Camtasia Studio

It’s very rare that I find a nice piece of payware that’s actually worth paying for. There are the handful of applications that you absolutely have to have in order to survive in the business world (Windows, the Office applications, etc.) and then there are those that are unique.

Camtasia Studio is one of the latter. As far as I can find, there is no freeware equivalent out there. For those of us that work with presentations on a regular basis, Camtasia seems like an absolutely invaluable application.

Camtasia is not only capable of capturing video directly from your desktop and allowing you to record presentation narrations, it also acts as an extremely useful PowerPoint Add-In.

After you install Camtasia, it automatically installs itself as an “Add-In” in your PowerPoint application. Then, when you open a presentation in PowerPoint, you can simply click the Add-Ins tab (in MS Office 2007 — it’s probably buried somewhere in earlier versions of Office), then click the “Record” button. Camtasia will automatically begin your presentation in full screen mode and record the entire presentation for you. You can even add a watermark to the video if you so choose.

From there, you have the option of editing the video, adding subtitles, adding or enhancing audio and much more. The subtitles are extremely easy to work with. If your PowerPoint presentation includes presenters’ notes, then you can simply click a button to import those as your video captions. Camtasia attempts to time the captions automatically (and actually does a pretty good job of it). Then, you can either drag and drop the “caption points” to re-time the captions, or you can manually create “caption points” from scratch.

If your presentation doesn’t have notes built in, you can also easily copy text from any application and paste it into the caption window.

Manually adding the caption points is easier than I could have imagined. All you do is play the video, then click on the word that you want to start the new “caption point”. Once you click, Camtasia automatically creates a caption point starting from that word.

You also get some decent control over the size of the captions. Actually, you set how many characters you want to appear across the screen, and it automatically sizes the captions for you.

When you’re all finished editing and enhancing your video, you can then export it into a wide variety of formats. I chose to export my videos to Flash. When I did so, Camtasia automatically generated titles/chapters in the video based on the PowerPoint slides. Then, I was able to set metadata, add various “about” information and I even had the choice to add a “quiz” to the end of it. I also had the option to set a custom “loading” video, but I didn’t have anything on hand to use, so I used the default.

When you save it, Camtasia automatically generates all of the necessary files for you, including the HTML file in which the video is embedded.

You can download a free, full-featured 30-day trial of the software by visiting Camtasia’s Web site.


I have produced a quick video with Camtasia 4 showing how easy it is to add captions. Camtasia then automatically converted the video to Flash and uploaded it to Screencast for me.

I didn’t add any audio to it, as I don’t have a microphone here at home. However, the captions should do a decent job of showing you what’s going on.

6 Responses

  • allen stern

    Curtiss – great writeup. Are you using the 3x or 4x version? I have the 3x and after a patch, it’s been great. The only part that frustrates me is adding text inside the video – I can’t figure out how to do that.

  • I am using version 4.0.2.

    Are you talking about adding captions to the video, or are you talking about actually adding text inside the video?

    In version 4, at least, adding captions is an absolute breeze. I’ve never seen a program offer easier captioning, honestly.

  • Allen

    crap – maybe i need to upgrade.

  • I added some info to the blog entry to show how easy it is to add captions to your Camtasia video projects.

  • allen

    great video :)

    what i meant is lets say you have 3 clips – one of a dog, one of a cat and one of a fish – between each one i want to put text that says, “heres kitty”, etc. i can’t seem to figure out how to do that.

  • Oh. You mean adding titles in between clips, etc.

    I think you can do that fairly easily in v4 as well.

    All you need to do is save your text as an image file (gif, jpg, png, etc.), then import it into Camtasia using the “Import Media” command. Then, drag the image into the timeline and stretch it to the appropriate length.

    You may have to play with it a little bit to figure out the exact sizing, positioning, etc.