Professional image editors often need to change the focus of a photograph or remove unnecessary portions. To do this, they use a technique called cropping. A valuable tool for image editors, it is also helpful when editing video. Cropping allows you to remove unnecessary or distracting portions of a video clip or change its dimensions to fit within a certain area. As my colleague Ryan Knott explains, cropping is the process of moving or adjusting the edges of an image. In most cases, this is “to improve framing or composition, draw a viewer’s eye to the image subject, or change the size or aspect ratio.”
Whether you’re working with footage from a camera or screen video, you will likely run into times when you need to crop your footage. Camera footage is often cropped to change the emphasis of a shot or remove unwanted and distracting portions. The same is true for screen recordings with some added use cases. One example is to remove black sidebars from mobile video. Another, is cropping clips and then arranging them to be simultaneously displayed. Even more examples are available at the end of this post, so let’s look at how to crop a video in Camtasia.
Crop Video in Camtasia
For this example, I’ll crop some screen video I recorded earlier, but keep in mind that you can easily crop images, recordings or other media within your project. In Camtasia, cropping is the same on both Windows and Mac computers.
With a video clip or image selected on the canvas, click the crop mode button.
Tip: You can use the keyboard to toggle crop mode by pressing and holding the “Alt” button. This works on both Windows and Mac.
A thin blue line and handles appear on your media signifying that crop mode is enabled. Click and hold the handles to drag the edges of the clip or image until the desired shot is achieved.
When you’re finished, toggle back to the traditional cursor by clicking the pointer option above the canvas. After a clip is cropped, you can move it wherever you need on the canvas.
Un-Crop a Clip
Cropping in Camtasia is particularly convenient because it is “non-destructive.” This means that when a clip is cropped, the original clip remains intact. So, if you’re working later on and realize you need to change how the clip has been cropped, you can! Just use the steps earlier in this post to toggle crop mode and make the necessary changes by adjusting the edges.
A Note About Scaling
It might be tempting to crop video and then scale it up to enlarge a clip. While this is possible, I recommend not displaying video or images larger than their original dimensions. In other words, it is always best to display media at 100% scale in Camtasia. This is especially true for screen video, where text quickly becomes blurry and unreadable when it’s scaled. Camera footage can sometimes be scaled down without losing as much clarity. In either case, stretching a video or image larger than its natural size can cause pixelation. The scale of a clip or image in Camtasia can be viewed and edited in the Properties panel.
When Video Cropping Comes in Handy
Here are a few ways cropping can be a helpful technique to have in your toolbox:
- Fit footage in a specific space or frame – like a device frame
- Patch a mistake or irregularity in a screen recording
- Remove black bars from mobile video
- Showing simultaneous actions happening in separate areas of your screen
- Display multiple clips on screen simultaneously
- Isolating part of a user interface
To see some of these examples in action, check out our tutorial Editing in-Depth 2, which discusses the crop mode at the 2:15 mark. There are some other great tips for working with Camtasia in the video, too.
So, now that you’ve learned about crop mode, are you going to try it out? Please leave ideas for using the crop technique or any questions you have in the comments!