Camtasia version 6 Review

19 replies
As one of the staple "tools of the trade", Camtasia Studio from Techsmith is very popular among internet marketers. Here's are my initial observations:

On November 5th, Techsmith Corp. announced the availability of Camtasia Studio version 6. Here is my take on the highlights:

There are a couple of biggies and the rest are mostly time saving features and, of course, standard bug fixes rolled up into any major release.

1. High Quality Output With Small File Size - The biggest boost consists of several new production presets that provide HD quality output at some VERY attractive file sizes. This is HD-quality video by way of MPEG-4 AVC, H.264+AAC and Flash. What does that mean? Simply superb quality and sound no matter what you are producing for (from iPod's and iPhones to HD TV) at totally usable file sizes. And you can produce for all of them at once! For detailed technical specs check here: MPEG-4 AVC

My testing shows that videos produced with H.264 (the future of video codecs in my opinion) are nearly half the size of SWF Flash and are noticeably higher quality. Cool! Oh...and they sound better too!

All this comes by way of the presets (including one for YouTube...still testing that one) and make producing this great quality and small size a push button operation. Outstanding!

2. Unlock Audio and Video Track - The other huge modification addresses (but doesn't eliminate) a HUGE pet peeve of mine...the fact that in all earlier versions the audio and video track of your screen recordings were "married" together. In other words, if you made a mistake in either the narration or video itself and wanted to edit it out you were basically screwed. You just couldn't do it without jumping through several large and very painful hoops without messing up the synchronization of the audio and the video. Ouch.

In version 6 you can now "decouple" the audio from the video and move them around independently like you can in any other video editing software on the planet. Finally!

That being said, Camtasia Studio 6 will still not be my main video editor (I use Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum) because I have much greater control and the ability to add multiple video and overlay tracks. But for smaller, less complex projects this feature is a freakin' godsend!

Productivity Enhancers:

Here are some other nice little touches.

1. Redesigned Camtasia Recorder App - the user interface for the recorder is all new. Ya...kinda cool but the one thing I really love is the addition of a "Restart" button. Previously, if you wanted to trash a recording you were doing because of mistakes you need to Cancel it...and then Delete it...and then start the whole process off again. Ugly and time consuming. Now...just hit the "Restart" button. Sweet!

2. Workflow Hotkeys - Camtasia now have a bunch of Hotkeys available when editing. Need to Split your video? Just hit "S" in the timeline. Want to add a callout to the current spot on the timeline? Just tap C on your keyboard. Need a transition? Hit T. The same goes for caption, zoom, marker, split, and extend frame.
Nice...but hardly ground-breaking. I expect that the more I use them the more productivity gains I'll experience. Techsmith's testing touts a 30% reduction in editing time...Hmmm, OK.

Cool Stuff:

3D Tilt - The Pan & Zoom function now has a cool feature that allows you to do a 3D Tilt of your video. I've done this for about a year now but used Adobe After Effects to achieve it. Much harder to create the clip and then import it into Camtasia. Now, you just do it right inside Camtasia Studio during editing. Nice.

Improved Effects Control - Advanced editing techniques with complete control over transition and callout fade durations down to 1/10 of a second to create more polished videos.

Import MOV File Formats - In version 6 you can now import MOV files as native content. This is handy since many video cameras use this format and now you can get that content into your project easily.

Techsmith also lists integration with Screencast.com and a free 2GB disk and bandwith account as a "feature" in version 6. Not sure what that's about...you can get that with version 5 (unless I'm missing something).

Links to Resources:

Here are some links so you can check things out for yourself:

1 - What's New - includes a video overview with Troy Stein (Camtasia Product Manager).

What's New in Camtasia Studio, TechSmith's Screen Recording Software

2 - Video Overview & Demo - Troy again with a more in-depth video overview.

Created by Camtasia Studio 6

3 - A slew of new version 6 Video Tutorials. Scroll to the bottom...

Overview of Camtasia Studio 6

4 - User Forum Thread - here's a thread I started on Techsmith's User Forum RE the upgrade. Some spicy comments about the upgrade provisions and dropping FLV output!

Camtasia 6 upgrade question - TechSmith User-to-User Forums

5 - Version Comparison Chart. Pick your current version and see What's New.

Camtasia Studio Version Comparison

My Biggest Concern:

As I was testing the new production outputs, I was shocked to find (or more accurately NOT find) that there is no longer an FLV option for Flash! OMG! David O'Rourke (Lead Developer) says:

"MP4 replaces FLV in CS6. It's true that we were focused on the FLV format in v5. At the time, FLV was the recommended way to do video in Flash. Then Adobe changed the game by announcing that they'd reached the limits of what the FLV container could do, and that they were adopting the stardards based MPEG-4 container instead. They also announced decoding support for H.264 video and AAC audio. The MP4 output in CS6 is our response to this change. The MP4 files produced by Camtasia Studio use H.264 video compression and AAC audio compression. This combination delivers high quality at reasonable file sizes across a wide spectrum of content. In short: small files, high quality, no guesswork, standards based container, ubiquitous playback. That's a winning combination in my book."

OK...that's all well and good and all...BUT:

I use several custom players that only accept FLV as the video source! Most notably is the Media Menu Producer I use for ScreencastProfits.com. OUCH! I'll probably have to output to a lossless format (like AVI) and use Sorenson Squeeze to FLV...I think it will be an issue for many. Be advised...

Is It Worth the Upgrade Price?


Unlike some software companies which release new major number versions every two years, Techsmith typically does one every year or so. While this gets new features into the hands of users quicker, it also means that sometimes it appears that the "upgrade" is lacking in a large number of highly impactful functions. You'll hear some complaining from users who have recently upgraded from earlier versions to v5 and feel that they are getting stuck for another $150 to go the v6.

Techsmith has historically provided some provisions for recent upgraders so contact Customer Support to see if they can do anything for you.

But for me, the addition of the new HD quality settings and unlocked audio and video are enough to justify the upgrade. For others, it basically depends on how many videos you make ( to realize the time savings) and how difficult you find it to produce quality videos at decent file sizes. But the whole FLV support thing is a potential problem...especially if you use custom players.

One thing you can do is to download and install the 30 day fully functioning free trial and give it a test run. Camtasia 6 installs in it's own directory and Program Group so you won't overwrite your existing Camtasia version. I actually have versions 3 - 6 installed on my computer...

I hope this review helps a bit and I'll have much more detail (and video reviews!) soon as I continue to work through all the features and functions.
#camtasia #techsmith #version 6
  • Profile picture of the author Matt D
    This is good stuff, Lon. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

    Thanks for bringing out the lack of flv output. I agree... that is a major problem in my book.
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  • Profile picture of the author tomfra
    And for those who do not have the budget for Camtasia or make just "one video here and there", do not forget there are free alternatives too. The most notable of them is probably Camstudio: CamStudio - Free Screen Recording Software .

    I am not saying it necessarily has all the qualities of Camtasia, but in some situations it will be more than good enough.

    Tomas
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    • Profile picture of the author LonNaylor
      Originally Posted by tomfra View Post

      And for those who do not have the budget for Camtasia or make just "one video here and there", do not forget there are free alternatives too. The most notable of them is probably Camstudio: CamStudio - Free Screen Recording Software .

      I am not saying it necessarily has all the qualities of Camtasia, but in some situations it will be more than good enough.

      Tomas
      This brings up a good point Tomas...

      CamStudio is a very worthy video screen capture tool. By this I mean...it can capture your SOURCE video.

      Most of the limitations that Camtasia v6 addresses in previous versions (i.e. uncoupled audio and video track) are things that I've been working around for years!

      I do this by rarely using Camtasia Studio as my video editing software (because it kinda sucks at it). Instead I use Sony Vegas Movie Studio...really simple and VERY powerful.

      So...the point is...if I can "capture" my footage with CamStudio's recorder and edit like I mean it in Vegas...then Camtasia Studio becomes less relevant.

      Or at least I have screencast creation options...

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  • Profile picture of the author Leanne King
    Thanks for posting this Lon. I had seen v6 was out but because I'm still struggling with v5 I didn't think any more about it. But, from your post it seems like some of the problems I have might be better in v6 so I'm off to download the free trial.

    Leanne
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  • Profile picture of the author spudzz
    HD is the future and Techsmith have been brave in doing what they have with Studio 6. The loss of FLV is certainly going to screw up some players, but only for a month or so I should think.

    As to frequency of upgrades, Adobe are the 'worst' because their stuff is just so damn expensive but Techsmith really have done some major changes here (the H.264 encoding is actually making my Sorenson Squeeze install obsolete already) and the new software is definitely worth the effort and cost - I'm loving it so far,
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    • Profile picture of the author LonNaylor
      Originally Posted by spudzz View Post

      HD is the future and Techsmith have been brave in doing what they have with Studio 6. The loss of FLV is certainly going to screw up some players, but only for a month or so I should think.

      As to frequency of upgrades, Adobe are the 'worst' because their stuff is just so damn expensive but Techsmith really have done some major changes here (the H.264 encoding is actually making my Sorenson Squeeze install obsolete already) and the new software is definitely worth the effort and cost - I'm loving it so far,
      I have to agree even though I'm one of those that gets screwed up for now...I use the Media Menu Producer player for all the video tutorial modules in my Screencast Profits product...

      But H.264 is decidedly better and looking more and more like the new standard. It's killing Divx now days...
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  • Profile picture of the author Stephen Luc
    Thanks Lon for the review. I love your videos, especially the jokes you add to the end of your videos.

    Yeah I agree on your concern with them switching off FLV files. I'm wondering, do the MP4 files that are provided now compatible with people with old Flash players?

    Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author allb450
    Thanks Lon for the thorough review and response to Tomas' suggestion of CamStudio.
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  • Profile picture of the author Zubair Zm
    Lon
    Tks for the post. I am still using version 4. Now I am thinking to go for V6
    Tks nd rgds
    Zm
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  • Profile picture of the author tdpubs
    Thanks Lon,
    I've been using version 5 and am looking forward to trying out v.6.
    Dennis Francis
    DiD Publishing Inc.,
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    • Profile picture of the author macknox
      Note to Camtasia 5 users: Version 6 installs in its own folder, so you can use BOTH 5 & 6.


      Make sure you check out the techsmith forums for user problems.
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  • Profile picture of the author James Schramko
    I love it - it has a nice interface and the videos are excellent quality. The files are smaller and the program seems to render faster.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bigsofty
    For those looking for something to bridge the gap between $300 and the freebies, either sniff out the free 3.0 Camtasia or better, spend $100 for Corel VideoStudio. It's much much nicer than early versions of Camtasia.

    Having said that I'm currently downloading the demo to see what it's like - but I deeply loathed version 3 myself


    B.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve_Dougherty
    Thanks for the review Lon,

    It is very informative and after reading, it took all of
    about 3 minutes to get to Techsmith via the upgrade
    function within my Cam ver 5 and get the upgrade.

    As with all the past upgrades on my PC, ver 3,4,5 and now
    version 6 - recording in the newer version will not allow
    me to edit that camrec using a previous version.

    Its not that big of a deal for me (nuisance though) because
    I'll just edit the camrec using the same version I recorded with.

    For those clients of mine that require the camrec files they
    need the upgrade or I try and convince them (usually
    unsuccessfully) to accept an AVI version instead of the camrec.

    While I have already fallen in love with version 6 - even with the
    lack of the flv - I wish there would be a way to edit the camrecs
    from the new versions by using at least the most previous version.

    Well that's my 2 cents worth

    Thanks again Lon for the review and keep the awesome videos coming
    at screencastprofits
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    • Profile picture of the author LonNaylor
      Originally Posted by Steve_Dougherty View Post

      Thanks for the review Lon,

      It is very informative and after reading, it took all of
      about 3 minutes to get to Techsmith via the upgrade
      function within my Cam ver 5 and get the upgrade.

      As with all the past upgrades on my PC, ver 3,4,5 and now
      version 6 - recording in the newer version will not allow
      me to edit that camrec using a previous version.

      Its not that big of a deal for me (nuisance though) because
      I'll just edit the camrec using the same version I recorded with.

      For those clients of mine that require the camrec files they
      need the upgrade or I try and convince them (usually
      unsuccessfully) to accept an AVI version instead of the camrec.

      While I have already fallen in love with version 6 - even with the
      lack of the flv - I wish there would be a way to edit the camrecs
      from the new versions by using at least the most previous version.

      Well that's my 2 cents worth

      Thanks again Lon for the review and keep the awesome videos coming
      at screencastprofits
      Thanks Steve!

      And yes...important point

      The Camtasia Project files (.camproj) are NOT version compatible. Camtasia will recognize older version files and automatically make a backup of the file but be aware...there have been reports in the Techsmith forum of not being able to open them later in the previous version Studio.

      As for the Camtasia Recorder files (.camrec), while not directly compatible, each version camrec contains the AVI source within it.

      Just Right Click on a camrec file and choose Extract. This will dump the screen capture AVI source file out so you can use it in any version.

      The camrec files do also contain certain other data...like SmartFocus metadata, some cursor stuff, markers you add during recording, etc.

      But at least your source audio and video are available...
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  • Profile picture of the author momsadvice
    I love camtasia. I used freebies and other like products but once I tried camtasia I can't imagine using anything else. It is much more usely friendly than anything else I ever used. There's so much more you can do with it. I think it is worth every penny.

    One thing that I haven't been able to figure out is how to fade the music at the end. I see a fade button but it is greyed out and not an option when I try to use it. Any body have any suggestions for that?
    Maria
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    • Profile picture of the author macknox
      Originally Posted by momsadvice View Post

      I love camtasia. I used freebies and other like products but once I tried camtasia I can't imagine using anything else. It is much more usely friendly than anything else I ever used. There's so much more you can do with it. I think it is worth every penny.

      One thing that I haven't been able to figure out is how to fade the music at the end. I see a fade button but it is greyed out and not an option when I try to use it. Any body have any suggestions for that?
      Maria
      How about using Audacity to create your fade?
      You can create an intro and exit jingles to cover the transitions.
      You can brand your videos to have the same intro/exit jingles and transitions.
      Audacity is free. It may look abit clunky, but with a little effort it is quite good.
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    • Profile picture of the author LonNaylor
      Originally Posted by momsadvice View Post

      I love camtasia. I used freebies and other like products but once I tried camtasia I can't imagine using anything else. It is much more usely friendly than anything else I ever used. There's so much more you can do with it. I think it is worth every penny.

      One thing that I haven't been able to figure out is how to fade the music at the end. I see a fade button but it is greyed out and not an option when I try to use it. Any body have any suggestions for that?
      Maria
      You need to highlight the section of audio you want to fade out first...

      Just position the playhead where you want to begin fading...and drag it to the end.

      IMPORTANT NOTE!!

      If your music track is on Track 2 be sure to lock Track 1 (with the little Lock icon at the beginning of the video) or you will fade BOTH tracks.

      This may or may not be an issue depending upon whether or not you still have audio going in Track 1 at that point...

      The Fade Out button should work then...

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  • Profile picture of the author Bayo
    Great review Lon.

    Personally the best aspect has to be the high quality output with small file size. This has been a right royal pain in the posterior for me as my videos, no matter how nice they looked, always seemed to take forever to load!
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