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Adobe Captivate 2 Product Review

Online and in-house video training is becoming a staple for businesses, universities, government and other organizations that have realized that producing their own training materials is more cost-effective than hiring someone from the outside. A few years ago, I made my first training video for the company I was working for at that time. I demonstrated a simple process for adding information into the company database via an input form. Well, I can tell you that it took me a long time to create that simple training demo. It didn't have audio, special effects or interactive elements. It only contained screenshots and text captions. Yet, it was a major job and very time consuming to manually capture each screenshot and then add the text captions one at a time.

If I could use AdobeR CaptivateTM to create that same training video today, it would only take a few minutes. Captivate would automatically capture the screenshots as I use my mouse or keyboard and then add the text captions for me. It even knows what text to put inside the captions based on my mouse movements. For example, if I click File and then New from the Menubar, Captivate will record the mouse movements, convert them into a Flash-based simulation and add text captions saying "Select the File Menu" and "Select New". Also, if the text captions are not just what I want, I can customize them to meet my needs. That would save me a lot of time in comparison to my old method. Multiply that by each step that you wish to demonstrate and you have saved quite a lot of time.

Captivate is a very user-friendly and flexible software for automating the creation of training demonstrations and simulations. For simple projects like the one I had to create, Captivate has prebuild templates and wizards that you can customize fully. These templates are quite similar to those that you are familiar with from MicrosoftR Word or Adobe InDesignR. The title, animations and e learning components are in place and ready to use. All you need to do is replace the generic title, images and so forth with your own. On the other hand, Captivate is a robust application which gives you complete control over every aspect of your project. For a fully customized project, you can add audio narration, background music, sound effects, picture-in-picture video, animations and hyperlinks. For e learning projects you can add interactive components such as buttons and text input boxes and special effects such as Zoom In and Gray Out to draw attention to specific areas on the slide. One nice feature new to the latest version, is the "green screen" video effect you can get by using alpha channels with your Flash video.

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AdobeR product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Adobe Systems Incorporated. AdobeR PhotoshopR, PhotoshopR AlbumTM, PhotoshopR Elements, IllustratorR, InDesignR, GoLiveR, AcrobatR, CueR, PremiereR Elements, Bridge, DreamweaverR, FlashR, ActionScriptR, FireworksR, ContributeTM, CaptivateTM and FlashPaperTM are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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