Create professional-looking movies and demos from your computer screen with Camtasia Studio

I create training materials all the time. Part of what I do for my day job occasionally requires me to train end users in some kind of computer based process or procedure. It doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, I’m glad I have tools like Camtasia Studio. It’s a screencast tool for Windows.

Creating a great screencast happens in three simple steps: Record, Edit and Share.

Camtasia Studio’s flexible recording options allow you to capture a full screen or a window or region. You can add in music tracks, a spoken, vocal track, or your computer’s audio.  You can also include picture-in-picture video with your web camera. If you’re using PowerPoint to give a presentation that you want to record for use by invitees who couldn’t attend the initial presentation, Camtasia’s toolbar inside PowerPoint makes it easy to record your presentations, either live or from your desk.  TechSmith’s exclusive SmartFocus technology keeps track of where the action happens on your computer screen during your recording. It then produces a video that zooms in on the parts you need to show.

Once you have your content recorded, Camtasia Studio allows you to spruce it up.  You can easily create callouts by adding a graphic over your video to direct the attention of your viewers. You can also link to an external webpage or jump to a part of the video.  If you’re stuck for the right graphic to use, Camtasia Studio comes stocked with professionally-designed assets you can drag-and-drop into your video. You can also the store your callouts, title slides, and other assets for re-use and sharing later.

After you have your screencast created, the final step is sharing it with your audience.  You can share to YouTube and Screencast.com, TechSmith’s video hosting service.  You can also produce videos in a variety of formats including, MP4, FLV/SWF, M4V, AVI, WMV, MOV, RM, Animated GIF and MP3 (for audio only).

Read full review | Download Camtasia Studio

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Quickly capture, edit, and color with PicPick

As a technology journalist, I am CONSTANTLY grabbing screenshots or taking and tweaking pictures of both software and hardware products I’m reviewing or writing articles about. As a software QA director and tester, I’m always taking screen shots of software defects and anomalies, annotating them and including them in emails and defect reports for developers and project managers.  This is why I like PicPick. It’s a graphics tool and system tray utility for Windows.

PicPick is a user friendly, full featured graphics and painting app  suitable for software developers, graphic designers as well as the home user. It is an all-in-one program that provides a screen capturing tool, image editor, color picker and palette, and even a whiteboard. It has just about everything that you’d find and need in a shareware or commercial application; but it loads quickly, sitting quietly in the system tray until needed.

PicPick is an interesting application. It does most everything that a commercial application would do and a bit more; but is offered as freeware. It’s a decent application but reminds me a great deal of an enhanced version of Windows Paint. While this isn’t a huge issue for consumer users, commercial users, who are required to purchase a license, may object, despite the reasonable price point.

download PicPick

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Exif Pilot Pro allows you to view, create, and edit the EXIF metadata of digital images.

Exchangeable image file format (EXIF) is a specification for the image file format used by digital cameras. The specification uses the existing JPEG, TIFF Rev. 6.0, and RIFF WAV file formats, with the addition of specific metadata tags.

The metadata tags defined in the Exif standard cover a broad spectrum: date and time information, camera settings. This includes static information such as the camera model and make, and information that varies with each image such as orientation (rotation), aperture, shutter speed, focal length, metering mode, and ISO speed information.

In case you wish to edit these info related to your pictures, you can find out how by using Exif Pilot Pro.

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