Creating Live Motion Video

Live action video means you're using a camcorder to record on screen personalities. Typically, you will combine the live action video with screen capture video, so this extra step involves recording that video and combining it with the screen capture video in, for example, Camtasia.


When using live action video, be sure to get the appropriate release forms signed by the video participants.

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Adding live action video to your screen capture video

There are two main ways of combining live footage with screencast:

  • Using Picture-in-Picture (PIP), with a smaller box of live footage over the screencast.
  • Alternating between live footage and screencast.

Using Picture-in-Picture

  1. Click the Tracks button just above the Timeline, and then click PIP Track.
  2. Drag the PIP video onto the new track and drag it left and right to adjust its timing, and put the seek bar in the PIP segment so you can see a preview. This video will appear in front of the main video track.
  3. On the Edit menu, click Picture-in-Picture (PIP). (This option is not available until you have a PIP track with a clip already on it.)
  4. In the Picture-in-Picture (PIP) window, click Modify selected PIP clip. A green border appears around the PIP clip in the Preview window, and the PIP properties appear. You can now resize the video by dragging the black gaps in the border, and drag the clip around the Preview window to wherever you want it to appear on the screen. You can also set properties, like making the PIP video semi-transparent, making it fade in and out instead of just appearing and disappearing abruptly, and adding a drop shadow that shows up on the main video.

Alternating Between Live and Screencast Video

You can drop clips that you capture from a camcorder onto the timeline just like you do with .camrec or .avi files that you generate in Camtasia as screen captures. But there are some important differences that you have to plan for.

The typical screencast size is 1280x720. If you use a high-definition camcorder and have a picture size of 1080, you're already pretty close so you don't need a lot of manipulation. However, live video from a standard definition camcorder is 720x480. That means the live picture will natively be much smaller -- about half the dimensions of the screencast — so you have to decide how you want to handle that. Here are a few ideas:

  • Let the picture size jump between the two. Probably not the best unless you're doing an effect.
  • Expand the size of the live clip so it fills the screen. You can do that by adding an instant zoom to the clip to zoom to the larger size. The aspect ration doesn't match exactly, so you'll either have black bars on the top and bottom, or the left and right edges will be cut off. Zooming in can make the live picture look fuzzy, but usually not too bad.
  • Use the Picture-in-Picture feature to add a 1280x720 background to the live video so the overall picture size stays the same. You can leave the live video small but with an attractive border, or you can use the Modify Picture-in-Picture (PIP) properties and drag the gaps in the green border around the preview to expand the size to fill the screen. Note that the live video has to go on the PiP track, and the background border (which can be screencast video or a still image like a .bmp or .png file) goes in the main timeline with the other screencast clips. One idea for an animated background is to capture a screencast clip of a screen saver, like the aurora or space screen savers.

All of these options can be improved for standard-definition video by capturing the screencast part at a lower resolution, which reduces the amount of mitigation you have to do to make the live video work because the picture sizes are much closer.