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Toolbox Tip: Screen Capturing: Storyline vs. Captivate

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Wed Apr 03 2013

Toolbox Tip: Screen Capturing: Storyline vs. Captivate
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I'm regularly asked about the differences between doing screen recordings (a.k.a. screencasts, computer simulations, and so forth) in Adobe Captivate versus Articulate Storyline.  For the most part, they are extremely similar, but there are a few key differences. 

Let's look first at the similarities:

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  • Both tools let you record what you are doing on your desktop in several modes: full-motion video, animated slide demonstration, try-it-yourself practice, or graded quiz.

  • Both tools let you record audio while you capture the procedures or add it later.

  • Both tools let you add other elements to the slide, such as captions, highlight boxes, or images.

So where are the major differences?  In my (highly subjective) opinion, each of the tools has a few features that are advantageous over the other. 

Advantage Captivate:

I prefer not to record my audio while I am capturing—it requires a level of physical and verbal coordination that I simply don't possess!  So, I record my audio separately and then import it.  In Captivate, I can import a single audio file for a 30-slide procedure and then use sliders to distribute the audio across the 30 slides.  With Storyline, I have to turn that audio into 30 different audio files and import them individually.

Advantage Storyline:

At least once or twice per procedure, I end up with something on screen that I don't want, such as a tooltip showing up where it shouldn’t.  I've spent countless hours covering up the problem when working in Captivate.  But in Storyline, I can use the “Action Fine Tuning” feature to go back to the underlying full-motion recording and back up or fast forward to a frame where the tooltip isn’t showing and pull that image into my demonstration instead. 

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Advantage Captivate:

Getting back to my motor skills challenges, it's not uncommon to make a typing mistake while capturing.  Sometimes I don’t notice until it is really too late to start over.  In Captivate, I can convert typing into a text animation—one that I can then edit to say whatever I want.

Advantage Storyline:

Software applications seem to be taking up more and more real estate, but with smaller and smaller type.  That can make the simulations in your course hard to see by users.  Storyline has a very nice “pan-and-zoom” feature that lets you zoom in on a specific part of the application and then pan over to another part.  (Captivate does have a zoom feature, but it is not as smooth as Storyline’s.)

You can create effective demonstrations and practices with both tools without a lot of time or effort.  So which is the right one for you?  It depends on which of these features might matter more to you. What screen capture features do you like best in each of the tools?

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