Camtasia: Prepare the Desktop for Capture

When I intend to capture a full-screen video using Camtasia, I usually do three things to prepare my Windows 7 desktop:

  1. Set an appropriate screen resolution;
  2. Set the desktop background to a solid color;
  3. Set the Windows taskbar to auto-hide.

First, I record in widescreen aspect ratio (16:9) since that is the standard used by YouTube, my production destination of choice.  It is also the standard for most of the computers on our campus.  Therefore I set my screen resolution to 1280 x 720, what they call 720p video.  In older versions of Camtasia, and on slower systems I have seen Camtasia throw an error message when capturing or editing video at higher resolutions.  And in any event, you certainly wouldn’t want to display a screen larger than this, so I pick it as the optimal resolution.

Second, I set the screen background to a solid color, for two reasons: a) to reduce the load on my graphics card; and b) to eliminate the distractions of a colorful, scenic screen.

Third, I set the taskbar in Windows 7 to auto-hide so that it will disappear during full-screen recording.  If not, your audience will be spending time trying to figure out what programs you run from the taskbar rather than paying attention to your message.  The downside of doing this is that you have to remember not to stray your cursor to the bottom of your screen unless you actually want the taskbar to pop up.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand, and a video worth a million, so here is my YouTube video demonstrating these three steps.

Using the iPad with a Projector


A surprising number of faculty members at our institution own iPads.  I know, because I recently had the opportunity to present a short iPad Ed workshop which was well attended, and I asked.  As I say, a surprising number of hands went up.  Part of the workshop was what I intended to be a brief discussion of using Apple TV to wirelessly project in the classroom, but the discussion was not so brief because there was a great deal of interest in the iPad and projection technology.  Thus, this post, on the various ways to use the iPad with a classroom projector, both wired and wirelessly.

In the discussion below, I will be referring to the iPad 2 and new iPad (commonly called iPad 3 or third generation iPad).  The products and technologies discussed will generally not work, or not work completely, with the original iPad.  There are also some rare apps (that I have read about, but not actually seen) that simply will not output video, and these will also not work with the solutions outlined below, though I have tested many apps and could not find one that would not output video.  I did my testing with the Hitachi CP-X3015WN projector, except in a couple cases where I tested on one of our older EIKI projectors.

Apple TV

My favorite projection solution, because of its elegance and simplicity, is to connect an Apple TV device, via an HDMI cable, to the HDMI port on the room projector, and then connect the iPad wirelessly to the Apple TV device via Airplay mirroring.  Problem solved.  The lecturer is free to roam around and room, displaying through the projector anything that appears on the screen of the iPad, including hand written annotations in apps that accept them (like Educreations or Explain Everything, which can even be recorded at the time of the lecture).

 AppleTV Diagram

 Here are the particulars:

  1. The iPad and the AppleTV device (a 4″ hockey puck with an HDMI out port) must be connected to the same wireless network.
  2. The wireless network MUST be multicast enabled.
  3. The AppleTV must be connected to the projector’s HDMI port by an HDMI cable.
  4. AirPlay must be enabled on the AppleTV.
  5. The iPad must connect to the AppleTV via AirPlay and AirPlay mirroring must be enabled on the iPad.
  6. The projector must be in HDMI mode.

Here are some things to know about the implementation, in general and at our college in particular:

  1. At our college, the open, publicly accessible wireless network, called “InternetOnly” is multicast enabled, so wherever wireless networking is possible this projection solution is also possible.
  2. The cost of the AppleTV device is $99.  The cost of an HDMI cable is around $20.  I used an in-wall 40-foot CL3 HDMI cable for our two library classroom labs, and a 25-foot external CL2 HDMI cable for our faculty lab.  Both have worked well.
  3. The real “gotcha” with this solution is that almost all of the projectors on our campus DO NOT HAVE HDMI ports.  The newer projectors do have a single HDMI port.  I used the Hitachi CP-X3015WN in my tests—but wonder why they only have a single HDMI port when multiple ports would be more useful.  They also have lots of other nearly useless legacy ports, but that is another issue. Since most of our projectors do not have HDMI ports, one of the solutions mentioned below will be apt for most users.
  4. Since most of our projectors do not not have HDMI, you may be tempted by one of those HDMI to composite/S-Video converters.  We actually tested one, but the quality of the projected image, at least using our standard EIKI projector, was, in our opinion, completely unacceptable.  We cannot recommend using such an adapter.
  5. When setting up the AppleTV, be sure to password protect the session (General > AirPlay > Set Password).  The security on the AppleTV devices is clearly intended only for the home market.  You do not even need to know the password to change the password.  All you need is an AppleTV remote.  Nonetheless, a simple password protected session should be sufficient for most academic purposes.

One of the really nice features of this solution is that anyone with an iPad can mirror their screen to the projector, not just the professor, provided they know the password on the AppleTV device (professors will ponder the significance of changing the password if they use this feature).

Another nice feature with this configuration is that it lets you bypass the classroom computer entirley, so you can have a separation presentation set up on the classroom computer, and quickly switch back and forth between the iPad screen and the computer screen by simply selecting inputs on the projector.

The image quality is excellent, but will be as large as the scaling in effect on your projector, and this will vary by projector.  When playing video (and this solution had no trouble with HD 30fps video) the video expands to fill the screen.  Video motion is smooth and colors are true.  Video, however, will play only through the projector and will not be mirrored to the screen of the iPad.

Apple VGA Adapter

For those with a projector that does not support HDMI, a simpler solution may be to purchase the Apple VGA Adapter ($29 plus tax).  The down side of this solution is that you are tethered to the projector, and cannot walk around as you present.

Since most of our classrooms are equipped with a second VGA input to the projector (that blue, 15-pin D-shell adapter lying about on the lectern or podium) it can be plugged into the VGA Adapter and by simply changing from computer 1 to computer 2 on the projector input the instructor can project from the iPad.  (Once again, be sure to use an iPad 2 or 3, not the original iPad with this solution.  There are serious limitations to the VGA adapter and the original iPad).  This solution also has the disadvantage of not being shareable, if you want your audience to share what is on their iPad screens.  It also has the disadvantage of not carrying audio.  You need a separate audio cable (and only some of our classrooms have an extra audio cable, which would plug in to the iPad’s audio out earphone jack).

Apple also makes an HDMI Digital Adapter ($29 plus tax), but since most of our projectors do not have HDMI ports it hardly matters.  Furthermore, if you do have an HDMI port on your projector, the AppleTV solution seems far superior to me.

VGA Adapter

Screen mirroring and video display fine through the VGA adapter.

Reflector and AirServer

Note:  The app mentioned in this section called “Reflection” has changed its name to “Reflector” and the web site is now at

A software-based solution may be the best for most users, considering the vintage of our projectors and classroom computers.  It is cheaper and easier to implement by far than the Apple TV solution, and allows for untethered presentation, giving it a leg up over the VGA adapter solution.  There are a couple of screen resolution and bandwidth issues to be aware of related to video quality, but overall this is an excellent, inexpensive solution.  Here are the details.

Reflector ($14.95 downloadable software, with discounts for bulk purchases) and AirServer ($14.99 for Mac, $7.99 for PC with bulk discounts) are software AirPlay emulators, allowing PC or Mac workstations to act as the AirPlay host for the iPad.  In other words, once these client programs are installed, you can mirror your iPad 2 or 3 (or iPhone 4S) to your PC or Mac.  Then, provided the PC or Mac is wired to the classroom projector via VGA and audio cables, mirror your iPad screen through the room projector.

Reflection Connection

Of the two products, I much prefer Reflector because it has screen recording functionality.  That’s right.  Not only can you display your iPad screen while remaining untethered from the projector, but you can record it too on the host workstation.  It is important to realize, however, that the audio recorded is the system audio.  That is, you cannot record voice over audio while displaying.  But, of course you could if you captured the workstation screen in a program like Camtasia while presenting.  We have tested this and it works fine.

Here are some considerations to be aware of:

  1. Reflector requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or above, or Windows XP or above.
  2. AirServer runs on a Mac running OS X Tiger / Leopard / Snow Leopard / Lion / Mountain Lion (Intel/PPC) or a PC running Windows 7 or Vista.
  3. Reflection screen recording requires Windows 7.
  4. Windows Firewall must be set to allow AirPlay connections.  This should occur automatically during PC installation, but if not, it is easy to setup manually.
  5. Your iPad 2 or 3 and your classroom workstation must be on the same wireless network.  This could be an issue, because many of the older classroom workstations on campus are not equipped with wireless connectivity, though they could be with the addition of an inexpensive USB wireless dongle.  This should be a minimal issue if the professor is providing her/his own laptop because laptops are likely to have built-in wireless adapters.
  6. Full-screen 1080p video can cause Reflection to stutter.  If you have problems mirroring full-screen video, lower the workstation screen resolution (to 1280 x 720, for example) and try again.  I got mixed results in my tests.
  7. Activation with AirServer was a bit funky, requiring registering an email address when you make the purchase.  Activation with Reflection was more standard, with a license key being issued once the purchase was made.
  8. Both Reflector and AirServer allow for free trials.  Reflection for 10 minutes (though as many 10-minute sessions as you want); AirServer for 7 days.

Both worked extremely well in displaying mirrored app and video content through a typical classroom projector.

The Hitachi USB Dongle

Just to be complete, I read the manual that came with my new Hitachi projectors and learned that there is a wireless dongle that can be purchased (about $100) for the CP-X3015WN (and several other) projectors.  I thought this might be a solution for wireless broadcast to the projector, but on testing it turned out to use such low bandwidth, and reset the client workstation to such a basic color depth, that it proved to be useless.  Transmissions through the dongle were very slow and delayed, with audio echoing after a notable delay after it plays on the workstation and video being unwatchable.

I also found a new iPad app that purportedly connects Hitachi projectors to iPads for wireless transmission, but could not find supporting documentation other than a single web site in Japanese.  The app is available through the app store and is called Projector Quick Connection, or PJ Connection, Unfortunately even though my projector was listed as being supported, and the app could see the projector, it could not connect to it after repeated tries.  Chalk it up to not ready for prime time.  This app might be worth watching over time, however, unless it’s performance is as bad as the Hitachi wireless dongle.

The New Windows Movie Maker: First Look


Yesterday Microsoft announced the release of a new edition of  Windows Essentials 2012 (formerly Windows Live Essentials 2011) that suite of installable programs designed to supplement and enhance Windows 7 and Windows 8.  Included in the package is a new version of Windows Movie Maker.  The changes are hardly radical, but they do include a few features that users have been clamoring for since the previous version of WMM (version 6) was abandoned for the radically simplified (some say ‘dumbed down’) 2011 version.

A little history

Windows Movie Maker version 6, intended to run on Windows XP, was a timeline-based video editing program a la Adobe Premiere.  It was not so sophisticated, but could be used to perform basic edits using the Premiere tracks style user interface.  with the 2011 edition of Movie Maker, released with Windows Vista and revised with Windows 7, the timeline was abandoned in favor of a very simple—and bewildering, for veterans of the previous version—user interface intended primarily as a quick and easy way to dump in vacation photos and videos, auto-add visual effects, pan and zoom effects, transitions, background music, and titles, and then produce a WMV video for play on computers, emails, or as input to Microsoft DVD maker for trans-coding as a DVD that could be played on the family big screen.

This left veteran users of the program howling.  Gone was all the find control on the timeline, and the ability to syn multiple sound tracks, narrations, etc.

On the whole, Movie Maker 2011 succeeded just where Microsoft meant it to succeed, with the average consumer, but they were apparently stung by the vociferous criticism of some of the “power users” who wanted more, because they have added a few of those elements back in with the new release.

The new release

The new release is still not timeline-based, it still has the ultra-simple Interface of the previous version, but Microsoft has added:

  • the ability to add multiple independent narration tracks throughout a video;

wmm 2012 tracks

  • a separative narration tool tab, with the standard editing features;

Narration Tools

  • hooks to adding free or royalty free (expensive, but pay one time) background music tracks—one of the big problems with the previous version is that users added commercial music background tracks to their videos, and uploaded to YouTube which promptly stripped the tracks out as being copyright violations;

Music Services

  • separate waveforms for the audio contained within a video track, the background music track, and the narration track—yes, I said track; while there are no true, continu0us tracks in the user interface, there are separate track-like representations of audio;

waveform representations

  • waveforms can be toggled on or off, but they are so useful that it is hard to see why they would ever be off;


toggle waveform

  • new tools to emphasize audio narration, video audio, music, or no emphasis on the Project tab;

audio emphasis tools

  • new text tools to add colored outlines around text and captions—before there was no way to set text off and it often became lost in the video background;

Text Tools


  • a new publication option to Vimeo, along with a new publishing partnership with that service, and the ability to manage  publication options through your Windows Live account;

Publish To Vimeo

  • many new Save Movie presets, including presets for Android phones and tablets, iOS phones and tablets, even an option to save for, and (Microsoft is always the last to know that no one cares) an option to save for the Zune;

Save Movie Presets


  • perhaps biggest of all, Microsoft joins the rest of the world in recognizing h.264 as the default video standard and mp4 as the default video file format.

mp4 File Format By Default

  • At long last Microsoft has also included image stabilization with Movie Maker, but it is only available on installs on Windows 8 (because it uses hardware acceleration only available in Windows 8), which, for the present, means Windows 8 consumer preview.  When I tested it on my own shaky, wobbly video I could not see a difference between the three possible settings.

Image Stabilization


In all the additions to the now familiar Movie Maker interface are very welcome.  I did have a few problems with splitting videos that contained a narration (the narration disappeared once in a while, especially on Windows 8), and I wish when recording a narration there would be some sort of indicator other than the play head moving through the video, but the addition of the narration tool in itself, and the addition of audio waveforms for clarity’s sake, makes Movie Maker a truly useful academic tool now, rather than a tool for grandma to put together the family slide show.  It doesn’t  take the place of a powerful video editor like Camtasia, never mind Premiere, but for the quick and easy video/audio edit its great.

Tech Toolbox: ZoomIt

Occasionally when the techs here are speaking with faculty, particularly in the free-form discussions that come up at our Wednesday morning “Blackboard with Cream & Sugar” sessions, the techs will mention tools we use that faculty are unaware of. Sometimes those tools can be adapted to use in the classroom, so I plan to begin highlighting some such tools on the blog under the “Tech Toolbox” name.

For the first installment of Tech Toolbox, I’d like to focus on a simple Windows-based tool that can aid when doing presentations in the classroom: ZoomIt, from Microsoft.

From the download site:

“ZoomIt is screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations that include application demonstrations. ZoomIt runs unobtrusively in the tray and activates with customizable hotkeys to zoom in on an area of the screen, move around while zoomed, and draw on the zoomed image.”

What does this mean? That the ZoomIt program will allow you to show an enlarged picture of whatever is on your computer screen, and allow you to draw on the screen to illustrate points.

ZoomIt is easy to install (on Windows workstations running XP or higher, or Windows servers running 2003 or higher), and easy to use after just a couple minutes of horsing around. Since the program is free, I’d strongly suggest downloading and installing ZoomIt, should you ever have occasion to present to a class or meeting from a Windows system.

Our Greatest YouTube Hits for 2011

ATRC LogoWe in the Academic Technology Resource Center (ATRC) maintain a YouTube channel as one avenue for distributing our training videos.  The videos are almost all click-here/click-there screen videos, or “screencasts,” made with TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio (a product, incidentally, that we are now licensed for across our college District for District owned computers).  A screencast, if you don’t already know, usually illustrates the computer screen with the cursor moving, windows opening and closing, and procedures being performed while the presenter narrates the procedure.  Granted not the most compelling video experience, but the best way to illustrate otherwise complicated computer procedures.  Show me and tell me combined in the same operation.  Since these “screencasts” are not what you would call high drama, our viewership is small, but respectable, I must say, considering the content.  At any rate, in this post, since it is the time of year to do retrospectives, I present our YouTube channel video greatest hits.

Number 1, bar far, is our video on “Using Quick Parts in Outlook (and Word) 2010″ which had nearly 7,000 views this year.  (You see what I mean about the dramatic nature of the titles and the respectability of viewership.  By our standards 7,000 is good).  Quick Parts are those time saving blocks of text you can insert anywhere in an Outlook email or Word document with a simple click.  You know, the terms “boilerplate” or “canned response” come to mind, or more charitably, a “carefully planned labor saving device.”  For professors who find themselves continually responding to the same questions in the same ways, or making the same observations repeatedly on the same student errors, these truly are labor saving, and can easily be personalized after they are inserted.  At any rate, if you are interested, here is a link to the video:

Quick Parts Video   “Using Quick Parts in Outlook (or Word) 2010

In view of the play time (8:23) and the dryness of the subject, I would say there is a real thirst for practical, labor saving Office procedures.

Our number 2, by a fairly distant margin (about 2,300 views) is “How to Download and Install Windows Live Movie Maker 2011.”  It is the first part in our 16-part series on Windows Live Movie Maker.

Movie Maker Install Video  “How to Download and Install Windows Live Movie Maker 2011

Movie Maker 2011 is VERY different from the old Movie Maker, the one known and loved/hated by Windows XP users.  It is the fastest, easiest way for you to create a sophisticated movie, with transitions, visual effects, pan and zoom, titles, captions, credits, music and the works.  If you are trying to get up to speed, see our series.

A very close number three to this one (2,200 views) is a video that described how to use pan and zoom effects in movie maker.

Pan-Zoom  “Windows Live Movie Maker: Pan and Zoom Effects.”

The control you are able to exercise with the new Movie Maker is not as fine as it was with the old, but the ease and power of use are much enhanced.

Number 4 in our hit parade has to do with how to install Flip video software, which is no longer very interesting seeing that Cisco purchased and then discontinued the product.  This, in my view, should be regarded as one of the tech scandals of the year.  Of course Cisco can do what they want with their billions, but to buy up an excellent company, one that had established top drawer relations with millions of consumers, and then trash them, shows an arrogance reserved only for tech aristocrats.  Shame.

At any rate, here is the video, even though it doesn’t have much of a future.

Flip Install Video  “How to Install the Flipshare Software

The Flipshare software was part of a series on using the Flip video camera for academic purposes.  We have now migrated to using the excellent Kodak line of low-cost camcorders.  (Yes, I know, there’s all kinds of talk about Kodak going bankrupt).  (Sheesh).

Rounding out our top five is a video that describes how to use Microsoft OneNote to create study flash cards.

One Note Video  “OneNote Flash Cards

OK, but not the most exciting.  I made a number of videos I thought more interesting and useful than these, like how to create custom study books from Wikipedia, how to create custom, editable handouts from PowerPoint 2010, or how to use Google Body, among many others, and these have found an audience, just not as large an audience as the top 5.  Our experience with a YouTube channel has been very positive, and YouTube itself is in the midst of big changes as Google strives to make it more useful and powerful by connecting potential audiences to existing contents.  I read this week that in 2011 over one-trillion videos were viewed via YouTube.  That’s trillion with a T.  That seems unbelievably impressive for a technology that has emerged so recently, until you stop to ponder just what videos are being watched.  A review of the top ten list is very depressing for those of us who care about a) education and b) culture in general, but we’re not going to give up.  Here’s to video in 2012.

From 35mm slide to digital

Remember 35 millimeter slides?

Yeah, me neither. No, really, although most of us don’t have occasion to use slide projectors any more, there are still boxes and carousels of slides floating around out there. Occasionally we in Academic Technology are asked “is there some way to have my slides scanned?”

Yes, yes there is. Meet the ImageLab slide scanner.

As you can see demonstrated in the video below, this little device makes it easy to digitize any 35 millimeter slides or negatives you have lying around. The scanner outputs JPG files, so there’s no fuss about using non-standard file formats; there’s not even any custom software to worry over, just pull out the SD card or plug the scanner in via USB to pull your pictures off the scanner. This thing even runs on AAA batteries, so you could sit in your living room easy chair with a box of slides and the scanner and just work away until you are done.

As mentioned in the video, the Academic Technology department does have one of these available, either to use in the LL-111 Faculty Technology Center or to check out to faculty for short periods of time. It doesn’t take long to actually scan the slides, either. That slide carousel shown in the movie contained 76 slides, and I was able to digitize the whole batch of them in just under 25 minutes.

So, if you’ve got slides or negatives to convert to image files, we’ve got you covered. Just come on down to the Academic Technology offices and we’ll help you get started.