Camtasia for Mac

Techsmith released version 1.0 of the long awaited Camtasia for Mac last week. Camtasia is a program that allows you to capture screen videos on your computer. If you ever watched a software product demonstration video, you’ve most likely seen a screencast made by Camtasia if it was for a Windows product.

I’ve used Camtasia for Windows for years but haven’t made the switch to a screencast program for the Mac. There a few Mac programs that do screencast like ScreenFlow and iShowU, etc., but I never got around to trying them.

Over the weekend I decided to downloaded the 30 day trial version of Camtasia. My conclusion is that it’s a very good 1.0 program. There were a few glitches but overall I was able to create a demonstration screencast and add the special effects in post production.

If you have ever worked with video editing software you will be comfortable with Camtasia for Mac. The program doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as Camtasia for Windows, but it has enough to allow you to create a decent screencast video. It has transitions for movement between video clips and actions to allow you to focus in on specific areas of the screen. It uses a familiar timeline that allows you to place and rearrange your clips and even drag in other videos or images.

The one thing I noticed that was different from other screencast software I used is you record your entire screen and crop and position what you want your viewers to see (or not see) in post production. I thought it was a good feature but also a frustrating one when I tried to wrap my head around cropping portions of the screen and trying to fit the remaining image into my canvas size. (You need to set the canvas size before you start recording because that determines the output size.) If you enable the Mac’s internal (or an external camera), it captures that as well as your screen. You can then move and position (or hide) the camera video as needed in post production.

I did find a few problems with the program. First, some of the tool-tips were not correct. The tip for Fly In/Out transition said that it flies in from the left and out to the right, when it really flies in from the top. The text alignment (left, center, right, justify) didn’t seem to work at all.

The major problem was when I tried to split the camera video. In my test video I had myself speaking before showing the desktop with the firefox brower page. The default recording has the video camera in the lower right hand corner of the screen. For the first part of the video I wanted myself centered in the screen and bigger. I split the video where I wanted the transistion and move the clips around so the camera video was visible and the browser video wasn’t. I centered the camera video and enlarged it. When I played back the video, my camera video clip was showing a portion of the desktop instead of me. If I separated the video clip from the following desktop clip, everything worked correctly (except for a gap between clips). My work-around was inserting a static frame between the two clips. I’m sure this will be something they will fix in version 1.01.

Camtasia for Mac sells for $99 and will go up to $149 after the introduction period is over. My recommendation is to download a 30 day trial of Camtasia if you have a Mac, and try it for yourself. I would also recommend checking out the great tutorial videos on the Techsmith.com website.

Check out my first Camtasia screencast where I go through a demo of the Blubrry website and show off some of the effects you can do in post production.

73’s, Tom