Sunday, February 20, 2011

Camtasia 7 - Buy it for the office and enjoy it at home

Camtasia Studio 7 is a super-powerful, but easy to use software for recording business presentations, PowerPoint shows and webcasts. But its value doesn’t stop there. Think about using it for your next travel movie or vacation slide show.

For years, I had used Camtasia’s earlier versions in a corporate environment. We used it to record presentations and then repurpose them as webcasts and on-line videos. It is wonderfully adept at such tasks, even allowing the presenter to add quizzes and surveys to the production, making it suitable for on-line learning. The quizzes are even SCORM compliant, meaning they comply to educational record-keeping standards.

But recently, while testing some new helmet-cam  equipment, I encountered video with a proprietary format. Try as I did, I could not get it to play back in Premiere, Premiere Elements or QuicktimePro. I began looking for other packages that could edit the video when I thought about Camtasia 7. 

Sure enough, Camtasia took in the odd 320x240 clip with nothing other than a warning that it used 16k audio and was liable to sound strange. No problem…sounded fine and looked okay as well. Click and play the video below or click here, to watch an overview on TechSmith’s site.

Camtasia will allow you to mix various video formats and sizes on the same timeline without complaining. It can handle video and digital stills up to 1280x1024. 

Since then, I’ve done a dozen recordings with Camtasia Studio 7 and have been wildly enthusiastic about it. The timeline is straight forward and it gives you all the standard editing tools you’ll probably ever need.
Doing voiceovers is as simple as it can be. Camtasia 7 allows you to lay out all your video and stills and then record your voiceover as you watch the clips play back. Watching the cursor travel the timeline gives you a good sense of the timing you’ll need to be on specific topics as they appear on the screen. It’s also easy to add time if you need it by just dragging out a digital still clip to a longer duration and everything else downline slides over as well. 

Callouts are a simple click and drag to add emphasis to any part of your video. The Zoom and Pan function makes everything look like it was done on a high end video editor. 

When you’re done editing, the rendering wizard gives you all the most popular options to present your video on the Web, CD, DVD, HD, iPad, iPhone, iPod, YouTube or Screencast. Rendering is quick as well.  A typical 2 minute video rendered to 640x480 MP4 in 80 seconds on my laptop. 

Poor Camtasia. Most people who work in offices will get the weekend off. Now that you know what Camtasia can do for your travel videos, it’s going to be working overtime.

Camtasia Studio 7 can be purchased as a standalone package or bundled with Snagit, my favorite screen grab tool. You can purchase them from TechSmith’s website or through various retail dealers.  Check their website for special pricing if you are an educator or work for a non-profit.

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