Thank you all for your questions. Here's the first set of responses. Look for the rest over the next few days...
From Cynthia K - file sizes for the two examples you showed - The SWF for the Decimal-Binary Conversion movie was 249K. The SWF for the diaper-changing movie was 2.45 Megs.
From Michael M – …interactivity capabilities of Camtasia vs Captivate? – Overall, I’d say they’re similar. They're both major commercial tools, which usually means they support the same overall set of features and differ in specific areas or capabilities – e.g. they both offer text caption boxes, for example. Check Camtasia’s features at www.techsmith.com/camtasia/enhance.asp for specifics.
From Don W - What is the output format for... Captivate? – There are seven options. I’d say the most common is SWF for the movie, then Print (Word) for producing review copies or handouts. You can also output to Adobe Connect Pro, AVI, EXE, an email attachment with several specific formats, FTP, or a new (in Captivate 4) AIR-based “review” format as a way to move reviews off paper.
From Erin H - can you talk a little bit about how it integrates with other help systems? What things should we be aware of? I woudl like to include movies in online Help (and we use a content management tool for Help). Also, what can be done to minimize file size? – In Flare and RoboHelp, and probably any other tool that lets you insert SWF files, it’s a simple matter to insert a movie into a topic. The problem is that the movie runs automatically every time the user opens that topic, cool at first but wearing thin fast. A better solution is to create a separate topic to hold the movie, then add some link text in the main topic, like “Click here to see a demo” and popup link that text to the help topic that contains the movie. This lets the user decide whether to run the movie. Two points re minimizing the movie files sizes… First, reduce the number of graphics that you insert in the movie. Second, if you’re doing audio narration, do it in one or two takes rather than twenty or thirty to get the audio "just right", since all those takes add up.
From Cynthia K - how many tiers can you branch out to? – As far as I know, there is no technical limit. The only limit may be how many you can keep track of.
From Peter I - can you suggest approach for maintaining captivate movies? For ex., if one screen changes. – I think it depends on the size and nature of the change and its proportion to the overall movie. Overall, there are two main options. Re-shoot the changed material as a new movie, then import its frames into the existing movie and delete the original, now-changed, frames. Or, delete the old slides in the movie and use Cap’s re-record feature ( Insert > Recording Slide). I lean toward the first option because I find it less confusing, but that’s me.
From Susan H - Can we change text to variables after the fact? – You can remove text and replace it with a variable, if that’s what you mean…
From Linda K - may we use the music shipped with Captivate in our movies? are they copyright concerns? – As far as I know, the audio clips that ship with Captivate are freely distributable with no copyright issues, but don’t take my word for this. I'd contact Adobe to check, or else have your legal department do so.
From Susan H - Please confirm that Captivate DOES support double-byte characters. – Per the features page at www.adobe.com/products/captivate/features/, under the Unicode Support heading, it says “Create your content in any language, including double-byte languages, and count on Adobe Captivate to publish it properly thanks to Unicode text encoding”
From Linda K - How to change the default text used in the automatic captions? – Open the appropriate CaptureTextTemplates_
From Erin H - perhaps you could post a short demo of using Captivate on your blog? – I’m going to run a brief (35 minutes) demo on Wednesday. Let me know if you’re interested in sitting in and I’ll send you the connection info.
More to come...