Written by T. Michael Testi
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 6. It 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 6 runs on Microsoft Windows XP or Vista, requires DirectX 9.0 or later, 1.0GHz Processor (2.5GHz is recommended and needed for PowerPoint and camera recordings), 500MB RAM (2GB recommended), 115MB of hard drive space. There are other specialized requirements for specific needs.
TechSmith 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 eventually became Camtasia in 1999. In 2002, it became Camtasia Studio, which was enhanced with a suite of tools. In November 2008, the latest version — Camtasia Studio 6 — 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 Web site. It can be used to record training videos, marketing information, or support instruction.
Once you have your video recorded, Camtasia Studio 6 has the tools that will allow you to edit your video and share it in a variety of formats. These include Flash (SWF), fixed media such as CD and DVD, as well as on portable media such as the iPod. If you want, you can see a short overview of Camtasia and how it can be used.
There were two main goals that Camtasia Studio wanted to address for this version. First were larger projects. As people became more comfortable with creating videos, they started creating larger ones. The larger they got, the more sluggish the editing became. The second area was as new technology keeps being introduced, Camtasia needed to create higher quality videos with smaller file sizes.
So what is new with Camtasia Studio 6?
• Finer control over effects – will help you get your timing down. You can control the duration of transitions and callout fades right down to a tenth of a second.
• Tilt Video effect – will give you the ability to let your videos pop! By being able to change the angle and bring some things closer to the screen and putting others in the background, you can force some items to grab attention where the attention is needed.
• Overhauled presets – like Web, blog, and iPod have been upgraded to have High Definition video capabilities. Three others — YouTube, HD display, and Screencast.com, which are new presets — also take advantage of the new format which replaces FLV. They all default to a MPEG-4 AVC (H.264 ACC) file coupled with a Flash player. This means the HD quality with the smallest file size possible.
• Edit MOV files – from a digital camera or previous project. You can now bring it into Camtasia Studio and edit it on the timeline. As long as it is a self-contained MOV file, you can edit it.
• Screencast.com – is the fast and easy way to get videos from Camtasia to the Web. With the new Screencast.com preset, you can direct content into your sharing folder of choice. What's better, you get a free 2GB storage, 2GB bandwidth account absolutely free.
Camtasia Studio 6 is an all-in-one solution for creating audio-video screencasts. You can import media, record from your screen, or record video from your Web cam. It provides the ability to include quizzes as well as other information into your presentation. It is SCORM compliant. There is also a PowerPoint plug-in that allows you to take your presentations and turn them into video form.
Camtasia Studio 6 also has a lot of tutorial videos (go figure) that break down specific topics and focus on helping you get up to speed fast. They also have on many of the screens a button that says "Assist Me" that will display instruction, and a button "Show Me" which will take you to a video about the topic. The latter really saves you time from having to try to find the tutorial somewhere else.
If you are looking to get into professional video creation, then Camtasia Studio 6 is the right product. If you own Camtasia Studio 5 should you upgrade to 6? In my opinion, the separate audio and video clips are worth every penny of the upgrade. This alone will save hours of editing/re-recording time. Add to that the better performance for working with larger recordings, the HD video ability, and the finer control over the effects all make it an easy decision to upgrade. I highly recommend Camtasia Studio 6.
• Separate audio and video tracks – will now let you detach your audio from your video so that you can fix mistakes much easier than ever before. So say you mispronounce a word during your recording. In the past you would have to either leave it in or re-record your video. Now you simply detach your audio from your video track, cut out the bad section, and drop in the new.
• Added hotkeys – will save you a lot of time. Now with seven customizable hot keys, if you want to add a callout to the current spot on the timeline, just hit "C" on your keyboard. If you want to zoom, hit the "Z" key.