Toolkit: Adobe Captivate 2019 Features Make a Big Difference

Last month I gave an overview of the Adobe Captivate 2019 features and focused on the new Virtual Reality option. This month I will cover six more new features that may make a big difference in how you create your learning.

1. True interactive videos with overlay slide capability

I love how easy and versatile interactive videos are in Captivate 2019. Choose either the new Interactive Video toolbar option or the older Media > Video option (set to Slide Video) and then insert a video from your computer or paste in a YouTube link. See Figure 1.

Interactive video choices in Captivate 2019

Figure 1: Interactive Video Options

You’ll see that above the video on the timeline are two new layers. The first layer lets you set bookmarks in the video and the second lets you choose slides that will overlay the video. Click the timeline at any acpoint and you’ll see two icons appear there. See Figure 2. At each point in time in the video, you can choose to insert a bookmark, an overlay slide, or both. 

New layers above the video on the timeline allow setting bookmarks in the video, and allow choosing slides to overlay the video.

Figure 2: The new Bookmark and Overlay layers

Click the square Bookmark icon, then name your bookmark. See Figure 3. Later, you can jump back to this bookmark at any time—for instance, as the result of the learner answering a knowledge check incorrectly. I’ll show this in a moment. 

Name your bookmark.

Figure 3: Setting a bookmark

If you click the diamond-shaped Overlay icon in the timeline as seen in Figure 2, you’ll be able to choose a slide already on your timeline to act as an overlay. Acceptable overlay slides include all except quiz and video slides, though Knowledge Check slides are fine. When the overlay is reached on the video timeline, the video will pause and blur and the overlay slide will show on top of it. If the overlay slide uses the project background color, that background will be transparent.

Depending on the kind of slide you choose to insert as a video overlay, you have a lot of options as to what happens as a result. For instance, note the three different overlay slides in Figure 4.

Three types of overlay slides

Figure 4: An overlay slide with options, a Knowledge Check overlay slide, and a simple image overlay slide

In the first overlay slide, a Knowledge Check question displays. If the learner answers the question correctly, the question disappears and the video continues. If the learner answers it incorrectly, then the wrong answer feedback is displayed (it’s an option you can turn on or off), after which I’ve set Captivate to jump to a bookmark (see the next paragraph).

In Figure 5 you’ll see that I’ve set the Knowledge Check’s Last Attempt option to Jump to the Bookmark and set the bookmark to How_Bees_Fly (Figure 3). When learners see the feedback and click the slide, they will be brought to the moment in the video where that bookmark is placed. This allows you to repeat a portion of video that learners need to review to answer the question correctly, or jump ahead to another portion of the video.

The actions dialog set to Last Attempt to allow repeating a portion of video to review.

Figure 5: The new action Jump to Bookmark

The second overlay slide shows a picture of a lion and its cub. When it appears, it will show the image for the amount of time to which it’s set on that slide’s timeline, then the video will continue.

In the third, there are simply two star-shaped buttons. The first is named Continue, and in fact its action is set to Continue, so when the overlay timeline ends, the video will continue. The second is named Jump, and its action is set to Go to the next slide, so if the learner clicks it, Captivate will jump to the slide that comes after the video and all its overlay slides, skipping the rest of the video.

You’ll also see the slides you chose as overlays fall beneath the current slide in the timeline. They will be smaller to indicate they are overlay slides, not normal slides. As overlay slides, they are not shown as part of the regular filmstrip, only when called upon by the interactive video. See Figure 6. 

Overlay slides appear below the video slide.

Figure 6: A video slide with overlay slides below 

This may be my favorite new feature in Captivate. There are so many cool ways to use interactive video to help learners grasp material faster and in more engaging ways.

2. CSV question import (in addition to GIFT question import)

Every time I teach a Captivate class or conduct a Captivate tips session, I find that one of the least known features is that of using GIFT-formatted text files to import quiz questions of all types quickly and easily.

Another option that Captivate has offered for years is that of importing questions and question pools from other Captivate files, another big time-saver.

Captivate 2019 has added a third option to import questions, that of using comma-delimited files, which usually use a CSV (comma-separated values) extension. These files are often created in Microsoft Excel, though several other applications also support exporting to a CSV format.

Adobe provides a CSV Question Creation Excel file to make it even easier to create quiz questions to be imported later into Captivate. The following question types are supported: True/False, Multiple choice, Matching, Fill in the Blank and Short answer.

3. Screen recording with webcam with chromakey capabilities

When creating video demos of screens in Captivate 2019, you now have the option to record yourself concurrently through your webcam. This can add a personal touch while narrating the steps to take in the screen recording. In addition, you can use chromakey to make your background disappear and replace it with your own. In Figure 7 you can see the two steps involved. In the first, you select yourself and in the second, you can choose a background to place behind you.

After recording, you can resize the webcam video to any size you wish and you can move it to any location on the stage. See Figure 8.

Using chromakey to replace the background is a two-step process.

Figure 7: Recording a video demo with webcam

Resize the webcam video and place it on the stage where desired.

Figure 8: Webcam video resized and repositioned

The following three features all focus on responsively designed mobile learning.

4. Easier fluid boxes for responsively designed lessons

Fluid boxes were a breakthrough in Captivate 2017, making it easier to create responsively designed lessons that resize more smoothly between different screen resolutions. That being said, Captivate 2019 has added several nice improvements.

  • When you move your cursor over a fluid box, it highlights it, and you’ll also see it highlight in the Fluid Box Selector.
  • When you move your cursor in the Fluid Box Selector, it highlights the line, and you’ll also see it highlight the corresponding fluid box on the stage.
  • The Fluid Box Selector now includes an icon next to each fluid box showing you the flow direction (horizontal or vertical) for that box.
  • The Fluid Box Selector also includes a Delete option for each fluid box, making it simple to know exactly which fluid box you are deleting. See Figure 9.  

Fluid box controls make it easy to see which fluid box you are deleting.

Figure 9: Fluid Box improvements

  • In addition to the improvements above, Captivate 2019 has added the ability to resize fluid boxes numerically, by stage percentage or number of pixels, allowing you more precision now. See Figure 10.

Changing the size of a fluid box is a simple matter of entering percentage or pixel numbers.

Figure 10: Change the size of a fluid box by percentage or pixels

  • There is a new option in the Properties panel that will let you distribute fluid boxes evenly and also the objects in a fluid box evenly. If you choose a parent fluid box, for instance, and click the Distribute Objects Evenly button, it will make each of its children the same height or width fluid box, depending on whether its flow is horizontal or vertical. If you choose one fluid box and click the Distribute Objects Evenly button, it will distribute each of the objects within that fluid box evenly. See Figure 11.

You can distribute Fluid Boxes evenly by height or by width

Figure 11: Setting Fluid Boxes Evenly

  • Finally, Static fluid boxes, which can contain objects that overlap, have been improved. In Captivate 2019, you are not limited to having the static fluid box objects aligned center and middle any longer. You can now choose to align the content of a static fluid box in various ways.

5. PowerPoint to mobile learning

Captivate 2019 now lets you import PowerPoint slides into a responsive project. If you choose to import standard landscape PowerPoint slides, be aware that they will resize but keep their aspect ratio intact, meaning that objects within the PowerPoint slides will not reposition as objects in fluid boxes do. I generally avoid importing PowerPoint slides because I find it easier to recreate them in Captivate, which also gives me more control over each object.

6. Automatic device preview

The Layout preview bar over the stage now has a play button. The same play button can be seen in the Properties panel next to the Wrap option. The Play button will play for you a short movie that illustrates how the fluid boxes will change and flow as the stage becomes narrower and then wider to full width again. It’s a great way to see quickly if you need to make any adjustments to your fluid boxes so that that they will resize and position the way you wish for different resolutions. Try it!

Conclusion

The added features and improvements in Captivate 2019 made it an easy decision for me to upgrade. The two new features of virtual reality and interactive video alone, used judiciously, open a lot of new options to provide better learning experiences to learners. The added features to import CSV questions and the ability to record through the webcam when creating video demos are pretty sweet. Finally, all of the improvements to fluid boxes are very welcome. Did I see all of the features and improvements I wanted in this new version? Of course not, but I can say without a doubt that I’m very happy with this new version.

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