Video is becoming such an important part of web content that we're seeing individuals and groups of all skill levels jumping into video creation and video marketing. So while Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro may be dominant video editing software choices for professionals, there are millions and millions of new video producers who don't quite have the skill set for the high end tools. If you're a video creator looking for a great intermediate video editing solution that has a few more bells and whistles than the bare-bones offerings but not the overwhelming options of the professional suites, Camtasia Studio 7 offers a powerful yet simple option.
The way I see it, Camtasia Studio 7 really has two main functions: video editing, and screencasting (recording your computer screen). It's this combination of tools that makes the software an ideal solution for video marketers who find themselves somewhere between novice and expert.
Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of Camtasia Studio 7 by the developer, TechSmith.
Camtasia Studio 7 Video Editing
Camtasia Studio opens with a quick-launch screen. There are four options: Record the Screen, Record Voice Narration, Record PowerPoint, and Import Media. Here's what it looks like:
You can import media files into the clips bin, which can hold quite a bit. It's extremely handy when you have a big video project with multiple video and audio files that all need to end up in the same video. Just import all the clips into the bin, and you'll have it at your fingertips whenever you need it. The clip bin is tied to the current project, so if you close it and open a different project, you can load that project's bin with an entirely different set of media clips.
Easy Cuts & Trims
The timeline is dead simple. Drag the media file you want to the video or audio track of your choice, and you're ready to start editing. The green and red squares on the timeline indicator are waypoint markers, and you can click and drag each one to the spot on the timeline you want.
Once you've marked your clip's beginning and end, it's a snap to cut the selection or adjust the audio. You can also lock any track on your timeline so that you can easily cut and trim from another track without altering the one you're already happy with.
You have a few basic audio tools at your disposal, mostly related to the leveling. You can make the audio track (or a section of it that you've marked) quieter or louder, or bring out the highs, mids, and lows. There's also a noise-reduction tool as well.
Producing Your Video
When it comes time to produce your video, you can simply create a finished video, or you can produce-and-upload the video all in one step. There are a ton of quick-production options:
Upload straight to YouTube
If you're an individual or company that primarily uses YouTube as your distribution channel, there's a handy built-in feature in Camtasia Studio that allows you to produce your video and upload it to YouTube all at once.
You can add all kinds of extras like annotations and callouts to enhance the video's presentation. Here's a screenshot of how simple the zoom function is to use:
In no particular order, here are some general thoughts I have about using Camtasia Studio 7 to edit videos:
- As easy to pick up and get comfortable with as any editing software I've tried. It's simplicity is its chief selling point. It's also probably why Microsoft chose them as their default editor for their internal video sharing platform.
- Love the timeline, and how easy it is to mark, move, and delete sections of video. I do wish there were more overall tracks available to me for even more video and audio clips.
- Love the timeline zoom function, that lets me get as close as I need to for those precision cuts.
- While not every processor can easily handle the software (which is true of any video editing software), it's not as much of a memory hog as some of the top-line professional editors out there. Might want to check your specs to make sure you can handle it. My laptop ran the software much slower than my desktop, which is considerably beefier in specs.
- At $299.99, the software is a good value, though it was a better value at that price a year or so ago. Today, however, there is more competition from intermediate video editing suites, and the price point is coming down across the industry. But... you are getting more than just a video editor...
Camtasia Studio 7 Screencasting
Camtasia is also a screen-capture software. This makes it perfect for anyone whose life would be a little easier if they could share their screen in a simple way. Whether you want to record web browsing, product demos, or software bugs... anything you see on your monitor is recordable.
It's easy to come behind and trim what parts of the screen are visible by cropping, blurring, or zooming.
The screencasting function is perfect for a variety of common tasks:
- Webinars - Not live webinars, of course. But for pre-recorded lessons, this software is perfect.
- Wecam recordings - Vlogs and other webcam recordings are a snap.
- Trainings - Software training is the original reason I first learned about Camtasia, and it was a godsend. The company I was with at the time was able to take a training we used to give every client in person and digitize it into a series of videos, saving us gobs of time and money.
- Demos - Just like training sessions, Camtasia is the perfect way to create a video demonstration of a program or app, particularly when you and your clients and coworkers are spread out around the globe.
- Presentations - Sometimes you have your Power Point slides all laid out, with audio cues and transitions... and then you get into the lecture hall and everything goes haywire, and none of it works as smoothly as you'd hoped. You can avoid this scenario entirely by using Camtasia's built-in compatibility with Power Point, and "animate" your presentation, turning it into a video. (This is also a fantastic way to immortalize your presentation and make it available as an online video to anyone who missed the class but still wants to see it).
- Record video interviews - If you do interviews on Skype--video or even audio only--you can make sure you get every word correct in that next interview by simply recording it. It might be a good idea to let the interviewee know about the recording ahead of time, but they should be fine with it as long as you're only recording it for note-taking purposes. Of course, if you want to create a video of your video interview to share with the world, you can use Camtasia for that as well.
- Couldn't be easier to use.
- Tons of uses and business applications.
- Zooms, pans, callouts, & effects are all very simple, though I wish there was a little more variety.
- It's almost too subtle--it's easy to forget you're recording your screen because there's so little footprint while it's running.
Camtasia Studio 7 Tutorials
Still not sold? Here's a video overview of the software's many features:
If you're interested in learning more, or if you're a Camtasia customer who could use a little guidance, there's a whole series of great video tutorials over on the TechSmith website.
If you're a Camtasia user, let us know what you think in the comments. If you're a user of another similar software, feel free to suggest it too and we'll try to take a look.