Producing screencams

Camtasia 7 Review

Camtasia has been my go-to screen recording application on Windows since forever, and I have at least 200 Camtasia recorded projects under my belt. But seldom, if ever, have I edited and produced my project in Camtasia, preferring the more familiar environs of Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro. To be brutally honest, in previous versions, Camtasia's editing application, Camtasia Studio, felt clunky, inefficient, and frequently dysfunctional, as if it were created by engineers who had never really edited video. Its resemblance to consumer video editor Microsoft Movie Maker did nothing to dispel that notion.

Tips on ScreenCam Production

Just got off the phone with Jay Simons from Atlassian, an Australian software company specializing in collaboration and development tool like Jira, Confluence and FishEye. Atlassian has produced hundreds of screencam videos to illustrate new features of their programs and provide quick training tips, producing the screencams with Telestream ScreenFlow (click here to watch some excellent tutorials on Screencam production with ScreenFlow from Atlassian employee Mark Halvorson).

I was chatting about Atlassian's choice of Episodic as their Online Video Platform (OVP) for an article I'm writing for AV Technology, and Jay mentioned that the analytics that Episodic provided - like drop off statistics, how and when people rewind, how many people embed and forward the videos -  helped them fine-tune their screeencam production for clarity, retention and engagement. I asked for some tips, which he graciously provided. Here they are:

  • Limit screencams to 90 seconds, which typically means one topic.
  • Don't waste time with introductions, logos and the like. Jump in and start presenting.
  • Summarize key points with text to aid retention, but pause the video when displaying text. Otherwise, folks can get distracted (as evidenced by lots of rewinds).
  • Use background music to fill in the "white spaces." Make sure the mix is right - if music is too loud, viewers exit quickly. 
  • Voice quality matters - buy a good microphone and pre-amp, and learn skills like pop and click elimination and noise reduction.

I produce a lot of screencams, and I'll keep these in mind going forward. Thanks to Jay for sharing, and I hope you find the tips useful.

Encoding Screencams: Codecs and Techniques

In Producing Screencams that Market and Sell, I described how to script, record, and edit a screencam presentation for fun or profit. In this article, I’ll detail which codec does the best job compressing screencams for internet delivery, which encoding parameters work best and why, and which encoding tools do the best job producing the compressed screencam.

Producing Screencams that Market and Sell

Screencams are a wonderful tool for demonstrating software operation. In many cases, producing them can almost be a real-time event—you capture and narrate simultaneously, import the result into Camtasia Studio, add titles and such, export the finished file, and move on to the next project.

However, when you’re producing tutorials for a client, or otherwise seeking a more polished look and feel that maximizes the marketing potential of screencams, you may have to take a different approach.This article details how to create a screencam script for maximum impact, how to capture at maximum quality and how to edit your screencam most efficiently in programs like Adobe Premiere Pro.