Jonathan Boyle greets a new version of a classic presentation program
Screen Camtasia Studio 7Camtasia Studio 7 is now far more than a piece of software for screen capture. It is a fusion of screen capture, video editing and presentation software.

This application fashions a unique identity into your work, one that is valued by others. As a teacher, it has allowed me to create richer presentations for my students and record them and share them across networks.

In the 10 years that I have been using Camtasia Studio, I have capitalised on producing presentations that are instantly recognisable as my own, but have a genetic finger print quite apart from all others. This is not through some hidden talent, but comes about from Camtasia providing many different routes to an outcome much like independent learning.

I recall my first video screen captures in 2000; humble videos that helped to teach CAD CAM (computer-aided design and manufacture) to adults and children using video. Amazingly, tens of thousands of reproductions later, they were being viewed around the planet. Free to all, I sought no financial benefit. To my surprise, they even turned up on the ICT National Strategy exemplar to schools.

My approach was simple – use the software to record every last screen mouse-click and screen-change while using a microphone for a voice-over. Since then my capabilities have grown with the software. The on-screen instructions are so simple that lead-in time is likely to be no more than a few minutes, or seconds if you have someone on hand who has used it before. When you're ready to record you just click the record button, chat away and move that mouse with attitude. The software kindly prompts you to press F10 when you are ready to stop.

Be careful though, because the 'lure of the twiddle' will take you down avenues from which you may not want to return. It's great fun and getting the message across is like a face-to-face conversation especially when you throw in your webcam image at the same time. Magic!

My approach was simple – use the software to record every last screen mouse click and screen change while using a microphone for a voice-over. Since then my capabilities have grown with the software (see example I created below).

The new Camtasia 7 interface is even easier to get started with. I went for a full-on testing session with a bit of everything to really stretch the application. Using the webcam for a little eye-to-eye contact is highly recommended for connecting with your audience. Demand on those vital system resources appears to be minimal – both screen capture and picture-in-picture webcam images were smoothly stored.

The new dynamic moving backgrounds and titles give your presentations high-end video edit functions that are perfect for PowerPoint beating. Coupled with a variety of cursor highlights and beautifully rendered ripple-and-warp effects, this is unrecognisable from even a few versions past and further reassures me that this application has real lineage.

Fancy a quiz? Just type in a range of questions part-way through a video to confirm understanding on the part of your students. If they get an answer wrong, you can take the viewer back to the information in the screen capture that they missed. I particularly like the new callout animations where you can circle part of the screen – just like using a pencil. This is a neat addition and provides a visual cue that the viewer can relate to as if sketching on a paper pad. Alternatively, the callouts can be used to create hot spots on the screen to take the viewer to a website if they wish to do so.

Just for good measure, I threw on to the timeline a sequence of MP4 high-definition video of the mp4. All were dealt with admirably of course. When rendering, a host of output options are available including sending direct to screencast.com, YouTube or whatever your preferences are for your own means of distribution. Even when rendering, there was enough capacity in the processor for me to carry out other tasks while waiting.

For a teacher, Camtasia Studio 7 will change the way you work and replace a couple of applications you may already have, such as slide-show software. Imagine a world where you don’t see those words "End of slide show" ever again? Why not edit videos you've shot on high-definition, SD-card camcorders, slip in photographs for a school project and then narrate to it? Maybe you just want to record audio-based projects for playback on mp3 players.

Camtasia Studio 7 is a broad spectrum application; it is a multi-modal masterpiece that has impacted significantly on my professional life. Get it, get ahead and stay ahead.

Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose   5
Ease of use              4
Features                   5
Quality                      5
Value for money       4

Camtasia Studio
Multimedia presentation software for PCs by TechSmith, available at education discount from education suppliers, for example £63.33 ex VAT from RM.
www.rm.com
What's new in Camtasia Studio 7

Jonathan Boyle is a deputy headteacher at Madeley Academy, Shropshire.


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