Can you do green screen effects in screencasts?

November 24, 2013

Yes, you can.

This video is an abbreviated module from one of the lectures in our Udemy course offerings.  For a limited time, I opened up the unabridged version of it as a free preview in the course page of the Camtasia Studio course.  No need to register or sign up for any newsletters, just click and watch.  (Tip:  You can do the same thing in ScreenFlow for Mac and Camtasia for Mac.)

What does Camtasia or ScreenFlow Offer That Screencast-O-Matic Doesn’t?

What does Camtasia or ScreenFlow offer that Screencast-o-matic Doesn’t? snapshot - facebook question

I see this question — or variations of it — a lot in discussion groups where folks are creating their first online course.  Usually, it’s in context of someone wanting to spend the least amount of money for screencasting/editing software as they create their first online course.  Understandable.

First some helpful references

  • Camtasia Studio (for Windows – $299), Camtasia For Macintosh ($99) and ScreenFlow (for Macintosh – $99) are powerful, multi-featured downloadable software products that let you — in a nutshell — capture, edit and publish video and audio of anything you can display on your computer screen. 
  • Screencast-o-matic ($15/year for a Pro account), is a low cost alternative that you can use directly online with either a PC or Macintosh.

My Response

For my part, in response to the oft-asked question about the main advantages of software like ScreenFlow or Camtasia over Screencast-o-matic:

I think screencast-o-matic (SOM) is actually a pretty good (I daresay even excellent) software if the course objectives (and of its marketing) call for BASIC screen/voice capture with the occasional bubble, box or text callout as an overlay. In fact, at $15/year (for the Pro version), I think it’s actually quite powerful for the price.

At some point though some online content creators (though not all) find the need to differentiate their presentations a little more from the “basic” look and feel.  (And, let’s face it, to differentiate theirs from the run-of-the-mill “death-by-PowerPoint” type presentations.)  So it’s for those folks that I think one of the other tools like Camtasia or ScreenFlow might actually be more cost effective.  (As an aside: Contrary to what some may believe, the learning curve for comparable functions in Camtasia or ScreenFlow isn’t really more steep than that for SOM.) 

Indeed, there are many features that will teeter the scale one way or the other if you were to compare each feature one-by-one.   But one of the key features that I think gives a lot of power to tools like ScreenFlow or Camtasia over SOM is in their capacity for you to have many more LAYERS (“tracks”) in your screencasting project.  This multi-track capability gives you the ability to layer video objects, images and audio clips over your main presentation and with much more flexibility to change different properties for each of those objects independently of any other object.

For example, in addition to a basic PowerPoint and voiceover narration, some folks may want to overlay a music track, a video clip, and/or a video interview that supports the main presentation — these require 3 or 4 layers (or more). In contrast, SOM only gives you one layer.  (Two layers could be argued, but certainly not more than that.)

(Click here to watch free previews from this ScreenFlow course.)
(Click here to watch free previews from our Camtasia Studio course.)

The video above is an excerpt from Lecture #2 in my course, “Beyond PowerPoint: Teach Online Now With ScreenFlow For Mac.” It shows some of the layering and property manipulations (animations) I mentioned that is much more powerfully done in ScreenFlow or Camtasia than in Screencast-o-matic.

Camtasia or ScreenFlow isn’t for everybody

Again, not everybody will need or want all that extra “flair” in their presentations.  In which case, if you’re in that camp, then screencast-o-matic should work just fine — especially if price is a huge factor.

Tips For Editing and Polishing Your Skype video Interview (Part 3)

Part 3: Editing and Polishing Your Skype Video Interview

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This is part 3 in the 3-part series.  In part 1, I showed you how I arranged the cameras, the microphone and software settings for the interview.  In part 2, I demo’d the recording while showing camera and microphone alignment.  In this video, I’ll show you the end-product of the raw recording; you’ll also see some helpful tips for editing and enhancing your Skype video interview so you can present it to your audience with a little more polish.

Tip:  If you scroll down, you can see a sample of what the final polish might look like.

Note:  It’s worth keeping in mind that although I used Camtasia for Macintosh to demo the recording of this Skype interview, the set up and process for recording is just as easily conducted using Camtasia Studio (for Windows) and ScreenFlow for Macintosh.

P.S.  I used ScreenFlow to record, edit and publish the demo video itself.

A Sample of the Final Interview

The short video above is one quickie example of the polished interview we used as a sample in the tutorial series.

More in this Skype interview screencast series

How to screencast your Skype video interview – Part 2: The Interview

Part 2: Recording the Skype Interview

This is part 2 in the 3-part series.  In part 1, I showed you how I arranged the cameras, the microphone and software settings for the interview.  In this video, we follow up on the settings and proceed with the interview itself via Skype — and we record it with a screencast editor, such as Camtasia or ScreenFlow.

It’s worth keeping in mind that although I used Camtasia for Macintosh to demo the recording of this Skype interview, the set up and process for recording is just as easily conducted using Camtasia Studio (for Windows) and ScreenFlow for Macintosh.

Key highlights

Some of the key points that’ll help you keep things straight in the video above are the following:

  • What did I use the Skype camera angle for?  I used the Skype camera angle to illuminate my profile for the benefit of the interviewee.
  • What did I use the screencast editor’s camera angle for? I used the screencast editor’s camera angle (Camtasia Mac in this case, or also Camtasia Studio or ScreenFlow) to illuminate my profile for the benefit of engaging the audience who later views the interview video online.

image - skype camera angle

image screencast camera angle

More in this Skype interview screencast series

How to Screencast Your Skype Video Interview – Part 1: The Set Up

Part 1: Screencast Settings For Your Skype Interview

Thumbnail - question about screencasting SkypeSome of the subscribers to our screencasting courses on Udemy asked about how I set up to record video interviews on a platform like Skype.  I love the interest in this because I think interviews — whether video or audio-only — are great ways to create interesting content for your blogsite audience, or otherwise supplement your online course with compelling instructional content from other industry experts in your course’s subject matter.

Three Points Of View

I’ll do this in three parts.  This post is Part 1.  In it, I’ll focus on showing you how I set up the hardware, software and software settings to prepare a Skype interview with 3 points of view:  You (the interviewer), your subject (the interviewee), and a third camera angle that your audience will relate to.

Then, in Part 2, I’ll demo the actual screen recording of a Skype video interview using the settings I show in Part 1.  That will then set us up nicely to compare the recording from Part 2 with the end result that we’ll use for editing and polishing in Part 3.

Strange Bedfellows and Supplemental Screenshots

Just in case you were wondering, I used ScreenFlow as the capture and editing software for the video above.  And I used Camtasia for Mac as the demo platform.  Consequently, the settings I show in the demo uses those from Camtasia for Mac and Skype for Mac. But, as I explain at about the 2:00 point in the video, the same settings are available in both ScreenFlow for Mac, Camtasia Studio version 8.1 (for Windows) and Skype for Windows.  Below are screenshots of the recording configuration window in each of the “Big 3” screencast editors.

image-camtasia mac recording configuration

Camtasia Mac recording configuration.

image - screenflow configuration

ScreenFlow recording configuration

image - camtasia studio recording configuration

Camtasia Studio (v8.1) recording configuration

Your Turn

Do you tend to edit your online interviews?  What software do you use for capture and editing?

More in this series

[Video] How to make the ‘Magnifying Glass Map’ effect in Screenflow

image-how to make the magnifying glass effect using screenflowIn a previous post (ref: How to Make the Magnifying Glass Map Effect Using Camtasia) I shared the tutorial of a colleague who made this animation using the green screen (“remove a color”) feature in Camtasia Studio v 8.1.  (Just a quick note: the “remove a color” feature wasn’t available in Camtasia Studio prior to version 8.1.)

Let’s Use Screenflow This Time

In this post, I wanted to share a few more details about making the effect work — and this time let’s use Screenflow (for Macintosh) to pull off the effect.

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The gist of the effect is to use screencasting software to show a metaphor–in this case, a magnifying glass–move across a map.  As it does so, magnified areas of the map appear wherever the magnifying glass traverses the map.  In addition to applying this effect when screencasting map sequences, the effect can also work well for other screencasting projects in, say, biology and anatomy when tracing genomic sections.  In which case, perhaps a microscope metaphor might work.  Or, you could also apply it to financial scenarios where you might want to “drill-into” a spreadsheet cell and examine the underlying calculations.

The range of scenarios is obviously limitless.  The main thing is to use editing software that will allow for:

  • Chroma key-type effects (a.k.a., green screen or “remove a color”)
  • Multiple tracks in the editing timeline
  • And keyframe animations

Highlights

0:15 The end-state of the magnifying glass effect we’re shooting for.

0:40 You have to make it in two passes. The first pass is to produce a reference video with a colored shape that you’ll later “punch a hole” through.

0:55 The second pass is to use the reference video with the colored shape as the starting point for a new Screenflow project. Then, “punch a hole” through the colored shape using the chroma key video effect in Screenflow.

1:15 The third step is to overlay the magnifying glass stock image in order to complete the metaphor.

1:30 Here I launch Screenflow to start creating the reference video. Here we used a map graphic snapped from Google Maps. Then, on top of that, we add a red-filled circle.

2:45 Animate the red-filled circle to trace out the path on the underlying map that you want your magnifying glass to trace.

3:15 A question for the Screenflow Product Managers at Telestream! (What’s the deal about not easily being able to create a color-filled circle?)

5:30 Export the animation to create the reference video.

5:50 Create a new Screenflow project and import the reference movie.

6:25 Use the Screenflow Chroma Key video filter to punch a hole in the red-filled circle in the reference movie.

7:15 A word you need to know about the “tolerance” setting in the Chroma Key Filter. Initially, Screenflow will attempt to make a transparency on all similarly colored objects on your screen — even ones you don’t intend. The Tolerance parameter in the Chroma Key filter can help you adjust this!

8:20 Add the magnified graphic to your timeline and underneath the reference movie. This will then be revealed through the “hole” in the reference movie above it.

9:45 You now need to animate the underlying (magnified) graphic on track 1 in order to sync it up with the “hole” in the reference movie on track 2.

10:55 New term: Definition of T.L.A.R.?

12:05 Now we complete the metaphor with the magnifying glass graphic. You can find these graphics from cost-effective royalty free media sites like Fotolia or Presentermedia.

13:30 A little tip about the differences between PNG and JPG files. And what’s the preferred file format if you want transparency included.

14:10 Importing, aligning and animating the magnifying glass image in order to sync it up with the “hole” in the top image and the magnified map underneath.

16:45 The completed magnifying glass effect is fully rendered.

How to make the ‘magnifying glass map’ effect using Camtasia

green-screen-backThe Green Screen Effect Ain’t Just For Talking Heads

In the Fundamentals section (Module 2) of the Digital-Know-How course and Section 2 of the Deep Dive Screencast training course (Camtasia Studio) on Udemy, I teach you how to make the so called “green screen effect” in Camtasia Studio.  However, in the course I model a scenario where we use a video of a live “talking head” subject in order to project him/her onto another background.  But, as you’ll see below, the green screen effect isn’t just for live subjects.  You can use it, too, to add some creative twists to your eLearning and screencast projects.

“The End”

Credit for this animation goes to David Demyan.  In the first video below, David shows a creative use of the visual properties and green screen (“remove a color”) features in Camtasia Studio 8 (for Windows).

Beginning with the end in mind, David first shows the end result of the effect that shows a magnifying glass graphic panning across a map.  As the  graphic pans across, a magnified section of the map appears inside the magnifying glass.  Brilliant!

The “Reveal”

Here’s how he did it.

Highlights

  1. Use Camtasia to publish an initial “reference video” that includes the background and a green colored shape that you’ll use later as a mask.  This mask will later reveal a “hole” through which you’ll see a magnified image.
  2. Create a second screencast video project.
  3. Add a magnified version of the background graphic onto track 1.
  4. Add the reference video from Step 1 (the one that contains the green masking shape) and place it onto track 2.
  5. Use the “remove a color” effect in Camtasia Studio and apply it to the green shape in the reference video.

There are some additional overlays David uses to enhance the context and “theme” of his project.  In the second video above, for example, David uses a magnifying glass graphic as an overlay to the masking shape.  You can use other overlays that match your theme, but the gist of the steps are in the highlights above.

“What if I’m not using Camtasia Studio?”

I’ll follow up with another post that shows how you can produce the same effect in Screenflow (for Mac) and Camtasia for Mac.  But, essentially, just as long as your chosen screencast editor will support:

  • multiple tracks,
  • keyframe animations (a.k.a. “video action” in Screenflow; “add animation” in Camtasia)
  • and green screen features (a.k.a., chroma key in Screenflow, “remove a color” in Camtasia)

then you’ll be able to effect the same animation that David deftly manages above.