Making a Library Video: Trialling Camtasia Studio 8

HLG Nursing Bulletin Vol 35 (3/4)

Robert Cunningham
Faculty Librarian
Liverpool Hope University

Michelle Bond
Faculty Librarian
Liverpool Hope University

Abstract: This article explores the use of Camtasia Studio 8 for creating library screencast videos. It describes the process of creating a screencast guide to the institutional repository at Liverpool Hope University, including script-writing, recording, editing and exporting the video. It also considers next steps that could be taken using the new stills developed and includes top tips for creating effective video tutorials. The findings of the article could be easily replicated and applied in a variety of professional settings for creating a range of online screencast video guides.

More and more libraries are producing video content to help their users understand their services and learn how to use their resources. Our University recently purchased some licenses for Camtasia, a screen recording and video editing software, and we were keen to make use of it to produce some of our own library videos. This article documents our experience of producing a first video using Camtasia and offers some hints and tips for those wanting to produce their own library videos.

The video was made to show academic staff how to use HIRA – our institutional repository. It was timely as a major government policy came into effect on 1st April that means academics have to deposit their work into HIRA, so it’s important they all know how to use it. We had produced some printed guides, as well as an explanatory leaflet, but felt a short video showing HIRA in action would also be useful. In addition Michelle was going to host workshops with academic staff to discuss HIRA, and these staff were required to watch the video prior to attending.

The first stage of creating the video was to write the script. Michelle wrote a short script documenting what HIRA is and how to use it. We tried to use natural language so the video would feel quite informal. We then made a start on creating the screen capture video, which was quite daunting at first. We discovered that software called Camtasia Studio 8 was installed on our network, so we decided to use this. We had never used Camtasia Studio before, although Robert had previously edited videos many years ago. So, we had a vague idea of what we were doing but had to quickly brush up on our skills.

Fortunately, Camtasia Studio is a really easy piece of software to use. In the work area, there are three separate windows (see Fig.1) – the first allows you to view the clip bin (where recordings and imported files are stored), add effects such as callouts and zooms, as well as tweak audio and record narration. The second window is a preview of the video you’re creating – this is handy so that you can watch your video as you are editing it. The third and final window is the timeline – this is where you can add video recordings and audio files (such as narration or music) and move them around to make and edit your video.

So, once we had the basics sorted, we needed to think about the video itself. We came up with a rough plan of what we wanted to include, ranging from an introduction, various screen captures and a conclusion. We trialled recording both the screen and narrating what we were doing at the same time, although we found this quite tricky. We found that if the narrator also controls the screen movements, it’s hard to think about two things at once and still sound clear and concise (well, unless you’re really good at multi-tasking). So, we decided to write a script and record the narrations separately from the video. Fortunately, Camtasia Studio allows this, so it was as easy as hitting record and then importing the file into the timeline.

Figure 1: Annotated screenshot of Camtasia interface

The next stage was to record the screen captures of HIRA from our web browser. Again, Camtasia Studio makes this process very simple – you just click record and it keeps track of all the movements you make and text you enter into the web page. You can easily adjust the area of the web page that you would like Camtasia Studio to record, with the option to zoom in further once recorded. Once we had finished, we simply imported it into the timeline. The rest of the editing process was equally straightforward. We arranged the various video and audio files we had created into a logical sequence, tidying them up slightly in the process (e.g. cutting down the videos and making the audio louder, etc.)

Having completed the screen capture and narration, we watched the video and realised there was a long period of silence whilst fields were completed in HIRA. We decided to fill this silence with some music to make it more interesting to watch and listen to. As we had no budget for the video and no music of our own to use, we searched for websites where music was either freely available or available under license. We found the site Free Music Archive and spent around 10 minutes listening to clips of music from different genres until we found a piece that suited the mood we were aiming for. The piece we chose was called “Good Times” by Podington Bear. After carefully reading the terms of the Creative Commons license, we downloaded the music file and added it to the video. Camtasia allows you to annotate video, so we were able to put the details of the license at the bottom of the screen throughout the time the music played.

Once we had finished editing the video and had watched it back to check for errors, we were ready to export the video into a file that we could upload to the Web. The main export file type was .mp4 which was available in different resolutions. Initially, we ruled out 1080p – this is full high definition video. Although our video would look amazing with this setting, the file size would also have been much larger. Given the intended use for our video, we decided to try 480p. Once we had exported the video and played the file in a video player, we quickly realised that this setting resulted in a poor quality picture and most of the text in the screenshots was not legible. In the end, we decided to use 720p and were satisfied with the result. The quality of the video was suitable for our needs and the file size for a 4 minute video was only 9MB.

When the video file was complete, we sent it to the University’s Corporate Communications team, who handled loading it to the University’s YouTube channel and making it visible on the library homepage. Within a couple of days, it had a number of views. Michelle also sent it to the Dean of the Faculty of Science and the administrator who would share it with academic staff. The administrator got in touch to say she was impressed with the video and asked about the software we used to produce it, whilst the Dean emailed to say he thought the video was excellent.

Figure 2: Direct link to video on YouTube

We “premiered” the video to our Director of Library Services, who was impressed, as were the other Faculty Librarians. At the time of writing, the video has already had nearly 70 views on the University’s YouTube channel and several academics have commented that they like the video and have found it useful. We enjoyed creating the video and brushed up on our skills in the process. It was also fairly quick to do – in all, we spent around 3 hours writing the script, learning how to use the software, editing the video and downloading it. In the future, we would like to train our colleagues in the use of Camtasia Studio with a view to creating more video guides for our library resources. We envisage that we would spend less time creating these videos as we won’t have to learn the software from scratch.

Our Top Tips

  • Use some music – this helps to fill gaps in narration and to affect the mood of the video
  • Plan ahead – it’s a good idea to have a plan for your video before you start – this will help you to stay focused
  • Don’t be afraid to record the narration yourself – chances are you will sound better than you think!
  • Look for help online – we found lots of websites offering support with Camtasia Studio’s advanced features

You can view our video on the University’s YouTube channel at:

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