Camtasia Studio Video Tutorials: Part 4 | 3 | WebReference

Camtasia Studio Video Tutorials: Part 4 | 3


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Camtasia Studio Video Tutorials: Part 4

One of the cool options under the Control tab is the Flash actions section. Here, you can add a Jump to URL effect. What this means is that you can output your video so that when it reaches the end, it automatically jumps to a Web page of your choice. This is a great option if you're selling a product.

On the right is the Size section, where you control the output size of your video. You can choose the original size that you created the video in, or produce the video to a larger or smaller view, based on several default settings. If that doesn't work for your purposes, you can click on the Change Dimensions button and customize the output of your video as necessary. For many video applications, an output size of 640x480 works well. Another size which I've used with success is 800x600. For more output options, check out the Additonal Notes section, below.

At the bottom right of the Flash Templates dialog box is a Help button and at the bottom left, the Preview button. This allows you to see a quick preview of your current project, (a HUGE plus in my opinion). It also gives you access to the Preview Manager, which is used to play, view and compare clip file settings, files sizes, etc. File that are no longer needed can be deleted, if necessary.

Clicking on the Next button takes you to the Video Options dialog box. Here, you can add copyright information about your video, enable SCORM (which is an XML file that gives you information about the components of a content package, such as the course name, description, etc.). The last option allows you to add a watermark to your video. In this dialog we're going to accept the default settings.

Clicking on the Next button bring up the Produce Video dialog box. In this section, choose an output name for your video and a folder location to save your file. Once you've done that, click on the Finish button and your video will begin rendering. Depending on the length of the video, it may take several minutes to complete.

Note: One option here is to upload your videos to Screencast.com. You can read more about Screencast.com in the Additional Notes section.

Once the video has finished rendering, it will open will open and begin playing in a window on your screen. This concludes the process of producing a Camtasia Studio video. What we've covered here covers the basics of video production. There is far more that you can do and explore. Below is some additional information about settings to use when creating video for specific purposes, such as output for YouTube, high quality formats and more.

Additional Notes

Upon deciding to write this series, I wanted to give users the most accurate information I could find. Part of that has come by personal experience, the rest from people such as Chad Wandler, who you were introduced to in the last tutorial. This time around, you'll hear from Troy Stein, Camtasia Studio Product Manager at TechSmith. Below are some questions I asked him about production.

Nathan: I want to cover the process of creating files for the Web. While I want to write about output to the Flash format, I've found my files to be exceedingly slow to stream and quite large, while WMV loads faster, but doesn't offer the interactivity of Flash, such as jump pages.

Troy: "Load time is directly related to file size and bandwidth.  File size depends on content and compression.  If you have a standard screen recording, our Flash SWF should be the best compression.  If you have camera footage, or lots of motion in your recordings, the Flash FLV compression will be your best choice. During production, adjust your settings so that the Flash screencast loads at 10% for quicker playback. This is done in the Flash Templates Wizard during production by clicking on Controls in the preview. In Camtasia Studio 3, the playback default is much higher, which is one reason why you were experiencing longer load times with your Flash screencasts."

Nathan: One option that came up is of compressing Flash files more than I'm able to do now. I'm aware of the On2 technology. Will this work with Camtasia Studio 4?
 
Troy: "The On2 VP6 FLV codec is integrated with Camtasia Studio 4 which works without a streaming server, plays on all types of browsers.  Just like Windows Media files, you can simply play the files back off of any webserver.  But, if you want to truly stream a video, you need a streaming server, in this case, the Flash Media Server."
 
Nathan: In this last tutorial, I'd like to know what you recommend for good quality audio settings and which file formats would be best for streaming. In my experience so far, WMV seems to be best. I'd attempted to use the Real format, but I got an error when I output my file (which I couldn't correct), so my intention is to stay away from it. Also, if you want to resize videos to a smaller format, how do you prevent artifacting on the screen and banding? I'm aware of a setting for which is used in Camtasia 3 for WMV, but if there are other things I should know, I'd appreciate hearing about them.

The following are Troy's recommendations for output:

  • For short screencasts with great quality use SWF.
  • Longer and motion intensive screencasts use FLV. 
  • WMV is Microsoft’s codec and it is bit lossy – so quality won't be as high. But if you are keen to use WMV, use the “Camtasia Studio Best Quality and File Size (Recommended)” during production.
  • SWF is limited to 16,000 frames so longer screencasts are out.
  • To minimize file size, publish at 10fps, 11.025 mono.  Often, you can go down to 5 or 7 fps and still get decent fluidity.  Use the Preview button in the production wizard to see how things look before producing the full screencast.
  • Good quality sound – starts with a good microphone, beyond that, use the audio enhancements in Camtasia Studio 4 to clean up unwanted noise such as machine hum, audio pops and cracks.
 
Nathan: What format would you recommend for video sites such as YouTube?

Troy: "Users of YouTube are limited by the file formats that YouTube accepts and regardless of the format everything is reformatted to Flash 7 so quality will be compromised."

For reference, YouTube recommended settings are:

Troy continued: "That said, the best format out of Camtasia would be the Camtasia AVI file format.  YouTube is going to recompress whatever file you give them.  So give them the best quality, which is our AVI." 

"From the Production Wizard, choose Custom Production Settings and choose AVI output. It's imperative though with screencasts of software applications to zoom and pan, tight, when YouTube is the destination. This will help when YouTube reformats the video."

NOTE: TechSmith’s Screencast.com service was designed specifically to host Camtasia Studio screencasts and other content where the author cares about professionalism, quality, and doesn’t want to give up control of their content. With Screencast.com, users can decide which of their screencasts they want to be made public or keep private, and who they share their screencasts with. Screencast.com also allows you as the content creator to determine the quality and size of your video so you can control your end user's experience.  If you already have a Web site you can use Screencast.com to host your media and embed the content on your existing Web pages.

One of the issues I've encountered has to do with scaling video either up or down to fit the requirements of different formats. Here are Troy's recommendations:

Troy: "You can produce the videos at larger dimensions than were originally recorded by choosing a different dimension during the production process.  I checked this with a 320x240 video and chose a Flash output that fit in 800x600 and it scaled the video appropriately."

"As a rule of thumb, the best quality will be recording and producing at the same dimension.  The next best result will be to record at a larger dimension and then zoom around at a smaller dimension – and this is key – you’ll want to produce the video at the same dimension at which you zoomed in.  This will give you a nice crisp video inside a smaller window."

Conclusion

This is the last part of our series on creating video tutorials with Camtasia Studio. This week we covered the basics of producing your video, including a section on getting the best results, courtesy of Troy Stein, Camtasia Studio Product Manager at TechSmith.

About the Author

Nathan Segal is an Associate Editor for WebReference.com. He is an Artist and Writer who has been writing for computer and photographic magazines for 9+ years. His specialty is taking complex methods and explaining them in clear, easy-to-understand terms. To learn more about his work and background, click here.


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Created: June 5, 2003
Revised: June 7, 2007

URL: http://webreference.com/video/column4/1