Recently my colleagues gave an online end-to-end demo of a new software to some customers. They recorded the meeting and we noticed that this is valuable material which could be used for marketing and knowledge transfer as well, but the quality of the recording was quite bad. The audio had white noise, the presenters made slips of the tongue and used a lot of filler words, given the fact that this was a live recording.
So how do you turn a raw meeting recording into a decent video?
I am a UX designer and not a professional video editor, so I don't have the training or the tools, but I found some ways to improve the recording tremendously.
Tools I used
VLC media player
Price: $ 199, free 30 days trial
Preparing the audio
To be able to improve the sound quality in an audio editing software you have to extract the audio track from the video. I found out that VLC media player can do this.
Start VLC and choose "Convert/Stream..." from the menu bar:
Open your video file and click on "Customize..." in the "Choose Profile" section:
Choose "WAV" as output file format and click on "Apply".
Set a destination for the audio track and click on "Save".
VLC will extract the audio from the video. You can see the progress in the seek bar.
Optimising the sound with Auphonic
The most convenient way to get the most out of your recording is using Auphonic. It's an "Automatic audio post production web service for podcasts, broadcasters, radio shows, movies, screencasts and more". The free account features the possibility to process two hours of audio material per month. You just have to upload your audio file, they optimize it, you get notified when it's done, you download the edited file and it will sound much better. I tried it out and it works perfectly.
Optimising the sound with Audacity
First thing you want to do is to remove the background noise.
Open the extracted audio track in Audacity. Now search for a part where nobody was talking but the microphone was still recording. You need 5 to 10 seconds of that background noise. Select that part. You can see the length of your selection at the bottom of the window:
Click on "Effect" in the menu bar and choose "Noise Reduction...". Click on "Get Noise Profile". The dialog will close. Audacity will analyse the noise to find out which frequencies can be subtracted from the overall sound spectrum. (I hope my explanation is correct, I am not an audio expert...)
Select the whole recording (cmd/ctrl + A) and open the Noise Reduction dialog again. Click on "OK":
Audacity will remove the background noise. This might take a while:
If you listen to a part where nobody is talking you should barely hear anything now.
Another possibility to improve the sound quality is to normalise the volume levels. If the recording is too low, the volume will be increased, if the recording is too loud and you can hear clippings, the volume will be decreased.
Keep the whole track selected and click on "Effect" in the menu bar and choose "Normalize...". You can keep the default settings and apply the effect:
Export the edited audio track as an uncompressed wave file (Microsoft WAV 16-bit PCM).
I just scratched the surface of what you can do to improve voice recordings in Audacity. You can check YouTube for dozens of video tutorials with much more tricks. For Example: Make Your Voice Sound Better In Audacity (EASY)
Setting up Camtasia
Create a new project in Camtasia and import the raw video and the separated audio track you created. Drag the video on one of the tracks on the timeline. The default size of the canvas in Camtasia is 1080p (1920×1080 pixels), but in this case the video was recorded in 720p resolution, that's why there is a black border around the video:
If you want to keep the original dimension of the recording you need to resize the canvas. Click on "Edit" in the menu bar and choose "Project Settings...", select the correct dimensions and click on "Apply" to do so:
In order to use the optimised audio track you created in Audacity you need to remove the original audio from the video.
Select the video, make a right mouse click on it and choose "Seperate Video and Audio" from the contextual menu:
Choose the seperated audio track and delete it:.
Drag the optimised audio track from the media bin on one of the tracks in the timeline. Make sure it's aligned with the video track:
For the further editing, you need to be careful not to create any offset between the audio and video track. Whenever you cut out a piece of the video, you need to cut out the same piece on the audio track to make sure that audio and video always keep in sync. In other video editing tools you may have the possibility to attach an audio track to a video track. I couldn't find that option in Camtasia.
Removing filler words
Make sure that the audio and video track are selected. Place the cursor where the filler word starts and click on the "Split" icon in the tool bar:
Place the cursor where the filler word ends and make another cut:
Keep the audio and video track selected and choose "Ripple Delete" from the contextual menu. This will remove the part without leaving a gap. You could just choose "Delete", but it would cut the video into two pieces and leave a blank space between the two clips, then you would have to select the second part and drag it to the end of the first part. The "Ripple Delete" feature can save a lot of time.
This how the result looks like. Notice the stitching that indicates that a part was removed:
If you do this rigorously, your video will look like this at the end:
Giving the video the final touch
After all the cutting work, removing of unneeded parts, adding transitions between hard cuts, etc., you may want to add an intro and outro to the video. Camtasia has some rudimentary animation capabilities as well.
Once you are done, you can export your video by using the share button on the upper right corner. Choose "Local File..." and set a destination for the file. Select MP4 as file format, Camtasia uses H.264, which is the most commonly used video compression standard. To get the best compromise between quality and file size you need to play with the data rate settings. Click on "Options..." to open the "Advanced Export Options":
Try "Automatic" data rate for video and audio first. If the audio sounds bad, try 128 kbits/sec for audio:
I hope this was helpful. If you have any remarks or other tips feel free to leave a comment.