Create Screencasts like a Pro with Camtasia

Screencasts are a sure way to sell your stuff online, especially if you’re a developer. It adds certain credibility to your product and sometimes it’s easy to make your point. What needs a lengthy description on paper just takes a few seconds on a screenshot. For developers, mainly designers, it’s the best way to show-off.

“I’m already sold, just show me how the heck to do it”, I hear you say. Today, we’re going to take a look at the most popular screen recorder known to man. Yes, I’m talking about Camtasia Studio. Let’s find out what makes it so popular and if it’s worth your while — join me after the jump.

Screencasts

For newbies, Screencasts are digital recording of a computer screen, probably with an audio narration in the background. Simply put, screencast is for video; whereas screenshot is for image.

Screencasts are widely used in educational videos, product presentations, podcasts, and much more. Surprisingly, Windows doesn’t have any native implementation for which would’ve made a lot of sense, leaving us scouting for third party options.

Overview

Camtasia

Camtasia

Camtasia Studio was developed by TechSmith(the same team who gave us SnagIt). It is the one of the finest screen recorders available in the market today. It eases up the process of creating professional video presentations, screencasts with just a click of a mouse. Their Mac version is so popular that it actually overshadowed its Windows counterpart for so long.

Getting Started

Just a click away

Just a click away

Once you install Camtasia, you can watch a quick tutorial that walks you through the application. Recording with Camtasia is really simple, all it takes is a mouse click. Just click ‘Record’ and Camtasia silently work in the background without getting in your way.

Just a click away.

Background task

One interesting feature that caught my attention is the integrated webcam, which is a pretty nifty feature and is particularly useful when giving out a presentation. Another important thing to note is that the audio track is separate and editable. This makes it easy to remove the unwanted background noise without much effort.

Integrated support for YouTube/ ScreenCast.com upload and Import/Export of captioning files(useful for producing captions in multiple languages) are also great features especially for corporate users. Ability to record presentations directly from PowerPoint is an added bonus for Office users.

Usability

Quick effects

Quick effects

Camtasia sports a typical 3 panel layout pretty similar to older versions of Flash. Nothing great here, though, they’ve put in some extra effort to declutter the interface. The recorder opens in a separate window to avoid confusion.

Once the recording is done, Camstasia creates a temporary recording file and this information is available on the left pane and you can view a live preview on the right hand side.

Interactive sceencasts with Callouts

Interactive sceencasts with Callouts

All the special effects are directly available on the main window and you just need to drag and drop to use them. Displaying audio waves to indicate recorded sound on the timeline is a nice touch, making it even easier to edit.

Pricing & Support

Camtasia is a premium product, and as with all other premium products, it comes at a huge price, $299. The support offered by the team is terrific. They’ve an extensive knowledge base which should resolve most of your queries.

Should you have any further queries, their staff are quite friendly and addresses the issues promptly.

Other Thoughts

On the flip side, the output file size is too huge -232MB for a 2 min video with the default preset. At this pace, I’d exhaust my 2GB free Screencast.com limit and my datacap within 15 minutes.

You can try following this tutorial on how to optimise your output, but it doesn’t do any wonders. This is certainly a deal breaker for most of us.

There are a few other minor irritants like fixed height design(especially while working with CallOuts) and stuff, but these are pretty small that you can live with.

Wrapping up

Camtasia has a plethora of features at your disposal, turning your PC into a monstrous presentation engine. It’s great for serious people like the folks at Tuts to create awesome screencasts but for a casual user like me it’s too bloated.

Plus the software itself is too expensive, priced at $299. If you need full fledged, professional screencasts, without a steep learning curve, this one is for you. But if you’re a casual user just looking to take some occasional screencasts, I’d suggest you to look for other free alternatives, like Screenr.

How was your experience with Camtasia? Have you used any other screen recorder? Feel free to join us in the discussion below and Thanks for reading.


Summary

Camtasia is a powerful screen recorder for Windows.

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