[Q&A] How to make complex shape animations with Camtasia

(Click to enlarge.)

(Click to enlarge.)

One of the questions I want to highlight this week from our courses‘ member only Q&A group is this one on the right about replicating moderately complex animations in Camtasia (or ScreenFlow).  That is, beyond the conventional voiceover screencasts that we see a lot on YouTube.

The quick answer is yes.  You can do much of this in any of the “Big 3” screencasting software/editors.

The longer answer:  Here’s the gist of it in the video below.


[Subscribe]

A word about third-party plugins for custom text and video animations

I’m admittedly not aware of any third party vendors that support special effects plugins for Camtasia or ScreenFlow — at least not in the way that, say, Noise Industries’ FXFactory installs itself into, say, Final Cut Pro, Motion or Premiere.   Having something like that available would be a HUGE assist in juicing-up the visual quality of your screencasting projects.

I put the question to the Techsmithies (Camtasia) and the Telestream folks (ScreenFlow) and I’ll report back here with their response.   But, I can say that there are a host of third-party suppliers of pre-keyed video and motion graphics clips that provide their media as importable media clips.  A couple you might want to check out include:  Flowtility and Marketing Motion Graphics.

If you have some favorite third-party media vendors, please share them in the comments below.

Can you do green screen effects in screencasts?

November 24, 2013

Yes, you can.

This video is an abbreviated module from one of the lectures in our Udemy course offerings.  For a limited time, I opened up the unabridged version of it as a free preview in the course page of the Camtasia Studio course.  No need to register or sign up for any newsletters, just click and watch.  (Tip:  You can do the same thing in ScreenFlow for Mac and Camtasia for Mac.)

What does Camtasia or ScreenFlow Offer That Screencast-O-Matic Doesn’t?

What does Camtasia or ScreenFlow offer that Screencast-o-matic Doesn’t? snapshot - facebook question

I see this question — or variations of it — a lot in discussion groups where folks are creating their first online course.  Usually, it’s in context of someone wanting to spend the least amount of money for screencasting/editing software as they create their first online course.  Understandable.

First some helpful references

  • Camtasia Studio (for Windows – $299), Camtasia For Macintosh ($99) and ScreenFlow (for Macintosh – $99) are powerful, multi-featured downloadable software products that let you — in a nutshell — capture, edit and publish video and audio of anything you can display on your computer screen. 
  • Screencast-o-matic ($15/year for a Pro account), is a low cost alternative that you can use directly online with either a PC or Macintosh.

My Response

For my part, in response to the oft-asked question about the main advantages of software like ScreenFlow or Camtasia over Screencast-o-matic:

I think screencast-o-matic (SOM) is actually a pretty good (I daresay even excellent) software if the course objectives (and of its marketing) call for BASIC screen/voice capture with the occasional bubble, box or text callout as an overlay. In fact, at $15/year (for the Pro version), I think it’s actually quite powerful for the price.

At some point though some online content creators (though not all) find the need to differentiate their presentations a little more from the “basic” look and feel.  (And, let’s face it, to differentiate theirs from the run-of-the-mill “death-by-PowerPoint” type presentations.)  So it’s for those folks that I think one of the other tools like Camtasia or ScreenFlow might actually be more cost effective.  (As an aside: Contrary to what some may believe, the learning curve for comparable functions in Camtasia or ScreenFlow isn’t really more steep than that for SOM.) 

Indeed, there are many features that will teeter the scale one way or the other if you were to compare each feature one-by-one.   But one of the key features that I think gives a lot of power to tools like ScreenFlow or Camtasia over SOM is in their capacity for you to have many more LAYERS (“tracks”) in your screencasting project.  This multi-track capability gives you the ability to layer video objects, images and audio clips over your main presentation and with much more flexibility to change different properties for each of those objects independently of any other object.

For example, in addition to a basic PowerPoint and voiceover narration, some folks may want to overlay a music track, a video clip, and/or a video interview that supports the main presentation — these require 3 or 4 layers (or more). In contrast, SOM only gives you one layer.  (Two layers could be argued, but certainly not more than that.)

(Click here to watch free previews from this ScreenFlow course.)
(Click here to watch free previews from our Camtasia Studio course.)

The video above is an excerpt from Lecture #2 in my course, “Beyond PowerPoint: Teach Online Now With ScreenFlow For Mac.” It shows some of the layering and property manipulations (animations) I mentioned that is much more powerfully done in ScreenFlow or Camtasia than in Screencast-o-matic.

Camtasia or ScreenFlow isn’t for everybody

Again, not everybody will need or want all that extra “flair” in their presentations.  In which case, if you’re in that camp, then screencast-o-matic should work just fine — especially if price is a huge factor.