Wednesday, 4 July 2012

First look: Camtasia Studio 8

Image from Betsy Weber under
a CC BY 2.0 license 
A new version of Techsmith's screencasting package Camtasia Studio has been released, and a quick look at the free 30 day trial shows that it's been improved in some rather good ways.

Increased framerate
The screen recorder has been rebuilt with a new codec, meaning capturing has lost the jerkiness that plagued previous versions. Now it can record video and in-game footage smoothly, but impressively producing smaller file-sizes while it does so.

HTML5 support
Camtasia can now export videos as HTML5, meaning presentations can be viewed in non-Flash format for mobile devices.

Improved Quizzes
Quizzes are slightly more user-friendly, giving a report of the correct answers to end users, and the HTML5 support means they aren't only available to Flash-exported presentations.

Call-outs can now be turned into "hotspots", which can set to navigate to other points in the presentation, or to jump to an external URL.

Multi-track timeline
A huge difference to the editing process is an unlimited multi-track timeline. Previous editions were very restrictive in the number of tracks you could use, but Camtasia 8 allows you to build more complex presentations, moving or scaling the individual video tracks to arrange them as needed. It has to be said, however, that the timeline's a little cluttered, especially if you're used to finer video editing software, but it's still a much-needed addition.

Visual properties
This is a new feature that ties in with the multi-track timeline, allowing you to change scale, opacity, position etc. of a video track, as well as adding drop shadows and borders, or colourising a track. It also allows you to animate tracks, moving them around the screen.

Bigger and improved library
The library of content is much improved, with various themes, music, titles and animations that allow you to create a professional-looking presentation easily.

Other than that all the usual Camtasia features - such as closed captions, zoom-n-pans and callouts - are present and correct. The interface is largely unchanged, meaning Camtasia 7 users won't have too much of a learning curve, except getting used to the multi-track timeline.

Whether or not the functions above would warrant an upgrade for everyone is arguable, but the mixture of improved video capturing, multi-tracking, and greater control of output are enough to increase the number of situations where Camtasia can be used. There's no doubt here a great product has been made even better. I'd definitely recommend downloading the free trial and having a play to see what you think!

(For videos highlighting the new features see here)


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