Join Chris Mattia for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing a microphone, part of Camtasia Studio 8 Essential Training.
Before we go any further we need to take a few minutes and talk about microphones. And let's talk about my first rule of creating great screen casts, and that is quite simply to never ever use the built-in microphone included in your computer, especially if you're recording on a laptop. While it may be convenient to have a built-in microphone in your computer, the placement of that microphone is not ideal for capturing your voice cleanly. Yes, it does work and in a pinch it will get you by, but you're going to pick up a lot more of the noise coming out of your computer, the pounding of your fingers on the keyboard, the fan built into your computer, and your voice is not going to sound as clear as it is in an external microphone.
If all you have is the built-in mic in your computer, then by all means it's better than nothing, go ahead and use it, but to really take your screen recordings to the next level, go ahead and invest a little bit of money and get a good quality external USB microphone. These can be picked up for anywhere from 30 to a couple of hundred dollars. There are two basic types of mics. You have desktop mics and you have headset mics. Let's start by looking at the desktop mics. Desktop mics tend to be of a much higher quality than their headset counterparts.
They tend to offer more advanced controls and options directly on the microphone itself and sometimes in the software that's included with the microphone. They do require you to use a separate set of headphones, and so you could look at this as a disadvantage to having to buy another piece of gear, but you could also look at it as an advantage, because you can use your really nice quality headphones that you may already have for listening to music. On the disadvantage side, these mics do tend to be a bit more expensive than their headset counterparts, but you do get what you pay for.
The last disadvantage to talk about is mic placement, and this is not so much a disadvantage, but a challenge, and something that you really need to be aware of. Because the desktop microphone is stationary in front of you, you need to be able to get in the habit of speaking into the microphone, but not getting too close that your audio gets distorted, or getting too far away and your audio getting diminished. To get good mic placement a good rule of thumb is to get the microphone to be set anywhere from about 6-10 inches away from your mouth when you're speaking, and angled such that it's pretty much pointed at your mouth.
To get a good placement on this, I like to take and extend my little finger and my thumb or my hand stretched out as far as possible and place the microphone so that it's about touching my little finger and my mouth so it's about touching my thumb. That gives me a nice gauge so that I always know about how far my microphone is from my mouth when I'm talking. Now, on the headset microphone options, these offer a really great quality to value ratio. You can get a really good headset for not a lot of money.
And the consistency of mic placement on these headsets really increase their value. Because the microphone is attached to the headset which you're wearing on your head, the mic is always at the same consistent distance away from your mouth, this way your recordings sound very consistent. For the boom mic placement, I like to set the boom so that it's pretty much straight out in front of my mouth and then bent in just a little bit towards my mouth. Vertically, I'll either set the end of the microphone so that it's just above my top lip when my mouth is closed or just below my bottom lip when my mouth is closed.
Any of these placements tend to give me the best recordings when I'm using one of these headsets. You'll need to experiment with your headset to find the optimal placement for your mic with your particular voice and how you speak. The thing that I really love about the headset mics is how portable they are. I have my headset mic with me nearly all the time. I just throw it in my laptop bag and that way anytime I need to do a screen recording, all I need to do is find a quiet room and I have my whole recording studio with me.
Since this style of mic has integrated headphones, you really have a complete recording package all in one unit. On the disadvantage or challenge side for these headsets, it can be a little bit of a challenge to find a headset mic that you really like that is comfortable for you. The comfort level of the headset mics varies greatly, so you're really going to have to experiment and find one that you like. And that brings us to our last challenge with these headsets. There really are too many options out there.
Every different vendor makes one. You probably have one at your house already; if you're a gamer you probably already have a gaming headset, that will work just fine. Again, the biggest key when you're choosing a microphone is to get a good quality microphone that works for you in your setting. USB is a great option; you don't need to go through a lot of expense in order to get a good quality microphone. Have consistent mic placement and tune your microphone to your voice so that your audio always sounds the same when you're doing your recordings.
For the rest of this training title, I'll be using the desktop USB Yeti Microphone from Blue. This is the microphone that I use in my home studio. But when I'm out on the road or I'm in my office at work, I'll tend to go with my Plantronics advanced DSP, USB headset that I carry around with me all the time.
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