Perhaps the single most important thing that you can do to greatly improve the quality of your screencast is to make sure that your microphone's input settings, placement and the settings in your computer are all set up for the particular room, your voice, your mood at the time that you're doing your recordings. Now the process that I show you should work for everyone. However, the specific settings that I'm going to choose are not necessarily going to be the ones that are going to give you the best results.
This is a process that you'll have to go through and they'll be quite a bit of trial and error. But if you go through it, over time, you'll be able to hone down on your specific settings that are going to work best for your setup, and make sure that you go through the basic process each time you do your recordings. So, let's begin the process by going down to our Start menu, clicking on All Programs selecting TechSmith and finding our Camtasia Recorder 8 application.
The Camtasia Recorder 8 application is the portion of the Camtasia Studio that's responsible for doing our audio and video recording. We'll begin by clicking the drop-down menu here for Audio on, and making sure our particular Microphone is the one that is selected. So in my case I'm using a Yeti Stereo Microphone, so that's what selected yours is likely to say something different, just make sure it's your USB mic and not your built-in Audio Device. Next, we'll go ahead and adjust the input gain on your microphone itself if it has one.
For me my settings tend to work best with my input gain set to about the midpoint and this is a good place to begin at. Now if you don't have an input gain on your mic or if you're using a headset mic, don't worry about it, go ahead and make sure that your mic placement now is correct. So, because I'm using a Desktop mic, I'm going to go ahead and hold my hand up in between my microphone and my mouth and extend my little finger and my thumb and make sure that the distance between my mouth and the microphone is now going to be at about that consistent range.
Now if I'm using a headset mic I'm going to go ahead to make sure that the boom is straight out in front of me and bent a little bit in towards the middle. I then may adjust the angle of the boom, so that the microphone itself is sitting either just above my top lip or just below my bottom lip when my mouth is closed. Next, we will begin adjusting the input gain that's setup in Camtasia Recorder itself, and we'll do that with this small slider. You can see mine is currently set to about the midpoint, and this is a good place to begin at.
You can drag the slider to the right and increase the amount of gain that's applied to your microphone settings. If you move this slider to far to the right, you'll notice that a red indicator appears showing that your audio maybe clipping or you maybe losing some of the quality of the audio that's going in. You can then drag your input gain to the left and reduce the amount of gain. But now you may see that you're not getting any indicators that are moving forward. Let's go ahead and begin our process by setting our indicator here to the midpoint, so that way we have a nice middle point to start with, and we can see whether or not we need to increase or reduce the amount of gain that's being applied.
We'll go ahead and click the Record button. When we do, what will happen is first we'll get a window that'll show us that F10 is the key to stop recording, and then we'll get a countdown. After the countdown, Camtasia Recorder is now recording our screen, all we need to do is record a few seconds of audio and then press the F10 key on your keyboard to stop the recording. (audio playing) A window will automatically open up for us and begin replaying our video back to us that we just recorded.
You can preview your audio by simply listening to it and that does an okay job of telling you if you're even in the ballpark, but it doesn't really give you any hard data to really look at and that's what we want. So what we're going to do is we're going to come over and click on the Save and Edit button. A window should pop up allowing you to save this recording. Now by default, Camtasia Studio should've created a Camtasia Studio folder inside of your My Documents folder for you automatically. We'll go ahead and name this file Soundtest1 and we'll go ahead and click the Save button.
Next, Camtasia Studio should automatically open up for us and open up that recording. When the window opens up, we're asked what editing dimensions that we want to use. We'll deal with this in a later movie. For right now, simply click OK to accept the default settings and what we're interested in looking at is the waveform. This audio track right here and we can see the peaks and the valleys that is describing the waveform of our audio that we recorded.
What ideally we want to see is the top of all of these peaks to be anywhere from the midpoint of this track, up to about the three-quarter mark. In this particular recording, we can see that our audio levels are set at a pretty good range, we're not getting audio that's showing up all the way up here at the top and we're not getting audio that's showing up only down here near the bottom, so this is a pretty good level. Now we could go in and fine-tune this by simply closing this window--we don't need to save any changes to this project--and we'll go back to our taskbar and click on the Camtasia Recorder again.
This time let's see what happens when we increase our audio gain up quite a bit. I'll move my audio gain up to about three- quarters of the way; we can already see that we're getting some clipping in here. We'll go ahead and click the Record button and record a few seconds just to see what it looks like. And here is the few seconds of recording of audio that's being done at an input level gain that's set about three-quarters of the way up, we're probably getting quite a bit of clipping.
We'll go ahead and press the F10 key on our keyboard to stop the recording. (audio playing) Now when that audio is playing back, we can already hear that the audio level is much louder than it was before. Let's go ahead and look at the hard data though and see if we are getting any clipping. We'll go ahead and click the Save and Edit button, we'll call this Soundtest2 and go ahead and click the Save button.
Once again, Camtasia Studio should automatically open up for us and it's going to open up directly into a project for us to check our sound levels. We'll once again click OK to accept the default size of the video and now we can turn our attention to the waveform, and right away, we can see, here's the problem. We've got audio peaks that are going all the way up to the top of our audio track and they're clipping off near the top, this is not a good audio recording.
Likewise, let's go ahead and close the window-- we don't need to save any changes--we'll go back to work taskbar, this time we'll set our audio level down to a much lower level. We'll do the same thing again by clicking the Record button and now, without changing the placement of our microphone or the distance that we are away from it, we can record another few seconds of audio and then press the F10 key to stop recording.
(audio playing) Already, just in the preview you can hear it; the audio levels are much lower than they were in the original recording. Let's go ahead and click Save and Edit and see what the waveform looks like. We'll go ahead and name this Soundtest3, click the Save button and when Camtasia Recorder opens up, we'll go ahead and accept the default settings for size and now look at our waveform, it's all much lower than our 50% level.
We did not get a good capture of our audio and the audio levels are not optimal. So, we want to go through this process of constantly recording a little bit of audio, saving the recording, opening it up in Camtasia Studio, and checking to see what the levels are to make sure that they're hitting that midpoint to three-quarters levels. Let's go ahead and do one more recording and set our input level back up to about the midpoint level and we'll do one more recording to check and see that our settings are correct.
Now I've recorded another sound test in order to check my levels and make sure everything is set up on my recording setup properly. I'll press F10 one more time on my keyboard. (audio playing) Now that audio is sounding much better this time. We'll go ahead and click Save and Edit, I'm going to call this Soundtest4, click the Save button. I'll go ahead and accept my default size of my window, and here we can see our audio levels are showing up exactly where we want them.
They're showing up anywhere between the halfway point and the three-quarters point. We could even take and boost our gain up just a little tiny bit in order to really tweak and get our settings exactly where we want them. Like I said, it's an iterative process, it'll take you a little while to get it down properly, but once you do, your screencasts are going to be so much better, because your audio is going to be crisp and clear and your learners will be able to hear clearly all the instructions that you're giving them.
Follow along as Chris creates an elearning project from start to finish with Camtasia Studio's tools. Discover how to add animation, PowerPoint slideshows, quizzes, and other effects that boost the interactivity and visual interest of your screencasts. The final chapter shows how to incorporate your Camtasia projects into an overall teaching strategy.
- Creating and configuring a recording account
- Choosing and connecting a microphone
- Installing Camtasia Studio
- Choosing the area of the screen you want to record
- Managing mouse movements
- Handling mistakes
- Editing audio and video in Camtasia
- Adding animation and zoom-and-pan or picture-in-picture effects
- Using the PowerPoint add-in
- Adding closed captioning
- Creating interactive quizzes
- Exporting and publishing movies