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Review: Camtasia Studio 3.1 and SnagIt 8

Review: Camtasia Studio 3.1 and SnagIt 8

It's been a couple of years since we checked out the capture tools from TechSmith so we thought we'd take a look at the new releases of Camtasia Studio 3.1 & SnagIt 8.

What do they do? Desktop recording and presentation software
Platforms: Windows
Manufacturer: TechSmith
Price: Prices vary per volume licence. Upgrades and bundle offer available.

Techsmith speciailise in desktop recording and screen capture software. 'Camtasia Studio' captures moving images, and the venerable 'SnagIt' captures static images.

SnagIt 8
SnagIt is one of those programs that I just can't imagine being without. Like WinZip or Copernic, it should just come bundled with the operating system. It sits in your system tray and when you want to capture a section of screen you just fire it up.

SnagIt is marking it's 15th Anniversary with this release, so how do you teach an old dog new tricks? Well, firstly you add Flash. That's right, this version of SnagIt is the first to make use of the SWF format. Screengrabs can now be enhanced with Flash hotspots that link to URLs. These hotspots can also be configured to display textual or graphical tooltips. PDF output is also supported for the first time.

These new formats have allowed the engineers at TechSmith to create richer capture modes than in previous versions. I particularly like the new 'Interactive screenshot' that captures a web page, complete with all the HREF links intact.

Camtasia Studio 3.1
Quite a lot has changed since we last looked at version 2 of Camtasia Studio. The first thing we noticed is that the UI and workflow seems a lot slicker this time round. The production wizard in particular makes the customisation and output of your final files a lot smoother than in previous versions.

There's a raft of big new features this time round. These include two new display modes: 'Picture in picture' and 'Side by side' and a multi-choice 'quizzing' feature for building e-learning videos. One feature in particular should interest Flash developers: In addition to the regular SWF output, there is a JPEG optimised SWF output that aims to produce smaller Flash files for graphically intensive captures such as photo slideshows.

Support for new video formats is also big in 3.1. Flash 8 SWF and FLV are supported, as are Quicktime 7 and H.264 video. The introduction of Section 508-Compliant Captioning will make accessable video a lot easier to produce. It's very simple to use; you can add your own text to the captioning field or import text from a document. Powerpoint slide notes can also be imported. This feature is just crying out to be combined with the new 'Picture in picture' or 'Side by side' display modes.

Both products deliver a lot of new bang for your buck. If you're already running an earlier version then you'll find the upgrade prices are pretty reasonable for all this new functionality. If you don't have any capture software yet then you'll find both products are more than up to the job.
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About John Dalziel

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, and

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