Say what?! A Guide to Camtasia Sound

If you spend any amount of time exploring what Camtasia has to offer you’ll stumble across the Audio Effects option in the left side menu ribbon. Here live five extremely useful tools to enhance your video’s audio. Today I’d like to walk you through these tools and demonstrate some best practices for using them. These four effects are available in both the Mac and PC versions of Camtasia.

#1 – Noise Removal

The first option (if you read from top left to bottom right) in the Audio Effects menu is represented by a small amount of waveform that then becomes an even smaller amount of waveform.

What it does – This effect will analyze your audio and find spots that it thinks should not have noise (for example lulls in conversation or other more punchy sounds). It will then memorize what those spots sound like – sometimes the hum of an air conditioner or the whirring of computer fans – and make each instance of that sound silent.

When to use it – The best time to use this effect is if you are recording your audio in an area that has consistent unwanted noise. As I mentioned above this includes air conditioners, computer fans, wind, etc. You would not want to use this if the noise occurs only once or twice, or if the noise is inconsistent like a phone ringing.

How to use it – Click and drag the effect onto the audio track that you would like to apply it to on your timeline. In the Properties pane you will now have a Sensitivity slider, an Amount slider, and an Analyze button. The Sensitivity slider changes how much noise it considers for removal. Are we looking for removing the consistent hum of the water cooler? Or are we trying to remove the distant jack-hammering three streets over? The Amount slider adjusts how hard it pushes down that noise. I typically do not move the Amount slider lower than 18 because it may begin to distort the noise that I do not want removed. The Analyze button works in two ways. If you highlight your timeline at a particularly noisy part of your audio (that does not include any noise you wish to keep) and select Analyze it will use that particular segment as a template for noise removal on the rest of the file. If you have nothing selected, it merely re-analyzes the entire file on it’s own based on where the sliders are currently.

 

#2 – Volume Leveling

The second option in the Audio Effects menu is represented by a large and nearly peaking waveform that then becomes a slightly smaller and more level waveform.

What it does – This effect analyzes the selected audio file and makes it all at the same volume level. This means the quiet parts are amplified, and the loud parts are lowered.

When to use it – This effect is best used on dialogue. I would highly suggest against using this effect on music as music is often much more dynamic than this effect allows.

How to use it – Click and drag the effect onto the audio track that you would like to apply it to on your timeline. In the Properties pane you now have a Volume variation drop down menu, a Ratio slider, a Threshold slider, and a Gain slider.  Selecting High, Medium, or Low in your Volume variation drop down will lock the sliders in place, so you only need to worry about those if you select Custom in the drop down menu. Typically I use the Low or Medium Volume variation presets because this allows for some quiets and some louds which is important in human conversation. But honestly, you’ll have to try all of them to find exactly what meets your projects needs.

 

#3 – Fades

   

The third options show the waveform growing from nothing, and shrinking to nothing.

What it does – These will create a gradual growth or decrease in volume at the beginning and end of your audio track.

When to use it – This is best used on music.

How to use it – Simply drag it onto your audio file and let it do the work for you. If it fades too fast or too slow you can move the highpoint marker left or right on the timeline.

 

#4 – Clip Speed

The fourth and final effect you’ll find in your Camtasia Audio Effects panel (on PC at least) is represented by two speedometers showing different speeds.

What it does – This lengthens or reduces the amount of time it takes for your audio track to play all the way through. Keep in mind that you will get different results depending on if you are on Mac or PC.

When to use it – If you are on a Mac you can use this pretty much any time you are in a time crunch. For a PC however, distorting audio speed distorts the audio sound; the faster the sound the higher pitched the sound, and the slower the sound the lower pitched. Because of this, you do not want to use this on dialogue on a PC (unless you’re looking to distort the speaker’s voice).

How to use it – As with all the effects you can click and drag this onto your chosen file. In the Properties pane you’ll now have a Speed text box, and three Duration text boxes. Making adjustments to these will adjust your audio speed (and if on PC it’s sound).

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