Raise the Bar: Camtasia 9 Tutorials: Three Techniques That Create More Engaging Content

Written By

Mark Lassoff

October 20, 2016

Camtasia 9 was released today.

Camtasia is a tool that I spend a great deal of time using. As is true of many users, I use a subset of the features and ignore many others that are less useful to me. With the release of Camtasia 9, TechSmith is trying to further cement the production software as the “Swiss Army knife” of eLearning tools. A fully featured tool, Camtasia allows you to edit video and produce quizzes, and it comes stocked with dozens of visual effects and transitions.

Camtasia does have a 30-day trial edition you can use to follow along with these tutorials if you have not yet purchased Camtasia 9 (Figure 1). Camtasia is cross-platform: Windows and Mac machines can use the same development files.

(Editor’s note: If viewing this article on a smartphone or a tablet, you may find that placing your device in landscape orientation will make some of the figures more legible.)

Figure 1: The new Camtasia 9 interface while editing an instructional video

Let’s take a look at three production techniques with the new Camtasia 9 that will allow you to see exactly what the new software can do and how it can help you create more engaging content.

Green screen

Assuming you have at least a minimal green screen setup, you can edit any green screen video you shoot in Camtasia 9 quite easily. Remember that quality green screen is all about the lighting—a well-lit video will be much easier to composite than one with shadows and inconsistencies. Assuming you have a quality green screen video, let’s go through the step-by-step process of editing a green screen video in Camtasia 9:

1) Open Camtasia 9 and, from the initial dialog box, click the New Project button. This will open the primary interface (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Opening Camtasia 9

2) Click the Import Media button, and choose the background you’d like to use for the video. This background can be a still image, an animation, or a video. I’m going to choose a game animation that we used for a video game development course.

3) In the bottom left corner of the Media Bin tab, you’ll see a + button. Click it and choose Import Media from the menu to import the green screen video that you’d like to overlay on the background you just imported. This video should be the consistently lit green screen video you shot. (Figure 3 shows the result of this step.)


Figure 3: Media Bin with background animation and the green screen video imported

4) Turn your attention to the timeline in the bottom part of the interface. Right-click on Track 1 and choose Insert Track, then Above. Track 2 will appear above Track 1.

5) Drag your background video onto Track 1. Drag your green screen video onto Track 2 (Figure 4).

Figure 4: The timeline after dragging the videos into place on the tracks

6) If your background on Track 1 is shorter than the green screen video, you need to extend it by dragging the right side of the background clip to be even with the end of the green screen clip (in the case of a still image). If you have a background video, you’ll need to drag it from the Media Bin onto Track 1 until both tracks are even (Figure 5).

Figure 5: The background animation loop has been inserted multiple times so that the clips are the same length

(A small warning here—with this new version of Camtasia, be sure to drag clips around the timeline from the bottom half of the clip. If you click on the top of the clip on the timeline, you might inadvertently insert a quiz. If you do this, just hit CTRL-Z to undo.)

7) Select the green screen clip by clicking on it. Then, from the menu on the left side of the screen, choose Visual Effects.

8) Drag the Remove a Color effect onto the clip on Track 2. The effect menu will appear on the right side of the interface. Adjust the Tolerance slider to the right until the green background disappears. Be careful that other colors you want to retain don’t disappear as well (Figure 6).

Figure 6: The background has been removed, although you can make some improvements here

9) Adjust the Softness and Defringe sliders to remove any green edges around your speaker. You may want to press the space bar to roll the clip and see how the edges of your speaker look while moving. (Only a fast computer will composite green screen on the fly without stuttering.)

10) Finally, click the green screen clip again, and position and size the speaker as you’d like using the bounding box around the clip in the preview area (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Final composite with speaker sized and positioned

11) Test your video with the space bar. Use the Share drop-down menu to export your movie and watch it be composited and output.

Green screen in about 10 steps—not too shabby!

Ken Burns effect

The documentary filmmaker Ken Burns used this effect so much, it was named after him. Basically, it’s a pan over a still image. You’ll need an image that’s bigger than the video you’re creating. Since I’m creating a video that’s 1920 x 1080 (HD), I’ll need an image 30 to 50 percent larger.

1) Open a new Camtasia project.

2) Import the image you are going to use to the Media Bin. We’ve provided landscape_image.jpg  with this tutorial for you to practice.

3) Using the zoom control at the top of the screen (above the preview), zoom out to 25 percent. Drag your image onto Track 1 and position it using the sizing handles and drag, as pictured in Figure 8 below.

Figure 8: Look carefully—not all of the landscape image is visible in the preview window

4) Right-click on the image on Track 1, choose Duration, and set the duration to 30 seconds.

5) Position the playhead toward the end of the 30-second clip. From the menu on the left side of the screen, choose Animations. Make sure your Zoom-n-Pan tab is active and visible (Figure 9).

Figure 9: The Zoom-n-Pan tab with image loaded

6) Drag the square in the Zoom-n-Pan tab to the right so that it appears to pan through the image with the image moving toward the left. You’ll now notice a small arrow on Track 1 in your timeline (Figure 10).

Figure 10: The effect is on the timeline—you just need to extend its length

7) Drag the arrow to the left so it extends the length of the clip. Press the space bar and enjoy the Ken Burns effect! (Figure 11.)

Figure 11: The motion effect now applied for the proper length of time

It’s amazing how just a little subtle motion can take a boring clip and make it more interesting. You can experiment with zoom and pan, or a combination of both, and create some pretty interesting clips in your learning projects.

Picture-in-picture

This is a pretty cool effect where you can combine elements in a single screen to increase visual engagement. There are just a few steps. They key is having an appropriate image for the picture-in-picture effect. I like to use something similar to this:

Figure 12: Picture-in-picture framing

1) In a new Camtasia project, click the Import Media button and import your picture-in-picture background layer.

2) Right-click on Track 1 and insert a new track above it. This will be Track 2. Drag your background onto Track 2.

3) Import the video you’d like to play inside the television frame, and place it below the background on Track 1. (Note that the area inside the television is transparent, so you’ll be able to see what’s below.)

4) Drag the right side of the Track 2 clip so it’s even on the timeline with Track 1. You want both clips to be the same length (Figure 13).

Figure 13: The interface with both tracks imported

5) Select your bottom layer and, using the sizing handles, carefully position it inside the television. It may help to click the lock icon on Track 2 to lock it in place while you do this (Figure 14).

Figure 14: The video layer now in position

6) Insert a track above Track 2, and insert any other items you want for your clip. Make sure you extend this for the length of your timeline (Figure 15).

Figure 15: The instructor (in this case, me) added to the composite

You can actually add multiple “pictures-in-picture” in a single shot. Pretty cool effect, don’t ya think?

[In the interest of full disclosure, the author was a beta tester for Camtasia 9 and was compensated with a complimentary license.]

Come see Mark at DevLearn 2016 in Las Vegas. His session, Eight Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Camtasia, will delve further into Camtasia production techniques.

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