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.
Camtasia is the tool of choice for professionally narrated software training companies. Lynda, Total Training, and others create their products using full motion, narrated video capture software.
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!
We’re have Camtasia and it’s fantastic. Now we’re interested in interactions and are torn between Captivate and Articulate (Presenter… but mostly Engage). What are your thoughts on that?
What do you mean by interaction??
David Anderson says
Do you have to choose one? 🙂
I see Engage and Captivate as completely different products. Engage reminds me of the “You Don’t Know Jack” approach to quizzes and interactions. It has an upbeat, faster paced feel to it and (IMO) a greater emphasis on presentation design (glossy buttons, colorful diagrams, transition effects…). I’m more inclined to use it as a fun way to add interactions to a product tour, demo or marketing project.
Quizmaker creates more traditional elearning assessments. I see Quizmaker more for corporate compliance type courses since it has a “safer” look and feel. I’d argue it would be more familiar to your IDs than Engage.
Captivate is your best option for software training. That said, Captivate 3 is also wonderful for soft skill training. I have an ID on my team who creates Captivate projects that you’d think were done in Flash.
So, to make a long answer longer: I can see both Captivate and Engage playing nicely in the same course. Get both if you can☺
What types of interactions are you’re interested in creating?
My company wants to buy Captivate to create software training modules. But several business managers are also interested in using Captivate to create PowerPoint presentations with voiceover to send out brief department initiative updates related to a software rollout.
Is Captivate overkill for that? I was thinking about Camtasia, but I’ve read it’s harder to edit. And we’d like everything to have the same look and feel.
David Anderson says
Not at all. In fact, we’ve been sharing Captivate with some non-training folks and getting them trained to create their own narrated slide shows from Captivate. Since Captivate outputs Flash, we can use in our LMS player. Definitely not overkill!
If you have a group who needs to do a lot of audio-based presentations, check out SoundSlides http://soundslides.com/. I love this tool for simple audio-based image slide shows.
Camtasia has a cool plugin that integrates Camtaisa with PowerPoint. At a former company we had hundreds of PowerPoints that we had instructors “narrate” via the plugin as a way to rapidly create online content while we redesigned it. Here’s the link: http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia/accessories/powerpoint.asp
In any of those examples, you can create a consistent look and feel and share across programs so that won’t be an issue. Design the template in Photoshop and use for each program. We have several sizes of each template (soft skill, assessment, technical) so we can maintain consistent designs with different size players.
Hope that helps!
I have some questions about this kind of software. I´m currently working in a project which will provide free software tutorials on the web. These tutorials will be created mostly by 2 to 3 persons, but anyone (in the World) should be able to create new tutorials.
I don´t know the licence agreement of each software, but I believe I will not be able to get a cheap licence to anyone that will want to create tutorials for my organization/project, right?
So, I thought that camtesia could be a good solution, because there are a free version of it that anyone can use it for free. The project could then be easily imported to the new version of camtesia to create a better looking presentation, right? And what about Captivate? Could camtesia files be imported into Captivate for edit? This would be important because I need the simulation functionality from Captivate, which I think it is not given by camtasia.
I don´t know if I´m in the right direction, but maybe someone could help me on this 🙂
Also, what do you mean by this: “you can create a consistent look and feel and share across programs so that won’t be an issue. Design the template in Photoshop and use for each program.”?
Let me explain why I´m interested in this paragraph. Most of the tutorials will be based in powerpoint presentations and software examples/demonstrations (desktop screen). For both I´m thinking in a simple capture of the screen. In the case of the powerpoint part of the tutorial, I will try to use the same template for consistency, however, I think you are talking about a more generic approach. Can you explain it better? Ideally, can I see an exemple of it? Is it easy to change at any time, using either camtesia or captivate?
Finally, using either solutions, and presuming the final output is a swf file, is it possible to dynamically show an image in that swf file (after been distributed to the web), using for instance a URL. I ask this because would be nice to change, for instance, the logo of the sponsor of specific videos, when the sponsor changes.
Mike Song says
Help! I am trying to do a narrated tour of an animated EModule. I have Captivate 2 and I am pretty sure it can’t see the animations…unless I am using it wrong. So should I use Camtasia for this kind of thing? Will Camtasia record all of the motion on the screen as a screen recorder…or is there another solution entirely?
Captivate defaults to capturing clicks and scrolling only. If you need to capture full motion video without interacting with the screen, you’ll need to change the system preferences.
Camtasia would probably be better in this example. Another option would be to use FRAPS (http://www.fraps.com/) which is considerably less expensive than Camtasia. Good option if you only need to capture what’s playing on screen.
I hope that helps and please let me know if you’d like more info.
David Anderson says
Miguel – I tried to answer each of your questions. Please let me know if I missed anything or you have additional questions.
*Yes, each user who wishes to create video tutorials will need to have his/her own license. There are some free screen recorders available. These might be one way to get your project up and running. Check out http://camstudio.org/ as one example for the PC.
*Camtasia isn’t free. CamStudio might be what you’re thinking of? But to your question re: importing, yes, current versions of Camtasia import previous projects without issue.
*Captivate and Camtasia project (source) files can’t be imported. Their output (.mov, .avi, etc) can in most cases. Not sure you’d want to do that since the video output will have some degree of compression and quality could begin to degrade. I’m interested to know why you want to import one into another?
*Sure. We develop elearning using several programs: Flash, Captivate, Camtasia, Articulate and Lectora. Those are our primary authoring tools. While each tool has a “primary” use, they do overlap depending on the project, development team, resource availability and so on. We have a corporate brand and it’s maintained across all courseware. We use custom players to wrap around our elearning content. We have players for different types of content (software and soft skill) but we have designed branding that’s applied consistently to all players. We defined and designed the style guides using Photoshop. Items such as callout boxes or highlight treatments are also consistent across courses.
*I know Flash can easily pull in dynamic images. Not sure about Captivate and Camtasia. This is a great example where you might want to create your player “wrapper” (could be html, flash) that holds your client’s logo. The player could be changed per client and all you would do is change the logo for each. Make sense?
Cindy Lund Chow says
Thank you for the information. We currently have Camtasia, but I have been frustrated with the quiz feature and want to do more scenario based so we are looking at buying Captivate as well. One thing that I am also hoping to integrate are animated avatars. With what I have read with Generation Y’s learning style becoming more auditory – I have been looking into research that avitars helps with focus and comprehension. Do you now if Captivate supports animated avatars and if so, do you know of any software (preferrably open source as my budget is going towards Captivate) that allows you to create and script animated avatars?
Thank you so much for your help!!
Are you familiar with Accordent Technologies Capture Station? I’m trying to see if there is another tool that has the same functionality. The best way I can describe it is, a proprietary software that takes a VGA source and a video source, syncs them and imbeds them in a “webinar-like” precreated skin. The skins are customizable and the file is editable using Accordent’s editing software. The content can be streamed live and/or saved for later on-demand posting.
I work at a hospital in the training department. We have tons of requests to videotape meetings, inservices and continuing education lectures. Currently we are videotaping the speaker (mostly talking head, but not always) and editing the powerpoint slides into the video using Final Cut. Obviously this is an overly time-intensive process.
Do you know of any products that can capture and automatically sync full motion video and a VGA source such as powerpoint? Any help or advice would be much appreciated!!
David Anderson says
I hadn’t heard of Accordent but checked out their demo. It was nicely done and I can see where some time would be required to sync the two together.
Have you looked at trying the beta of Camtasia Relay? http://www.techsmith.com/camtasiarelay.asp
This seems to do something similar to Accordent Capture Station. I was hoping Camtasia would show some demos but from their guided tour it appears it supports video and presentation recording.
I used to create elearning for automotive training and we would take hours of videos into Flash and sync up graphics and text with the video instruction. Definitely a production time-tiger, but effective.
Besides Camtasia Relay, I don’t of products specializing in this. I’ve asked a colleague who manages events for a consulting company. If he knows of anything, I’ll ask him to follow up here.
Help. I have been using Captivate for several years and have tons of captivate files, which are tutorials on different college topics. I wish to save these files and use them with Camtasia. I am now using Camtasia and like it better but do not want to start new.
Is it true that when you publish a file in Captivate that Camtasia cannot open any of the file options given by Captivate (you can publish as exe, swf, zipped file etc).
I have tried every way to publish them but cannot open them in Camtasia. Help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks very much
David Anderson says
Hi Toni, The best I think you can do is to try and extract assets from your Captivate files.
You can export images and audio from Captivate that can be imported into Camtasia. Your audio narration might be fine and you could lay that track down in Camtasia and just re-capture your visual content in Camtasia?
There’s no true integration but if you have your Captivate source files, you have access to most of the assets you’ll need.
Another option would be to convert the .swf to .avi and bring the .avi into Camtasia. You’re now double-compressing your files so expect some quality degradation. It could be a short term solution if you needed to enhance or update callouts in your current files.
One last idea would be to use a .swf converter and extract all the images from the final Captivate swf file. This will generate a lot of slides that could be imported into Camtasia. This gets messy so beware:-)
I’m curious, why are you switching from Captivate to Camtasia? Was it for a specific feature?
Hi David I am in the midst of getting my Website up. I need to upload Captivate e-course files into a samples page in Wordpess.
I have the .swf files (swf, the player swf, the js and the embedded flv files and html) Can you recommend a program that can translate these files while maintaining the audio into an Flv or mp4 or some format that can be uploaded into wordpress?
David Anderson says
Hi Deb –
I found wp-swfobject to be a great plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-swfobject/
Also created a screenr on the process:
I have been using Camtasia for about two years now. Last spring, I upgraded to a 22″ HP monitor. When I try to record a PPT presentation, or even a demo; the audio goes to pure static in the recording (which you only discover when done). I initially I thought it was a hardware problem. But after much work, I contacted tech support and was told the software needed a much lower resolution (I’m using 1680×1050). Unfortunately, the lower rez looks bad on this monitor. Thus, I am trying to figure out a solution for demos. I can import PPT jpegs and record the audio and import which works very well, but is time consuming.
I use Captivate 5 to create tutorials/software simulations for training purposes. We want to place the flash files into a “wrapper” that provides a list of the chapters, the length of each chapter, and the ability to click ahead to another chapter within the same file. Any idea how I can find that? I’m not finding anything within Captivate on this. Is it the right tool? Do I need to add some sort of plug-in to get what I want?
Sounds like you’re looking for a course player or xml tree menu player that lists chapters and subchapters. Take a look at this post and click the PowerPoint Essentials course link: http://community.articulate.com/blogs/david/archive/2011/02/07/essential-powerpoint-features.aspx
Is that the kind of player or wrapper you’re looking for?
Hi, Is there a free version of this kind of software, especially portables versions?? Saludos.,
Hi Juam – The two most popular free screencast tools are: Screenr (http://screenr.com) and Jing (http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html)
I work for the company that makes Screenr. You can view my screencasts here: http://www.screenr.com/user/elearning
Do you have a youtube video or more detailed instructions on how to blend Camtasia and Captivate content together and make them look as a uniform offering in the end. I am a complete noob but have both of the wonderful tools at my disposal and I would like to make some interactive laerning tutorials for some very industry specific content.
Jeffrey Holt says
I have been comparing the two, and corporately, we use both [I use Camtasia]. However, as I was reading, thought you may want to know I found a typo on this page.
Demonstrate the value
“…with both applications my not…” I think is supposed to be may.
Just thought you would want to know.
David Anderson says
Thanks Jeffrey! The post is six years old. You’d think I would have caught the typos by now. Thanks for the heads up. I made the correction.
not happy says
i have tried using camtasia 8 on my vista pc.
i can only render 4 minutes of video .
camtasia for me is junk
Camtasia is a an expensive product with a high learning curve. Instead, try My Screen Recorder. My Screen Recorder is one of the best screen recording software. It records your screen and audio from the speakers or your voice from the microphone – or both simultaneously. The recordings are clear and look great when played back on your website, uploaded to YouTube or used in your presentation. One thing often overlooked – It will record directly to standard compressed format that works with any video editor or any tool, no conversion required. And, the file sizes are small, making them easy to upload or distribute.