8 Tips for Using Camtasia to Make Simple, High Quality Screencasts

In the neverending search for dynamic content for websites, Camtasia provides the ability to create polished, engaging video presentations that serve as a great addition to any home page. The program offers dozens of different callout and highlight features, intuitive editing and video/audio alignment capabilities, and several different production options. However, with such a powerful and multi-faceted tool, there is a lot of opportunity to misuse or simply not know about features.

Although playing around with all of Camtasia’s different abilities may be helpful for some, here are 8 tips that provide the path of least resistance in terms of time and frustration to create a high quality video production:

1. Record audio first.

It is much easier to record the video aspect of your project while taking cues from the already finished audio in contrast to recording the video by guessing how long it should be, recording the audio, and then editing the video to match up with the audio. Even if your visual callouts are not at first in sync with the corresponding audio, it is much easier to adjust the timing of the audio and video on the timeline then have to add or take away a still frame from the video.

2. Use consistent and high definition video settings for recording, editing, and production.

It is very important to ensure that the video dimensions for recording, editing, and production are all standardized during the course of your project. There is nothing worse than recording the entirety of your video to find the quality of output is blurry, pixilated, or grainy. This is easily prevented by setting high recording and editing dimensions from the beginning; to pick the settings for YouTube HD quality output, check out this tutorial. All in all, it is better to error on the safe side by starting with higher video dimensions.

3. Limit background noise.

Camtasia does allow you to edit out background noise, but doing so distorts the naturalness of the audio. Therefore try to minimize background noise in your environment such as whirring air conditioners or heaters, traffic outside, or people talking about what they had for lunch in the room next door. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great audio clip that is blemished by some obnoxious car honk.

4. Add additional time for a still frame.

To extend a frame that is too short for a corresponding audio clip, click Edit>Extend Frame then enter the amount of extra time needed. This feature is not advertised much by Camtasia, but it is far cleaner than copying and pasting or extending clips.

5. Have separate PowerPoint slides.

Save a different PowerPoint file for each slide that is going to be in the production. Recording all the slides together then editing them in Camtasia can leave tiny (but noticeable) video clips of the next slide at the end of each of them. This is not a challenging problem to fix, but you can definitely save a lot of time by not having to delete the last tenth of a second off of each PowerPoint clip.

6. Pay attention to transitions.

Transitions are not intended to be noticeable; their sole purpose for existing is to do just the opposite. For this reason, be sure that your transitions are not too long or cheesy. It makes the final video look far less professional and can be an unwelcome distraction.

7. Unlink audio and video.

The potential annoyances arising from keeping your audio and video linked far outweigh the benefit that this feature could provide. Keeping them linked prevents you from isolating any one audio or video clip by itself; many times this can lead to cutting out tiny clips that go unnoticed until the video is finally produced. It might be helpful to have them linked when you are rearranging the order of clips, but beyond that this just is not a helpful feature to have turned on.

8. Edit individual pieces as you do them.

Once you are finished recording an individual audio or video clip, edit it! Not only will it make the entire project feel more manageable, but you can fix problems that might mess up other audio or video clips later in the timeline as they arise.

Making use of these tips will undoubtedly save you wasted time and irritation while making your video through Camtasia. For an example of a video made using these tips by a first time video maker, with some interesting information on website visitor segmentation as well, look at this video.

Rene Miller
Manager, Business Operations & Strategy

Rene is the Manager, Business Operations & Strategy at Socrata. Previously he was a Research & Analytics Analyst at OpenView.
You might also like ...
4 Tips for Setting Your Company's Annual Rhythm

Every company starts the new year with big goals and aspirations. But how many of those companies actually accomplish them?

by Kristin Hillery
Product Marketing
How to Get Your First 100 Customers—Smart, Actionable Advice from Top Executives

Leaders from Twilio, IBM, SurveyMonkey and more share their best tips.

by Casey Renner
Startup Strategy
We Explored 3 Product Positioning and Branding Failures. Here’s What NOT to Do.

B2B brand and product positioning will only continue to become more important with the rise of the End User Era.

by Margaret Kelsey