OS X 10.7.3 or later
Age Rating: 4+
Front and centre, Camtasia is a tool for recording what’s happening on your screen as video. When it’s running you hit a keyboard shortcut to begin recording. It’ll capture every mouse click, menu drop and swipe from the full screen, a window or a selection of your choosing. Ideal for quickly constructing software tutorials and presentations, if that’s all it did Camtasia would be very good. But there’s more.
When you’ve finished capturing the action on your screen, the video opens in Camtasia’s editor. That’s where the magic really begins. Once you’ve grasped the drag and drop editing metaphor, it all becomes very easy, very quickly. Powerful too, with features you definitely wouldn’t have found in budget video editing tools a couple of years ago.
A wide range of media types are supported considering Camtasia is such a simple editor. Video support includes AVI and DV. Audio can be imported in AIFF, MP3, WMA, AAC or WAV. You can even pull in external caption files.
The editor’s divided into four areas. The Canvas displays the video in progress, an Assets sidebar contains media elements as well as tools for transforming media or creating imagery. The main working section is the Timeline, which uses a standard track-based metaphor. There’s a Properties panel too.
Camtasia’s Timeline is simple, but powerful. You can create unlimited tracks, their type determined by the media you use. So, for example, you can drag an MP3 file into place and Camtasia simply creates a new audio track. Add an image and you’ll be able to drag the track to determine the length of time it appears on screen. You can tracks in stack order by dragging and dropping into place to decide their position on the canvas.
To edit linear media like audio and video, you place the playback head in the right spot and split the track where you want. The Canvas area scrubs video in real time so you can tell where to cut.
You can open Camtasia’s video editor directly too. Just choose “File > New Project” at launch and you don’t have to mess around with screen capture at all. Although, to be frank, that’s what Camtasia is optimised for. There are tools that enable you to highlight windows, add animated arrows, create captions and even illustrate keyboard combinations. In the new version, keystrokes can be captured as you record video.
There are also tools that you might find in other video editors – Transition and Animation tools to augment the Annotation and Cursor FX we’ve already mentioned. These are fairly limited in scope compared to professional quality editing tools, but simplicity is the watchword with Camtasia.
Macworld Australia‘s buying advice
Cantasia’s a truly easy to use and effective video editing tool. It’s even simpler to grasp than iMovie, we’d argue. With a streamlined capture to editing workflow and built in annotation tools, it’s a better choice for tutorials and presentations than Apple’s similarly pitched offering too.