I was therefore expecting great things from Camtasia for Mac. I predominantly use Macs for most things that I do, including any screencasting. I’ve used products such as ScreenFlow in the past to record desktop clips, so I was interested to see how Camtasia would hold up against the competition.
Being an OS X application, installation is as simple as drag and drop, with no complicated setup required. Also included in the .dmg image is a product tour. This allows you to view a video which introduces you to all the features of Camtasia, or download a PDF manual.
Recording video using Camtasia for Mac is really simple. You’re presented with a capture window with just a few buttons, and the first thing you can alter is your capture area.
By default, Camtasia is set to the full screen capture mode, but you can change this to whatever you like. There are preset options available, for capturing at the resolution of an iPod Touch or iPhone, or you can choose to create a custom frame for your capture. When you’ve decided on this, you’ll be able to preview your capture area via a green outline over your dimmed display.
The next option you have is the choice of whether or not to capture video from your iSight camera too. By default, this isn’t selected, but you can turn the webcam on to help you interact with your audience better.
Of course, not all people want to video themselves whilst recording a video of their desktop. Don’t worry, there are audio-only options too! Your built in microphone will be turned on by default to capture your voice whilst you make the recording, and you can choose to include system audio in this too, which is great if you’re capturing an audio intensive recording.
Those of you who have used screen recording software before will know that recording the video is only half a job. You’ve got to edit everything, and make it look appealing to your audience once you’re done. After recording whatever it is that you need, the editing window will automatically appear, with your video recording visible on the timeline at the bottom of the window.
The interface and layout of the editing window is easy to navigate, even if you’ve never used screencasting software before. Your timeline is always visible at the bottom of the window, allowing you to drag as many tracks as you want on to it. For example, you can have the video recording that you made earlier, accompanied by a backing track which co-exists with the audio from your microphone as well as a video of yourself taking the viewer through the video.
The great thing about this kind of interface is that it’s unbelievably simple to just drag and drop your content on to the timeline, making it easily editable.
If you’re piecing various video tracks together in to one video, then you may want to add transitions and other effects on and between these tracks. All transitions and effects in Camtasia are accessible via the top left corner of the window, where you have a selection of various overlays to point things out to the viewer, such as arrows and text. In addition to this, you can even add motion effects in to your video, helping to make parts of it stand out amongst the rest.
Although the editing features are predominantly good, there are a few things in which I’d like to see sme improvement in future versions. When editing my own recording, I found the various overlays that were available, such as the text and arrows, were unnecessarily complicated to alter. For example, when you drag and drop an arrow in to the video track, you have to open a separate window to find the various colour options available to you. Similarly, with the text, all of the customisation options are buried in a separate window that you have to open by right clicking on the object and selecting to view its properties.
Although not all users may find this frustrating, it may be easier to manage various objects if sections of the window dynamically changed depending on what object was currently selected. If I clicked on the arrow, a section of the window could display all the relevant options for that arrow without me having to go through the properties.
When all of your video has been edited, you can simply export it to your computer, or choose to upload it directly to YouTube instead.
There’s no doubt that, like TechSmith’s other products, Camtasia for Mac is an extremely capable piece of software. It does what it’s designed to do extremely well, and makes it easy for the user to manage screencasts on OS X. I’d like to see some tweaks to the user interface in the editing window, but these are just minor changes that would make usability a little better when editing.