Note: This review is from 2005 and is not relevant to current versions of Camtasia and Captivate.
A few years ago, my husband bought Camtasia 1.1 so that we could create software demos for his business. While there were certainly a number of problems with the software, it gave us what we wanted, and we were pretty satisfied. When I started to become interested in screencasting, I began to think about what I wanted to use to create my own screencasts or tutorials. I knew that the tutorial/demo creation software had become more sophisticated, so I wanted to explore other offerings. But I really did want to like Camtasia, and not only because it would be far cheaper to buy an upgrade of Camtasia than to buy any other software.
It’s not that I don’t like Camtasia Studio, but once I tried Macromedia Captivate, it became obvious to me that — all other things (price) being equal — Captivate was far superior. It took no time for me to understand how to make excellent screencasts using Captivate, while with Camtasia, I found myself unable to even get satisfactory answers from the help file. Captivate has so many ways to customize how the screen is recorded and what on the screen is recorded. The editing interface is intuitive and allows the creator to easily change the pace, visual elements, and audio elements. I never once had to look at the help file in Captivate. And the interactive components available in Captivate make it an ideal program to use in creating information literacy tutorials. Sure, I’ve encountered some problems with Captivate — particularly in terms of compression — but I think those problems are pretty common.
Camtasia has its strong points. I think it’s great as a video capture tool, but not so great as a video editing tool. It’s great for filming every detail, which is good for technical support or product demos that don’t require a great deal of polish. But I don’t believe it’s the best thing for information literacy tutorials.
Here, in my view, are the pros and cons of Camtasia and Captivate. Remember that I’ve only used each of these programs a few days each. There were things I couldn’t find in each program that I may just have been unable to find. But the fact that I couldn’t figure those things out is telling. Captivate has really raised the bar on usability.
- Great for filming exactly what you do, with the exact same timing as how you filmed it.
- Doesn’t miss anything you do on screen
- Zoom and pan function allows the creator to focus on an area of interest that the user may not have seen otherwise
- Isn’t as much of a memory hog as Captivate
- Lots of different choices for the appearance of callouts (captions)
- In the editing mode, you can see where in the movie callouts and other effects appear and move them to other parts of the timeline by dragging
- Hotspots allow for some interactivity
- Can create menus and index longer presentations
- Not every user requires every little thing on the screen to be filmed, but there are no other options
- The program films any erratic movement which requires the user to be quite careful with how s/he types, moves the mouse, etc.
- Before you start filming, Camtasia doesn’t give the user the option of using standard screen capture sizes for different resolutions
- Once the movie is filmed, it is put into one large file for editing (though it can be broken into pieces manually)
- It shows everything the user did, including shaky mouse movements
- Elements like mouse movements cannot be separated or erased from certain parts of the movie
- It doesn’t allow the user to slow down certain things (mouse movements, typing, etc.) because the different elements of the movie are not separate
- Voice narration must be timed perfectly to the movie since the move cannot be made longer. The voice narration cannot easily be created separately and then have the movie made to conform in editing
- Interface is unintuitive for editing movie. Much of the terminology used requires explanation.
- There are five different modules in Camtasia studio and it’s unclear why they couldn’t be integrated or what each one does exactly. There’s one module called Camtasia Player and another called Camtasia Theater. Would a user easily be able to figure out which one did what?
- The final flash movies are quite large
- It is so easy to use!
- It is very easy to record actions onscreen and offers a variety of options for capturing different things (mouse movement, clicks, instructions, etc.). There are different recording modes (demonstration or simulation), but the user can also customize each of these. It recognizes the fact that not every demo requires annotation or mouse movement
- The program smoothes out mouse movements
- When the user finishes filming, the movie is separated into many frames for easier editing. Within each frame, there are separate tracks for mouse movement and clicks, animation, annotations, etc. so that they can be taken out or added in without having to re-record
- It’s easy to shorten or lengthen each frame. The entire frame can be lengthened without slowing down the action, or the action can be lengthened so that mouse movement or screen animation can go more slowly. All it takes is sliding the appropriate part down the timeline
- It’s easy to add audio or import from another source. Each video frame can be shortened or lengthened so that the audio content is perfectly synchronized with what is going on in the movie. There is a special easy-to-use interface for arranging the frames around the audio. By using the timeline feature, you can record voice-over tracks and synchronize them to specific screens (see below)
- Users can edit audio with a built-in editor, which allows for cutting, pasting, adjusting levels, and adding silences
- Captivate can record what is happening on-screen and automatically add step-by-step captions for common menu functions
- Captivate has wonderful interactive components. Tutorials can be designed so that users can go through the procedures with on-screen pre-recorded feedback. Captivate also includes quiz templates with multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching.
- Memory hog. Previewing and saving works-in-progress can take a long time
- A few times I found that Captivate didn’t record every page I was on – like when I clicked on a link and it went to the next page, sometimes it missed that second page. However, the user can click “print screen” to get a definite screen shot of any page. I’m not sure why this glitch happened or what can be done other than continually hitting “print screen”
- I’ve had compression problems where when my flash movie was at a high resolution, the bit rate of the sound was automatically lowered so it sounded more computerized and muffled
- The final flash movies are quite large
links for 2005-04-18
Wikipedia:Votes for deletion – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia How the process really works (tags: Software) Information Wants To Be Free � Camtasia vs. Captivate App used for screencasting (tags: Software) Economist.com | Management education Does…
Camtasia vs. Captivate
Meredith at Information Wants to be Free has a nice comparision of Camtasia and Captivate.
Thanks Meredith for such a details description of how each of these work.
Camtasia Studio vs. Captivate
Recent blog post about CS vs. Captivate. Lists her pros and cons…
We have been emailing lately…
[…] Another great thing to do is to play with new technologies. I never created any podcasts of my own (I hate my voice), but I downloaded plenty and even played around with Audacity a bit. I was interested in wikis so I created one (though one could more easily edit the wikipedia or something). I didn’t have any practical use for Jybe at the time I tested it, but I played around with it and became a fan. And in the future, it may be something I recommend to my supervisor. A big part of the reason I got my job was my experience with screencasting and knowledge of screencasting software. I learned about screencasting by reading about it in blogs, downloading trial versions of Captivate and Camtasia, and playing with them. I created a screencast for one of my interviews and everyone was really impressed with it. I just thought it would be a good thing to have some experience with. And it was. Depending on what sort of library work you’re interested in, play around with software that may be relevant to that job. It’s not only a good thing to put on your resume, but the software is often a lot of fun to play with. […]
i would like to know that if there is a way we can resize the cmpiled movie.for example if i have catured the entire movie on 1024*768 resolution then the swf movie generated will be in the same size, now if i want to get the movie in a smaller size, viz, 600*400, then how would we do it.
i just want to downsize what we are capturing.
I noticed from the Macromedia demonstration that the screen can be pan very nicely during recording. I have no idea how to do that. Anybody know how to do that?
This is the major problem of Captivate that you have to capture the whole screen of application. This make the file and screen very large. I always think of the pan function during recording.
Following url is for author Phillip Kerman’s 2 page commentary on Captivate and Camtasia. In part he highlights that “they’re actually quite different”:
This is the problem with blogs – a lot of ink and opinions from people who have spent little time with what they write about. Here are some much more thorough and recent comparisons in addition to Kerman’s:
Be sure to watch the video samples: http://komodo.utsystem.edu/coursetech/lsteffen/screencapture/index.html
I have been testing out both programs and so far I like Camtasia the best. It is a little more difficult to use but the quality is great.
Very nice description.
I have some very different ideas for what I want to do with screencasting then most people. I want to watch movies with my friends and have a sort of party where we make our own DVD commentary. Also do the same thing with games and other multimedia stuff. Show the correct way to get certain things done at certain parts of games, do satiracal parody comments, that kind of thing. Who would want to watch it? Don’t know, don’t care.
So I load up a borrowed copy of Macromedia Captivate, set it to record, started talking into my PC mike, launch a game and Behold! A blank screen!
This is because this stupid sucky program absolutely refuse to record different screen resolutions.
What I want to know is: is camtasia any better?
Just tried camtasia – same problem.
These programs just weren’t built for actual multimedia.
[…] I finally came the conclusion that I’m a prisoner of my platform. If you’re using Windows then the world is your screencasting oyster. Two of the better options being Camtasia Studio and Macromedia’s Captivate. Someone even wrote a blog entry detailing their options on the two pieces of software. […]
[…] Adobe Captivate. Früher Macromedia Captivate und noch früher als RoboDemo bekannt, liefert Captivate Screencasts als Flash-Applikationen. Mit €450 ist es sehr teuer. Einen Vergleich zwischen Camtasia und Captivate liefert dieser Beitrag. […]
Thank you for your review.
I believe the current version of Camtasia when this review was written was 3.1 and several of the Camtasia “Cons” are not correct for that version.
The current version of Camtasia Studio is 4.0 and now I believe you would be convinced of another outcome.
Please visit us and download a copy to try it out.
I am a die-hard Captivate fan. Your article is very good. I have also written an article on Captivate : here:http://writersgateway.wordpress.com/2007/04/03/top-8-reasons-why-captivate-rocks/
my view is one sided as i have only ever used Camtasia.
i use it for 15fps screen recording.
the TSCC codec is beautiful and crisp without creating huge files that ‘uncompressed codec’ would.
I need thin lines and text to appear clean and without jaggies or colours bleeding (usually anything hitting red) and Camtasia can do that.
as for after editing, the Producer may be low on features but its fast.
i dont know why you have a problem with the help files. i know they are very bare but i’m no genius and i didnt have a problem.
I’ve not found any way to export captures out of captivate to movie formats, only swf’s, unless i have an Adobe Connect server, in which case i can export to FLV (or that’s how i’ve interpretted that). Camtasia not only exports to FLV or SWF, but also quicktime, wmv, avi, even animated GIF’s if you desire that type of thing.
i personally prefer camtasia for the type of work that i do, and i’m a little shocked that adobe wouldn’t have implemented an export to FLV seeing as they’re the “owners” of that format.
I think it’s just awful that you’re basing your opinion off of an ancient version of Camtaisa. All of the “gripes” that you had years ago have been resolved, and Camtasia 4 is a far better tool than Captivate.
Ummm… Rob, did you see the date of the review? It’s from 2005.
Try Captivate 3 too.
We had trouble using Captivate because it couldn’t synchronize the audio and video while recording. Everything was off.
At least Camtasia is allowing us to record without having to synchronize the audio and video.
(Latest versions used — Captivate 3.0 trial, Camtasia 4.0)
I PREFER CAMTASIA 4 OVER ADOBE’S OVER PRICED CAPTIVATE…ANY SOFTWARE PRICED OVER $299 IS SUBJECT TO BEING CRACKED AND IT BETTER BE ABLE TO DO MAGIC TRICKS AND PERFORM AT MY KIDS BIRTHDAY PARTIES… CAMTASIA IS PERFECT FOR ME… I CAPTURE SCREEN WITH CAMTASIA AND ADD ANY AFTER EFFECTS BY EDITING THE .AVI FILE IN ADOBE PREMIERE… LARGE FILES I SIMPLY BREAK UP INTO PARTS VIA FLASH FLV ENCODER… DESPITE THE SKYROCKET PRICES, i AM AN ADOBE FAN BUT CAMTASIA 4 IS THE BETTER SCREEN CAPTURE SOFTWARE… mf’s BLOG ENTRY IS A RATING OF CAMTASIA 1… PERHAPS SHE SHOULD UPDATE HER ENTRY SEEING THAT 2 ALMOST 3 YEARS LATER PEOPLE ARE STILL COMMENTING.
[…] I appreciate your thoughts and time ||| Hi, a while ago I saw this this article http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/index.php/2005/04/16/camtasia- vs-captivate/ […]