Camtasia for Mac looks like a screencasting powerhouse

Brett Terpstra
B. Terpstra|08.26.09

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Camtasia for Mac looks like a screencasting powerhouse

It hasn't exactly been a secret that I (and several others at TUAW) have been big fans of ScreenFlow since its release. Up until yesterday, I didn't really think it had much serious competition in the professional screencasting field. That seems to have changed with the release of Camtasia for Mac. At the same $99US price tag as ScreenFlow, Camtasia is offering a very similar interface with some impressive capabilities.

Camtasia has long been considered a heavyweight in the PC world, and its Mac debut has been anxiously awaited. While it hasn't exactly reached feature-parity with the PC version, it's been quite a pleasure to try out. Some of the features it's lacking in comparison to its PC counterpart include region recording, narration-only recording and ScreenDraw. However, its capabilities in the area of direct media manipulation are quite well-developed. For a complete feature comparison, check the TechSmith website or grab the comparison PDF.

A quick run-through with a review copy convinced me that this is some serious competition for ScreenFlow. One of the coolest features I played with was the SmartFocus action, which can be applied to an entire clip or just a region in the editor. It automatically determines what the point of focus at any given time should be, and zooms that area. Additionally, you can highlight the foreground window, add text and shape callouts, and work with imported media. The only problem I noticed immediately was with changing colors of library elements (arrows, etc.). I haven't figured that out in my brief trial, and haven't had a chance to ask yet. I'm hoping that's not a missing feature, as it seems relatively important to me.

A complete array of QuickTime formats can be exported, and presets for YouTube, and iTunes are included. There's a default export which gave me a 10.5MB QuickTime file for a 47-second clip, at a 960x600 resolution. The "Advanced Export" option provides the opportunity to tweak settings and export to all the standard formats. There's some mismatch between the PC and Mac export capabilities, though, making cross-platform projects difficult (file format comparison).

Camtasia for Mac requires that all of your video cards be Quartz Extreme-enabled. If you run any USB->DVI hardware, be sure to disconnect it before you launch the application. Also, TechSmith warns against running Perian with Camtasia. I tried it and didn't have any problems -- but it was for a short record/export experiment and I'm guessing they have good reason for pointing out the potential conflict. I would probably heed that advice when working on a more important project. Camtasia for Mac is currently available at the Camtasia website as a free trial, and can be purchased for $99US, or a 5-pack for $495US.

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