TechSmith has introduced version 8 of Camtasia beautifully.
On their web site there's a short animation of a little guy standing in front of a huge film editing machine and the narration say's something to the effect of "We know you have more important things to do than edit video".
Boy did that register with me. First - video editing software is for lack of a better word "peculiar" it seems you have two choices A) Entry level programs for home video which are time consuming and confusing and sell between $40 - $100. B) The higher end get's you into programs like Corel's Elements and the lower end of the Sony Vegas line.
Or you can take the jump to programs like Final Cut if you're on a Mac and have both the dollars and time to commit - not for me. I've tried many of them over the years and still find myself going back to Windows Movie Maker if only for the ease of use which trumped the long rendering and upload times of more sophisticated and costly programs.
Adding to my seemingly never ending search for a feature rich software program with a learning curve that didn't require you to have a degree in film production - These would include but are not limited to: Sony Vegas (different versions including 7 and 11) HitFilm, VideoPad, Moavi and others.
Hitfilm 2 at the same price point as Camtasia isn't difficult to learn, it has some fancy Hollywood quality effects and if you're into green screen (Chroma key) it's a very decent product put out by NCH Software. One of the problems is support. It's entirely fee based from the get go. With a selection of "premium" packages to buy and none of them are built around value for the buck.
For the cost of the program itself you can buy the top support package which gives you 10 support emails and three 10 minute telephone trouble shooting sessions - my response, no thank you. VideoPad has a similar structure with a pretty good selection of tutorial videos but they put on a fairly hard sell to buy the 9 DVD training course which doubles your up front investment.
Once a huge fan of AVG it was their recent introduction of pay per incident tech support which cost them a devastating loss of nearly 20% of their subscriber base - including me. Call me unreasonable but as a consumer I won't pay a single dime to learn how to use your product or have it repaired when it malfunctions through no fault of my own. At least toss in 30 days of support.
Now hang in there, there's a point here somewhere - and here it is:
TechSmith is a great, consumer friendly developer. Support is free - always. You talk to a live person who knows the program inside and out. What is more, via remote access I've found the Techs more than willing to reach into my computer and show me exactly what the steps are - as well as hidden short cuts and keyboard based tricks that get you moving along faster.
Even during the 30 day free trial which allows you to take the full version of Camtasia for a spin, there are no limitations like watermarks or video length and full access to Tech support.
It's smart marketing - you fall in love with the speed of the program and make no mistake, Camtasia is one feature rich and powerfull piece of software.
If you're into screen casting you should be happy to know Techsmith provides you 2 Gigs of space to host for free on screancast.com - if you need more space you can join up in their Pro package for more discounted allocations of space.
The online library of music, themes, callouts and animations is incredibly extensive and you can access it right from the program and down load anything you like into your video in real time. Most of the options are pretty slick looking and effortless to use. You can build as many time lines as you like and edit via the preview screen or using the timeline it doesn't make a difference.
I only use one track even though you can build as many as you like because you can work layers if that's what works for you. I don't care for timelines but it makes no differnece because Camtasia could care less it lets you use your natural workflow and that's a powerful and beautiful thing - it also speeds up the learning curve.
Regardless - what you produce it's going to look to great.
As an example 90 percent of the time I upload directly to my You Tube channel. To render a completed video shot and saved in HD 1080 in Windows Movie Maker took about an hour. The same video in Camtasia, 5 minutes or maybe 10 tops it's wicked fast.It's a huge time saver and the applications are many.
This is only conjuncture on my behalf but I don't know why so much emphasis is put on teaching and business presentations. The marketing of Camtasia is almost exclusive in this regard. Maybe 35 years in Advertising has made me blind to certain ways companies position products to their audience - or maybe I've learned something, who knows?
The point is there are plenty of consumers who will back away from Camtasia because the positioning of the product is almost excusive for small to mid sized companies using PowerPoint and are heavily dependant on gaining client feedback via Camtasias built in option to include interactive quizzes and call outs as well serving many clients with one presentation and these are all good and innvoative aspects of the program.
However, there's a market of intermediate users who are literally desperate for a decent video editing piece of software that's a leap above the "Look at Juniors First Steps!" and not as consuming an ordeal as Pro editing software.
That said, if your applications for video editing software matches the above then Camtasia isn't for you.
On the other hand if your immediate need is to produce great video with some degree of sophistication to the overall look - and can see future potential with all the bells and whistles Camtasia has to offer then it'll be the best $300 you've ever spent on a single software program. The only problems I've encountered have been few. Camtasia can be finicky when importing media, remember it doesn't import from a device but from files.
If it doesn't recognize the file you have to convert it. This is an issue but TechSmith offers you the free version of "Handbrake" which is brilliant and easy to use. I've since converted huge MTS files in minutes.
Camtasia is also resource hungry and I find it doesn't load easily without a re-boot. This latter issue may have more to do with my own applications running in the background or a poor install, but I've read about this problem in a few forums and it seems a fairly common glitch.
However, even this wasn't enough of a headache from preventing CNET to award Camtasia with a whopping and equally rare 5 stars for Spectacular. And the review is well earned. It's also worth reading if you haven't already.
Considering all Camtasia offers in it's rich albeit hybrid status compared to similar programs which all either lack what Camtasia offers for free or demand you buy add ons or a higher version. Camtasia is a sensational program - an extraordinary feature and benefit rich value.
**One last note - the new version of 8.1 which will either ship or pgrade for free has without question the easiest to use Chromakey (green screen) I've ever seen. Gone are the days of working in layers, hours spent correcting edges are a thing of the past. It's incredibly simple to use. You can move along to the Camtasia tutorial video one time and you've got it - it really is that easy and the results are again seamless and pristine**