January 15, 2014

Choice of tools - Captivate and Camtasia for animation

This blog is actually based on the discussion started by Khalid on Information Developers linkedin group.

His question was,"Has anyone used animations into their documents? If yes, please share your learning".

He was replied by Neil Perlin, President, Hyper/Word Services.

His brief introduction in his word.

"My background - I've been using these tools for years, was certified in Captivate from 2000 until 2010 and taught it for years, am certified in Mimic, and wrote a book on Mimic 6".

Neil Perlin
President, Hyper/Word Services
Hi Khalid,

Here you go...

Choice of tools - Captivate and Camtasia are both heavy-duty tools with some significant differences. Captivate is based on a slide metaphor, like taking multiple screen shots in succession and playing them back in succession to create the movie. You *can* add full-motion to a Captivate presentation but that's not its focus. Camtasia is just the opposite, based on full-motion. So if you have a lot of full motion to record, such as screen activity or, as one friend did, video taken off a scanning tunneling electron microscope, Camtasia may be the better choice. If you have little or no full motion to record, then Captivate may be the better choice.

Some other factors re choice of tools - In my opinion, Captivate is the best on the market for eLearning. Captivate is more expensive than Camtasia if that's an issue. Captivate is $899, Camtasia is $300. Both tools are quick to learn. I taught Captivate for years and could get you going in two days.

Re what types of info to record - Almost any screen based activity, such as how to add a user to a database, how to log into an application, how to use Windows calculator, how to use a scroll bar, etc. (I've done all of these and more.) You can create these movies in two ways, first as a "demonstration" in which you add explanatory text captions and other features to walk the viewer through the action, second as a "simulation" which has none of those explanatory features but instead simulates what the user would have to do in the real task. You could then post the demos and sims on a "Training" web page or add them into topics in a help system with links labeled, for example, "Show Me" and "Let Me Try". A great way to reinforce textual explanations for visually-oriented learners.

In addition to screen activity, you can create blank movies in which you insert graphics, text, etc., to teach non-screen-based tasks. I've seen or created anything from how to sell a car to how to take an interview to how to tell when a baby's diaper needs changing, and so on.

Re common animation standards - Not sure if you mean design standards or technical standards. On the technical side, you can output your movies in various formats. The common one is SWF, but my advice is to use HTML5 or MP4 instead IF mobile, iOS mobile in particular, is in your future. That's because Apple won't run SWF files.

I could go on for several hours but I'll stop here and ask if this is the information you were looking for.