Video presentation tools have been mushrooming in the recent years since there is great demand for engaging personalized content in education, business training and knowledge transfer of any kind. What’s the best screencasting and authoring solution at this point? Tastes differ. Here are some great options for you to Consider.
1. TechSmith Camtasia
Camtasia is a celebrated tool with a huge user base. It’s a solution that has been Consistently praised for quality recording down to the pixel. Camtasia makes it easy to capture specific windows or your entire desktop.
- Edit audio and video. When the recording is over, Camtasia will pigeon-hole the output so you can edit system audio, video, cursor and mic separately.
- Use your webcam. Just activate your webcam when screencasting, and Camtasia will save your live recording as a separate track.
- As many tracks as you want. Camtasia offers an expandable multi-track timeline that may include screen content, several audio tracks, effects, callouts, etc.
- Easy trimming. Cut and join video fragments in just a couple clicks.
- Noise removal and leveling. Make the sound better by removing background noises or adjusting the levels.
- Closed Captioning. Camtasia provides both open and closed captioning abilities. Plus, you can easily export captions for translation.
- Rich in video effects. Keep your audience focused and entertained by adding callouts, quizzing, zooming, etc.
- No time limits whatsoever. Camtasia really stands out from the crowd in this respect. Lengthy videos are no problem at all since both scalability and performance are up to standard.
- Great editing options. Camtasia is a bundle of screen recorder and video editor. There is a diversity of editing options inside, from manipulating visual properties to adding transitions, captions and quizzes. Camtasia has it all.
- High compatibility. Camtasia file formats are interoperable between Mac and PC, and you can always save the project in good old .avi.
- Good support for PowerPoint. Just integrate the Camtasia toolbar into PowerPoint and start recording presentations in a familiar format.
- Easy to publish and share. You can share the output on YouTube, Google Docs, MyPlaces and so forth – right from the program dashboard.
- No web-based option. Unlike many online solutions, Camtasia is a heavy piece of software that requires installation and quite some space on your HDD.
- No support for a digital camera. Camtasia was designed to work with USB webcams not digital cameras, so TechSmith makes no promises here. Some DV cameras were reported to cooperate smoothly with Camtasia but it’s still a matter of chance.
Camtasia Studio is free to try. A standard one-user license will set you back at $299.00. An upgrade to the latest version costs $149.50.
PowToon is freemium intuitive presentation software that helps create animated slides combined with audio, narration and embedded videos. A quick and simple way to deliver a nice-looking message to your audience.
- Easy interface. It somewhat resembles PowerPoint but turns out much simpler. The user just has to pick a template, go through the editing screen, add items from the image library (figures, backgrounds, speech bubbles, etc.) – and voila!
- Timeline. This feature matches the animation panel in PowerPoint, with a number of obvious limitations. For instance, slides can only be 20 seconds long. Also, the selection of animations is pretty poor, just 12 options. Nothing to write home about.
- Sounds. PowToon allows you to use one sound per presentation. You have to pick whether to go with a background theme or a voice narration.
- Transitions. PowToon’s dynamic transitions are fun to deal with. Transitions make presentation flow smooth and the outcome more engaging.
- Usability. PowToon is really great for somebody who lacks skills in designing slides. Developing a deck in PowToon is as easy as dragging and dropping items on the screen and tweaking the timeline. No frills, no resource-hungry extras.
- Free and easy to use
- A bunch of ready-made templates
- Easy content sharing
- Very sparse functionality compared to the competition
- There is no auto-save feature or the ability to save an offline version
- Loading someone else’s content may take a while.
There is a free edition available with basic features. Extended plans range from $19 to $197 per month.
GoAnimate offers cloud-based functionality to produce custom animated videos with drag-and-drop tools. GoAnimate includes libraries with numerous backgrounds, characters, props, music tracks, and sound and video effects.
- Wealth of capabilities for tweaking and tuning. Add characters, change the background, match your content with a specific style – all with an intuitive interface.
- Nifty character builder. GoAnimate lets you recreate learners, customers or yourself using an easy character creator. It’s fun!
- Publish content in a single click. Share your videos across multiple hosting sites, authoring tools and social media. Alternatively, download your video presentation as a high quality MP4 file.
- Automatic lip-sync. You can allocate a voice track to specific characters and watch them lip-sync to the track.
- Animated infographics. A great combination of video and infographics.
- Media import. Use import to upload images, music, voice tracks, video clips and screen recordings.
- Easy to use, easy to publish.
- Hassle-free voice recording.
- Performance glitches. For instance, GoAnimate doesn’t load YouTube too quickly.
- A raspy synthetic voice which may sound frustrating.
- There is a limitation of one character speaking or moving at a time.
- Any customizations require an upgrade from free to paid.
There is a free version available. Depending on output quality and restrictions, export options and extra features, GoAnimate also offers several paid plans from $39 to $159 per month.
4. Adobe Presenter
Adobe Presenter is a popular tool that helps you transform slides into interactive e-Learning content. Like Camtasia, the product doesn’t need any introduction, but I’d still like to sum up Presenter’s key features as well as pros and Cons.
- HTML5 support for PowerPoint. You can publish PowerPoint content directly to HTML5, but make sure your animations are safe after the transition.
- Engaging quizzing. A smart collection of quiz templates and components to help educators test retention.
- Smart learning interactions. Employ interactive elements to customize the content. Hangman, Jigsaw, Process Cycle, Glossary, Accordion…there is a diverse set of options to pick from.
- Characters. Select your actor, corresponding gestures and background, and enliven the video with a personal touch.
- Scenario templates. Weave scenario-based training into your methodology. Predefine learners’ paths and what happens next based on their inputs.
- Universal standard compatibility. Adobe Presenter content can be published across multiple systems. It works smoothly with SCORM in case you’d like it to play back in LMSs.
- Slide branching. Master slide navigation and develop sophisticated slide branching to guide users through the content.
- HD quality video. No need for third party hardware to make a nice-looking video. Presenter helps you balance colors, eliminate noises and boost overall video quality.
- Video add-ons. A great selection of introductory and concluding clips, zooming, custom videos and logos for branding purposes.
- Automatic closed captioning. Presenter’s speech-to-text conversion functionality helps you automatically generate closed captions for audio tracks.
- Audio and video streaming. You can enjoy adaptive video and audio streaming if you host your course on Adobe Connect Server.
- Moderate price combined with elaborate functionality
- Adapted to mobile devices
- Support for PowerPoint leaves much to be desired (effects, animations and other PowerPoint features may get lost during conversion)
- In HTML5 publishing, text and images convert into images
- There’s no way to view the presentation on a mobile device offline
A monthly subscription is offered at the affordable rate of $14.99.
5. iSpring Presenter
iSpring Presenter is a handy alternative to Adobe’s product, an easy solution to transform a PowerPoint deck into a video presentation.
- Narrate and sync up with slides. Make your live presentation with a webcam or embed a pre-recorded video, and synchronize it with slides and effects.
- Add YouTube/Vimeo videos. Pick a video from the web and insert into your content with no extra effort.
- Voice-over recording. Use the built-in Narration Editor to record a voice over or import audio files from your hard drive.
- Add Flash movies, navigable web pages, files and links. Flash clips in .swf and .flv, any existing web page or a custom page, links or documents including .xls, .pdf or .docx – throw any content into the pot!
- Great support for PowerPoint. iSpring saves 99% of PowerPoint effects, including animations, transitions and embedded objects in the output.
- Quizzes and surveys. Test your students’ knowledge and receive feedback on your course right away. Plus, you can collect results and view statistics of the learners’ progress.
- Embedded presentation player. iSpring offers a customizable presentation player so you can play back the course in a native environment.
- Protection against unauthorized access. To prevent a course from being misused or copied, iSpring reinforces multi-level content protection.
- Publish in a single click. Convert your presentation into Flash, HTML5, MP4 or an LMS-compliant format and reach out to a global audience. Alternatively, you can share your tutorial via iSpring Cloud – with a link, email, social networks or embeddable code.
- Upload on YouTube. Place a video version of your deck on YouTube right from the iSpring Presenter interface.
- Mobile application for content viewing. Use iSpring Play to see how your presentation works on iPad and Android tablets.
- Lossless PowerPoint to Flash/HTML5 conversion
- Full support of PowerPoint effects, transitions, animations, etc.
- Extended LMS support
- Granular reporting for assessments and courses
- Easy publishing to video, easy sharing on YouTube.
- Requires MS PowerPoint to use
- No advanced video editing features
- No screen recording feature
Yearly license prices start at $497 for 1 PC.
Zentation is nice web-based video presentation software. Sync up Google Video with PowerPoint. No tech knowledge or special skills required.
- Synchronization. Put a PowerPoint presentation and video side by side. The most common scenario is when a speech gets recorded on video, and slides are published along with the clip afterwards. Naturally, creating a classic narration – tutorial-style – is also easy as pie on this platform.
- Upload videos to the Zentation server. In case you opt for a premium plan, you get the ability to use the Zentation Upload server as you wish. Besides, you get rid of the ads.
- Drag-and-drop functionality. The syncing is intuitive and doesn’t require any learning curve. The video is on the left and the slides are on the right. Click under every slide to capture a time code from the video, or type it in manually.
- Web-based and simple
- Video storage in the paid version
- Pretty basic compared to the comprehensive tools
- Limited free functionality.
The core edition is free of charge and includes ads. The premium subscription hides the ads and offers video uploads, a customizable player and other major and minor perks. It’s $45/month per presentation.
Moovly is yet another tool to create lessons, tutorials and presentations. Like the other reviewed programs, it puts together sounds, visuals, voice and video, so students can enhance and channel their multimedia skills into knowledge acquisition. Moovly is an easy-to-use web-based platform that needs no software installation.
- Flipped classroom with Moovly. The solution enables you to develop Khan Academy-style courses and animated videos. Moovly can be used by instructors and students alike to create explainers, project overviews and other visual content.
- Rich standard libraries. Get a quick start by employing ready-made items: animated graphics and templates, or personal assets such as images, sounds or video clips. There is a bunch of animation effects including hand drawing, dragging, move and zoom effect, etc.
- Advanced features. The paid version broadens teachers’ and learners’ horizons in terms of data sharing, uploading of personal assets, using extra content libraries and downloading videos in HD quality.
- Publisher extensions. Instructional designers can customize Moovly to add special object libraries that comply with school-certified publisher materials.
- Nice effects library
- Easy to use
- Fairly inexpensive.
- A standalone solution that falls behind content authoring suites
- Limited free functionality
- Limited publishing options.
Moovly is available in Free, Plus ($9.95/month) and Pro ($24.95/month) editions. The extended plans encompass greater storage capabilities, video quality and export features, and remove the length limitations of the free version.
8. Microsoft Office Mix
Office Mix takes the good old PowerPoint slide show to the next level, and enhances its functionality with a plethora of transitions, animations and other glossy effects.
I’ve covered the basic Office Mix features in other blog postings. Here’s a recap:
- Once your deck shapes up, feel free to add audio/video narrations, quizzes, publishing elements, etc.
- You can easily manage access rights and permissions (private view, anyone with a URL, personal email, shared on social media, etc.)
- The output plays back beautifully in any HTML5-ready browser.
- Track course stats and learner’s progress with filtration by slide, viewers or tasks.
- No charge. Easily integrated with your Office 2013 or Office 365 with PowerPoint.
- Clear detailed analytics
- Easy-to-use interface.
- Misses out on extra authoring features
- Doesn’t comply with LMS-friendly formats like SCORM or Tin Can.
It’s totally free which makes third party vendors of video presentation tools nervous – and for good reason!
Explee is online software that allows you to create whiteboard animation videos.
- Image bank and Bringlife. Explee boasts a collection of 6,000 images to highlight your ideas and make animations appealing. Also, you can animate any picture of your own by using Bringlife technology.
- Good selection of animation transitions, in and out effects. Apply various transitions between slides to support Consistent course flow. Make use of a plethora of available in and out animation effects.
- Simple timeline. Use the timeline to quickly manage a pool of animated videos from a single source.
- Graphic engine. You are free to preview animated video at your convenience with Visual Engine 2.
- Advanced audio editor. Reduce, trim or duplicate audio files with the built-in editor.
- Text-to-speech feature. Should you lack the time or budget for hiring a professional voice actor, feel free to try the HumanBeing functionality. Write down your text, pick a language and gender, and here you go!
- Universal compatibility. Explee operates smoothly on any device, including tablets and smartphones. Thanks to HTML5, your content is available for views and edits anywhere, any time.
- Intuitive timeline empowers users to create professional-looking videos.
- Text-to-speech output sounds unnatural
- Lack of collaboration options.
Subscription plans range from the basic $7/month up to $149/month for an all-inclusive video experience.
Plotagon is a nifty app for PC, Mac and iOS that enables teachers and students to create animated videos.
- Ample Plotagon library includes multiple characters and scenes. The library is updated and supplemented on a regular basis.
- Embedded character creator. Users are welcome to build their own custom characters, celebrities or any personas to liven up the training process.
- Protected digital classroom that involves select group members with comment and edit rights.
- Essential administrative tools. Instructors can add or delete learner accounts and keep track of shared content.
- Plotagon offers volume licenses per classroom.
- Works well on all major platforms including tablets
- The interface is easy to use and navigate
- Simple to get started with
- An ample collection of animations.
- Pretty basic functionality compared to the competition.
Plotagon charges $99/year per classroom (one teacher/30 students).
As this roundup reveals, video presentation software is, indeed, a thriving segment in the modern content authoring ecosystem. It’s not easy to make a choice, yet the criteria are rather simple. Make sure the solution fits your everyday needs and doesn’t exceed a reasonable budget. Otherwise, it’s all about the content. Happy authoring and screencasting!
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