Looking for free video-editing software for screencast lectures

Hi folks,

I record, edit, and upload (to YouTube) about an hour’s worth of screencast lecture videos (PowerPoint slides with voice-over) every week for my students (I am a university professor in Biology). Every hour of recording takes about five hours to edit–a fairly common ratio I am told by folks in the recording biz. For me, this time is worth it because I actually really LIKE the fully asynchronous modality, and I was doing it well before the pandemic. I use most of my videos for a few years or longer, so I want to make them high quality and edit out all the breathing, throat-clearing sounds. Science marches on of course, so new, updated ones will need to be made every few years!

In any case, I am looking for something to replace Camtasia. I like the program’s capabilities, but it is often extremely buggy, unstable, and exasperating! Through my university, I have access to the full spectrum of Adobe CC software, including Premiere. I am just not sure I need anything that complex at this point. What I do is really pretty simple–edit out noises, splice/stich different segments, and deploy some annotations text boxes and the like. Also, I want to learn software that I can use for my own projects and will be able to use after I part ways with the university (Sweet early retirement in about ten years or so!!)

Any suggestions for a free program? Thanks!

Kdenlive is what I use when I have to edit video: Kdenlive | Libre Video Editor

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Thank you. This looks promising. I will dig into the documentation and forums soon.

  • shotcut
  • olive
  • pitivi
  • blender

@prokoudine 's librearts site has a lot of good news about those tools as well.

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@Kadsura Hi fellow teacher! I have exactly the same experience as you, something like 1 hour of recording for 20 minutes of final video and 2-3 hours of editing (basic stuff, special effects need more time).

My setup is as follows:

  • recording in OSB Studio https://obsproject.com - Free, open-source. Highly flexible to setup, takes a little learning.
  • editing in DaVinci Resolve DaVinci Resolve 17 | Blackmagic Design - Not FLOSS, but still free, extremely powerful and easy to use (plenty of tutorials online)
  • making supporting graphics in Inkscape https://inkscape.org
  • add interactive elements (like quizzes) through the video portal of our institution
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Olive would be my top choice. Your use case suggests a lot of ripple-deleting, and Olive makes that a no-brainer. You just cut the beginning of a cough, the end of the cough, select the resulted clip that has the cough and press Shift+Del. The beginning of the content after the cough automatically moves to the left so there is no gap.

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Thanks very much folks.

My main question is how any of these programs will interface with PowerPoint. Camtasia does have a PowerPoint plug-in, which interfaces pretty nicely, allowing full-screen presentation. Then the resulting file (.trec) is sort of like a raw file, in the sense that you can spin out innumerable projects from it without changing the original recording.

Hence, I am wondering which one of these apps (do I sound like an old geezer if I refer to them as “programs”–I’m only in my 40s!) would work best with PowerPoint lectures, and what the setup/workflow would be.

My basic setup is Blue/Yeti mic set to cardioid pattern and positioned at 45 degree angle to my left side, sitting behind an Auray pop filter. This setup was suggested to me as being better for minimizing pickup of breathing and other non-speech sounds than straight in front of me–which I was using previously. I don’t notice much difference here, but this setup DOES help to minimize pickup of the chorus of crickets outside my window (I record these at night because I’m a nightowl and the ambient noise levels are lower).

The Blue/Yeti was suggested to me by our instructional support group. However, some people I know who do podcasts regularly told me that I need a dynamic mic instead of a condensor. Someone suggested a Rode, but then I was advised by still other recording industry folks that 1.) The Rode is just as sensitive as the Yeti; 2.) Dynamic mics are really only used for screaming rock stars and the quality is not all that great–except in a very few models, and 3.) No matter what mic you use, editing will likely take you 4-5X the length of the original recording… So, no shortage of opinions on that front.

I also use Audacity for digitizing my LPs and would be curious to know how to set that up to do the audio editing–while at the same time lining up the video so that cuts to both video and audio are synchronized.

DaVinci Resolve has a free version that will probably work the best for you.
If you want to go with open source solution try Olive, Kdenlive or Blender.

Do you have a dual monitor setup? I do and it saves me a lot of trouble. I set up PowerPoint to show the presentation on the second screen and the presenter view on my main screen. I can navigate, annotate and highlight things directly from the presenter view without having to look sideways to my second screen (my face stays turned to the camera).
I point OBS to simply capture everything on my second screen and I overlay my webcam in a corner. Picture perfect :wink:
I guess you could actually get a similar result on a single monitor, but then your PowerPoint would be full-screen and you would not be able to see yourself while recording in OBS.

The video file coming from OBS can be edited directly in your favorite NLE.

I would advise against doing this separately. Simply record your video and audio simultaneously and edit the file in your NLE afterwards. If you use OBS you can simply patch in your mic as an audio channel to the recorded video file.
When recording myself, if I have a phrase or sentence that I don’t like, I just repeat myself immediately (keep recording) and cut out the first take in post. If you use a script, this might not be necessary as you probably have far fewer re-takes. Although, the time it takes me to write a good script is almost equal to the extra time required to record and cut multiple takes, so YMMV.

Edit: I found that in my workflow editing the video file back to front is much faster, because in most cases I want to keep the last take anyway and can just cut away the segment before that quite easily.

I have an Audio Technica AT4040 condensor mic with a simple pop-filter, mounted upside-down on a sturdy movable crane. Some people strongly disagree about mounting upside-down, but the sound quality is very good and still mostly depends on the acoustics of my surroundings. In any case, whatever dedicated mic you have, it will probably already be so much better than the crappy webcam microphones that some of your colleagues will use… So, well done! :smiley:

If you don’t get bogged down by the workflow and the gear, this sounds like fun. Like you, I do edit the audio separately because Audacity is that much more powerful.

As long as it isn’t your students. :joy_cat:  Record in a closet? At least, some people like doing that. :man_shrugging::woman_shrugging: