Camtasia solutions

This is another technical post, following on from the Toshiba solutions post: I think that the Camtasia project deserves a post of its own.
Note that I am using Camtasia Studio 6 (Academic version).
Here are some of the issues I have been dealing with. More will follow (no doubt!) in comments on this post.

  • One issue that I have not mentioned before is the following. When Camtasia is recording, the mouse pointer on my display flickers very rapidly, and this is a problem when I am using (say) the hand tool to point at things during lectures. Interestingly, this flickering is NOT present on the resulting screencast video, so students may have a better experience watching the screencast than they do in the original lecture. I think I may have found the explanation now on the page
    http://forums.techsmith.com/showthread.php?t=6171

    I’ll report back on whether the problem is cured by turning off “layered” capturing, as suggested.
    Earlier I found the page http://forums.techsmith.com/archive/index.php/t-1155.html
    which suggested turning off display acceleration during capture.
    Update Oct 4 2009: I originally thought that disabling display acceleration hadn’t helped me, but this was a “failure to actually change settings” error on my part (see comments below). In fact this method does pretty much work for me (I can put up with intermittent flickering) and this may be my safest option.
  • As I mentioned before, I have been struggling to get high quality audio recordings, which is disappointing given that I have some relatively expensive equipment (a Sennheiser kit).
    Perhaps it would have been a good idea to look properly at http://www.techsmith.com/learn/camtasia/editing/edit-setup-recording.asp which is the official tutorial! Still, I don’t think I saw all of the issues below discussed there. However, you should consult this tutorial for more explanation of some of the menus and features discussed below.
    I have also  had some helpful suggestions from Alan Mintey Television & Video Production Manager, Nottingham University IS Learning Team). He suggested using the Audio Setup Wizard under Voice Narration. The interesting thing  here is that, at least on my machine, some very similar menus have rather different sets of options.
    If I fire up Camtasia Recorder directly (as you can) without going via the full Camtasia Studio, then in the advanced audio options (under tools->options->audio) the set of possible recording formats and qualities available is far smaller than those available via the corresponding menu in the Audio Setup Wizard.
    Moreover, when I fire up Camtasia Recorder directly, the audio settings always revert to a relatively low quality default setting.
    Here the moral appears to be: DON’T start Camtasia Recorder directly. Instead, you should run the full Camtasia Studio program and click on “Record the Screen”. This again fires up Camtasia Recorder, but it preserves the audio settings that you have previously chosen. Moreover, the full set of audio settings is then available from the tools->options->audio->advanced settings, instead of the highly restricted set of options I found when going to Camtasia Recorder directly.
    In the end, though, I think that the main cause of the distortion in the sound quality on my first few screencasts was that I had the microphone input settings on the laptop at too sensitive a level. I have now experimented with this, and I think that I have just about found the right level. I have tried using the Auto-Adjust Volume tool in the Audio Setup Wizard, and it may be that this does give results with least possible distortion, but it also appears (to me) to give recordings that are too quiet. So I am going for a slightly higher sensitivity level for now.
  • I have now modified my “Joel medium” production preset (as discussed in my earlier comments in the Toshiba Laptop Solutions thread) so that, in addition to producing the mp4 screencast and an mp3 file, it also produces an m4v file (suitable for ipods). I  have hit two snags, though.
    • The additional file downloads (mp3 etc.) available in addition to the screencast are shown on the web page produced by Camtasia. However, these are listed at the bottom of the page, under the movie frame, and may disappear off the bottom of the screen if the viewer is not operating at high resolution. (This happens to me even on my 19 inch display at home, which is currently set to 1152 x 864.) Perhaps this is the price I pay for going for an 800×600 movie, instead of something smaller?
    • Not all web/media servers are set up to serve m4v files. I had a problem with this, but fortunately this has been resolved with the help of the learning team. (Thanks Sally!)
  • Watch the comments on this post for further developments.

Joel Feinstein, October 2nd 2009

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18 responses to “Camtasia solutions

  1. Regarding the flickering mouse pointer:
    Turning off “layered” capturing does indeed eliminate my mouse pointer flicker. (This is a checkbox in the Camtasia Recorder under tools->options->Capture)
    However, you should be warned that, as the option suggests, disabling capture of layered windows restricts what is actually captured by Camtasia!
    I suggest careful experimentation to make sure that this is really what is what you need. If you look at the comments on the page http://forums.techsmith.com/showthread.php?t=6171 referred to above, you will see that this has been known to cause problems.
    (I haven’t yet had problems myself.)
    Good luck (to all of us!)
    Joel (4/10/09)

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    • Aha!
      I now realize that when I first tried to change these options, the “OK” button was off the bottom of the screen, and so when I closed the window, none of the options had really changed.
      So it turns out that disabling display acceleration during capture pretty much works too, after all, even if you leave capture of layered windows on. (I get some intermittent flickering, but it is nothing like as bad as when display acceleration is on). This may be a safer option?
      The checkbox for enabling/disabling display acceleration is at the bottom of the same menu (Camtasia Recorder: tools->options->Capture).
      Joel (4/10/09)

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  2. Regarding volume levels and distortion:
    Further investigation reveals that I can increase the volume during Camtasia production by clicking the “Volume Up” icon.
    As usual this is described in an official Camtasia tutorial document: see
    http://www.techsmith.com/learn/camtasia/6/edit/audio-editing.asp
    This means that I can accept the settings recommended by the Auto-Adjust Volume tool (discussed above), which give low sensitivity, and then fix the resulting low volume problem by clicking the “Volume Up” icon a couple of times (or indeed 4 or 5 times in my case!) during production.
    Of course it would be preferable not to have to do this, but it is not too much fuss, and may well be worth it.
    Joel Feinstein, October 4 2009

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  3. Latest issues:
    – See the Sennheiser solutions post for the latest on the sound quality issues.
    – I noticed that the audio and video ended up a few seconds out of sync by the end of my Camtasia recordings today. This meant that I lost the last few seconds of audio from each recording (the video was a few seconds ahead). I don’t know why this happens. Alan Mintey has suggested that I could try a different video compression/decompression codec. However, I think that I will try to resolve the sound quality issue first.
    Joel
    October 12 2009

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  4. It works better if you plug it in?
    A lot of time has been spent by now on trying to solve a combination of problems involving my Toshiba tablet PC, Camtasia and Windows Journal.
    One feature that did not appear to make sense was why some problems only occurred in lectures, and could not be reproduced in my office.
    A bit of (rather belated) lateral thinking suggests one possible answer: I have been using the laptop on battery power in lectures, but on mains power in my office.
    Now this would not be the first time that I thought that I knew the answer (or is that 42?). But it is another plausible explanation that fits more of the facts than some of the earlier efforts. The local IT staff tell me that the laptop’s CPU will be operating much more slowly on battery power. With the combination of CPU hungry software I have been running, it looks clear that I could be getting into trouble.
    Watch this space for news on whether running the laptop on mains power in lectures solves my problems or not!
    Joel Feinstein
    October 14 2009

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    • Tests of Camtasia recordings on my Toshiba laptop in my office when on battery power or on mains power show that (so far!) I have no synchronization problems when on mains power, and severe synchronization problems when recording on battery power. I am not yet sure about the other problems I have been experiencing, but hopefully this is the simple solution I have been looking for!
      Joel Feinstein
      October 16 2009

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  5. Thank you! This helped!

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  6. Regarding the video dimensions:
    I am currently experimenting with the 16×10 format.
    I did this accidentally for today’s recordings, and losing some of the vertical space on the data projector screen did not matter as much as I thought. I do like the fact that I have an undistorted display on the laptop, and that the audience sees what I write undistorted.
    I have modified my Camtasia “Joel Medium” preset to produce 960×600 videos now. (Perhaps I should go for something like 800×500 instead?)
    Joel 20/10/09

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  7. Latest on sound quality:
    I ran tests on audio recordings made in my office using my laptop and my Sennheiser wireless microphone using:
    – SoundRecorder (on its default settings)
    – Camtasia, recording PCM 41khz 8 bit mono
    – Camtasia, recording PCM 41 khz 16 bit mono
    The SoundRecorder recording was fine, but the 8 bit mono Camtasia recording had substantial hiss. This hiss almost completely disappeared when I moved to 16 bit mono, so I think I’m going to use that setting from now on for my camtasia recordings (before rendering). You can hear the final results (after rendering) using the 16-bit mono sound recording on, for example, How do we do proofs? (Part II), available at http://wirksworthii.nottingham.ac.uk/webcast/maths/G12MAN-09-10/How-Proofs-II-0910/

    Joel
    November 4 2009

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  8. I have further modified my “Joel medium” preset settings to reintroduce the production of M4V files (though this increases the rendering time considerably) and also to increase the (theoretical) quality of the audio in the final production. There are lots of settings available to experiment with in the flash options (video, sound, controls …)

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    • I stopped producing the M4V files again, as this did not seem to provide many benefits. On request, I provided direct links to the relevant mp4 files.
      The sound quality is now good as long as I don’t set the microphone sensitivity too high in Camtasia.

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  9. I now have a “Joel medium PIP” preset too, in order to include web-cam recorded picture-in-picture (PIP) video of me in the bottom right corner of my screencasts.
    This appears to stretch the tablet laptop again. So far I have the best results when the webcam records at 320×240 resolution. (I scale down the PIP slightly to avoid getting too much in the way of the rest of the screencast. I also TRY to remember where the PIP will be when I am writing on the tablet!
    The current settings are working quite well (see http://wp.me/posHB-7y ).
    In case I have found the best settings by a fluke, here is what I currently have in the Camtasia settings for the logitech webcam I am using (it’s a logitech quickcam communicate STX).

    Camera properties

    Device Settings:
    Only White Balance is currently set to Auto.
    Brightness, Contrast and Saturation are at 5000 (middle)
    Sharpness is at 6000
    Backlight Comp is at 0
    Presumably other values are possible and might be even better! I think most of these are the default settings.
    Advanced:
    Automatic Gain Control is checked.
    Low Light Boost is checked.
    Anti-Flicker is set to 50 Hz (European).
    Nothing else is checked in that tab.

    Video Format

    Video Standard: None
    Frame Rate: 15.000 (this matches the screencast capture rate)
    Color Space/Compression: RGB 24
    Output Size: 320×240
    Everything else is greyed out

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  10. prashant shrivastava

    i have record the session on camtasia but before i click on save button due to power loss i am unable to save the file it is possible to get back the same recoring session means how to recover the sesson.if u have answer please tell me.

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  11. Pingback: Camtasia Studio and Echo360 | Explaining mathematics

  12. See some recent posts for more Camtasia problems and solutions!

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