Here is an in-depth review of Camtasia Studio 9, which is a video editing software combined with screen capture software. Camtasia sells for $199.
Really, I want to help you to answer two main questions.
- Will it help editors to improve the quality of their videos?
- Will it save you time in producing your videos?
Before you purchase, I think you need to have a solid answer to both of those questions. To give you these answers, I will guide you around the software and tell you what Camtasia is capable of doing. Then we will look at how it is organized, plus how it performs.
Let’s get right into it.
Camtasia Studio 9 Layout
The software is divided into four main sections: media & effects, canvas, properties, and the timeline.
The media & effects section is where you will store all the media which you are using for your current project. These can be videos, audio, or images. Camtasia effects are also located in this section. These video enhancers include features such as animations, behaviors and audio/video effects.
The canvas will show you what the final video looks like. It is also possible to make edits to your media directly on the canvas.
In the properties area you can adjust the particular details of each piece of content. The properties are different for each type of content. The choices include options such as size, color, fonts, and speed.
The timeline is where you will do the bulk of your editing. All your media will be organized on your timeline.
This layout is a definite improvement over Camtasia Studio 8. The set up is clean which makes it easy to use. Once you understand how everything works together, you can edit your videos pretty quickly with this layout.
A big reason people buy Camtasia is for the screen capture software. So, let me share with you what it can do.
For screen capture, you have a multiple audio and video options you can customize.
To bring up the recorder, you click the record button in the top left hand corner. This brings up the screen recorder application.
You can record your entire screen or just choose a portion of your screen to record. If you want to lock the recording to a certain application, you can do that too.
One nice feature is that you can record your webcam with your screen at the same time. This is great for making tutorial videos on your computer. The software will record both video streams separately so you can easily adjust them in the editing process later.
For audio, you can record from any connected mic or your computer’s microphone. It also gives you the option to record your computer’s system audio. This means, for example, if you are watching a video on YouTube while recording the system audio, your screen capture will also record the audio from the YouTube video at the same time. The system audio is recorded on a separate track from your microphone audio so it is easy to separate the two out.
The screen capture you get from the application looks very crisp without any pixelation. As far as performance problems while using the screencapture, I haven’t encountered any. It doesn’t seem to slow down my computer at all. That is always a concern with doing screen capture, because you don’t want your computer starting to freeze up in the middle of a recording.
The screen capture is top notch. But once you get your initial recording, what options do you have for editing it?
For most users the editing process is what turns a good video into a great video. This means we need features that make the editing process easy. Let’s see how easy the software is to use.
Media & Effects
The first tab on the left hand side is your media tab. This is where you will store your media assets such as video, audio or images. The nice thing is that Camtasia supports a wide variety of formats for your video, audio, and images so you shouldn’t run into problems importing different file types.
To import a piece of media, you click the plus sign in the bottom left corner of the pane. From here you can select the media you want to add it into your media bin.
Then when you need to add the media to your video, you drag it from the bin onto the timeline.
As a little bonus, Camtasia provides you with a starter library. The starter library includes:
- Motion Graphics (intro clips, lower thirds)
- Animated backgrounds
- Music tracks.
The selection is not very extensive, but it is nice to have a few options ready to use.
The library is available to all of your projects, but the media bin is empty every time you start a new project. If you have an introduction you use for each video, you can add it to the library so you don’t have to rebuild it every time you start a new project.
From here, the rest of the features are mostly effects you can use to edit or improve your video. I will show you what the effects are while giving you an example of how they work.
The first effect you can add is called annotations. These are comments that you can add to your video.
There are a few different types of annotations. You have text-based annotations (callouts), arrows & lines, shapes, blur & highlight, sketches, and callouts for keystrokes.
To use an annotation, you can click it to drag it onto the timeline or directly onto the canvas. You can move it around on the canvas so it is exactly where you want it.
Each of the annotations has a variety of adjustable properties, such as:
- Drop shadow
- Font options
Editing text on the callouts is done by clicking on the text and then typing in the text you want to add.
Arrows & lines can be used to point out something on the video. Shapes can be used to highlight an area or act as a design element.
Blur & highlight allow you to either focus in on a certain part of the screen or to hide a certain part of the screen. Blur & pixelate will hide a certain area of the video, while the spotlight will darken the rest of the screen to focus attention on a certain section of the video.
Highlight gives us a yellow highlighter effect. Interactive hotspots allow you to add a clickable link in the middle of your video. This can be used on certain video formats, but will not work on video sites like YouTube.
Sketch gives the appearance of a circle, box, arrow or check mark being sketched on the screen. This can be useful for highlighting certain parts of the video.
Keystroke call-outs are used to demonstrate what keys need to be pressed at a certain time.
Transitions are used for scene changes. They allow you to transition from one scene to the next in a few different ways. For example, one transition allows you to fade from one scene into the next.
Another transition gives you a page turning effect which brings a different feel to the scene change. Other transition options include flip, ripple, slide, circle stretch, or dissolving.
The transitions are easy to use. You just have to click the transition and then drag it onto the beginning or end of a video. To make this even easier, Camtasia will highlight the areas where the transitions can be used.
Behaviors are action effects which can be applied to your media assets. These are new features for Camtasia Studio 9.
You can make your annotations slide onto the screen, drift onto the screen or even pop up. There are seven different behaviors you can choose from. They can be used on text, images, or video.
The properties for the behaviors include speed and direction. Each behavior has three distinct points. The first point is how it behaves when it enters the scene, then while it is on the scene, then how it acts as it leaves the scene.
This allows you to create a behavior which: slides in from the top, pulsates in the middle, and then shrinks out of view.
This feature is definitely the biggest change from Camtasia Studio 8. I think it is a great addition. It makes the software much better in terms of editing. There are a lot of different ways you can apply this to the pieces of media you are working on.
Animations allow you to adjust the zoom and opacity of your media objects. When you add an animation to an object on your timeline you will see something which looks like an arrow with a dot at either end. You can adjust the length of this arrow to adjust the length of the animation.
Your zoom-pan function is the first tab under animations. Zooming is simple. You focus the zoom box around the part of the screen you want to focus on.
The second tab provides you with different animations which will affect the opacity, location or size of the object. There is also an option to use something called Smart Focus. Smart Focus will automatically zoom into the part of the video it thinks you want to highlight. You will want to make sure it added the zoom options at the right place after using it though.
Animations are pretty easy to use. The biggest animation I am constantly using is the zoom feature. I rarely touch the other animations.
Cursor effects allow you to easily highlight where the cursors is. This makes it easier for your viewer to see what you are doing on the screen. This is only going to be used for your screen capture recordings.
It is definitely useful for screen captures. You can cast a spotlight on your cursor, magnify it, or highlight it. This makes it easier for viewers to see your cursor.
You can also turn on certain effects for your mouse clicks such as ripples or scopes. It is a good feature for you if you are going to be doing a lot of screen captures.
The voice narration feature is pretty straightforward. You can narrate what is happening on your timeline while you watch the video play. This makes it easy to match up your voice narration with the video as it plays.
Audio effects let you fade the sound in or out, remove background noise, and reduce volume spikes to give you a level volume.
If you are using background music with your audio, the fade feature is pretty important. To use it, you click on the audio effect then drag it onto the audio clip. You can adjust the audio levels by clicking on your audio line to add different audio points as well.
Clip speed allows you to adjust the length of a video or audio clip. With Camtasia Studio 8 you were limited to shortening a clip by 400%. They have removed this limitation in Camtasia Studio 9. Now you can shorten the clip by any percentage. This clip shortening feature is useful when you want to speed up a scene instead of removing it.
The clip speed can be adjusted in the properties area or you can adjust the clip speed directly on the timeline.
Visual effects are mostly focused around color adjustments. The visual effects can be added to both images or videos.
The visual effects allow you to adjust:
- Drop shadows
- Color tints
- Remove colors
- Clip speed
- Interactive hotspots
Color adjustment allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast and saturation of the picture. Colorize allows you to add a color tint.
Remove a color allows you to remove a certain color from the video. This is useful when working with a green screen. Your lighting has to be pretty good in order to use a green screen, otherwise it will not work well.
Interactive hotspot is used for certain types of videos formats but will not work with something like YouTube videos. It allows you to add a link to a website on the video, or automatically pause the video at a certain position.
Interactivity allows you to add a quiz to the video, so people can actually respond in the video. This will not work if you’re using something like YouTube, but you can use it if you are using it on your own website. This can be a useful option if you are creating a training product.
Closed captioning allows you to add closed captioning to your video so you can match it up with the timeline.
Editing With the Software
Let’s move onto editing your videos. In this section we will also talk about using the timeline and tracks.
In the canvas area, you can zoom, trim media, or pan your view. The canvas area is also interactive so you can click directly onto a media object on the canvas to select it, move it, or resize it.
You also have the option to zoom in on the timeline which allows you to work on fractions of a second. This makes it easier to edit short pieces of audio or video.
On the timeline you can have multiple tracks. Each track is essentially a layer. Track number one is the bottom layer. Track number two is the next layer higher.
The higher track numbers are higher layers on your video. When track 1 and track 2 both have images at the same point on the timeline, the image on track 2 will show up on top of the image on track 1.
Adding tracks to the timeline is done by dragging the piece of media which you want to use onto the timeline. Then you can drag it to the appropriate place on the timeline.
You can also lock each track so no changes can be made to it. Or, if you need to, you can hide a track from displaying at all.
If you need to shorten a video you click on the end of the video to drag it to where you want it to finish. If you made a mistake shortening the video it is easy to fix. You can click the end again to drag it back out to the original length.
To split a piece of media, you move the playhead to where you want to split the track then click on the split button. This allows you to move each piece to where you need it to be.
You can also use the red and green playheads to select a section of the timeline. Then you can copy, cut, or delete that section of your video.
If you have video and audio both on the same track you can split them onto separate tracks easily. Just right click on the track to select the option to separate tracks.
Adding effects is done by dragging the effect onto the media object on the timeline. It is also possible to drag the effects directly onto the preview canvas.
On the canvas, you can click the edges of an object to resize it. To rotate the object, you can click the middle button to rotate it. When editing the text, you double click on the text on the canvas to start typing.
When you choose any effect, the media objects on the timeline which will work with the effect will be highlighted.
Editing your video with the software is intuitive. It is powerful enough to do pretty much anything you need.
Finalizing Your Video
When you are happy with your video, it is time to turn it into a finished product. You have a number of production options to choose from.
You can create a local file on your computer, or you can produce and upload the video directly onto a number of websites. For instance, you can upload immediately to Vimeo or YouTube.
There is the option to produce the video as an MP4, Windows Media video, AVI, or a GIF.
I have found the quality of the produced videos to be quite high. There is no pixelation, blurring or anything like that. Even when you are zooming into a certain part of your screen, it still shows up fairly clear.
In my opinion, the software is easily worth the 199 dollars they are asking for. It produces high-quality video. Editing is easy as well as powerful. I haven’t run into any problems with the screen capture software or the editor. So far, I haven’t had the program crash on me.
I also find that the features are enough for most needs. I haven’t been in the position where I was looking for the option to do something that I couldn’t. It seems to cover all the essentials really well.
It is a little hard for me to say how difficult it is to get used to the software, because I have been using Camtasia 8 for a while now and it is quite similar, so the learning curve for me was pretty low.
One of the nice things is that you can also download a free trial from Camtasia for 30 days to see how well it works for your purposes. The free trial should help you figure out if you like it or not.
Techsmith has done a good job with this edition of Camtasia. Since there is a free download with this version, you don’t have much to lose out on. Especially if you are using the software to create videos for education use, this is going to be a solid piece of software.
If it is important for you to produce high-quality videos and you are going to be using the screen capture software, I recommend this product for you. After reading my overview and evaluation of Camtasia Studio 9’s main features, I hope that you now know whether or not it is the right software for your purposes.