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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