Camtasia turns PC demos into movies

If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how valuable a movie is--especially for PC instruction. Camtasia from TechSmith, shown in a new version here at Comdex, records input actions on a computer screen, creating videos that let you show others in real time how to use a program or execute a task.

If you've ever seen a Lotus ScreenCam movie, you've seen what Camtasia does. The difference is that Camtasia is available for Windows XP, while the Lotus product does not support Windows 2000 or XP.

Camtasia is priced at US$150 and is downloadable now from TechSmith. A free 30-day trial version is also available.

Camtasia movies can be saved in Windows Media, RealVideo, and QuickTime formats as well as in a proprietary Camtasia format. It supports the Windows family (95, 98, NT, 2000, Me, and XP) and its QuickTime movies can be played on Macintosh systems.

Editing Options

You can compress a movie into an executable file along with the Camtasia viewer, or save it in the format most appropriate for the bandwidth and resolution requirements of its audience. Also, a single Camtasia video file can be saved and published into multiple formats.

Camtasia movies can incorporate still photos and AVI video clips, and they can be edited by removing frames, using a time-line editing bar and VCR-like controls. AVI files created with Camtasia can also be exported to other video editing applications.

The video editing tools in Camtasia include cursor highlighting, watermarks, and the capability to draw on the screen, as well as transitions. An unexpected number of people are using Camtasia as a rudimentary digital video editor, according to William Hamilton, TechSmith president.

Camtasia movies can also include sound: Users can either record an audio track while they are recording the screen activity, or the audio can be added later with a utility called DubIt, included in the Camtasia package.

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