Saturday, September 15, 2012

Graphics Delighters in Captivate 6

I'm honored to present Guest Blogger Shelia L. Mosley's article (and video!) on graphics tools in Captivate 6. Sheila is an experienced instructional designer and Captivate pro. Her LinkedIn profile describes her as a "well versed strategist with a wicked positive attitude and an uncanny ability to think/resolve on the fly." I can vouch for all of that and more.

Five Graphics Delighters in Captivate 6

1. Themes
2. Actors
3. Interactions
4. Smart Art
5. HD Video Capture

Trying to choose just a few improvements in Captivate from version 5.5 to 6 can be daunting. So because I had the pleasure of sitting in on Jack’s breakout session at ASTD’s ACE 2012 where he shared several pieces of evidence that support graphics over text in learning, I decided to limit my discussion to the best graphics improvements. I’ve also included a short video showcasing these pictures, since seeing is not only believing, but learning as well!


The first of these new inclusions are Themes. Similar to PowerPoint, Captivate 6 now has pre-loaded project themes, which include everything: backgrounds, fonts, and a true smorgasbord of placeholder slides. For me, the real power in the Themes feature is that I can create and save my own. At my company, we already have a brand standard for our eLearning. So while the preloaded themes are nice, it’s critical that I be able to make my own themes within Captivate. After watching a three minute video on Adobe TV, I created my first theme within minutes. Although I’m used to starting projects with a blank slide, I must admit the placeholders have been super convenient for embedding video clips quickly.


Since I touched on branding, the next logical (and perhaps the most popular) new feature to discuss is the Actors. There are a total of ten actors and one caricature. Most are donned in business attire, though there are a couple decked out in casual and medical gear as well. There are between forty and fifty poses for each character. It’s great having the same character in so many poses because during long voiceovers you can transition images, changing the actor’s stance while they speak to the audience.

Using actors brings life, personalization, and most importantly, consistency to your project. Another reason I really like the actors is for scenario-based training. The images portray many aspects of emotion, making it easy to develop dramatic scenes in which the customer or employee is upset, angry, confused, suspicious, or happy depending on which path the user ventures down. Lastly, you can easily load your existing images into Captivate 6, sort them however you choose, and create a custom category within the menu for them.


Now that I’ve gone over some of the outer shell stuff, let’s talk about content-specific features! There are three that have most impressed me. My absolute favorites are the new Interactions. Think of a circle process diagram, pyramid matrix, glossary, or timeline, just to name a few. These interactions are widgets that you customize to suit your project. You can change the title bar, add levels, the colors and fonts are customizable, and in some of the interactions, when you click on a piece of the diagram or matrix, you have the option to add a small image and/or an audio clip.

To be fair, I’m still trying to finagle adding audio to an interaction. At this point, I’m not sure if it’s me or if it’s a bug. Hopefully, it’s me. It’s much easier to show off one of these, so be sure to check out the short video I put together.

Smart Art

Yet another cool feature in Captivate 6 is the addition of Smart Art. Truthfully, I was not initially impressed. I didn’t use much Smart Art in PowerPoint, so when I first saw it in Captivate, I dismissed it as clutter. My mistake! Captivate Smart Art really is smart! Its properties allow you to activate it as a button, which means you can then execute simple or advanced actions with it. Genius! Besides that, from a development perspective, I no longer need to create a text box to layer over every shape or image that I need to label. I just click F2 and start typing. For me, this is solely a matter of convenience and time saving. Also, some of the shapes are more relevant to computer-based training, which is nice. But hey, don’t take my word for it! I’ve included a few examples in the video just for you.

HD Video Capture

The last new feature I wanted to mention is recording an HD video demo. Let’s say you want to send someone a short demonstration on how to hit the Reply button in a mass email versus Reply All. Instead of recording a simulation demo, which is click by click and builds out a novel of slides, you can record a real-time HD video of it! Then, you can choose to embed the video to one slide or parse it out over several slides. The video I’ve attached uses this feature and I think you’ll be pretty impressed with the overall quality.

Check it out and feel free to share your thoughts below. Many thanks to Jack for allowing me to pop by and share my experiences with you! Happy learning!