How Camtasia saved the webcast...literally

How Camtasia saved the webcast...literally

Summary: David needed to combine audio from a telephone conversation and video from a screen meeting into one recording. It took some hoop jumping, but with the help of some nifty software, he got his recording.


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One of the very coolest aspects of my job is I get the opportunity to meet some astonishing innovators, learn about their work, and talk to them in-depth as background for various projects I'm working on.

Sometimes, when working on a particularly complex project, I like to make sure I have a full recording or transcript of my discussions, so I can go back and review exactly what the person said.

I had one of these opportunities recently, on relatively short notice. But there was going to be a complication. The interview subject was going to present me with a series of background slides via an online web conferencing system.

That wasn't the tough part. What made this challenging was we were going to talk by phone, via a dial-in phone number.

That meant that audio would be over POTS (plain ol' telephone system) and video via the Internet. Sure, I could record an audio track off the phone and a video track off the computer, and then fiddle with Premiere until I got the two synced up properly, but I wasn't looking for a new hobby. And I really didn't have the time.

I just needed a clean recording so I could go on and write my briefing paper.

The first thing I needed to do was to get both feeds onto my computer. So, rather than dialing out to the meeting over a regular phone, I used Skype with its landline calling option. That got me the session's audio on the computer along with the video.

I tried a number of Skype-recording add-ons, which also promised to record the screen, but they failed miserably in my night-before tests. In a fit of "what the heck, maybe it'll work," I dusted off my five year old copy of SnagIt. I'd reviewed SnagIt back in 2007, calling it a completely insane screen capture program, with more features than made sense to anyone this side of Arkham Asylum.

As it turned out, SnagIt was -- barely -- able to capture both the Skype audio and the web conferencing video, but it didn't do it all that well. I was on a Windows 7 64-bit system and the old version of SnagIt I had was meant for Windows Vista and XP.

But, I thought, if SnagIt from the Dark Ages almost worked, I'll bet a modern copy of Camtasia would probably do the trick. Camtasia is a full-featured screen recording program by the same people who do SnagIt.

Now, as it turns out, Camtasia appears to have added as many features as SnagIt. Apparently, you can almost produce entire movies with the darned thing. I didn't go there. I had to get something working so the very next morning I could be on the phone with my subject and get a good recording.

Here's where PR people are so valuable to those of us fortunate enough to be members of the press. Kudos go out to TechSmith's PR manager, Natalie, who -- while stranded waiting for a flight in Chicago -- managed to hook me up with a fresh copy of Camtasia.

She also sent me an updated copy of SnagIt, which I will (I promise) install and check out. I'm expecting this much-updated version of SnagIt to also make me eggs in the morning and bake cinnamon rolls.

And so, as the cycle of life continued, night gave way to morning, and the morning hours slowly rolled on, cup of coffee after cup of coffee (no cinnamon rolls, sadly), until it was time for my briefing.

I fired up Camtasia, having had no time to spend reading the documentation. I fiddled only barely with the settings, and crossed my fingers.

The briefing itself was astonishing and fascinating. At some point, I hope I can let you know more about it. But the important thing was I got the recording. Sound quality was iffy -- it was worse on my side, fortunately, which I didn't care about. I got a clean recording of the guru I was talking to, which is what mattered. Camtasia got me exactly what I needed.

I'm sure if I'd actually read any of the documentation or spent more than just a few minutes tinkering with the settings that I would have gotten a pristine recording. But that wasn't the point.

I needed to be able to save a copy of the webcast and the audio in a single file for review. And that's exactly what Camtasia did. It saved the webcast...literally.

Topics: SMBs, Collaboration, Software


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • It truly is a small world after all, David.

    A very dear and "old retired friend" (like myself, grin) was blessed with a daughter who, many years later, attended and graduated from Michigan State University about two years ago. On of the decisions that this exceptionally talented coed did was accept an internship at TechSmith's HQ in Okemos, MI - just outside MSU. They liked her work and offered her a job position - which she accepted upon graduation. TechSmith, it seems, hires only talented persons - you apparently met one of them, Natalie, whom my young friend also knows. I suspect you gave a heads up to Natalie about this article, David. If not, I got that base covered for you. My friend's daughter said she will inform Natalie of your kind words.

    BTW, to give a plug for a very fine company, TechSmith offers a nice range of Windows, Android, iOS and OS X products. There website contains top flight tutorial videos detailing the operations of those said products.

    I use Camtasia 2 - on OS X - for my needs on the Mac platform. My young friend from MSU also got her "old friend" - who has been an honorary Spartan for the last six years - Go Green! - to use ScreenChomp for iOS. It's a fine little program that facilitates interactive help sessions among individuals.
  • Very useful software

    My wife is a full-time professor at a local community college, & with their recent switch in both calendar (moving from quarters to semesters) & curriculum, they've had to redo the online tutoring videos they make available for students.

    Three guesses what software they used to record their voices & combine with the screen capture videos...
  • So glad it worked out!

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the shoutout... Something good came out of being delayed for 4 hours in Chicago!

    I'm thrilled to hear that Camtasia met your needs for this project and that you got the result you needed.

    Please stay in touch, and let me know what you think of Snagit!