Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Captivate vs. Camtasia Studio

Grab a seat and hold onto your earlobes folks, this bout is scheduled for one fall:

In the Blue Corner, weighing in at two hundred and ninety nine dollars, feast your eyes on Tech Smith's Camtasia Studio.

And wearing the big pants, with an initial purchase price of four hundred and ninety nine USD, ladies and gents, gander in awe at Macromedia's Captivate (formerly known as RoboDemo).

Now there are no kid gloves allowed in this cage match, and nobody's pulling punches. Here's the rundown:

When first checking out Camtasia Studio, I was impressed by the website.. simple concept: download the product, choose the screen size that I want to record, ensure that the mic isworking, hit F9 (or click the record button) and start recording my demo / screencast. Great idea. Now, if I claimed to be the most technical guy on the planet, i'd be stricken dead by 99% of the employees of JetBrains. The thing is, it's really just about as easy to use this software as they say on the site. Editing the demo once it's recorded is a little more challenging when you start getting tricky. For example I often wanted to change little things like wording, or adding background audio... which i was unable to do at all... sure the audio 2 track worked, so I could record my voice after I recorded the demo, but I couldn't get anything on the audio one track; whether it was embedded in a powerpoint presentation, or playing in Windows Media Player in the background. Since not everyone wants to listen to Kruder and Dorfmeister while watching a demo, this may not be a problem for them. One cool thing about it, was that it recorded exactly what my .ppt presentation was doing. That was great. I'm a bit of an uber-genius when it comes to making snazzy presentations, so this made me really quite happy.

So for Ease of Use, and synchronization with .ppt, I give Camtasia Studio a: "Good Job Guys"

One thing that really disturbs me about Captivate, is it's screen-shot design. On one hand, it makes it really, incredibly, completely, superbly easy to edit AFTER you've recorded. But during recording, it takes about 342 screenshots whenever something happens, takes 1/2 second videos when the button colour changes before i click "ok", and forces me to delete 80% of the shots it takes, before i can get to the real editing. It also doesn't capture .ppt presentations very well at all. In fact, it distorts the video, and can't capure a movie of things that pop up and disappear on the screen.. basically, any movement designed to attact eyeballs. Then it distorts the backgrounds of .ppt. However, back to that screenshot thing... it lets you show direct, clean, mouse movements, and allows you to create tutorials, and add interaction with the demo very easily. That's a good thing for anyone who's sat through their boss' presentations on corporate conformity before.

For Editing, and interactivity, I WOULD give a "Good Job Guys", but that blunder with recording live screen action cost Captivate BIG points. If you're not into .ppt, or your demos only give a quick, one-screen response, then it's cool, but don't count on live video.