Academic Technology @ Palomar College

Publishing Your Camtasia Videos

I conducted a “How to Edit Video with Camtasia Studio” workshop today to a small but enthusiastic crowd.  The emphasis was on editing techniques—pan & zoom, standard and custom made callouts, cursor effects, transitions, audio tools—but the question arose about the best place to publish a Camtasia video once it is produced.  We make three recommendations in order of what we, the techs, consider easiest and most appropriate:

  1. YouTube;
  2. Your Palomar College web space;
  3. Blackboard.

Perverseley, faculty almost always select option 3.

For reasons I still can’t understand, most faculty members do not prefer to place self-produced videos on YouTube, though it is by far the easiest upload path from Camtasia and the most universal playing experience for students.  I have had faculty members say that YouTube seems unprofessional.  I counter with Apple uses YouTube, Microsoft uses YouTube, TED uses YouTube, so what’s unprofessional about that?  This makes no impression.  I do not want to speculate on why faculty members prefer not to use YouTube (it’s not as if the students aren’t going to go there anyway).  It remains that it is not the preferred choice.

How to Upload from Camtasia to YouTube

In case you are the exception, here is the very simple step to take in Camtasia Studio to publish to YouTube (this assumes you have finished editing your project and are ready to produce):

Publish To YouTube

Click the Produce and Share drop-down from the Camtasia Studio toolbar and select “Share to YouTube.”   If your video contains elements that are not supported at YouTube (one possible, but rare in my experience, reason for not using it) you will receive a warning like this:

YouTube Warning

Don’t forget, you can produce multiple times for multiple distributions, so if your video does include one of these elements, it still might be useful to publish to YouTube.  Most faculty videos I have seen do not contain these elements, with the rare exception of TOC Markers (table of contents keyframes that allow jumping into the video from an embedded flash control).  Because YouTube is so easy for students to use and professors to upload to, this still should not discourage you from using it.

In any event, after clicking OK to the warning, if it shows up at all, you will be asked to login to YouTube with your YouTube account credentials.

Sign In To YouTube

Click Next and you can then enter metadata to help index your video at YouTube.

YouTube Metadata

Note that if you have added captions to your Camtasia video you can elect to upload them from this screen.

Click Finish to start the upload.  A progress indicator will tell you when the job is done.  In my experience uploading video in this fashion can take some time for YouTube to process it.

Video Being Processed Message

Alternatively, you can simply upload the video file Camtasia produces (the mp4 file in this case–explained below) and the processing time at YouTube is much quicker.

YouTube will re-encode your video and make it available in a number of bandwidth targets.  To distribute the video to students use the mashup tool in Blackboard, or create a link to the video on your web site.

Here is our sample video uploaded to YouTube.  Note the various bandwidth (screen resolution) targets in which it is available, up to 720p, the resolution at which it was initially captured.

http://youtu.be/7uT1Cj751Ik

As I say, this is the recommended route.  One possible objection faculty members might have is that YouTube videos are so public, and they want their contents restricted to their students only.  To which I would say, this is a legitimate concern if protecting intellectual property is an issue, but most often it is not.  Ironically, YouTube is so enormous that it is easier to hide a video there rather than have it accidentally found.  Last I heard some 60 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute.  In other words, the best place to hide a blade of grass is in a lawn.

How to Upload a Produced Camtasia Video to Your Palomar College Web Site

After producing a video with Camtasia, depending on the production settings you choose, you will have a number of files.  Let’s assume you make the common production choices and your produced video folder contains several files, a couple of swf (shockwave flash) files, a javascript file titled “swfobject.js,” a png file titled “ForstFrame.png” (that permits you to use a specific png file as the first frame of your video for embedding purposes), an mp4 file (the recommended video format, though you can encode in other formats depending on your production choices, and an html file that is a web page used put all of these contents together and display the video through a web browser.  The file set looks like this for a project called “GE.”

File Set

As I say, your mileage will vary depending on the production choices you made in Camtasia.

Use any FTP program (we support standard and secure FTP) to upload these files to your Palomar College web space.  I strongly recommend creating a folder in your web site and uploading all the files to this folder.  In fact, you may want to create an upper level “Videos” folder, and then a separate folder for each Camtasia video project beneath that one.  Since Camtasia production file contents can be named the same, but vary because of varying production choices, you should keep your projects in separate folders.

If you are already an Expression Web 4 user (available to all Palomar Staff and free to staff and students through our Academic Alliance program) use that program to create your folder structure and upload the files (File > Import > Add Files).

Now all you have to do is create a common web link to the html file (titled “GE.html” above) to play your video through any web browser.  Let your students know the location of the link and you are done.  Alternatively, create the link within your Blackboard course (what used to be called an “external link: and is now called a URL link in our current version of Blackboard, and after we install the SP8 patch after this semester it will be called a “Web Link”—I hate it when they keep changing terminology).  These sorts of links can exist in any Blackboard content area.  Here’s how:

Web Link

SP8 Web Link, called URL Link in Bb 9.1SP7

Give it a name and paste in the actual link in the Blackboard dialog

Name Web Link

The name can be anything you want, including spaces, punctuation and so on.  The URL must be the exact, fully qualified URL where you uploaded the video.  Let’s say I uploaded my video to a folder under the Videos folder, in a sub-folder called “GE,” in my Palomar College web site on a server named “daphne.palomar.edu.”  The URL link would then be:

http://daphne.palomar.edu/tgray/Videos/GE/GE.html

Here is the TOC version:

http://daphne.palomar.edu/tgray/Videos/GE/GE-TOC.html

If creating the link in Blackboard, be sure to select open in new tab as a best practice.  This has the one advantage over YouTube publication of allowing any length of video—it is a hassle to set up an account for videos longer than 15 minutes at YouTube, though the value of instructional screen videos longer than 15 minutes can be debated.  It also has the advantage of supporting things like TOC Markers, flash hotspots, etc.

How to Upload/Link Camtasia Produced Videos in Blackboard

As I say, since most faculty members are already in Blackboard each day, it is most natural for them to want to upload their files and link them there.  The strong advantage of this approach is that they will not be found by casual (or not so casual) viewers and will not be indexed by the search engines.  They will only be available to your enrolled students through the password protected, FERPA, Sec. 508 compliant Blackboard interface.

The only down-side to this procedure is that video files, even though efficiently compressed, can get to be very large, and will bloat the size of your courses.  Remember that Blackboard courses larger than 2.5GB cannot be restored from archive or export formats.

Here is how you do it:

First, open the folder where you saved the produced files, select all files, right-click your selection, and choose Send To… > Compressed (zipped) folder.  This zips all the files up into a single .zip folder.

Create Zip Folder

The zip folder will be renamed arbitrarily depending on which file your cursor is hovering over when you make this selection.  Rename it to the project name, like GE.zip

You are now going to upload this folder to the file structure in your Blackboard course.  Blackboard will automatically unzip it for you after upload.  Here is how to do it.  I’ll show the SP8 version of Blackboard so this post will have a longer shelf life, as it were:

Enter your Blackboard course.  In the Control Panel (beneath your course menu) click on Files and then click your File structure name.  It usually has a serial number name.  Like this:

Bb File Structure

To keep all your videos sorted out, I recommend creating a separate folder for each one.  On your Files page click Create Foilder, then in the drop-down give the folder a name (“GE” in this case) and click submit.

Create Folder

Scan through you list of files and folders (you can sort them by clicking the column headers).  Click on the GE folder (or whatever) you just created to open it.  Within the GE folder click Upload and select “Upload Package.”

Upload Package

On the Upload Package screen click the browse button, navigate to that zip folder you created earlier, click on it to select it, and click open.  It’s file path will be place in the Upload File dialog box.

Zip File To Upload To Bb

Now click Submit.  All the files in the zip folder are uploaded and unzipped within your Blackboard file structure.

Now, to create the link, go to the content area you wish to place the video (in this case a course area called “Video”, click  Build Content, and select File.

File Link

On the Create File page click Browse Course:

Browse Course

You will see your course File structure.  Click on the Folder you created (“GE”) in the Files pane, then click in the radio button next to the html file that you uploaded in that package file, in this case “GE.html,” then click Submit.

Select File To Link To

When returned to the Create File screen give your link a name (it can be anything, but the more descriptive the better), be sure to configure the link to open in a new window, and click Submit.  The link is created.  I have taken to including in square brackets after link names the type of link it is (in this case “video”) so that students will know what to expect when they click it.

That’s it.  The long and the long of it.  I realize most everyone will be interested in only one of these three options, but why not be exhaustive?  Use the comments of this post to let me know if you have issues or want to discuss.

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