Camtasia Studio 4 Review: Multimedia Simulation at its Best

TechSmith's Camtasia is a software simulation and demonstration tool that allows the user to integrate audio and video into their presentations.  Recently, however, competitors like Adobe's Captivate have been rising in popularity. Because of this, I feel it is important that Techsmith's latest version of Camtasia- Studio 4- provide its consumers with greater easy-to-use functionality as well as an ever-growing list of user options.

Before Camtasia, attempting to train my 1400 journalists was a downhill battle. I usually would have to explain to them- step-by-step- our training procedures. The journalists were then forced to take notes, that I was then forced to edit. Even though our training materials were constantly evolving- from Word, to PDF to PowerPoint- basic written procedures always seemed to be extremely difficult to get through and the occasional sound affect or transition was still to dull to keep my writers' attention.

Camtasia Studio 4 has been the answer to my communication needs. Studio 4 is loaded with features to help me easily integrating multimedia into my demos. With Camtasia, it is nearly effortless to record an application, create and edit a demo, and add in navigational aids. Studio 4 can also output to formats supported by Apple Computer's iPod devices. This gives the user the ability to export demos and presentations to portable multimedia devices for easy mobility. Studio 4 also supports Flash, Flash video, QuickTime, Windows Media and MP3.

When I first tried my luck with Studio 4, I'll admit, I was very hesitant. I had no previous multimedia editing experience and I thought I was going to have to do some serious homework to catch myself up to speed. This was not the case with Camatasia, however. I found that Studio 4 has a very short learning curve. After creating 3 to 4 training videos, I was completely at ease using the program. Without the need of the instructional manual, Studio 4's easy-to-follow directions and intuitive setup makes adding affects such as call-outs, pan-zooms, and audio editing 2nd nature. The yellow circle around the mouse when it is in motion (which changes to red whenever the mouse is clicked) is just one of the examples of how Camtasia's attention detail helps simplify the training process. The keyboard and cursor sound affects, however, can be helpful but at times distract from my audio.

With Camtasia, I can easily record my screen, PowerPoint, multiple audio tracks, and webcam video to produce professional grade demos, training videos or lesson plans all in one place- my home computer. Additionally, with Studio 4's ability to convert PowerPoints to video and export your presentations to your iPod or MP3 player, I can now experience the power of having high-quality demos mobile and accessible at any time despite whether I will have PowerPoint software accessibility or not. Moreover, I can now use Screencast.com with my Studio 4. This hosting site allows me to publish my presentations directly to the Internet to be shared and viewed by journalists anywhere on earth.

Before, training was a necessary evil. Now, however, when I need to instruct a journalist I will do so by simultaneously creating a Camtasia demo. This not only allows me to save my training videos so that I can share these lessons with other journalists, but it also allows me to use expert visual aids to better explain difficult instructions that would be far to abstract to detail in words alone.

Camtasia Studio 4 is the complete professional solution for recording, editing and sharing high-quality screen video on the Web, CD-ROM and portable media players. At a suggested retail value of just under $300, Camtasia is perfect for the teacher attempting to produce a lesson plan on the go, the student wanting to add a touch of grandeur to a class presentation, or the editor looking to broadcast instructional demos to hundreds of journalists worldwide. At this time, I have only used a small percent of the many features Camtasia Studio 4 has to offer, yet, I have used enough to know it is worth every penny. For more information or to purchase this product, please visit the website at www.techsmith.com/camtasia.


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