TechSmith will announce a new version of Camtasia Studio 5 screen recording software tomorrow. For readers who have not heard of Camtasia Studio before, it is “the” software for creating full-motion movies of all your desktop activity (also known as screencasting).
If you are an old Camtasia Studio user, you will barely notice any difference in the interface of Camtasia Studio 5 when compared with the previous version but once you explore deeper, version 5 will certainly leave you feeling impressing and more productive.
The first step in creating any screencast video is about picking the desktop area that you want to record and the new Camtasia Recorder makes selecting the recording area extremely easy. As you hover the mouse over the screen, Camtasia makes intelligent and dynamic suggestions by interpreting the nearest rectangular zone.
Like Microsoft Office documents, Camtasia editor will auto-save your sessions every few minutes to help you recover work in the event of a crash. You now also have the option to restore cursor position when you resume a screen recording after pausing for some time.
This is so useful as jerky mouse movements can make your screencasts look less professional. With Camtasia now remembering the exact location (and state) of mouse cursor when you hit pause, the guess work is no longer required.
The new Camtasia Studio 5 can produce your computer screen videos in most popular media formats including iPod, Flash movies, QuickTime and Windows Media for sharing on YouTube. This feature was available in version 4 as well but the new video encoding process looks a bit faster and the wizard is definitely more intuitive.
They have added some new video transitions including the famous “Cube Rotate” that you Mac users may have seen in applications like KeyNote, Final Cut Pro or Snapz Pro.
CS 5 includes a new Flash Player skin (called ExpressShow) that allows viewers to show/hide text captions, see table of contents, watch videos in full screen mode and even replay the video similar to YouTube.
With Camtasia Studio 5, you can record either full motion video or even single frames much like Qarbon ViewletBuilder. Press the recording hotkey (F9) each time you want a snapshot of the current screen in the final movie much like clicking the shutter of a camera. When you are done, click F10 and all those still screen capture images will be converted into a movie (remember stop animations).
Similarly, there’s a time lapse capture mode that lets you capture video at a normal pace but it will playback at different frame rate (either slow or fast) – can be useful for capturing software that take long processing time. For instance, if you are on a dialup connection and recording your web browser session, this mode may help.
Finally, let me share a feature that alone makes Camtasia Studio 5 a worthwhile upgrade – it’s called Smart Focus. You can record any video in full screen mode and Camtasia will automatically add the zoom and panning keyframes so that your video looks crystal clear on any screen be it the 2.5″ iPod or your 400 pixel wide blog or the 320×240 YouTube player. You just record the video once and Camtasia 5 will produce it in multiple formats and dimensions automatically.
I haven’t come across such a feature in any of the other Camtasia rivals like Adobe Captivate.
Camtasia Studio 5 works on XP and Vista though I believe that a Mac version is in the works. The software isn’t cheap at $299 but if want a screencasting tool that’s versatile, extremely easy to use and offers peace of mind, Camtasia Studio 5 is the only way to go. It will also lets you live record your PowerPoint Presentations and lectures into video files that you can later upload to YouTube. Highly recommended.