Adjust the UI color & contrast

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  • Idea
  • Updated 3 months ago
  • Under Consideration
  • (Edited)
(This idea comes what what we’ve heard here in this community as well as from other customer feedback methods we utilize. The feedback we gather here will help us gauge how well it fits our users’ needs. Please let us know what you think)

The Problem:

The Dark UI for Camtasia does not appeal to everybody and for some, it makes working in Camtasia unproductive due to issues with contrast and text legibility.

Potential Solution:  

An option in Camtasia to choose a lighter UI or choose your UI color.
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David D, Technical Product Manager - Camtasia

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Posted 3 years ago

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Kathryn Grant

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I just upgraded to Camtasia 2018 yesterday and need to add my voice of concern. The black UI is extremely hard to use. Not only is it hard to see text on the screen (even with brightness turned up on the monitor) but it's almost impossible to distinguish different parts of the screen. When a dialog box is open, I can't see where it starts and stops. It's hard to tell what's part of the dialog box and what isn't.

I'm on a tight deadline for a project at work, and the black interface is having a negative impact on my productivity. It's stressful.

Many Windows applications let users choose a theme--black on white, black on gray, black on light blue, etc. Seems it would be a simple matter for Camtasia to give users that option. 

Techsmith, you make awesome products. I love Snagit and use it all the time. I hope you'll make it a top priority to include this simple improvement to Camtasia, which would make it exponentially more useful. 

Thanks for your consideration!
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ChrisM

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I have the exact same experience. I know this sounds like a dig on TechSmith, but it's not really; They really don't care at all about this. I don't know why, but TechSmith wants this ridiculous interface and flat out refuse to change it. The version you are actually using is the improved version believe it or not. I have seriously given up.
OK...one last time...I am not elderly, I am not even "old" and the dark interface is detrimental to my work performance. The only reason I still use it is there is was no alternative. I have been talking with Adobe and pushing for their Captivate product to be part of their suite of product offered in the Creative Cloud. As soon as it is, if the interface in Camtasia is still dark, you can bet I am going to switch in a hot minute. 
Dear TechSmith, I see your market dominance deteriorating and has everything to do with the new interface and your refusal to change it.
Sorry to hijack your post Kathryn...
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Kathryn Grant

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Chris, I feel your pain <wry grin>. I have considered Captivate too, since I have CC. I hope Adobe will include it! CC includes a lot of stuff I'll never use, so I'd be happy to trade those apps out for Captivate :) Maybe you can suggest that as you talk with them.

I know it can feel like "big business" doesn't care, but I think Brooks is trying to change that perception. If TS can come up with a simple solution--even a light gray alternative--that would be enough for me. It will be interesting to see how things go!
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Rick Stone

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Hi folks

I'm an Adobe Captivate user myself. I was a Certified Adobe Instructor for Captivate for a number of years.

Personally, I'd be shocked if Adobe were to include it in their Creative Cloud. It seems to be a kind of niche product that not everyone would use. Although it *IS* (or maybe WAS) actually part of a couple of suites they offer.

I'm not sure if they are still offering this, but at one point Captivate was part of something called the "eLearning Suite". And it's still part of something called the "Technical Communications Suite". 

Cheers... Rick :)
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Brooks, Camtasia Technical Product Manager

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Official Response
I’m nervous about kicking this hornets nest, but here goes. Please keep in mind that I took over as the Camtasia Technical Product Manager in July of 2018. I’ve been with TechSmith for a very long time and was aware of this long running thread, but I didn’t make or influence any of the decisions prior to July. That’s not an excuse, just an explanation that my analysis and decisions about product priority started fairly recently. I started as a developer on Camtasia back in 2005 and am enormously proud of the team and product. That said, I know we can always do better.

Some things to make clear here:

#1 We read these posts frequently. It’s not fun to see users expressing this much pain and frustration, ever. It puts a bad taste in everyones mouth. As a product team we want to make software that helps users make a difference. We’re a super passionate group and we want our customers to love using the product. 

#2 In March of 2018, we adjusted the UI contrast on Windows in a maintenance release to Camtasia 9 as a direct result of this feedback. Camtasia 2019 for Mac will ship with similar improvements to contrast (I’m very appreciative of those changes as a predominantly Mac user who spends a ton of time staring at a screen). The point being that during the last 12 months we’ve been making an effort to improve things for users on the UI contrast front.

#3 The dark UI polls very well among users. The vast majority of the users we’ve surveyed either prefer it or don’t have a problem with it. I’m not saying we are ignoring you folks who don't like it, but there’s a very large contingent of users who would prefer us to do work in other areas.

#4 Camtasia sits on several different UI technology stacks and the codebase has been actively developed against for ~20 years. It’s not easy to turn desktop UI with that kind of code legacy on a dime. I’m saying this because the decision to focus on a light UI will mean less work on other features and that makes most of our users less happy. I hope folks can at least see the position we’re in, recognize the tradeoffs and come to a reasonable understanding that our decisions aren’t based on how little we listen or care for our users.

#4 I’m a bit uncertain what’s a good enough compromise to win over folks on this thread. Some folks seem to want a myriad of color choices they can choose from, others want something that looks more native, still others just want something not quite so dark with good contrast. I’m not in favor of a complete UI overhaul at this point. That would be a significant undertaking we just don’t have the bandwidth to do (always be leery of full UI rewrites is a principle I hold dear). 

#5 I think we’re in a bit better position from a UX and technical perspective to deliver a lighter colored UI in the future. I’ll be looking for opportunities to fit it in, but our current 12 month schedule is very tight, so I can’t make any guarantees. 

So the million dollar question—would a lighter UI that you could toggle to and required a restart be enough? If so, that's what I'll be attempting to scope and angle toward in the future.

Brooks

Camtasia Technical Product Manager

Mobile Technical Product Manager

TechSmith
(Edited)
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Kathryn Grant

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Brooks,

Thanks for your quick reply and helpful explanation! As a web developer myself, I empathize with the tricky task of juggling priorities and trying to please as many users as possible.

I'm intrigued that most users like the dark interface. If you have a moment, could you explain briefly why? (I don't doubt that they do, I'd just like to understand. Maybe I'm overlooking the benefits.)

To answer your question, I'd be thrilled with just a simple toggle choice,  similar to the one in Snagit:



Thanks again for the quick response and explanation!

Kathryn
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ChrisM

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THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Information is key. Up until now all I would see is "we are working on it". But your explanation is excellent. Thank you.

I have been a user for over a decade and I just want to feel like opinions matter to TS. This post from Brooks is a huge step in the right direction.

I too am in software development. I absolutely understand that UI changes can be very, very tricky. We just revamped our interface after 30 years. Yep, you read that right, 30 years. The only way we weren't inundated with crabby users complaining was communication.

To be able to switch between light and dark, like reddit, would be key. It would make me very happy.

Thanks again Brooks for the post. PLEASE keep us updated.

PS - Karyn, thank you for letting me know I am not the only one wishing for Captivate. You are so right about the amount of software in the CC I will never, ever use. I wish Captivate was an option to switch out. But I think you are right. Brooks post (Sorry to talk about you in the third person Brooks) kind of changes things. This seems like a step by TS to include user feedback more in the development road map.
(Edited)
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Donna.Lettow

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Just a reminder to anyone reading this who is a federal or state government employee:  This product violates the Section 508 accessibility standards,  which require software and applications purchased by any entity receiving federal funding to have a minimum color contrast ratio of 4.5.   (These are also the same standards used in Canada, UK, EU and Australia.)
https://webaim.org/articles/contrast/

Still hoping for a day when I can legally upgrade from Camtasia 7.
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Brooks, Camtasia Technical Product Manager

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Hey Donna, if you have examples of UI contrast not meeting WCAG guidelines please reach out to me via email b [dot] andrus [at] techsmith [dot] com. I'll pass them on to our UX team. My understanding is the adjustments we made brought Camtasia into AA compliance with that standard.
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Donna.Lettow

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By the way, for other people in conversation, I did as Brooks asked when he asked, and have heard only crickets in return.
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Andy, Senior User Experience Designer

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Official Response
Hey folks,

I’m one of the UX designers on Camtasia. I have been working on some UI color changes that are focused on addressing some issues in this thread and I would love to get your feedback! This will require you to be able to install a version of Camtasia (Windows only) and submit some feedback in a survey.

If you are interested in participating please fill out this short form: https://forms.gle/TGXuh5DcFeLiVnjw6

Thanks!
Andy
(Edited)
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Rick Stone

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Curious about folks having issues with the NDA.

Does that mean some aspect of the NDA page isn't working for you or just that you have philosophical issues with signing it?
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mary.peek

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I would love to participate but I do my work on a Mac. I do have a home computer that's windows which I could use. Do you provide a separate Windows version that I could install without a license for that?
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lynette2003biz

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I had forgotten about it, but filled out the form this morning; have not heard back yet. I certainly want to be a part of this! thank you
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director

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I signed the NDA and agreed to participate 5 days ago. Hope this gets going ASAP!
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Andy, Senior User Experience Designer

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Just a quick update on the study. We are going to be getting it started next week, we just need to squash a few crash bugs in the test build and finalize the survey. I’m also hoping to get a few more people in in the study, if possible. Thank you to all of those that have signed up!

Andy
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director

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FINALLY! I’m so glad to see some positive, “we’re-gonna-do-something-about-this” feedback.

Brooks’ explanation was super helpful. I’m absolutely in favor of a lighter interface you can toggle on/off like in SnagIt. That sounds PERFECT (providing that the lighter interface is light enough). This should have been done a long time ago. (And begs the question, if you can do it in SnagIt, why not in Camtasia?? I never understood that.)

I’m willing to help provide feedback. I’ve signed the NDA and submitted my info.

Thanks,
Michelle
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Kathryn Carruthers

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I don't remember being asked about whether I prefer a dark background. Maybe the question was unreadable by anyone who doesn't find it useful? Anyway, if more folks who hate this chime in, will it get fixed sooner? I'm happy to try to find more people to put a note here (to join the numbers who've bothered to ask here over the past few years).
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Dan Bayn

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I just updated to Camtasia 2019 and the first thing I did was try to find a way to change to a light background.  Unless I missed something, it doesn't look like this discussion resulted in a lighter option for this release. If I did miss it, please point me in the right direction.
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Joe Morgan

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You missed nothing, there is no light UI options.
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director

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As Joe said, there is no such option. TechSmith doesn’t care how this affects their customers and ignored the requests. :(
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Thomas W. Shinder MD

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Sadly, they already have your money. This is the reason why I have no upgraded and sought out and found alternative solutions.
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Bret Sutton

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Well, phoo.  I've used Camtasia for at least 12 years, and Snagit for almost 20.  Just upgraded Camtasia from v.8.  I'll use it, but I'm wondering whether the upgrade was a mistake.  The dark mode really grates on me.  Andy, are you still there?  What was the outcome of the UX study from last spring?
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Muscle Whisperer

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If anybody from the TechSmith team is still monitoring this thread

David D, Technical Product Manager - Camtasia
Andy, Senior User Experience Designer
Brooks, Camtasia Technical Product Manager

I would really like to know whether any more thought has been given to providing a UI option. As requested above by your team I would like to tone down my vehemence, frustration, anger, flaming , etc so that you will pay attention to our plight.
There are many people (including myself, medical educator, age 69) who are having difficulty with Camtasia 2019 because of the decreased contrast, and even the default editing color choices (not long ago I discovered that your "white" font is really light gray).
It would be nice to know that this issue has not been forgotten or shelved by the design team.
And it would be really nice to have someone respond to the people on this thread. Brooks, are you still reading the thread? How is the bad taste in your mouth? (your post from 11 months ago)
I have noticed no change in UI colors in any of the v.2019 product.
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davemillman

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(I just came back to see if I was being too harsh on Brooks. Yea, it's harsh. But it's true. Sorry.)
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ChrisM

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One more pile on...wasn’t it posted here that they hired some accessibility expert from Michigan State or Michigan U (same thing)?? It was either a lie or that person dropped the ball, according to the non- compliance issues in the above post.

This, on top of a total blow-off excuse why they can’t put a “silence audio” button in. TechSmith has proven they will tell us whatever it takes to calm us down.

Brooks and whoever else is listening. As soon as an alternative come to market, you won’t have to worry about this thread anymore. I promise.
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kayakman, Champion

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ChrisM

just curious ...

there are already at least 4 ways to silence audio in the Camtasia editor

how would a "silence audio" button help?
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Bret Sutton

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@ChrisM -- I went to Michigan State and University of Michigan.  They're definitely not the same thing.  Never heard of Michigan U.
@Brooks -- I'm one of those old farts that davemillman wants to find for testing.  Just in case you get another round going. 
@kayakman -- At least 4 ways?  Although it would be a diversion from the subject of this thread, it would be edifying to know what they are.

How hard would it be to have colors for everything table-driven and totally selectable by the user?  I've used software that's done that -- don't ask me what precisely:  it's been some years ago and it's not in my current stable.  Selectable fonts would be cool, too, but then you run into fonts that just don't fit -- which just means that the user won't -- or shouldn't -- select them. 
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kayakman, Champion

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How To Silence Audio In Camtasia Project 2020-02-16
https://www.screencast.com/t/4ms0prXb

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Joe Morgan

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The contrast could be better among other things.

I created a mock up replacing all of the fonts and timecode.
I used a font thats more legible than the ones currently used.

I posted it here.........https://feedback.techsmith.com/techsmith/topics/ive-created-a-camtasia-ui-with-increased-legibility-...

Regards,Joe


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davemillman

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Joe, we love you because sometimes you just go out and try a solution instead of complaining about the problem (like the rest of us). Nicely done!
(Edited)
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David Bookbinder

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@Brooks,

I'm among those who find the low-contrast UI and crowded, small text difficult to use. It occurs to me that your response...

" I can tell you that In the 18 months I’ve been leading the product the only places I see / hear feedback about this are in this thread. Doesn’t mean I don’t listen or empathize, but it does give me perspective about the problems people are having and what folks are asking for."

... is essentially like telling a person in a wheelchair, "I can empathize with your problem, but the ONLY people I hear complaining about the stairs and the lack of a handicapped-accessible toilet are handicapped people, and really, EVERYBODY ELSE either likes our toilets and stairs just the way we are, or doesn't complain about them."

I'm sure that wasn't your intention, but that is the effect. There are laws that make buildings put in ramps, elevators, and handicapped-accessible toilets for a reason. The people here are complaining for a reason, too.

Really, how hard would it be to implement a more readable, lighter-colored font, at least as a step in the right direction? 

David
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Muscle Whisperer

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David, to reinforce your point, this thread is three years old and not resolved, with 83 posts.
What statistics do they use before deciding that something is in need of attention?
@Brooks, we need a more considered answer!
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Brooks, Camtasia Technical Product Manager

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I can tell you that since the release there has been action taken since the launch of this thread:

- UX research test commissioned / executed.
- March 2018 contrast of editor UI active state fonts brought into compliance with industry standards on Windows. Some color adjustments to buttons an other UI elements made.
- Spring 2019 contrast of editor UI active states and buttons adjusted on Mac (Mac had not made changes in March 2018).
- Spring / Summer 2019 research into lighter gray color with results suggesting it would not go far enough to make folks who care about chrome color happy. Decision was made to not move forward with UI chrome color changes.

I said in my last week that I support additional incremental changes starting with increasing font contrast in the UI further. I'll be pushing for additional incremental changes as we move forward.

Brooks
Camtasia Technical Product Manager
Mobile Technical Product Manager
TechSmith
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Mal Reynolds

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> I said in my last week that I support additional incremental changes starting with increasing font contrast in the UI further. I'll be pushing for additional incremental changes as we move forward.

You did. And I don't think that you were given enough credit for that.

It's this part... which has come up in one form or another before and which in fairness isn't down to you, that has just left me shaking my head with my jaw hanging:

> Spring / Summer 2019 research into lighter gray color with results suggesting it would not go far enough to make folks who care about chrome color happy. Decision was made to not move forward with UI chrome color changes.


This, to me, is Microsoft or Apple-Think. It means that there are one or more people in the development team who are sitting there obstinately thumping their fists on the desk and saying "NO! Customers don't know how to program. WE know what The One Right Way is! Grey text looks fresh and kewl, and we will NOT change it! We use the product for 5 minutes a week, and if it's fine for us then it should be fine for someone who needs to work on it for 4 to 8 hours per day!"

Am I for one angry about that? I was at one time (about this and some other issues) because it was making my work day more problematic than it needed to be, but as I've said previously I've largely jumped ship to Davinci Resolve. It's this mindset that helped with the decision to do that. I had come to the realisation that Camtasia was never going to be what I needed it to be, so for the most part I walked.

I'm still on maintenance with Camtasia because (a) The price is reasonable, (b) I still harbour a lot of goodwill toward Techsmith despite, not because of, developer attitudes like the one on display over this subject and (c) if I need something quickly and it doesn't have to look great, it's often faster to do it in Camtasia.

I therefore don't (at this point) register as being a lost customer. But here's a thought for your development team to chew on. In Australia there is a car company called Holden, whose roots stretch back into the 19th century. 40 years ago it was far and away the dominant player in the market.

It was shut down today.

I heard one of the managers on the radio as I was driving home. "We tried every plan we could", he said. Every plan except one, I would suggest; making cars that people actually wanted to buy. And it's for cossing sure that all of their cars were "in compliance with industry standards". If a company complies with industry standards but fails to give the customers what they need and want, well... the consequences of that are worth mulling over at the next TS round table, I would suggest.

That's my $0.02, aside from a personal thanks for being willing to engage with the community, despite the brickbats.
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David Bookbinder

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@Mal Reynolds,

How difficult did you find it to switch from Camtasia to DaVinci Resolve? I've been looking for alternatives to Camtasia and am considering making the same move.

Thanks,
David
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Mal Reynolds

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Hi David,

 

One thing that I should be really clear about is that Davinci Resolve is an editor only. It's NOT a direct replacement for Camtasia since it lacks a recorder. For that I mostly use OBS these days, though increasingly I'm working with live action video as well.

 

As an aside, that also means that the recordings don't track the cursor the way Camtasia trec recordings do. For me that has never been an issue because (a) I've tried SmartFocus before. Ain't doing THAT again. (That may be a bit unfair. I'm sure it has its uses, but I prefer to manually regulate the part of the screen that I'm highlighting. SmartFocus never got it "right", in the sense of "what I wanted".) And (b) to me the yellow highlight dot that you can attach to the cursor head looks painfully amateurish, and I never use it.

 

It's a change that I wouldn't necessarily recommend for casual users. Camtasia is IMHO the most intuitive, easiest to use screen recording / video production software out there, or at least one of them. And certainly it's far more cost effective than the "Which nostril would you like to pay through?" Captivate from Adobe. (I haven't used Captivate for a lot of versions, but at the time I was using both and thought that Camtasia was the better software as well.)

 

For me, where Camtasia failed badly was as I progressed through the power user level where it just wasn't cutting it. No JKL editing, no multiple playback speeds in editor (and no, applying clip speeds is NOT a solution), no scripting, amateurish looking stretchy-squishy fonts and graphic objects, and the audio, oh gods the audio...

 

I would say that it took me only a couple of weeks to get up to speed with Davinci. I found it to be pretty intuitive as well though you have to be prepared to open your mind to look at its way of working, especially with the animation / compositing tool called Fusion. It uses a node-based rather than a layer based approach. Some people who are used to the latter find it difficult to grasp, but really if you watch the training videos and are prepared to let go of existing ways of thinking, nodes become quite instinctive.

 

I had attempted to learn (and struggled with) Premiere Pro in past years, in part because of a UI design which seemed to be built around the concept of "So if you remember that there's this two pixel wide toggle here, you'll find that there is a button which doesn't really look like anything that will do this obscure thing". As for After Effects... {eye roll}. These days I detest Adobe because of their "our hand in your pocket for life" payment model and have kicked most of their products to the kerb (and will kick Photoshop to the same place when I'm comfortable enough with Affinity) but even leaving that aside I found Davinci to be much, much easier to really get to perform compared to the Adobe options.

 

"EasiER" does not necessarily mean "easy", though. It's a move that you would need to be serious about. With the amount of video production that I do these days, it was well worth it especially after I took the time to set up standardised Fusion animations and so on. I haven't yet gotten my head around Fairlight and still do my audio editing in Audacity... but that's mainly because I was pretty much forced to get well familiar with Audacity from my Camtasia days because {cough} it's not like I had much of a choice, back then.

 

For someone who might do a couple of videos a month on the other hand, the move would probably be overkill. I f you do a video, not do one for 3 months, then come back to do another one, it will probably be easier to get back up to speed in Camtasia than in a power product like Davinci.

 

I'm not going to stand in TS's forums and promote another product, but equally I'm not going to stand here and uncritically sing their praises and say "No siree, nothing wrong with Camtasia, there are WORKAROUNDS for that, praise Techsmith", in part because that role is already filled. It's AN option, but there will still be cases where Camtasia is a better one, despite its limitations. Techsmith's problem will be if someone (and I have a couple of names in mind) notices those limitations and sees an opportunity.

 

THAT is why the customer, not the "industry standards", needs to be king.
(Edited)
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David Bookbinder

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Hi, Mal. Thanks for such a detailed reply! 

My thinking is that I'll take the time to learn DaVinci's model once I've finished my current project, an online course with about 60 short videos, which should be in a couple of months. Camtasia is my first video editor, and although it is well-suited to the kinds of videos I'm planning to do, it has not been stable, and there are limitations I'm not happy about. I don't do much screen recording, so if I need to do that, I still have Camtasia to do that with.

I have no idea what a "node" is, whereas layers were a familiar concept from Photoshop, but I don't have a problem with learning new concepts and new tools, and I'd rather not have to struggle with weird crashes and workarounds when I begin my next course. I'm also planning to expand beyond course making, so I want to be using an editor that will follow me wherever I need to go without, as you say, constantly having to find workarounds.

Thanks again for your thoughtful response,

David