Techsmith have just announced the next version of Camtasia Studio and a new screencast hosting service called Screencast.com which is like a private and ad-free version of Youtube for Screencasting Videos.

Camtasia Studio has always been a very powerful screencasting software packed in an easy-to-use interface. Now some of the new features in version 4.0 will also appeal to podcasters as they can record, edit and produce polished video podcasts or audio-only podcasts with Camtasia alone.

Should you upgrade to Camtasia 4 ? Can Camtasia be used as a standalone podcast editing tool ? We discuss all this and more but first, let's look at the new features and improvements in detail here:

User Interface : If you are a Camtasia Studio 3.1 user already, you may not notice any difference in the user interface of Camtasia 4 until you hit the screen record button. There's a new control bar that sticks neatly to the recording area and allows you control the screen and voice recording without having to remember shortcut keys or switching to the Camtasia Recorder.

New Output Formats : Camtasia 4 can output recording to a wide variety of new formats including the highly compressed Flash Video format (flv with VP6 codec), PSP or the iPod compatible m4v format which ideal for distributing podcasts.

In addition, you can also produce an audio-only recording of your video shows in MP3 format which will be a much useful feature for podcasters who generally distribute the same content in multiple formats. Similarly, Powerpoint presentations with narrations or voice-overs can also to ported to iPod using CS4.

Closed Captioning : Like the recently introduced Adobe Captivate 2, Camtasia Studio also supports closed captions in the Flash format to make your screencast or podcast available to a wider set of audience. For instance, you could have the captions in English but voice-overs in a local language. It is easy to synchronize voice narration with text displayed on the screen video.


Audio Editing : The new audio editing features introduced in Camtasia Studio 4.0 make it a worthy upgrade if you are on a old version. There's an advanced noise reducing feature that intelligently strips your audio recording of all the background noises in the room.


Equalizing volume levels : If you are recording a conversation with people speaking at different audio levels, this can be automatically fixed using the Camtasia sound equalizer which is again a new feature.


Screencast.com : is a new hosting service offered by Techsmith for uploading screencasts, images, documents or even Presentations. What makes this service all the more useful is it's seamless integration with Camtasia Studio 4 - once your screencast is ready to be publishing, Camtasia can directly upload all the necessary files to Screencast.com. It also creates an iTunes compatible RSS feed for your podcasts or screencasts.

There are lot of other features worth a mention like you can attach documents or files to screencasts, there are new player bars and flash pre-loaders to give your presentation a different look plus you can start recording a Powerpoint presentation directly from the Camtasia Studio interface.

During our initial testing, we found Camtasia 4.0 to be considerably faster than it's predecessor version 3.1. The new sound equalizing and background noise cancelling features work like a charm without requiring an external audio editing software like Adobe Audition or Audacity.

There's also a production preview feature to quickly compare the results of different formats and compression settings without having to render them separately thus saving lot of valuable post-production time.

Overall, Camtasia Studio 4.0 is a definitive upgrade and like we said before, it remains "the" swiss-army knife of screencasting. With the increasing popularity of podcasts, Techsmith have made a very good move by integrating podcast-ready features in Camtasia 4 which could give them an invincible lead in the market.

Mac users are still out of luck though there were some strong hints at Podcasting Expo that Camtasia Studio for Mac may be in the works. Paul Pival points to a survey by Troy Stein, product manager for Camtasia Studio, which says that Techsmith is considering making Camtasia Studio for Mac though they need a strong business case to support the development costs.

Troy is doing an excellent series on Camtasia Studio features - 30 Camtasia Studio videos in 30 days - where he shares tips on effective screen recording, workarounds and tricks about using Camtasia Studio that you may not be aware of. Highly recommended.

Download Camtasia Studio 4.0 [Thanks Betsy Weber for the sneak preview]

Glossary of Terms - Screencast, Photocast, Vidcast, Webcast, Skypecast, Textcast, Podcast, and so on.