Type of Program: Video Capture tool for Windows
Supported Platforms: Win95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
Company Name: TechSmith
One of the drawbacks of being well versed in most aspects of software and hardware is that you suddenly gain an awful lot of new "friends" who seem to telephone at all hours of the day requesting tech support. So you spend vast amounts of unproductive time in trying to assist them whilst really wanting to get on with your own work.
So what if there was a program with which you could make step by step, mouse click by mouse click videos of very high quality which you could just pop on a disk or put on a site to download and "friends" could access these? What if that program was really simple to use and included an editing suite of equal ease and a choice of adding narration as you record or dubbing it after. What if you could pause the recording to add annotations? What about a bit of pan and zoom? What if you could save these videos as say AVI or MOV or streaming video for Real Player or Windows Media v.7 file format, ASF, WMV, RM, CAMV or perhaps a highly optimized GIF? Oh and while we're compiling a wish list what about being able to capture layered windows? I know, let's have a facility to draw just like the sports broadcasters while you're recording. Why stop there? Lets have a TechSmith codec and a player that produce high quality videos at up to 70-1 lossless compression and high capture frame rates which can also be distributed, royalty free, so that everyone can enjoy the fruits of this program. Would you believe me if I said there is such a program?
Believe me it is real, called Camtasia and can be found at http://www.techsmith.com
This is a very high quality easy to use piece of software that produces blatantly professional results. I have listed but a few of the features above, there are also goodies such as highlighting, cursor highlighting, timestamping, captions, audio effects, record full, part or region of the screen etc. Now vast amounts of features usually mean wads of help files to wade through and yes they are there, but, there are also tutorial videos supplied and available for free from TechSmith which I found made the whole process extremely easy. In fact one video tells you that you will have enough knowledge within 3 minutes to make a basic movie and indeed you do.
One piece of advice I followed was to make several short videos and then use the supplied Camtasia Producer to edit and splice them together. Good advice it is too. The Producer has a wizard with which you can produce your movie in the formats listed earlier in this review. Alteratively you can use thumbnail browser to find your media then use the timeline edit bar to edit frame by frame, use one of the 78 transition effects or perhaps save single frames as still images. Oh I nearly forgot, you also get a free copy of Dubit which you can use to add extra audio. Oh yes, just remembered there is an excellent FAQ/Support page and a Camtasia forum which is well populated and full of useful stuff re Camtasia.
I must admit I am extremely impressed with TechSmith, I sent an e-mail requesting tech support on a problem I had with Windows Media Player and Camtasia and had a reply within the hour with a solution that worked.
Anyway I think you get the general picture - it's a brilliant program and yes I know $149.95 sounds a lot but when you look at what your getting they could have charged alot more and it is value for money. If you need further information go to this url
Ease of Installation:
Reviewed by Simon Baillie