Using Camtasia on your own computer
Good news! TechSmith, maker of Camtasia, has some of the best online tutorials. It makes sense, doesn't it? After all, that's one of the main things Camtasia is used for.
Here's how to access them.
Visit TechSmith's Camtasia Tutorials
You'll find a bunch of tutorial videos, starting with the basics and getting progressively more specialized and advanced. Sure, you could work through them all. Please feel free to do so. But if you are pressed for time, we recommend two tutorials in particular which should get 90% of faculty 90% of the way there.
- "Record, Edit, Share" ~ The most basic of the basics. Learn to record, edit, and share your screen (and your self) using Camtasia.
- "Record a PowerPoint Presentation" ~ Camtasia has a lot of flexibility, but over time we've found most Xavier faculty are particularly interested in narrating their PowerPoints, i.e. lecturing with slides.
Whatever video you're watching, be sure to scroll down. You'll find a wealth of little tips, accompanied by screenshots or ultra-short videos, that show you how to little things you may be wondering about.
Steps in a Typical Process
Camtasia is a powerful tool that can do many things, but over the years, a typical use-case scenario has emerged: Most faculty are using Camtasia to record lectures with slides. The following steps and tips may apply to the vast majority of faculty using Camtasia.
Before you start to record, you'll want to be prepared. As a rule, every moment of prep pays off later.
- Make sure you've got your slide deck looking just right in PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides, or whatever platform you prefer. All the rules of good slide design apply. For example, don't put too much text on the screen; remember your students can read faster than you talk.
- Some faculty like to work from a script or notes. Whatever you typically use for a lecture is fine. You don't have to hide the fact that you have notes in front of you.
- Best practices indicate that shorter is better. How short? Less than five minutes might be ideal. Typical lectures are longer than that, so you may wish to consider "chunking," that is, dividing your lecture into shorter segments. You may need to revise your slides and script accordingly. You can subdivide your slides or simply lecture through a portion of them at a time.
- Are you ready for your close-up? Be prepared to be on camera yourself. Some faculty are camera-shy, but remember video is a powerful way to make that essential human connection with your students. Computer-mediated instruction can be dehumanizing, so we need all the help we can get.
- You've got your slides ready, right? Open them.
- Start Camtasia and start a new recording. You'll be presented with a banner of options. As a rule, you'll want to make sure you're recording full-screen, with the webcam and internal microphone ON. You probably don't need to record system audio, unless you know you want sound from your computer in your recording, but it won't hurt (much) if you have this selected.
- Once you've clicked that BIG RED BUTTON, the interface will disappear and you'll see a countdown. Do not be alarmed. This is normal. Recording begins when the countdown ends.
- Don't start talking right away. Take a moment to collect yourself. Get your slideshow into presentation mode and make sure you're starting with the correct slide. If you feel nervous, it may help to imagine you are speaking to a live classroom. Take a deep breath, look right at the camera, and begin speaking.
- Make your presentation. If you make a mistake, such as a verbal stumble or misstatement, don't worry. Just take a nice long pause, then resume, taking care to start at the beginning of a full sentence rather than mid-phrase. The pause makes it easy to correct later.
- Finished? Great. Don't rush to stop recording. It's less awkward in the final video if you end by looking straight at the camera (your audience) for one long moment. You might even smile if you feel like it. Then stop the recording. Hint: use the keyboard shortcut F10 on Windows or use Shift-Command-2 for Mac.
- To recap, we recommend pausing at the beginning, pausing at the end, and pausing in the middle as needed. Pauses are good. Pauses are your friend.
- If you haven't already, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the general layout of the Camtasia editor interface. There are three main areas you really should know from the get: the canvas (upper right; shows how your finished program will appear), the timeline (bottom: a linear representation of your program which can have multiple media tracks), and the bin (upper left: this is where all your "stuff" is, including recordings and effects; for the simplest projects you may not need to use this).
- Trim the beginning and trim the end. You remembered to pause at the beginning and end, right? So you should have some "dead air" to delete. You'll always do at least these two edits.
- Arrange elements on the canvas. Typically you'll want to make the slides themselves fill the canvas. You might drag the slides to one side and put your face on the other side.
- Many faculty don't like to see their own face or hear their own voice, but trust us: your students love it. They want to see you! Nevertheless, some faculty choose to show their face only at the beginning of the video, and possibly the end as well. The easiest way to do this is to split the track at the desired locations, and then drag your face off the canvas for the segment where you don't wish to be seen.
- If needed, cut any problem sections out of the middle. If you left nice long pauses where you made a mistake, you should be able to find these visually by examining the audio waveform in the timeline. You're looking for "valleys" between "peaks" in what resembles a mountain range; the wider valleys are pauses.
- Of course, you'll want to watch the video all the way through before you call it done. This is really the only way to be sure everything is correct.
- You are not done yet. You still have to export or "render" the finished movie which then needs to be shared with students. Please note that rendering video is an intensive process that can take some time and may tie up computer resources.
- If you are working on your own private machine, you can probably use the YouTube integration to share directly to that platform. Just make sure you are logged in to the right account.
- Yes, we do recommend using YouTube to host your videos. You can make them "Public" if you want the world to see them, or you can choose "Unlisted" so that only people with the link can see them. Just don't make them "Private" unless you're willing to do an extra step, as described in "Private Video Sharing."
- If you are on a shared computer, or if you want to keep a copy of your final video on your local drive, or if you just want more control, you might want to explore sharing to a local file rather than publishing directly to YouTube. Choose "MP4 only (up to 1080p)" for best results. There are a ton of options here, but you shouldn't have to mess with them, as the defaults are usually pretty good. Of course, if you go this route, you will have to upload to YouTube or the platform of your choice.
- Once your video is on YouTube, sharing it in Brightspace is a snap. You can upload videos directly to Brightspace but YouTube offers a number of advantages which make it the superior choice for most faculty, most of the time.
Keep in mind these tips are meant as general guidelines for the typical use-case scenario we've observed. This by no means exhausts the possibilities which Camtasia offers. Don't be afraid to get creative and think outside the box.