Category Archives: Camtasia

Would You Like To Learn Camtasia?

camtasia.jpg

I  have been using Camtasia since version 3 was new. I have made hundreds of hours of screencasts for myself and for others.

I receive many requests for help with Camtasia and have frequently heard, “You should teach a class.”

So I am wondering – should I teach a class?

I’ve created a brief (6 question) survey to help me figure out if there is any interest in an in depth Camtasia class. No risk – no obligation. But if you might take such a class, please take the survey.

Click Here to take survey

FLV To Be Added Back Into Camtasia 6

TechSmith hears customers pleas

Don't Make 'Em Beg


TechSmith has listened to its customers.

Sometime around March, 2009, they plan to release an update to Camtasia 6 that will include output to FLV. The loss of FLV support was the single biggest complaint against Camtasia 6, and Camtasia users certainly did complain.

High Definition MPEG-4 video with H.264 compression, which was introduced to Camtasia with v6, will still be included in the new release. FLV will just be added as another option.

Betsy Weber, TechSmith lead evangelist, says, “Bottom line is that we messed up by removing FLV as soon as we did, but we’re working on fixing it.”

This is good news all around. And it’s the mark of great customer support.

Although TechSmith had (what they thought were) good reasons for dropping FLV support, once it became apparent that those reasons didn’t persuade their customers, TechSmith didn’t dig in their heels, complain about the cost of retooling, tell everyone else they were wrong, and watch loyal customers walk away. They listened and then they made the changes their customers wanted.

Bravo, TechSmith!

Photo by Zitona Released under Creative Commons License

Three Free Tools For Better Screencasts

tools for screencastingCamtasia 6 has changed the screencasting landscape – perhaps for the better, perhaps not – but whether you are using Camtasia 3, Camtasia 5, or Camtasia 6, you will find screencasting infinitely easier if you use three, free tools.

1. Sizer The ability to precisely resize the screen area you want to record to exact dimensions is so crucial to good screencasting that TechSmith built it in to Camtasia 4. But no matter which version of Camtasia you use, you still need Sizer. You can choose from standard 4:3 apsect ratios like 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 – or you can create you own custom sizes. Choose a profile, click your mouse, and any window is precisely the size you want.

Now that You Tube is accepting widescreen videos, Sizer is more useful than ever. Use it to make sure your videos recording area is 1280 x 720, for best HQ results.

2. Audacity is the one sound editor you need if you want your screencasts to have professional audio. TechSmith has been laboring to incorprate better audio editing into Camtasia – and v6 has finally introduced a third audio track and a way to de-couple audio and video on Track 1 – but they also dropped their stand alone Sound Editor. Even TechSmith now recommends that you use Audacity. How much does it cost? It’s free!

3. Color Cop let’s you find the exact RGB or Hex value for any color. If you want to create callouts that match a particular screen element (like your browser’s toolbar, for instance), Color Cop is perfect.

I’ve recommended these applications for years. No matter how much TechSmith improves each new release of Camtasia, Sizer, Audacity, and Color Cop remain indispensible.

Photo by linh.ngan Released under Creative Commons License

Camtasia 6 Is Disappointing Users

Should you upgrade now or wait for Camtasia 7

Should you upgrade now or wait for Camtasia 7?


The news from early Camtasia 6 adopters is not encouraging.

Version 6 has been out for about a week, and already TechSmith is pushing a maintenance release, v 6.0.1, to deal with problems in recording and editing. While it is great that TechSmith is so quick to respond to user feedback, it is unfortunate that they didn’t catch these problems before release. This is a fairly pricey purchase, after all.

The complaints so far:

  • Frequent crashes
  • No FLV output
  • Audio problems
  • S-L-O-W performance

The lack of FLV is, all by itself, almost enough to make me skip this upgrade. I have read TechSmith’s reasoning, and Adobe’s statement that FLV has gone as far as it is likely to go – but I am not in a hurry to switch to MP4.

Camtasia 5.1 did most things right. Yes, there is room to improve the audio recording and editing and yes, the promise of High Definition is enticing. But neither seems worth the trouble reported on the TechSmith forums. Especially since upgrading v5 audio to v6 is one of the problem areas – and, astonishingly, TechSmith’s solution is to recommend Audacity.

The upgrade from v3 to v4 was underwhelming, both in terms of features and stability. Camtasia 5 was the true successor to v3. Early reports – and, in fairness, these are really very, very preliminary reports – hint at a similar situation with v 6.

Since I am more or less content with Camtasia 5.1, rather than leap into the fray with a $150 upgrade, I’ll be sitting on the sidelines a little longer, waiting for more encouraging news.

If you are using Camtasia 6, I’d like to hear your impressions in the Comments.

Should You Upgrade To Camtasia 6?

The New Camtasia 6

Camtasia 6

TechSmith has just released Camtasia v6.

Since Camtasia is so expensive – $300 for the full version, $150 for the upgrade – the first question everyone asks is: is it worth upgrading?

From a quick first look, the answer would be: it depends on what version of Camtasia you are currently using.

If you have Camtasia 5 – the improvements are incremental. It might be hard to justify the expense if the new features don’t address any real problems in your workflow.

On the other hand, if you are still using version 3 or 4 – Camtasia 6 will tempt you to move up.

TechSmith has taken user requests and complaints about audio to heart, and has steadily improved audio editing in Camtasia. The big news in this upgrade is that, even if you record the video and audio simultaneously on Track 1, you can de-link them for editing.

Audio editing in Camtasia has been required so many work-arounds and compromises, I stopped even trying in version 4. (The infamous chipmunk effect was the last straw.) So, while de-linking track 1 audio and video is very, very welcome, by itself it won’t convince me to upgrade. My audio is always recorded separately and imported to track2 – that’s just the workflow I’ve developed over the last 12-16 months.

The other highlight is the inclusion of the H264 codec for hi definition video on the web. Again – this is a much needed improvement. Is it worth $150? Today – not quite. Soon? Maybe.

SCREENCAST.COM OFFERS FREE 2GB ACCOUNTS

Screencast.com, TechSmith’s video hosting site, is now offering 2 GB of storage and 2 GB of bandwidth per month for free. The publicity around Camtasia 6 makes it sound like you might have to buy Camtasia 6 to take advantage of this offer – but you don’t. Just go to screencast.com and sign up. The Pro Plan is a bit spendy, but the free 2 GB offer is certainly worth a look.


Those Mysterious Camtasia File Formats

Right Click on the CAMREC File to Extract an AVI

Right Click on the CAMREC File to Extract an AVI

CAMREC, CAMPROJ, TSCC … it’s like TechSmith lives on a whole different planet with its own secret language.

If you are new to screencasting, the blizzard of acronyms and abbreviations can be overwhelming. Video is bad enough with it’s arcane jargon (which is demystified in GhostLeg’s free PDF eBook, The Language of Video). TechSmith adds another dollop of confusion with its file extensions.

What does it all mean? Why should you care?

CAMREC is the file that is produced by the Camtasia Recorder. In other words, it contains the screencast. The CAMREC file is what video specialists call a “wrapper” file. It holds the AVI file, which is the main audio and video recording, plus any additional streams of information, such as markers and PiP files.

Even if you record with the CAMREC setting, you can later extract the AVI file for editing with standard video editors that don’t recognize TechSmith’s proprietary format. This is very valuable for large projects or for videos where you want to integrate a screencast with high quality live action footage.

It is also very useful if you want to tweak the audio with something other than TechSmith’s anemic audio tools. (Torley has great audio editing tips in How To Master Screencasts in Seven Steps)

Simply Right Click on the CAMREC file and select Extract from the context menu.  If your CAMREC file is large, this process can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. Don’t try to multi-task while the AVI is being extracted. just leave your computer alone for however long it takes.

CAMPROJ files are the Camtasia Project files that are produced by the Camtasia Studio Editor. They are usually quite small. If you open one with Notepad, you’ll discover it is a standard XML file, with information about the size and length of your video, the placement of edits, markers, pans, zooms, tracks, etc. In short, it tells Camtasia what to do when you produce the final video.

The advantage to knowing this is that, once you are familiar with XML, you can sometimes make small edits directly to the CAMPROJ file, without having to load a large and complex project into the editor.

TSCC is the TechSmith Capture Codec and, unlike the other files, it is not something else in disguise. It is TechSmith’s way of compressing screencaptures so that the clarity is excellent while the file size stays (relatively) small. You can record with the TSCC codec and later produce the video using a different codec, such as DivX or H.264.

Firefox Screencast Contest

Do you use Firefox? Do you love screencasting? Well, if you said yes to either of those questions – it’s time to get crackin’

Firefox is holding a contest to help create screencasts for the Top 100 Support articles in the Firefox Knowledge Base. The Grand Prize is a Flip Video Ultra. The next 100 winners get a t-shirt.

Check out the Contest Guidleines

  1. Use Firefox 3
  2. Use an English language version of Firefox
  3. Create Flash videos (if you don’t have Camtasia – use Jing)
  4. Video only – don’t add narration or music
  5. Size videos to 640 x 480

That’s it – Submit your screencast and win!

Camtasia 5.1 Released

Techsmith has released an upgrade to Camtasia 5 with several new features:

  • New callouts shine the spotlight on your content
  • Add background music with a third audio track
  • Deliver screencasts to millions of iPhone and iPod Touch users
  • Customize Flash FLV videos with TechSmith ExpressShow
  • Build a Web menu for your videos with Camtasia Theater

I’m especially excited by the 3rd audio track – something I’ve wanted since Camtasia 3.

This release also fixes the “chipmunk” problem that was created by the last Adobe Flash upgrade (which Adobe still hasn’t addressed). So all in all – if you own Camtasia 5, download and install this free upgrade. If you’ve been curious about Camtasia, download the trial.

I’ll write more about my experience with this upgrade after I’ve produced a few FLVs.

Camtasia Tips from TechSmith

TechSmith, the makers of Camtasia and Snag It, is offering 30 tutorials again. You may have caught the original 30 Tips in 30 Days that was used to launch Camtasia 4. Oddly, nothing so ambitious greeted the launch of Camtasia 5 – but TechSmith is making up for the pre-launch blahs by scattering tutorials throughout their blog.

There have been several good tips lately. Today’s tip explains one workaround to get more than 2 audio tracks into your Camtasia recordings. A previous tip covered Basic Audio Editing.

Whether you are a seasoned Camtasia user or a beginner – TechSmith tutorials are a gold mine of information. Make the time to view the training videos for both Camtasia 4 and Camtasia 5 in the TechSmith Learning Center.