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Caption by: Christian Harris
Camtasia Studio 6 from TechSmith is an outstandingly easy-to-use program for creating HD-quality training, teaching and marketing videos for the web and mobile devices. It's a great way to demonstrate a process, a product or an idea. Screenshots of a desktop are one thing, but the ability to produce high-quality video demos that actually show your products 'in action' is a compelling feature for businesses that sell software products or services.
Camtasia Studio records exactly what you see on your computer screen, what you say (if you have a microphone connected) and how you interact with any web site or Windows-based application, such as PowerPoint. You can then edit the interactive content and share it online in all popular streaming media formats.
Camtasia Studio lets you capture on-screen action and edit the footage to create compelling training, e-learning and marketing-type content.
One of the best features of Camtasia Studio is that it lets you create HD (1,280-by-720 pixel) videos with a small file size, making it ideal for creating videos that playback smoothly online in Flash — on a smartphone, on YouTube or other video sharing sites. The latest version also streamlines its video-editing engine to significantly reduce the time the software takes to create content. Developer TechSmith has even found time to provide a lot more control over the editing of audio and video, allowing you to create great-looking content quickly.
The recording controls are simple to operate; you can capture the full screen or a designated portion of it.
Similar to screen capture software, Camtasia Studio records exactly what you see on your computer screen; you can capture a full screen or a custom-defined portion. To start recording, hit the Record button or the 'F9' hotkey; when you're done, hit Stop or the 'F10' hotkey. A window then appears where you can preview what you've just recorded and either Save, Delete, Edit or Produce it.
Camtasia Studio makes light work of creating a video by offering five production presets (Blog, Web, YouTube, HD display and TechSmith’s own Screencast.com), so you don’t have to worry about image size, quality and rendering settings. It can also capture what you say. You can then edit the interactive content and share it online in all popular streaming media formats, including HD-quality video (MPEG-4 AVC, H.264+AAC) and Flash. Sadly the program can't export to AVI/WMV; nor can you save your work as a PowerPoint presentation. Another annoyance is the inability to re-record just the movements of the cursor without having to record the full movie again. You can't adjust the position of the mouse pointer (send it behind a text box or hide it momentarily, for example); nor can you set the desktop wallpaper as blank and/or hide all the desktop icons. These little things would save time and also help reduce the overall size of your desktop video.
Special features like the new Tilt capability help to give your videos an eye-catching look.
On the plus side, you can edit audio and video independently and move audio from one track to another, which makes recording and editing faster and more efficient. More advanced editing techniques offer control over transition and callout fade durations down to 1/10th of a second, allowing you to create more polished videos, while a new tilt feature gives an eye-catching 3D perspective to your videos. You can also import and edit any self-contained MOV file to combine digital video with screen-recorded content. However, you can't edit most of the video formats generated by today's digital camcorders, which essentially limits Camtasia Studio's functionality to screen-generated content.
As in the previous version, when you change a project's dimensions you get the option of applying TechSmith's innovative SmartFocus technology. This fantastic feature resizes your recording around the points of screen activity, panning and zooming. Even better, it adds zoom points to your timeline and, by double-clicking on these, you can manually control the position, size and duration of your pans and zooms. The end results aren’t just physically clearer (especially on web videos), but the pans and zooms are also an excellent way of making your demos more engaging. There are some handy effects too, such as normalising the level of the audio track to process louder and quieter passages. Transitions between clips are also useful, as are callouts, where you can add graphics and speech bubbles to a video to emphasise particular details or actions.
TechSmith has done a great job with Camtasia Studio 6. The screen recording software is so easy to use that you don't have to know anything about video editing (perfect for marketers), yet it provides enough audio, video and output choices for more advanced users. The software also integrates relatively painlessly with TechSmith’s Screencast hosting service, which provides you with 2GB of free storage and 2GB of monthly bandwidth. Unlike most other video-hosting services, Screencast retains the original quality and size of the uploaded video, and you retain complete ownership and sharing control over your content. This is a good solution for businesses that don't wish to share their videos with the world.
Although Camtasia Studio 6 is straightforward to use, you'll still have to spend time using the software to understand how to create engaging videos that look professional. However, the effort is well worth the result. It's no Adobe Captivate 3 (£472), but Camtasia Studio 6 is perfect for smaller companies with limited technical resources.
Caption by: Christian Harris