This book extract is from Camtasia Studio 3: The Definitive Guide, a book that provides extensive usage ideas on using TechSmith's Camtasia product.
Daniel Park, the author runs dappertext LLC, a firm that creates training and marketing content with Camtasia Studio.
I wish to thank Daniel Park, and Tim McEvoy of Wordware Publishing Inc. for facilitating the permission to extract.
When it comes to sharing information with customers, clients, and colleagues, Microsoft PowerPoint has been the number one application for over a decade. While terrific for in-person demonstrations, PowerPoint does leave something to be desired when trying to package your presentation for viewing when you may not be there. That's why Camtasia Studio has been so popular with PowerPoint gurus all over the world. With the release of version 2.1, Camtasia Studio added a special add-in module to Microsoft PowerPoint* that allowed users to record their presentations without ever starting up the Recorder. The add-in sits right in your PowerPoint toolbar, always at the ready, and offers much (but not all) of the functionality of the Camtasia Recorder.
The Camtasia Studio Add-in for PowerPoint.
In addition to recording the presentation window, this add-in can also import the recorded presentation directly into Camtasia Studio, complete with markers for each slide. These markers are automatically titled using titles from the presentation, and are ideal for quickly setting up a table of contents for use in exporting to the web.
* The instructions in this chapter are specific to PowerPoint 2003, but other versions should work similarly. The Camtasia Studio Add-in supports PowerPoint 2000, XP, and later.
Why Record Your PowerPoint Presentations?
You may be thinking, "My PowerPoint presentations can already be viewed by other people, online or off. Why in the world would I want to convert it to a Camtasia Studio recording? That sounds like a lot of effort." Good question. To answer it, let's discuss some of the things a video can offer that a standard PowerPoint presentation cannot.
Almost as Good as Being There
- For every person who attends your live presentation, 30 or more people may end up viewing it in archived form. Will those people receive the same benefit when paging through your PowerPoint file after the fact? Will this presentation contain your narration, your ink comments, even your face? I know that when looking over a PowerPoint file from a presentation I wasn't able to attend, I simply couldn't shake the feeling that I was viewing a "ghost" of a presentation. Yes, I had the raw slide data, possibly even some notes if the presenter was diligent. But without the presenter to guide me through the content, I got lost very quickly. Imagine if you could take the "live-ness" of your PowerPoint file and preserve it as part of your presentation. With Camtasia Studio, you can do just that.
Audio and Video
- While PowerPoint does allow you to add audio narration to your slides, it does not let you use audio codecs to compress your narration, so a lengthy presentation can get quite unwieldy. Also, PowerPoint does not allow you to include a video of yourself. With the new camera video options in Camtasia Studio 3, you can actually film yourself giving the presentation. This video is placed in a small video window, either inside the video window itself (picture-in-picture) or in a special side-by-side format. This second video stream is perfectly synced to your screen video. In addition to being a great supplement to your archived presentation, the camera video can also serve as a rehearsal tool. Just hit Record, practice your presentation, and then you can analyze your presentation style, timing, and appearance.
- One of the great features of PowerPoint is the ability to take your mouse and scribble all over your presentation to draw attention to certain points, something now made even easier with the use of a Tablet PC. The problem is that once your presentation is over, you either have to discard them or (provided you have a more recent version of Microsoft Office) save them as static drawings within your presentation, thus making your slides look cluttered and ugly. But when you record the presentation with the Camtasia Recorder, the actual animation of drawing those images is preserved with the Ink Comments feature. Just as if you were there.
- To view a PowerPoint presentation, you must have either Microsoft Office or Microsoft's free PowerPoint player. Camtasia Studio allows you to avoid the issue of viewer software by outputting your presentation in a number of formats, such as AVI, MOV, SWF, and WMV, among others. So, no matter what the audience, you'll have a way to reach them.
Better Playback Control
- When I open a PowerPoint file, it opens in Edit mode. I have to click to start the actual presentation and, depending on how it's set up, it will either automatically take me through slide-by-slide based on timed events, or I have to manually click. I also have no idea how long it will take to view the presentation in its entirety. With most of the output formats offered by Camtasia Studio, however, you have VCR-like controls as well as a view of the elapsed time and total running time. I can tell exactly where I am in the presentation, and how long I have to go. Plus, navigating through even a very long presentation is a lot simpler.
- With the addition of Flash hot spots and quizzing, you can add some interactivity to a formerly flat and linear presentation. If you want to test what your viewers have learned from your presentation, it's pretty straightforward to do so with Camtasia Studio's new quizzing features. If you want to add a button that, when clicked, automatically takes you to a web site, you can do that, too.
- You may have presentations that you want to distribute, but you'd rather not have users editing your content. While PowerPoint 2002 and later gives you the ability to issue a password so that users can't edit your file, this also means that people with versions prior to 2002 won't be able to view your presentation at all. Besides, there are utility programs out there that can easily crack any Office password. Fortunately, Camtasia Studio allows you to distribute your PowerPoint slide content in a number of formats, none of which will allow even the most determined would-be plagiarist to mess with it.
Capture of Third-Party Applications
- During your PowerPoint presentation, you might have cause to reference Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, or any number of other third-party applications and documents to help you get your point across. Camtasia Studio effortlessly captures all that appears on your monitor, so that you can distribute these segments along with your PowerPoint content in one cohesive package.
Camtasia Studio Add-In Toolbar
Now that we've talked about the why of making a video out of your PowerPoint presentation, let's move on to the how. For this, it's time to explore the actual toolbar:
The Camtasia Studio Add-in for PowerPoint.
Simply launch PowerPoint, and the add-in appears in your toolbar palette automatically. The toolbar sports five buttons:
Launch Presentation and Start Recording
- This will put PowerPoint into Slide Show view and begin the recording process.
- If pressed, this button will record all sound from the microphone while the capture is in progress. As I'll discuss in a minute, it can also be set to record any sound from the system, such as sound effects within PowerPoint or any prerecorded narration embedded in the PowerPoint file. It is on by default.
- When clicked, this will enable the capture of camera video. This video data is saved as a separate stream inside the resulting CAMREC file. During editing, you can superimpose this video over your screen video, setting its size and position as desired, or place it next to your presentation in a side-by-side layout. Your webcam, camcorder, or other video device must be connected and the appropriate driver software installed in order to use this option.
Show Camera Preview
- Clicking this button will bring up a preview window of your camera video, so that you can make sure the camera is properly aimed, and that you stay in-frame and in-focus during the entire recording session. This window will appear on top of your presentation, but not to worry — it won't be recorded. The opacity of this window is somewhat reduced so that you can see what's underneath it while recording. As with the Record Camera option, it only works if you actually have a camera plugged in. Also, keep in mind that you can still view the camera preview even if you elect not to record the camera output during capture.
Camtasia Studio Recording Options
- This will let you adjust the add-in's recording preferences. Let's discuss the details of this button and its corresponding dialog.