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
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