If you are looking to create online courses or tutorials as part of your business model, then you are going to need the ability to create compelling videos.
Fortunately, these days there are plenty of tools that make it easier than ever to create video tutorials and courses that not only look amazing but are engaging for your students.
But, of course, that can be a problem.
With the large number of options available, it overwhelming and difficult to know where even to begin. If you are struggling to find a tool that will meet your needs but doesn’t require you to go to film school to learn how to use it then I recommend Camtasia as the first option to consider.
In rest of this Camtasia review, I’ll walk you through some of its key features and the pros and cons for creating video tutorials and courses.
What is Camtasia?
First things first: Camtasia is software you install on your computer (as opposed to using it online) and it is essentially two products in one:
Screen Recording Software
Camtasia has everything you need for capturing both video and audio from your computer screen. Your audience can see everything you see on the screen and hear you talk about – basically, the fundamental functionality you need for creating tutorials. But Camtasia doesn’t stop there.
Video Editing Software
Camtasia’s is also powerful but easy to use video editing software – and that is really the main reason I recommend it. You can not only record and edit content you capture on your computer, you can also edit content you capture from anywhere else – e.g., from a video camera of smart phone. Camtasia’s video editing features are truly impressive and are a big part of what really makes it stand out from similar types of software. With Camtasia you can:
- Import video and audio files
- Split clips or remove them altogether
- Add music, photos, and narration
- Choose from hundreds of icons to insert into your videos
- Add motion graphics
- Include questions during the playback
- Insert pop-up tips
- Take advantage of speech recognition tools to easily add subtitles
And here’s one big advantage Camtasia has over most other screen recording software when it comes to creating video tutorials or courses:
Camtasia gives you the ability to include quizzes and you can also export your finished product as a SCORM package so that it will track in most learning management systems.
And that’s just scratching the surface!
If you regularly use your smartphone to take videos you can also take advantage of the fact that Camtasia works with a companion app called Fuse. Fuse is available on both Android and iOS and it allows you to send videos directly from your phone to Camtasia – where, of course, you can edit them to your heart’s delight.
Whether you capture video on your phone, with a dedicated video camera, or within Camtasia itself, once you are done you can easily upload the finished product to YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, your online course platform, or wherever makes sense for your purposes.
Camtasia Review: The Pros
The main advantage of Camtasia is that it is relatively easy to use considering the richness of the features that it offers -and that’s become even truer with the release of Camtasia 2020 (more on that below).
While there are many other screencasting options, most simply don’t offer the breadth and depth of editing features that Camtasia does. Some of these features – like the ability to add pop-up tips, questions, and animations – can really boost the quality and effectiveness of your tutorials.
And, while there are plenty of good video editing tools out there – some of them free or lower cost than Camtasia – most of them have no ability for recording your screen content – an absolute necessity if you want to make video tutorials. Just try pulling off what Camtasia can do in iMovie, for example!
And having the companion app to Camtasia, Fuse, is a huge advantage. This can greatly simplify your workflow by making it easy to transfer files from your smartphone to Camtasia.
Keep in mind, too, that video is only part of the picture (so to speak) when it comes creating great course and tutorial content. You also need high quality audio. Fortunately, Camtasia features automatic audio leveling, meaning that it automatically adjusts your audio tracks so that they are at the same volume level. (If you have ever listened to a podcast where the host the host is really loud and the guest really quiet – or vice-versa – you know how annoying inconsistent audio levels can be.)
And, speaking of consistency: Camtasia helps you maintain a consistent brand (a very important aspect of marketing effectively) by enabling you to include your own images or logos in the themes that you can easily apply to any video you create.
Now, I won’t claim that using Camtasia is all unicorns and rainbows. As with any sophisticated software, there is a learning curve. But when you compare that curve to, for example, learning all the ins and outs of software like Adobe Premiere, Camtasia seems (at least to me) like a breeze.
And, with all the tutorials and information available online it is easy even for a beginner to quickly become proficient using Camtasia.
Finally, I really like that Camtasia works on both Macs and PCs (unlike, for example Screenflow – which I also love, but which works only on Macs.)
Camtasia Review: The Cons
I’m sure the first objection that many who want to make video tutorials will have is that Camtasisa is pricey at $249 for a license (which doesn’t include upgrades). If all you want to do is edit video or create short simple screencasts, that may be true.
But if videos are a serious part of your business – whether as standalones or part of larger online courses – I think Camtasia is a real bargain for what it does.
Admitedly, Screenflow – which is very similar in overall feature set – is roughly half the price, so you should be sure to compare the two if you are a Mac user. Adobe Captivate, on the other hand, is a good bit pricier and requires you to maintain a subscription for access. All in all, I think Camtasia is on very solid ground with its pricing.
Another potential con is that there is currently no Web-based version of Camtasia. You have to download and install the software to use it. If you happen to have multiple people involved in working on your tutorial projects, each one would need to have license and collaboration may not be as fluid as would be ideal.
Finally, while Camtasia is a great tool for making video tutorials, it is not going to have the full-blown educational feature set that you see in dedicated course authoring packages like Articulate Storyline, Lectora, or even Adobe Captivate. For some course creators, that will be just fine, but others may want to consider using Camtasia in tandem with a more sophisticated course authoring tool – most of which are not going to have its level of video editing capabilities.
Camtasia 2020 Updates
TechSmith (the company that makes Camtasia) is clearly dedicated to making sophisticated video production something that even amateurs can do. Camtasia 2020 (the most recent major update) clearly reflects this dedication. Here are some of the key new features:
Camtasia now offers several pre-designed templates that users can use as the basis for their own video projects. In addition to the included templates, users can create their own custom templates that can be used by others. Templates can be created with placeholders, which are easily replaced by users with drag and drop simplicity by providing structure and pre-defined elements for a video project, templates can easily be shared with colleagues as a plug and play option for those new to video creation.
Camtasia can create and export template packages to share with teams or others creating similar content. Combine templates with a favorite collection, library, brand color theme, and other preferences into a single file (.campackage) to easily share with colleagues to design their own video projects based on the package’s specifications, ensuring a consistent layout, style, and colors.
With the new Favorites feature, TechSmith has implemented one of the most common requests from users: Users can now add a star to their most frequently used tools and effects in Camtasia and save them in their personal favorites collection for quick access.
Toggling on the Magnetic Track function automatically removes all gaps between the clips on that timeline track. This makes it easier to reposition, trim, replace and insert media clips on that track.
Track Matte Mode and other Improvements
A new “Track Mattes” feature and workflow improvements are designed to give advanced Camtasia users expanded compositional options and creative freedom. Track mattes allow users to create static and animated masks that define how the contents of different tracks are displayed, while the detachable timeline, customizable tool presets and the improved media bin allow for a better editing experience.
Camtasia Review: The Bottom Line
For my money, Camtasia is simply one of the “go to” tools that just about every course creator needs to have in her toolbox. You can definitely use it to make video tutorials, but you can also leverage it for just about all of your video editing needs – and most course entrepreneurs have extensive video needs.
Of course, the best way to know for sure is simply to try it out – which you can do for free for 30 days. So, download the trial today and give it a spin.
If decide that Camtasia fits you needs, you can get the standard license for a one-time fee of $249. You can also get an annual maintenance package, which includes priority support and all upgrades, for $49.75. Discounts are available for educational institutions and nonprofits.