(Ep. 3) Best Screen Capture Software Comparison Series – Camtasia Studio

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If you’re juuust jumping into the series, then you’ll want to start with episode 1 in this series: Six of the Best Screen Capture Software – Compared (Ep. 1).  You’ll also want to subscribe so you get notified when new updates come online.

In this episode: Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio

Camtasia Studio is Techsmith’s client-side video screen capture software that’s made for Windows.  In the  features we’re using for comparing the different software in this series, Camtasia Studio came out with an overall “Mel Rank” of 3.5 (out of 5)*

  • Cursor effects/animation: 4 5 (out of 5)*
  • Multiple video tracks:  2 (out of 5)
  • Multiple audio tracks: 4 (out of 5… and only marginally, at that)
  • Animation of annotations and/or callouts:  3

* Update: March 3 – Shane Lovellette, the Product Manager for Camtasia (Studio and Mac) was kind enough to respond with a clarification.  In fact, Camtasia Studio, like it’s Macintosh brother, does indeed have a magnify cursor effect.  I’ll cross-post a follow up video to show you where that’s at.  Also, this effectively bumps the Mel-Rank of cursor effects from a 4 to a 5, which makes the overall Mel-Rank bump correspondingly from a 3.25 to a 3.5.  


Although many of you — and my friends at Techsmith — know that I’m a big fan of Techsmith’s products, I have to say that one of my biggest long time gripes with Camtasia Studio is the fact that it only supports one (1) video track and three audio tracks.  (In the video, I show some workarounds where you can get another video track.  But, for the most part, you really only get one.)

The other thing that kept me from assigning a higher overall Mel-rank is the limitations in keyframe type animation of video and callouts.

Take a look at the video above to see what I mean.  Let me know what you think.

[Related: Best Screencasting Software Series]

Best Screen Capture Software Comparison Series (Ep. 2) – Camtasia Macintosh

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If you’re jumping into this series for the first time, then you’ll want to first take a look at episode 1:  6 Of the Best Screen Capture Software – Compared (Ep. 1).  You’ll also want to subscribe so you get notified when the new updates come online.

In this episode: Camtasia (v2) for Macintosh (Camtasia 2 Mac)

For purposes of having a reasonable standard for comparison, I opted to fly above the “basic” feature sets like:  video and audio capture (duh), annotations, callouts, text overlays, and the like.  I’m conceding that each of the screen capture software programs I’ll be looking at in this series already have that ability.

Rather, what I thought would be better was to use, as a basis for comparison, those features that I don’t always see in ALL screen capture software, AND are those that I’ve found invaluable in my professional screencasts.  I also wanted to keep the list relatively short.

Features For Comparison

Ultimately, I settled on the following five simple (yet highly influential-for-user-experience) features for comparison:

  • Cursor effects and animation (e.g., being able to adjust cursor size; various options for highlighting the cursor; and so on)
  • Capacity for supporting multiple video tracks (i.e., at least 3.)  This is especially helpful for overlaying supporting visuals, websites or other guides that you otherwise verbally reference in your screencast.
  • Capacity for supporting multiple audio tracks (i.e., at least 3)  Helpful for overlaying additional or corrective narration, music tracks, hit files, etc.
  • Pixelation feature.  A simple, yet often not included, tool for masking passwords and other confidential information in video screen captures.
  • Ability to animate and keyframe (same thing?) various annotations and callouts around three axes:  x-, y-, and z-axes.

Executive Summary: How Was Camtasia for Macintosh Ranked?

  • Overall:  5
  • Cursor effects / animation:  5
  • Multiple video tracks:  5
  • Multiple audio tracks: 5
  • Pixelation: 5
  • Annotations / Callouts key-framing around 3 axes: 5

Mastermind Meeting Highlights and Mindmap – February 18, 2012

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Interactive Mindmap Meeting Notes

(Click to launch the mindmap)

A mind map is a pictorial representation of ideas related to some central theme.  Mind mapping software can be very useful by allowing you to quickly jot down ideas and concepts in a kind of stream of consciousness while allowing you the flexibility to group and organize related ideas during moments of reflection.

The advantage of mind mapping software is, among other features, the drag-and-drop flexibility it affords you when grouping and organizing ideas into related branches.  As you’ll see in the mindmap above, there are also rich formatting, linking and image embedding and sharing features that allow you pretty much unlimited uses for mind maps.

Mind Mapping Software

There are many mind mapping software programs available, including these free versions: Freemind; Freeplane; Xmind.

But, at the end of the day, your choice of software will depend on the features that are important to you and your goals for presenting to — and sharing your ideas with — your audience.

Mindjet's Mind ManagerFor my part, I’ve pretty much standardized on Mindjet’s Mind Manager software.  (If your’e interested in this technology, then you may want to download the free trial of Mind Manager.)  My choice was largely dictated by the fact that I’ve been a long time user of Mindjet’s software (since version 1.0), as well as the interactive sharing features it has.  For example, in addition to allowing you the ability to create and share interactive mindmaps like the one above, you also have the flexibility to create an interactive PDF that you could otherwise make available for download.  Your audience can interact with your mind map without the requirement of having to install mind mapping software on their local computer.

What do you think?  What kinds of tasks could you envision using mind mapping software in your projects?

6 Of the Best Screen Capture Software – Compared (Ep. 1)


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In 5 (plus 5 more!) Tools For Creating a Screencast I listed 10 screen capture software programs you can use for video screen captures and online presentations.  But one thing we didn’t do in that article was compare them against each other.  Let’s fix that, shall we?

With this article, I’m kicking off a series that I’ve wanted to do for a while.  It answers a question I get a lot:  what’s the best screen capture software to use?  (The other one I get is, what’s the best free screen capture software?  I don’t know that we’ll necessarily set out to answer this latter one, but I will be reviewing a couple of freebies–or near freebies.)

So, over a 7-part series (beginning with this one), I’ll go on to compare 6 popular screen capture software programs.  In the video above, I list the criteria we’ll be using as benchmarks for the comparison.

Let me know if there are other criteria or features you think are worth comparing.

YouTube – More Than Just a Place to Host Videos

Is YouTube appropriate for screencasts? Absolutely.

ScreencastingWizard - YouTube ChannelIn fact, since YouTube changed the design of their network in December 2011, I’ve been paying more and more attention to it as a community worthy of more than simply being “a place to host videos.” In fact, “how to” videos are very well received on YouTube.  And that’s precisely the kind of topic that screencasts and presentation-type web videos are ideally suited for.

Unfortunately, YouTube as “…the second largest search engine in the world….” has become a phrase that may now have been uttered so much that the implications of that phrase almost doesn’t even resonate with most folks anymore.

A couple of years back, I did a presentation that showed the results of a short-duration experiment I did to test the meaning of that phrase.  [Reference: YouTube – The Second Largest Search Engine In the World – So What?].  (I saved you the preamble.  The embedded video fast-forwards to the key part, which is at about the 3:15 point in the video.  From there it’s less than 2 minutes long.)

YouTube Is More Than Just “A Place to Host Videos”

So, if you’ve let YouTube slide for a while, I’d like to encourage you to revisit it. Consider integrating it as a regular part of your online presentations and course delivery.

Even if you create proprietary content and deliver many of your courses behind a members’ only area, it might be worth revisiting YouTube as a community that can help give more visibility to your proprietary content and digital know-how.

SMMOC Highlights and Mindmap – February 11, 2012

smmoc whiteboard notes

On the heels of last week’s SMMOC meetup, today’s discussion topics were no less charged.  I have to hand it to the always awesome Bob Watson for keeping our herd of cats well-facilitated.

There was lots of interest in “fringe” topics like machine learning (thanks Eric Stegemann!), voice recognition and implications for privacy, as well as some grounded gadget and business/marketing discussions related to: Pinterest, iPad3, FourSquare (thanks John Chow!) and Siri.

But!  Today’s SMMOC discussion was also filled with a bit of controversy.  (What do you think about Pinterest?)

Pinterest controversy and more discussions at the SMMOC meetup on February 11, 2012[Stay current. Subscribe to the updates.]

Click the interactive mindmap above.  Then, expand the mindmap branches under Shiny Gadgets and then Pinterest.  There you’ll see some of the notes I took about a bit of controversy in discussions that ensued around the growing social pinning site, Pinterest.  Specifically, there seemed to be some differences in thought about the approach Pinterest has taken in monetizing their social network.

Should Pinterest Disclose Their Skimlinks Relationship?

Most–if not all of us–I think, didn’t seem to be opposed to the idea of Pinterest choosing to monetize user activity and user content (we all have to put food on the table, after all).  Rather, the controversy seemed to revolve around the degree to which they have been transparent (or not) about using skimlinking (I know, that’s a new term for me, too – thanks Daniela Bolzmann!) to attach affiliate marketing links to certain content that can be affiliated.

Related articles:

Some in our group thought it was perfectly fine.  “It’s their site, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to use them.”

Others of us seemed to believe that disclosure was necessary if only to maintain transparency and user trust.

I went a little further.

When someone suggested that Pinterest may be modifying affiliate links posted by some users who have affiliate marketing relationships to offsite vendors (note: it’s not clear to me that this is, in fact, happening), I suggested that I would consider that practice to be unethical.  This raised a vocal objection from my friend Steve Zengy.  Which brought on a lively debate in the meeting.

My love of debates notwithstanding.  Let me ask ya, what do you think about the whole Pinterest approach to monetization?

You should join our meeting sometime

I’m tellin’ ya.  If you’re anywhere near the Orange County, CA area on any given Saturday morning, you should drop by and join us.  Except for bringing a measure of enthusiasm and interest, attendance is otherwise free.

If you do decide to join us, please let me know.  I’d love to say hi in person.  In the meantime, here’s the link:  www.SMMOC.com

7 Great Tips for Making Video From PowerPoint

You can easily turn your knowledge to online video courses

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My friend James Roughton reminded me recently about the versatility of PowerPoint movies when he posted his article about Creating Awesome Marketing Videos Using Powerpoint.  Along with my video screencast above, James’ article would make a great point-sheet for you to print out.  He does a great job listing each of the steps sequentially.

The Main Thing: No More Excuses!

The main thing I want to drive home is that, if you’ve been holding off on creating online videos — or perhaps you’ve been holding off on making an online training course or online marketing presentations — because of any perceived difficulties or concerns about being technically challenged when it comes to making online videos, then my screencast above should be a breath of fresh air.

By using PowerPoint 2010’s built-in video making features — Yes. I said “built-in,” you no longer have to worry about stage fright or getting that hurried feeling when recording video.  In fact, you can write a full-on set of notes for your presentation and then record your video from the comfort of a well-prepared script.

7 Great Ideas For Making Video From PowerPoint Presentations

1.  Use the Notes feature in PowerPoint to script your powerpoint presentation, rehearse it, and then record it, along with your voice, without the worries of stage fright.

2.  Read your script into a voice recorder FIRST.  Then, when you’re ready to record the powerpoint presentation for video, PLAY the recording of your narration WHILE you record the mouse movements on PowerPoint AND capture the pre-recording of your voice at the same time.

3.  Use the PowerPoint-to-Video conversion feature to create an online course series.  If you have a niche area of expertise, you could even make your online content available for a fee in a member’s only site.

4.  Remain top-of-mind with client prospects by sending a short video-based PowerPoint proposal.

5.  Create a video-based book.  Sell it on your website by using a service like e-Junkie.

6.  Use PowerPoint’s rich animation and linking features to create a video-based PowerPoint presentation that highlights your business’ services.

7.  Create a video post-resume summary sheet.  After your next job interview, send a thank you note, along with a link to a 2-or three slide video presentation using the tips in this screencast that highlights your main skills and accomplishments that you’d like the interviewer to remember about you.

What else?  How else do you think a video-based PowerPoint presentation could help your business or professional career?