Adobe Presenter and Camtasia Studio: compare and contrast

July 24, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Posted in lecture recording, software | Leave a comment
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I have been a fan of Camtasia Studio for some years, so it was interesting to try the latest version of Adobe Presenter and see how they compared.

  • Camtasia Studio (CS) is basically a screen-recorder, but is also integrated with PowerPoint to create narrated presentations. An educational licence costs around £150.
  • Adobe Presenter (AP) is integrated with PowerPoint to create narrated presentations. It comes as part of Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended, and an educational licence costs around £70.

Output options:

CS: for web use, the best choice is an MP4 video plus a SWF player. Other choices are  a WMV, MOV or AVI video, an iPhone video or an MP3 file – so you can choose the format that meets your needs. The MP4 videos are fixed sizes (e.g. 1024×768) so you may have problems with large videos on low-resolution displays. For PowerPoint presentations, it can automatically create a linked table of contents based on the slide titles so you can jump to the point you need.

AP: The output is a SWF player plus a bunch of SWF slides and MP3 audio files. The output scales nicely to fit your web browser. Again, slide titles are used to create a linked table of contents.

Use with PowerPoint

CS: Basically, you show your presentation and record your voice as you go. This generally means you have to record in one take – although you can edit the recording afterwards. This works fine in a ‘live lecture’ situation, but is not as easy as AP if you are recording in your office. Any slide animations are naturally sychronised with what you are saying.

AP: You record your narration one slide at a time, so it is simple to re-record a slide if you make a mistake or the phone rings. You can edit the audio afterwards (a bit like using Audacity) so you can cut minor mistakes or coughs etc. You need to click a ‘next animation’ button to synchronise these with your voice. You couldn’t use AP to record a live lecture.

Built-in quizzes

CS: If your output is for the web (MP4 + SWF) then you can add simple multiple-choice questions. If you are uploading the video to a LMS like Blackboard then you can specify the use of SCORM so that each student’s results are recorded.

AP: You can add simple multiple-choice and text-entry questions, which are added as macro-enabled slides to your presentation Again, SCORM can be specified to record the scores. You can easily record audio feedback for correct/incorrect answers and use the score to allow progress to further slides or redirect back to revise earlier slides.


CS: If you add your script as ‘slide notes’ to your PowerPoint presentation, Camtasia will (nearly) synchronise these your voice. I found that some editing to break the text into three-line chunks and manual adjustment of the timing was required – this took around 20 minutes for a 10-minute video. The subtitles are included in the video beneath the picture as white text on a black background – very clear.

AP: Again, if you add yur script as ‘slide notes’, AP can display these alongslide each slide if you select the ‘Notes’ tab. Unfortunately they are shown in really small black text on a grey background, so accessibility isn’t good – and they are nothing like CS’s true subtitles.

Other capabilities

CS: Well, screen recording – so you can record a narrated tour of a website or software or mix that with a PowerPoint. Its a great tool for recording live presentations, or creating carefully-edited mixes of slides, screens and even live action (I shoot mine using a low-cost compact digital camera). You can zoom in to show details, add annotations, create transitions between screens etc.

AP: You can import video, add a webcam recording and attach documents and web links.

In conclusion

If I want to create  a scripted narrated PowerPoint in my office, Adobe Presenter is the best option. I really like being able to record (and re-record) one slide at a time, and the ability to include files and web links  increases its value as an integrated learning resource. The addition of questions which can control progression open all kinds of interesting self-study possibilities.

On the other hand, if I want to record a live lecture or show how software works or show anything except PowerPoint slides, Camtasia Studio wins every time.

I’m just really pleased I have both 🙂

Oh – and there is a third option – iSpring Presenter is another really neat tool for converting narrated PowerPoint slides to Flash format for web delivery. There is a FREE version, but its for individual use, so you shouldn’t use it for University work.


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