Record the screen with capture profiles, save sessions as projects and publish them to desired output


Our rating: 


Pros & Cons:

A lot of functionality; ability to save sessions as Projects to be returned to later; editing interface for adding text, thought bubbles and the like; ability to export to AVI, WMV, MP4, and WebM.
Editor difficult to use because users cannot link together all the individual slides that ActivePresenter creates; Smart Capture mode is a promising idea, but poorly executed; Watermarking on export in the free version.

Our Review:

ActivePresenter ("AP") by Atomi Systems comes in both Free, Standard and Professional editions. Happily in this case, enough goodies were left standing in the Free version to make ActivePresenter the Editors' Choice.

When you start a Capture, or start up a Project (which you can save for later editing), AP offers you several "Capture Profiles" to choose from. A "Capture Profile" is the group of all video and audio and cursor and hotkey and annotation settings. These Capture Profiles can be edited, or you can create new ones to save and re-use. This is unique among the software reviewed here. Another unique feature of ActivePresenter is the ability for the user to work in "Smart Capture" mode, wherein not all the screen frames are captured; capture takes place when you click the mouse or type on the keyboard. AP intelligently stitches together the movements of the mouse and streams audio on top. You can also choose to run in standard Full Motion Recording mode.

Some other highlights of the software's capabilities include: pan along with the mouse, zoom-and-pan a region, set the frame rate and key frame rate for the video, set the Sample Rate for the audio, highlight the cursor to make it easier to follow, and auto-annotation, where AP inserts call-outs for you, complete with a description.

The editing window is much like you see in mid-level A/V editing software such as Pinnacle Studio: a Canvas section, a Timeline running the length of the bottom, a Resources window for add-ins, and a long list of buttons in the toolbars. When you record in Smart Capture mode, the multiple thumbnails show up in the Slides area. One strange and inconvenient issue is that you can't add all the slides to the Timeline at once. In fact, you can only edit one slide at a time. This makes editing difficult. You only get to see the finished, stitched-together product when you export. Further, very unfortunately, AP does a poor job of stitching all the Smart Capture elements together when you do export, leaving you with a jerky, out of sync recording. As a result, I do not recommend using Smart Capture mode, and recommend sticking with Full Motion Recording (which does not give you the ability to add annotations).

You can export to a variety of formats, including AVI, WMV, MP4 and WebM but they're watermarked in the Free version.

The software is well organized, and all the key settings are easy to find. As long as you stick with Full Motion Record mode you'll be all set.

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