Using Camtasia With Articulate Presenter

Many users of the Articulate Rapid E-Learning Studio Second Edition resort to using Techsmith’s Camtasia application for taking video screen captures of their screen which they then embed into Articulate Presenter or Engage. There are two main ways of doing this and this article looks at the first method which is essentially the easier way. There is no ‘hacking’ as such, but you need to be aware of a few settings.

METHOD 1: Embedding SWF files into Articulate Presenter/Engage

By far the easiest way of embedding Camtasia screen captures into Presenter or Engage, is to encode your Camtasia capture directly into SWF format.

Setting the size of your video.

Resizing a video reduces the quality of the finished product, so it is a good idea to do your screen capture AT THE SAME SIZE as you wish to show it in Articulate Presenter. Resizing a video can cause playback issues and generally reduces the quality and clearness of the published video, so your best bet is to avoid resizing from the beginning to the end of the process.

Decide how big your video will be in Articulate Presenter. If you are playing in the slide in “Standard” view, your video can be no wider than 720 pixels and no higher than 540 pixels. If you are viewing your video in “No sidebar” view, then you can push the width of your video to about 920 pixels. Don’t forget that once imported, you will not be able to change the size of your published SWF but you WILL be able to change its position. By way of example let us go for a video size of 920 px by 400 px, to leave us some space at the bottom or at the top of the slide for a title.

Preparing your recording screen

Next, try to recreate what you are trying to capture in a window of 920 px x 400 px. Open Camtasia 5, and choose “Make a recording” and then “Select area to record”. Now prepare the subject that you want to record and try to make it appear in your box, either by reducing the size of the application window or by concentrating on just one part of the application. Use your cursor to make a box which is exactly 920 px x 400 px. In the screenshot below, I have made an area which covers the Articulate Online product site on the Articulate website by resizing the internet browser.

AO Screen Capture

Record your video, and when you have finished click “Stop” and your video should appear in a preview window. Choose “Save”, type a name for your video, and then choose “Edit my recording”. It is important, at this stage, to choose the right size for your video as Camtasia 5 tends to place your video in a default 640 x 480 screen or other. In the “Project Settings” dialog box, select the “All” presets and then choose the “Recording dimensions” as your preset for your video. This will ensure that you encode your video at the size you recorded it at.

Project Settings

Once you have finished editing your capture in Camtasia, then, if you are using Camtasia 5, choose “Produce Video As” and then select “Custom Production Settings”. Finally choose Adobe Flash output for your screen capture and click “Next”.

Flash setting in Camtasia

Unlike previous versions of Camtasia, Camtasia 5 has a Flash template called ExpressShow, which adds a player control right at the beginning of the video resembling the videos on YouTube and other similar sites. This template is not compatible with the Articulate Presenter player. When using this template, the Camtasia video will not play the first time the slide is viewed, though it will play on subsequent visits. So you must not use the ExpressShow template. Instead you can opt for the “Legacy SWF output” Flash template.

Select Legacy SWF ouput

Once you have selected the “Legacy SWF output”, click on the “Flash Options” button:

Flash options

This will open the “Flash Options” dialog box where there are a number of settings we need to change:

Flash Options Dialog Box

  • Change the frame rate to 30 fps. By default this is set to automatic. When you look at the various options, you will see that 30 fps is not a suggested setting. However, you can type 30 via the keyboard. Having a framerate of 30 fps ensures maximum compatibility with the Articulate player.
  • If you want to make your video file smaller and quicker to load, and then select Using “JPEG compression”.
  • Choose the quality level of your JPEG compression. 50 may well be good enough for most uses but test. If you find that your file is too large, or the quality is not good enough, change this figure. Make it lower to reduce file size and higher to increase quality.
  • Change the background color of your video. This is not important if you are using the Legacy SWF format.

The other settings need not be changed in the “Flash Options” dialog box. Click “OK” and this will bring you back to the “Production Wizard”.

Make sure that the size is the same as your recording and if necessary change the size settings:

Size settings

Finally click “Next”. Click “Next” again unless you want to add a watermark or add copyright information about your video, “Next” again for the “Marker Options” (there are no marker options), and finally choose the “Production name” for your output file. You can leave the default settings. Click “Finish” and the encoding process will begin.

Embed your video in Articulte Presenter or Engage.

Now, all that is left for you to do is to import your Flash movie via the “Import Flash Movie” tool in Articulate Presenter. Leave the default settings (Play Flash movie and slide in sync), click “Next” and “Finish”. When you publish your presentation with Articulate Presenter, you should find that your video plays fine and that you can control it via the Articulate player controls. Here is a little demo showing the video of the Articulate Online tutorial page that was prepared above.

Demo of Camtasia in Presenter

View Demo

Similarly, you can insert your Flash movie into Articulate Engage as per normal.

In another article, I’ll talk about the second method of embedding Camtasia files into Articulate which includes knowing how to insert a multiple-file Camtasia project into Presenter and Engage.

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23 thoughts on “Using Camtasia With Articulate Presenter

Add yours

  1. Hi Stefano,

    You can’t import Flash files into Camtasia so the only thing you could do, perhaps, is to show your Engage interaction in presentation mode (ie. no interactivity) and record with Camtasia and then use that in your Camtasia project.

  2. Dave,

    Great article…

    Can you speak to the length of SWF files that can be imported?

    Is there a recommended maximum movie length? I have heard that you can’t (shouldn’t?) have more than 8 minutes. So, I am thinking of splitting up my movies into these 8 min segments and then string them together…

    Thoughts?

    Thanks.

    -Steven

  3. Dave,

    Thanks for the blog. I’m finding it very useful. I was wondering if you knew how to take a camtasia 5 presentation that has a camtasia quiz inside of it and embedd it into an engage interaction. I’ve tried a number of things but I can’t seem to get it to work. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Raju

  4. Hi Kevin,
    Very helpful post as I have just started with this and got suck also. 🙂

    Problem:
    I am embedding the flash output from Camatasia into Articulate by exactly following the above steps. However, I am still not getting the ‘perfect’ output. The final output in Articulate is blurred (for example, the letter ‘B’ will appear with a blurred, thick, extra vertical line at the start). The mouse paths are also appearing as vertical or horizontal lines.

    Background
    The application I am capturing is a large screen one. So, I am using 1280 x 1024 as the screen resolution and my capture size is 1280 x 680 – the main screen minus the menu bars, etc.

    As we are using Articulate and the maximum screen size available in the standard Articulate view in 720 x 540, I am editing it in these dimensions and applying Smartfocus. I get two horizontal black bars on the top and bottom, which I manged to remove by adding a zoom-and-pan frame, though not very neatly.

    More details
    Flash production settings: 720 x 540.
    Legacy Flash produced without JPEG compression
    When integrating flash in the ppt, I get an error saying that the size of the recording is 721 x 541, which is greater than 720 X 540, though I edited and produced in 720 x 540.

    When I preview the recoding in Camtasia it runs fine (as in no blur).
    In the ppt, the imported flash file appears fine in slide show view.
    However, in the published Articulate version, it comes blurred.

    Any suggestions/thoughts on how to tackle this issue?

    Thanks,
    Ruchi

  5. Hi Ruchi,

    The resizing may be be causing the blurring. Have you tried showing your Camtasia movie in the “No Sidebar” view? Generally this removes all mouse trailing. Both the “Standard” and the “Slide Only” views can cause the mouse trailing which is due to the way the Camtasia movie is built and the resizing in the Articulate player. Showing in “No Sidebar” view should at least resolve the mouse issue.

  6. Dave,
    Thanks for the prompt reply.

    I tried all the other options:
    – Recoding in 720 x 540 as well as editing and oublishing in the same dimensions.
    – With no side bar view for the falsh slide. (the mouse trailings are still there.)
    – Opened the flash in a different window.

    In the first two , the problem is still coming, whereas when I set the flash to open in a different window, a window opens, but nothing happens.

    Any other suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Ruchi

  7. I also tried taking a smaller sized recording (718 x 538) and then embedding the generated flash into Articulate.

    That also does not work.

  8. Hi Ruchi,

    I imagine the blurring you are getting is because you are reducing a capture made at 1280 x 1084 to a size of 720 x 540 or thereabouts. Resizing seems to cause this trailing and bad quality. The example I did, did not use the SmartFocus function and because the original was at 920 x 400 pixels, there was no resizing when encoding to SWF or when importing to Articulate Presenter. Similarly the examples of screen captures in this demo http://www.articulate.com/support/dave/blog/imagepanel/player.html show no trailing when showed in “No Sideview” but did in the other views. Again, there was no resizing at any stage of the process. When I have a little more time, I’ll experiment to see how to get a screen capture larger than 920 x 540 pixels in Presenter without the trailing.

  9. Dave,
    I hadn’t resized the capture. I recorded, edited, and published it in 720 x 540. I also tried using Smartfocus for one recording, where I recorded in 1280 x 1084 and then applied Smart Focus. However, in all cases, the mouse trailings and the blur is still there. I had posted it on the Articulate forum also, and there Justing asked me to lock the presentation to optimal size. This seems to take care of a large part of problem (The mouse trailings and blur is reduced.), though the only issue is that the course size is reduced.

    Is there a way where I can keep the course size = browser size and still have neat captures?

    Btw, what are the maximum capture sizes we can use in the three view modes of Articulate?
    Standard: 720 x 540
    No side bar: 920 x 540
    Slide only : ?

    Thanks,
    Ruchi

  10. Hi Ruchi,

    Resizing is causing part of this problem. The Slide Only view simply expands what you see in Standard view so you maximum capture sizes will be the same as for Standard. For the moment, I have found that the only way to remove mouse trailing is to show your presentation in “No Sidebar” view and to lock the presentation at optimum size as this, in effect, reduces resizing in the user’s browser. Are you still getting trailing with these settings?

  11. Hey Ruchi,

    I just got my trial version of this software, I have one BIG problem, I record everything is fine when the program shows me the auto playback. the I choose save and just put whatever name and save it on a folder.

    The problem is that when I go to the Editing mode and I drag the file to the timeline It wont show up, not even if I right click and select the option to add it to the timeline, It wont preview either, its just there and theres no way for me to save it in another format because it wont add to the timeline.

    Ive done everything, uninstalling and reinstalling the software, updating my directx, uninstalling and reinstalling flash player and setting up the hardware acceleration to none
    Nothing seems to work

    Any help?

    Thanks

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