorder. This is either in your start menu or you can search for it. You can record many ways, but I recommend recording in 1280x720. This is a widescreen format that looks good on YouTube. If you're putting your video somewhere else you may want to do a test in this size to verify it's good.

      2. Size the window(s) you are recording to fit with the 1280x720 Camtasia window.
       What I mean is adjust whatever you're recording so it fits in the Camtasia recording area. Below is my whole computer screen. I have a nice big monitor, but I only want to record the Google Chrome window so I made it smaller. You can record multiple programs, so make sure they are all sized to get going. 
    1. 3. Make sure your mic is picking up audio and record a test. You should see green in the audio area like below. It's really frustrating to record a whole video without audio. I recommend recording a test of just a few seconds of talking at a normal volume to make sure it is using the correct mic. 
    2. 4. Record! Once you know how to edit you can edit out mistakes afterward. 
    3. 5. Preview what you recorded. Then probably record again because the first time wasn't very good. If it's good, celebrate. 
    4. 6. Either Save and Edit, or Produce. If it's good as-is, you can produce right from this screen. 
    5. Produce means make it into a format that people without Camtasia can view, like MP4, or put it on YouTube. I send it right to YouTube. 
    1. Either way you have to save what you just recorded. This is called a .camrec file. These files can be very large, so find a good place to save them like the Projects drive. (I rarely save them once I'm all done and it's up on YouTube - decide whether you will ever need to edit the raw footage again). 
If you chose Save and Edit, I recommend choosing YouTube & Screencast (16:9) for your editing dimensions (see below). This means it will be HD on YouTube. It will be crisp and clear. (I also vary from the Camtasia tutorials in this regard. Trust me here :) 

This video from the Camtasia website gives an excellent overview of the editing area.

When/if you make edits, Camtasia creates a .camproj file for them. This file consists of JUST the edits you have made and requires the .camrec file to function. TIP: Use a consistent naming strategy and store all files in the same folder. Here is a video showing how to save. 

If you're having fun, learn how to edit. I cannot recommend the TechSmith website enough - they have some fantastic tutorials. Here are a few that I highly recommend:

  • How to edit out mistakes (they call it "cutting unwanted media") - the only thing I would add is a recommendation to back up the play head and watch it to make sure it did what you want. 
  • How to add callouts - callouts are great ways to call attention to certain aspects of the video. This tutorial shows how to add arrows, text, blur spots, etc. 
If you're totally overwhelmed at this point, you may want to look at a simpler program that accomplishes the same thing called Screencast-o-matic. No download is required (but it does need Java which can be a pain) and when you're done it just prompts you to publish it. There's just one file. No editing is available in the free version. 

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