(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)
Planning the audio
In Camtasia Studio, we can stack multiple audio tracks on top of each other. While this is a useful and powerful way to build a soundtrack, it can lead to a cluttered audio output if we do not plan ahead.
Audio tracks can be used for a wide range of purposes. It’s best to storyboard audio to avoid creating a confusing audio mix. If we consider how each audio track will be used before we begin to overlay each file on the timeline, we can visualize the end result and resist the temptation to layer too many audio effects on top of each other.
The importance of consistency
Producing professional video in Camtasia Studio comes down to consistency and detail. The more consistent we are, the more professional the result will be. The more we pay attention to detail, the more professional the result is.
By being consistent in our use of audio effects, we can avoid creating unintentional distractions or misleading the viewer. For example, if we choose to use a ping sound to represent a mouse click, we should make sure that all mouse clicks use the same ping sound so that the viewer understands and associates the sound with the action.
A note on background music
When deciding what audio we want in our video, we should always think about our target audience and the type of message we are trying to deliver. Never use background music unless it adds to the video content.
For example, background music can be a useful way of engaging our viewer, but if we are delivering an important health and safety message, or delivering a quiz, a backing track may be distracting.
If our audience are the staff in customer-facing departments, we may not want to include audio tracks at all. We wouldn’t want the sound from our videos to be audible to a customer.
Types of audio
There are three main types of audio we can add to our video:
- Voice-over tracks
- Background music
- Sound effects
Preparing to record a voice-over
Various factors affect the quality and consistency of voice-over recordings. In Camtasia Studio, we can add effects but it’s best to get the source audio right in the first instance. The factors are given as follows:
- We often don’t pay attention to the qualities and tones in our own voices, but they can and do change. From day to day, your tone of voice can subtly change. Air temperature, illness, or mood can affect the way your voice sounds in a recording.
- In addition, the environment we use to record a voice-over can have a dramatic effect on the end result. Some rooms will give your voice natural reverb; others will sound very dead.
- The equipment we use will affect the recording. For example, different microphones will produce different results.
When we prepare for a voice-over recording, we must aim to keep our voice, environment, and equipment as stable and consistent as possible. That means we should aim to record the voice-over in one session so that we can control all these factors.
We may choose a different person to provide the voice-over. Again, we should take a consistent approach in how we use their voice.
Voice-over recording is always a long process and involves trial, error, and multiple takes. We should allow more time than we feel is strictly necessary. Many recordings inevitably overrun. If any sections of the recording are questionable, we should aim to record all of the alternatives in the same session for a seamless result.
The studio environment
Most Camtasia Studio users do not have access to a professional recording studio. This need not be a problem. We can use practically any quiet room to record our voice-over, although there are some basic pointers that will improve the result.
When choosing a studio location, consider the following:
- Ambient noise: Try to record in quiet environment. If we can use an empty room where there are no passers by or devices making any noise, this will make our recording clearer. Choose a room away from potential sources of noise (busy corridors, main roads, and so on).
- Noise leakage: Ensure that any doors and windows are closed to minimize noise pollution from outside the room and outside the building.
- Equipment noise: Ensure that all unnecessary programs on the PC are closed to prevent any unwanted sounds or alerts. End any background tasks, such as email checkers or task schedulers, and ensure any instant messaging software is closed or in offline mode.
- Positioning: Experiment with placing the microphone in different places around the room. The acoustics of a room can greatly affect the quality of a recording and taking time to find the best place for the microphone will help. For efficiency, we can test the audio quality quickly by wearing headphones while speaking into the microphone.
- Consider posture: Standing up opens up the diaphragm and improves the sound of our voice when we record. Avoid recording while seated, and hold any notes or papers at eye level to maintain a constant tone.
When it comes to voice-over recording, a well-prepared script is the most important piece of preparation we can do.
Working from a script is far simpler than attempting to make up our narration as we go along. It helps to maintain a good pace in the video and greatly reduces the need for multiple takes, making recording far more efficient.
Creating a script need not be time-consuming. If we have already planned out and recorded our video track, writing a script will be far simpler.
Writing an effective script
The script you write should support the action in the video and maintain a healthy pace. There are a number of tips we can bear in mind to do this. These tips are given as follows:
- Sync audio with video: Plan the script to coincide with any actions we take in the video. This may mean incorporating pauses into the script to allow a certain on-screen action to complete.
- Be flexible: We may need to go back and lengthen a section of video to incorporate the voice-over and explanation. It is better to do this than rush the voice-over and attempt to force it to fit.
- Use basic copywriting techniques: We should consider the message in the video and use the appropriate style. For example, if we are describing a process, we would want to use the active voice. In an internal company update, we may want to adopt a more conversational tone.
- Be direct and concise: A short and simple statement is far easier to process than a long, drawn out argument.
We should always test our script prior to the recording session. We should also be prepared to re-write and hone the content. Reading a script aloud is a useful way of estimating its length and picking out any awkward phrases that do not flow. We will save time if we perfect the script before we sit down in front of the microphone.
Most laptop computers have a built in microphone, as do some desktop computers.
While these microphones are perfectly adequate for video or audio chats and other casual uses, we should not use them to create Camtasia Studio recordings.
Although the quality may be good, and the audio may be clear, these microphones often pick up a large amount of ambient noise, such as the fans inside the computer. Additionally, the audio captured using built-in microphones often require processing and amplification, which can degrade its quality.
Camtasia Studio has a range of editing tools that can help you to tweak your audio recording. However, processing should always be a last resort. The more we use a tool to process our voice-over, the more the source material is prone to being distorted. If we have better quality source material, we will not need to rely on these features; this will make the editing process much simpler.
When working in Camtasia Studio, it is preferable to invest in a good quality external microphone. Basic microphones are inexpensive and offer considerably better audio recording than built-in microphones.
Choosing a microphone
External microphones are very affordable. Unless you have specific need for a professional-standard microphone, we recommend a USB microphone. Many of these microphones are sold as podcasting microphones and are perfectly adequate for use in Camtasia Studio.
There are two main types of external microphone:
- Consider a lapel microphone if you plan to operate the computer as you record or present to the camera while you are speaking. Lapel microphones clip on to your clothing and leave your hands free.
- If you are more comfortable working at a desk, a microphone with a sturdy tripod stand will be a good investment.
An external microphone with built in noise cancellation can give us a degree of control at the recording stage, rather than having to edit out noise later.
A good stand will give us a greater degree of flexibility when it comes to microphone placement.
How to set up an external microphone
We can set up the external microphone before we begin recording by following the given steps:
- Navigate to Tools | Voice Narration. The Voice Narration screen is displayed.
- Click on Audio setup wizard…. The Audio Setup Wizard screen is displayed.
- Select the Audio device, as shown in the following screenshot.
In this article, we have looked at a range of ways to improve the quality of the audio in our Camtasia Studio projects. We have considered voice-over recording techniques, equipment, editing, sound effects, and background music.
Resources for Article:
- Editing attributes [Article]
- Basic Editing [Article]
- Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1 [Article]