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Software Review: Camtasia Studio 5 From TechSmith

So what is Camtasia Studio? It is the premiere screen recording system on the market today; and it has just gotten better with the release of Camtasia Studio 5. This is a complete software solution for creating high-quality training videos, presentations, and screencasts that can be shared on the web, CD-ROM, as well as on portable media players such as the iPod.

Camtasia Studio 5 runs on Microsoft Windows XP or Vista, requires DirectX 9 or later, 1.0 GHz Processor (2.5GHz is recommended and needed for PowerPoint and camera Recordings), 500 MB RAM (1 GB Recommended), 60 MB of Hard Drive space. There are other specialized requirements for specific needs.

Not to worry for you Mac users, the fine people at TechSmith are hard at work on versions for you as well. They have a mailing list set up, if you want to be notified of new developments.

TechSmith originally started out in 1987 as a custom software company who developed for the Windows platform. Responding to a demand for screen capture utilities, they created SnagIt in 1991. Over time SnagIt offered some video capture capabilities and these, in turn, became Camtasia in 1999. In 2002, it became Camtasia Studio which was enhanced with a suite of tools. In October 2007, the latest version, Camtasia Studio 5 was released.
What does Camtasia Studio actually do? It automatically records exactly what a user sees on the screen. It records what they say, and how they interact with any Windows-based application or internet based website. It can be used to record training videos, marketing information, or support instruction.

Once you have your video recorded, Camtasia Studio 5 has the tools that will allow you to edit your video and share it in a variety of formats. These include Flash (SWF, FLV) fixed media such as CD and DVD, as well as portable media such as the iPod. If you want, you can see a short overview of Camtasia and how it can be used.

So what is new with Camtasia Studio 5?

• Camtasia SmartFocus – This allows you to create smooth automatic zoom and pan action with the click of a mouse. This allows you to redirect the viewer's attention on important points of interest. It also allows you to provide clarity inside small play back windows such as on YouTube or Podcasts. You can also watch a demonstration of Smart Focus.

• TechSmith ExpressShow – is a staging and playback format for Camtasia Studio screen casts that give the user controls and puts the maximum emphasis on the content while using a minimum of screen space.

• Snap-to-App – This automatically places applications, dialog boxes and the cursor in the right recording position at the right time so that action is smooth, editing time is reduced, and the presentation is clear and professional. There is also a video on how the Snap-to-App works as well.

• Screencast.com is a new service offered by TechSmith (it is still in Beta), that, for a fee, you can upload and share your videos in a professional manner. Unlike other online hosting services, Screencast.com maintains the original high quality of your videos.

Camtasia Studio 5 is an all in one solution for creating audio-video screencasts. You can import media, record from your screen, or record video from your webcam. It provides the ability to include quizzes as well as other information into your presentation. It is SCORM compliant. There is also a PowerPoint plugin that allows you to take your presentations and turn them in video form.

The Live Annotation is a neat feature as well. This allows you to draw shapes, drag and drop highlighting, point arrows, make circles, and even scribble on screen. They have also improved the editing and sound abilities of Camtasia. The timeline now uses up to 30 frames per second which allows you to make more accurate cuts to your film.

Camtasia Studio 5 is overall, very easy to use while maintaining the tools and power needed by the professional. While it may not be the cheapest screencasting program out there, it is by far the most professional one available for the price. Other more expensive alternatives are out there as well, but most focus on video production and not screencasting; and they have a much steeper learning curve as well.

Finally the output formats include MP3, iPod Video, Flash (SWF, FLV), AVI, WMV (Silverlight compatible), MOV (QuickTime), RM (RealMedia), Animated GIF, and Windows Executable EXE. If you want to do professional screencast recording the choice is Camtasia Studio 5

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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