Demo Software: Camtasia Studio

Camtasia Studio from TechSmith is an outgrowth of the very popular Snagit shareware program. Camtasia makes use of this expertise in image-grabbing by placing its Camtasia recorder with its own TSCC codec( to do lossless yet highly compressed video captures) at the heart of its Studio.

Use of its own codec allows Camtasia to record things that other animation or demo software may miss or find difficult to capture. These include such GUI events as drag and drop operations, scrolling trees or windows, popup windows or error messages, zoom in and zoom out actions, scrolling messages and other dynamic user interface actions. It is interesting to note that Macromedia, makers of Flash, use Camtasia Studio for producing their own software demos.

However, TechSmith provides Camtasia Studio with a number of different export or output options. Users can produce a freely redistributable .EXE with the TSCC codec or utilize Windows Media Player, Real Player or QuickTime codecs. For web distribution Camtasia offers either Flash .swf output or an ActiveX component that runs in IE5+. Finally Camtasia also offers options for PDA distribution.

The Studio has four major components: Recorder which records all or any portion of the screen, records mouse clicks and keystrokes, allows zooming or panning the capture frame around screen, records audio input from the PC microphone, and Add time stamps and text captions to videos plus a host of other effects. Recoder certainly shows the heritage of still and video capture that TechSmith has learned.

Producer is the studio for editing the videos, splicing in new AVIs, adding narration and a second sound track as desired. Producers drag and drop editing of timeline objects coupled with its non-destructive editing (video and sound clips are hidden until replaced or overwritten make trial edits and revisions very fast. Effects is the part of Camtasia Studio that allows users to place in Captions, drawing highlights, imported GIF or JPG stills, etc. Finally, MenuMaker is a small studio for creating and packaging the final output in any of the major formats: standalone, web, or special components enabled.

For training, question and answer and other special demo needs Camtasia has some add on components including Flash enabled - so that users can embellish the Camtasia .SWF files in Macromedia's Flash developer tool. At $349 Camtasia Studio is very competitively priced while offering some high end demo-recording and editing capabilities.

Next: Qarbon, another Flash-based demo software maker

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