What does Camtasia or ScreenFlow offer that Screencast-o-matic Doesn’t?
I see this question — or variations of it — a lot in discussion groups where folks are creating their first online course. Usually, it’s in context of someone wanting to spend the least amount of money for screencasting/editing software as they create their first online course. Understandable.
First some helpful references
- Camtasia Studio (for Windows – $299), Camtasia For Macintosh ($99) and ScreenFlow (for Macintosh – $99) are powerful, multi-featured downloadable software products that let you — in a nutshell — capture, edit and publish video and audio of anything you can display on your computer screen.
- Screencast-o-matic ($15/year for a Pro account), is a low cost alternative that you can use directly online with either a PC or Macintosh.
For my part, in response to the oft-asked question about the main advantages of software like ScreenFlow or Camtasia over Screencast-o-matic:
I think screencast-o-matic (SOM) is actually a pretty good (I daresay even excellent) software if the course objectives (and of its marketing) call for BASIC screen/voice capture with the occasional bubble, box or text callout as an overlay. In fact, at $15/year (for the Pro version), I think it’s actually quite powerful for the price.
At some point though some online content creators (though not all) find the need to differentiate their presentations a little more from the “basic” look and feel. (And, let’s face it, to differentiate theirs from the run-of-the-mill “death-by-PowerPoint” type presentations.) So it’s for those folks that I think one of the other tools like Camtasia or ScreenFlow might actually be more cost effective. (As an aside: Contrary to what some may believe, the learning curve for comparable functions in Camtasia or ScreenFlow isn’t really more steep than that for SOM.)
Indeed, there are many features that will teeter the scale one way or the other if you were to compare each feature one-by-one. But one of the key features that I think gives a lot of power to tools like ScreenFlow or Camtasia over SOM is in their capacity for you to have many more LAYERS (“tracks”) in your screencasting project. This multi-track capability gives you the ability to layer video objects, images and audio clips over your main presentation and with much more flexibility to change different properties for each of those objects independently of any other object.
For example, in addition to a basic PowerPoint and voiceover narration, some folks may want to overlay a music track, a video clip, and/or a video interview that supports the main presentation — these require 3 or 4 layers (or more). In contrast, SOM only gives you one layer. (Two layers could be argued, but certainly not more than that.)
The video above is an excerpt from Lecture #2 in my course, “Beyond PowerPoint: Teach Online Now With ScreenFlow For Mac.” It shows some of the layering and property manipulations (animations) I mentioned that is much more powerfully done in ScreenFlow or Camtasia than in Screencast-o-matic.
Camtasia or ScreenFlow isn’t for everybody
Again, not everybody will need or want all that extra “flair” in their presentations. In which case, if you’re in that camp, then screencast-o-matic should work just fine — especially if price is a huge factor.