The latest versions of Captivate and Camtasia confirm the screencasting & video tutorial industry is quickly evolving. As someone who’s created web-based video tutorials for almost ten years, I’ve tried just about every screen recorder developed.
I still remember recording with HyperCam back in 1998. Trying to capture anything larger than 640×480 required a high end machine and if you wanted to post to the web, you had to get creative with frame rates, key frames and color depth. That’s all changed now and even the Mac has seen viable alternatives to SnapzPro. Most notably is ScreenFlow which was just released a week ago.
If you’re looking for a place to start, you have a lot of choices, but the two most important (PC) applications are still Captivate and Camtasia. Each application offers a very different approach to screencasting so it’s common to find people asking how to go about choosing one or the other.
“Which simulation tool should we use, Camtasia or Captivate?”
I have to smile every time I hear that. It reminds me of another question we often hear in training:
“Should this course be ILT or elearning?”
Let’s jump over the fact we’re asking for solutions before stating our objectives and try rephrasing for a more powerful question:
“How can we integrate Camtasia with Captivate?”
Folks, this doesn’t have to be an “either-or” decision. Captivate and Camtasia are excellent tools, and each offers advantages over the other.
Captivate, in its price-range, is hands-down the best authoring tool for creating software quizzes, simulations and interactions. What used to take days and weeks to create by hand, can be done in minutes and hours in Captivate.
Blend these two applications and you have the ability to create best-in-class learning products:
- Camtasia for your narrated “Show me” demonstrations; and,
- Captivate for your “You try” simulations.
Blending Captivate and Camtasia
If you’re interested in making the case for both applications, here are a few challenges you may experience and some suggestions for managing them.
I realize most corporate training budgets probably won’t provide for the entire design/development team to own both applications but that just means you need to be creative.
- Can your software budget be broken out to get half your team Captivate and the other half Camtasia?
- Consider the make up of your team and design some criteria for who would receive each application.
New application to learn
Not every designer is looking to augment their skill set. Some people are happy to stay with what they already know. How you present the model to them is important.
- Identify those more open to new ideas and looking to try new tools. Their energy and enthusiasm will make the difference.
- Challenge your team to list the most compelling features for their favorite application. In most cases you’ll hear “Camtasia for demonstrations” and “Captivate for simulations/interactions” and they’ll make your case for you.
Course design is different
Designers might find scripting for Captivate easier than Camtasia. If your Camtasia recordings are being narrated in real-time, it’s not as easy to follow the script verbatim. Try working with a high-level outline or storyboard when writing for Camtasia.
Depending on your legal review process, this could also be a challenge. Work with legal to see if they’ll review the final, recorded product. If that doesn’t work, you can always record the lesson and transcribe back into a script for legal review.
Demonstrate the value
Sometimes it’s easier to communicate new ideas by first building a prototype or model. Someone less familiar with both applications may not see the value in using both.
- Take the initiative to develop a working prototype that you can show around. Give them something tangible to think about.
- Record the audio in the highest quality format and use actual content.
Multiple applications to support
As long as your LMS and course player (Articulate, Lectora, custom) supports .swf files, you should be fine. Your developers can assist you with any custom paths or file loading rules but I haven’t come across any technical issues.
It’s usually best to bring IT into these discussions earlier rather than later. There’s nothing more defeating than spending weeks advocating for something that will never work on your network. If you’re familiar enough with the technology and file formats, you might want to work to bring the learning case to your team first.
How an XML mistake changed my perspective
A little over year ago I was asked to represent my division in an authoring tools committee. An organization-wide effort was underway to consolidate the dozens of applications being used. This made a lot of sense and predictably, the top industry applications were selected and the others were retired.
When it came down to choose between Captivate and Camtasia, the lines were grayer and each business unit provided unimpeachable arguments for why they used the tool they did.
In an effort to aggregate the numerous elearning examples provided by the groups, I created a quick XML course file and loaded the samples into a demo course player. Inadvertently, I put some Captivates in the Camtasia chapter. It wasn’t until I QC’d the file that I discovered how nicely they played together. Had I only previewed the code I probably wouldn’t have noticed it.
So, the case was made and both applications were certified. Admittedly, most groups still develops with one application or the other. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of opportunity for combining the two programs!