Editing Images from the Captivate Library Using Gimp

I’m a big fan of Pixlr.com it’s a great free alternative to Photoshop which requires a licenses. However, when I’m working with images that already existing in a Captivate course, my preferred weapon of choice is the free editor GIMP.

Using Gimp makes editing images in from a Captivate library really simple.  Some might find the image in the library, export the image then import it back into Captivate. The problem with this method is that you then need to make sure that when replace the image that you don’t lose any syncing, animations or placement in the timeline that was already


configured

Let me walk you through the steps of editing an image from a Captivate library using Gimp.

Step1 –  Download and install Gimp

Step 2 – Open your Captivate file

Step 3 – Right-click on the image you would like to edit then, click <Find in Library>

Step 4 – The image will appear highlighted in the library on the right-hand side. Now right-click on the image then, click <Edit with…>

image1

Step 5 – A windows displays. Look for the location where you installed Gimp and click on the Application file to associated as the editor that you will use.

image2

Step 6 – Gimp launches and opens the image to be edited.  Gimp tools are similar to the tools used in Photoshop and Pixlr.com. You can hover over a tool to view its name and view additional tools in in a specific tool family.

Step 7 – Once your edit is done, all you need to do is click File > Export Filename (where file name is the name of the image file you have open by default).

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That’s it, the file you just edited with be save to your Captivate library overwriting the older unedited file.  Any animations, timeline placement will remain the same.

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Tips for Upgrading Older Articulate Presenter Courses in Articulate Presenter ’13

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m working on a gig where I’m editing and updating existing courses for a client. The courses were developed originally in older versions of Adobe Captivate and Articulate Studio . I’m working in the latest versions of both softwares: Captivate 8 and Articulate Studio ’13 both are backwards compatible. This means that I can edit courses that were created in previous versions of the software. (FYI: if you are trying to edit a course created in Articulate Presenter 13 or Captivate 8 using older versions, i.e. Presenter ’09 or Captivate 6 it won’t work).

In this post, I’m going to cover some quirks you should know about when editing older Articulate Presenter courses in Articulate Presenter ’13.

One of the issues that a lot of my clients encounter is that overtime they tend to lose track of the original source files (and collateral assets) for their courses. So before you get started, make sure you have at least the original PPT(X) and PPTA files for the course (the PPTA file will contain the audio, Engage, and Quizmaker file history). I also ask my client to provide me with a zip of the original published course files (I’ll explain why later in this post).

When you open the PPT(X) file, you will see the placeholder slides for any Engage and Quizmaker files that were incorporated into the course. You can edit text and swap out images with no issue.  However, in order to publish the course you will be forced to upgrade the course files to Presenter 13, so I recommend doing this before you begin making edits to the course.

To upgrade an existing course to Presenter ’13 just click on the Presenter tab and click any of the Presenter tools.

presenter-tools

The program will take a few seconds to think and then a small pop-up window will appear asking you if you want to upgrade the file to Presenter ’13.

presenter13

Click Yes to upgrade the existing PPT(X) and PPTA file. The software will create a backup of the original files – this is great because if the upgraded file becomes corrupted you don’t lose the original course file.

If you click No, you will not be able to publish the course with your updates, however, you can still save the PPT(X) file with your changes.

Here are a few things you need to be aware of when upgrading your course to Presenter ’13:

  1. When you upgrade your files to Presenter ’13 any audio that was associated with the course will be stripped from the PPTA file.

    SOLUTIONS:

    (1)Ask your client to provide you a zip of the course audio files.
    (2)If your client does not have the original audio file, you can use the original version of Articulate Presenter in which the course was created to export the audio.
    (2)If you don’t have access to an older version of Articulate Presenter, you can pull the audio from the Published course files (the ones I always ask my clients for) – the audio is located in the data folder; you’ll have to listen to the audio and rename the files.
  2. You will need to have the original Engage and Quizmaker files for the course.  During the upgrade, Presenter will ask you to locate or delete the Engage and Quizmaker files. engage-quizmakerSOLUTIONS: If you don’t have the original files you will either need to cancel the upgrade and ask the client for the assets or remove the assets from the course and reinsert them later.  Unfortunately, you cannot pull these files from the original published course because they are converted into *.swf files when the course is published.  In the event you don’t have the original Engage and Quizmaker files, just jot down the names of the Engage and Quizmaker files and the slide numbers they are associated with then delete the asset and continue the upgrade process.
  3. Video files are not upgraded and will not play. By this I mean that if there are any embedded videos or flash files, you will need the original files so you can re-embed them in the course.
  4. Attachments are not upgraded and will be stripped.  If the course contains attachments, these will be removed from the course. You will need the original attachments. If you have access tot he published course you can play the published course, click the attachments link and download the attachments. You can also find attachments in the zipped published course file in downloads folder (in the data folder).

There fours issues are major issues when upgrading a course that was created in an older version of Articulate Presenter. So it’s best to be prepared.

 

 

 

How to Edit an Adobe Captivate Widget

Adobe Captivate (v. 7 or later) has these things called “Widgets”, they are similar to learning interactions created using Articulate Engage.Widgets can contain images, audio, video, and other media. I’m currently working on a gig where I’m editing existing course files. Some of the courses were developed in Captivate and have widgets on some slides. I’m working with a team of other instructional designers who spent some time scratching their heads trying to figure out how to swap out the audio and images within a widget. Luckily, this is one thing I do know how to do.

widgetproperties

If you are working on a course that has existing widgets follow these steps to edit the content within the widget:

  1. Double-click on the widget on the slide itself and not the timeline.  This opens the Widget Properties“window.
  2. Double-click on the widget element you want to edit.  For example, if it’s a tabbed interaction, click the tab you want to edit to display the information in the tab, then double-click on the text or image that is within that specific tab. A pop-up editor will appear.
  3. Copy and paster or type in the new text. The existing text will be highlighted in blue.
  4. To edit the audio or image, a small icon menu appears on the left.  You will first remove the existing audio or image by clicking either the audio or image icon (a minus (-) will appear over the icon).edit-icons
  5. Once the media is removed a plus (+) icon appear over the audio or image icon, click the icon and search for the new media to be added.
  6. Once you have completed your edits, click OK to save the changes.

Captivate can be a quirky, if the changes you just made don’t save properly you may want to complete steps 1 – 4, then save changes by clicking OK. Then reopen the Widget Properties window complete steps 1 – 6 (skipping step 4).

 

Adobe Subscriptions – Captivate

Happy New Year (2015)!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It seems that there just aren’t enough days in the week or time in the day. Time just keeps slipping through my fingers.  But, with the New Year come New Year Resolutions!  This year, my resolution is to post a few times a month on my blog – sorry for neglecting the blog folks! I promise to do better.

Anyway, this morning I received an email from Adobe regarding my Captivate 8 subscriptions.  For those of you who don’t know, Adobe Captivate is NOT included in Adobe Creative Cloud. It is a separate purchase but, you  can opt to purchase an Adobe Captivate subscription and pay monthly instead of coming up with the $399 all in one shot for an upgrade or $999 for a new license (ouch! hurts my purse strings just to mention that amount).

I purchased my Adobe Captivate subscription at the monthly subscription price of $19.99. The email I received this morning announced that the subscription price is going up to $29.99 a month for new subscription purchases as of January 8th (click the link to read more).

Subscription price increase

Subscription price increase

However, for those of us who already have subscriptions the price will not increase on our existing subscriptions and we will be able to renew our existing yearly subscription for an additional 12 months at the original price of $19.99 (Thanks Adobe!)

Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions continue at the same price of $49.99. For those of you who have not jumped on the Adobe Creative Cloud bandwagon and own a copy of Adobe CS3 or later, you can get your 12 month subscription at half price – $29.99 per month. Not a bad deal.

CC-subscription

 

As an Instructional Designer, I find these tools invaluable and I’m no longer dishing out $1,200 or more at a time to upgrade my software.

 

NOTE:  This is not a paid post. The opinions in this post are solely mine.  Your opinion may differ and that’s great – it take all types to make this world interesting. 

Lynda.com Offering 10 Day Trial

Great News! Do you want to learn how to use a new piece of software, such as Photoshop, Captivate, Audacity, Adobe Premier, etc? Or do you need to brush up on your current skills? Lynda.com is offering a 10 day trial – during the trial period you’ll get unlimited access to all their training.  If you’ve never used or heard of Lynda.com, they offer a plethora of courses, ranging from topics such as Adobe Captivate to Project Management.

I’ve personally subscribed to Lynda.com since 2004.  It’s how I keep my skills sharp!  Now, it’s your turn.

Setting Up a Portable Studio for Voice Over Recording

Recording voiceovers and editing audio for the training that I develop is a service that I provide for my customers.  When I first started, many eons ago, my knowledge of audio recording and editing was minimal.  The first time I was asked to record and edit audio for an elearning course, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. That is, until I recorded the audio and listened to my recording – the background noise along with hissing & pops were very pronounced. So I had to take my little knowledge of audio editing and try to clean up the audio.  It was a huge feat, but I learned a lot in the process.  Thankfully, I have friends in high-places with some serious audio skills who were willing to share their knowledge with me.

Now, we all know that the best audio is recorded in a professional airtight sound booth, however, building a sound booth in my home is extremely cost prohibitive.  So what are the alternatives? Believe it or not, the alternatives weren’t even close to the cost of a professional booth and the results aren’t too shabby.

Microphone Check

First, I invested in a good microphone.  My first mic was a $40 audio-technica ATR25 Stereo Microphone, it was an affordable condenser mic. However, the audio I recorded with it had to be heavily edited as it picked up sounds from all over the room.  Following the advice of my friend (the pro), I started researching better quality microphones – because in her words – “the quality of your sound relies heavily on the quality of your equipment. ”

2013-08-30 07.54.13

After a bit of research and confirmation from the pro, I invested in a $99 multi-pattern condenser mic – the Samson C03U with an SP01 shock mount (the shock mount is an additional cost). Unlike my first mic, the Samson C03U is a USB mic with three pickup patterns, which makes is well worth the money:

  • Hyper Cardioid – most widely used in studios for recording and live sound – it picks up sound directly in front of the mic and it rejects sounds from the back and sides.
  • Omni-directional – this setting picks up sound from all directions. This mode is great if you are trying to pick up sounds from group performance or you want to include ambient sounds in your recording.
  • Bi-directional – this mode picks up the sound directly in front and back of the mic.  It can be used for voice over recording but you might want to consider using a baffle (a baffle is basically a piece of foam you place behind the mic with it.

2013-08-30 08.41.36

Click to listen to audio recorded on the Samson C03U microphone

Settings: Hyper Cardioid, 0dB, High Pass Filter On

The Samson C03U also has a switch pad where you can control the input sensitive between 0dB which bypasses the pad and there is no effect on the sound and -10dB which sets the input sensitivity to be lowered by 10dB. This basically means the the recording will not be as loud.  It also offers a hi-pass filter and low-cut filter that is used to eliminate unwanted low-frequency – like the hissing and rumbling most mics pick up.

You may not need all the features that my mic has, maybe you just want a good cardioid mic which is the best to record voiceovers and podcasts, here’s a list of other great mics:

POP & HISS

I also invested in a $5 pop-filter to help reduce the popping Ps and hissing Ss when recording.  My first pop filter was homemade – I used a small embroidery hoop and some tights. You really don’t have to buy the pop-filter, you also use a metal clothes hanger and pantyhose – just bend the hanger into a roundish shape and pull the pantyhose over the hanger.  I recommend using the thicker hoses for the your homemade pop filter.

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Click to listen to audio recorded on the Samson C03U mic with pop filter

Settings: Hyper Cardioid, 0dB, High Pass Filter On

Software

The mic and pop filter are your main tools, your sound recordings will be much improved with these two tools.  Software is another important component as you need the software to recorded and edit your audio. I use Audacity  along with some added plug-ins, specifically LAME to export my audio as MP3 and Noise Gate and NotchFilter to cleanup my audio.  I sometime will use Garageband on my mac which has some great editing tools as well.

audacity

These aren’t the only software audio recorder/editors, however, Audacity is free.  You can purchase an editor such as SoundBooth or Adobe Premier which are also great audio editors.

Portable Sound Booth

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we all know that the best sound is recorded in a soundbooth. However, the cost of building out a room as a professional studio is expensive.  But, I have an extremely low-cost solution.  I built my own portable sound booth!  It sits right on my desk or if I’m feeling extremely anti-social, in my recording closet (my husband’s closet where I’ll sit to record when I have a full house).

My portable sound booth is nothing more than a $6 fabric cube with four pieces of acoustic foam.

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Believe it or not, this cube works beautifully.  I have once piece of foam placed in the back of the cube and one on the top and two on the sides.  The bottom does not have a piece of foam.  I place my mic in the box of the box pointed right in front of me. I’ve found that I can sit in my office at about 6 inches from the mic, with my pop filter positioned in front of the mic and get some good quality audio.

    Click to listen to audio recorded in the portable sound booth without a pop filter Settings: Hyper Cardioid, 0dB, High Pass Filter On

Click to listen to audio recorded in the portable sound booth with a pop filter Settings: Hyper Cardioid, 0dB, High Pass Filter On

I didn’t do any clean up on any off the audio files recorded for this post.  They are straight records in Audacity, exported as MP3 files. You can still hear my pug snoring even with the portable sound booth because she makes her nest right under my desk.  However, the TV was also blaring during my portable sound booth recording sessions.

The audio recorded in the sound booth works great for elearning audio because the ambient noise and hissing from the equipment itself is greatly reduced.  When you published your elearning there is also a certain amount of distortion added the audio so the deader the surroundings of the audio sound the better.

I’ve been recording my audio with my portable sound booth and pop filter and getting great results.  My investment paid off and I didn’t have to build a recording studio.

In my next post, I’ll share some tips on Cleaning Up Your Audio Files.