April 25th 2010 | John Dalziel
TechSmith have recently released new versions of their popular screen recording software Camtasia. In previous years we've reviewed the PC version (now on v7) so this time around we've taken a look at version 1.1 for Mac OSX.
What is it? Video Screen Capture Tool
Platforms: Camtasia v1.1 for Mac OS X v10.5.6 or later
Cost: $99.00 / £73.00
As with most Mac apps installation is a straightforward process. Drag the Camtasia app to your Applications directory and you're done. After entering your Activation Key you find yourself very quickly in the app.
The recording panel is a simple and discrete little window. Camera and microphone indicators are clear, and the defaults are all sensible. The capture region is displayed as a live thumbnail next to a dropdown of size presets. Choosing from the list causes the screen to darken and the capture area is clearly defined by an animated green keyline.
If you work on a Macbook then you probably use Spaces. Unlike most apps you'll find the Camtasia recording panel follows you from space to space. This is a really nice feature that'll allow you to setup up multiple workspaces and record seamlessly across them.
The last part of the UI is a big red record button. If you've chosen a size smaller than full screen then you'll have the option to position your capture window prior to recording. A short 3, 2, 1 countdown and you're off and running. The shortcut keys for pause and resume are less than intuitive [Shift-Cmd-2] but thankfully you can also control this from the system bar.
Recording was very smooth on a MacBook Pro. Much cleaner than I remember from working with earlier versions on the PC. When your recording is finished you are taken immediately into Edit mode. This is a full screen video editor with four main panels: Media Bin, Canvas, Timeline and Properties.
The Canvas and Timeline act much like they do in Flash, and a project can have multiple layers. In the Properties panel you'll find controls for configuring the scale, opacity, 3D position and rotation of all the assets in the Canvas.
The Media Bin contains your video captures as well as any imported images or audio you may want to include in your project. The Media Bin library tab contains a collection of shapes and text with which to annotate your presentation. You'll also find a pretty good selection of video and audio effects. These are applied by dragging them onto the Canvas or Timeline then tweaking their properties in the Properties panel.
Once you've edited your video you'll want to export it. Clicking on Share offers up a variety of options. Save for iTunes offers export sizes and a handy support grid for iPod, iPhone, Apple TV and monitor. Upload to YouTube and TechSmith's own hosted service Screencast.com are supported. In both cases you can log in directly from the app. Export for web generates an MPEG4 file and will optionally build you an HTML wrapper and Flash video player. If none of these float your boat you can opt for Advanced Export and choose from eight different video formats.
Camtasia Studio for Mac is a well designed tool with a lot of great features. TechSmith have taken what they've learned from the PC version and built a stable and mature product for Mac OSX. For a 1.1 release I must say, it's pretty great.
John Dalziel is a founding member of FlashMagazine and regularly reports from community events in the UK. He has also written for Macromedia, New Riders, Actionscript.com and Ultrashock.com.