An Interview with Tony Dunckel
Interviewed By: Geetesh Bajaj
Last Updated: March 5th 2009
Tony Dunckel is a Product Marketing Manager
at TechSmith Corporation, a multimedia software company based
in Michigan. TechSmith, founded in 1987, focuses on enabling users
to capture images and activity from Windows desktops, including animation,
graphics, text and video, and enhance the captured material with
special effects,narration and a variety of multimedia features.
The company's flagship products are SnagIt, Camtasia Studio and EnSharpen.
Their software products increase business productivity and enrich
personal computing by helping users to communicate, teach and demonstrate
complex ideas and subtle points visually, rather than through words
Geetesh: Tell me how SnagIt is placed in the screen capture market, and about its past and future?
Tony: TechSmith's SnagIt has become an industry standard in screen capture technology. Before SnagIt's commercial introduction in 1991, it was first used as an internal tool to help with TechSmith's own technical documentation. Upon its introduction into the marketplace, users of all types began to immediately see the benefit of capturing content to share, save, edit - you name it. Over the course of the past 12 years, SnagIt has joined the desktops of over 7 million customers and has become an indispensable tool for PC users worldwide.
TechSmith's philosophy has been to lead through product innovation, which means providing continual enhancements and new features for its customer base. Just as SnagIt's past has reflected that strategy, so will its future. As enhanced multimedia and imaging technologies emerge, TechSmith will look to create opportunities for users to capture and use that content even better than before.
Geetesh: Can you explain how SnagIt helps people incorporate the two worlds of screenshots and presentations?
Tony: When you look at the different types of learners, visual comprehension is an essential component of almost all of them. The fact is people remember what they see longer than what they hear, and putting those words and pictures together makes for a lasting impression. To that point, using SnagIt to add screenshots, images, logos, and many other media types to PowerPoint presentations helps create that perfect balance between visual and non-visual communication.
SnagIt provides a multitude of ways in which people can capture different shapes and formats of media on their computers, from images of windows, menus, scrolling windows, icons and objects to text, video, Web sites, and even printed output. The flexibility these various options offer enables users to capture whatever content complements the presentation's message.
SnagIt has also enhanced the integration of screenshots into presentations by including an add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint. This add-in, which resides directly on a user's PowerPoint toolbar, provides the most important capture options to users and allows them to capture images and automatically embed them into PowerPoint with just a single mouse click. SnagIt will even allow users to specify if the image capture should be inserted as a graphic within an existing slide or to start a new slide, with all the common slide types available. And for those that have had difficulty turning a screen capture image into a complete slide, SnagIt offers a handy feature that will take an image and stretch it to fit the entire slide. The goal of adding these conveniences has been to create better integration between the screen capture process and presentation authoring.
Geetesh: How did the SnagIt add-in for PowerPoint evolve - also, are you looking at any enhancements in the SnagIt - PowerPoint interaction?
Tony: Funny story actually we redesigned SnagIt's COM Server to be more robust so that customers could programmatically control SnagIt from other applications. Later when we were evaluating ways to streamline the process between screen capture and presentations, we realized we could use our own technology to integrate with PowerPoint and the rest of the Microsoft Office applications. Since then, we've built a multitude of features into the SnagIt add-in for PowerPoint, creating a seamless tie between SnagIt and powerful presentations.
As for future development with our add-in, we are always looking through the telescope for new developments on the horizon in the presentation market. As new innovations and imaging technologies advance, so will SnagIt's ability to capture and use those media sources.
As for specific new features, we can't pre-announce future releases or features in our software, but I can assure you we are constantly analyzing the following two questions:
- How can we make the integration of screenshots and presentations easy and intuitive?
- How can we help PowerPoint users take advantage of the media outlets available to them for making more captivating and informative presentations?
Geetesh: If anyone has a request for a new SnagIt feature, how can they get in touch with the people at TechSmith?
Tony: We are always interested in hearing new ideas and concepts regarding screen capture concepts. In fact, many of SnagIt's features and enhancements have come directly from user suggestions. For individuals that have requests or ideas for SnagIt, there are a few ways to contact TechSmith. First, we have a feature request page on our Web site, located at www.techsmith.com/products/feedback.asp. This sends an e-mail directly to SnagIt's product management team. Secondly, users can contact our technical support department electronically via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if they wish to explain the request in person, they can phone us at 1.800.517.3001 or at 1.517.381.2300.
For an even easier option, users can send feature suggestions from directly within the software - from the Support option in SnagIt's Help menu. In addition to those traditional models, we also exhibit at numerous tradeshows and conferences and look to those events as opportunities to talk to current and potential customers about how to continually improve our products.
Geetesh: How do you collaborate with Microsoft
Tony: As a certified Microsoft Partner, we are in communication with them on new developments and new technologies. As a participant in their Windows Logo program, we also have our products certified by Microsoft to ensure they are optimized with their own applications and operating system. In addition to those channels of collaboration, we send representatives to Microsoft's Development Conference each year to learn about upcoming developments on the horizon.
This year's conference was dedicated to Longhorn, Microsoft's future operating system, which provided us insight towards that new level of technology.
On a more individual basis, we keep in contact with various Microsoft representatives including their development staff, Product Managers, Regional Directors, and Microsoft's MVPs. By staying up to date through these essential channels, we are able to keep SnagIt in stride with the latest in graphic and media technology.
Geetesh: Would you like to share some trivia about an unconventional use of SnagIt?
Tony: I would love to share some creative uses of SnagIt. We routinely receive messages from customers that demonstrate ingenious ways in which they are employing SnagIt to capture content from PCs and the Internet. As I said before, SnagIt is a utility product that provides an abundance of uses to a variety of audiences. To demonstrate some of the rather unique capture ideas, I'd like to share my top 5:
- A company, which specializes in class reunions, digitizes old yearbooks
and puts them on CD. From the CD, they use SnagIt to create personalized
nametags for class reunion
attendees by capturing the person's class picture and their associated name.
- An office worker individual was using a Web cam to monitor the furnace
control in his home. SnagIt was set to take timed captures every 30 minutes
of the furnace control and report it to the person's computer at work. Because
he had a serial connection to his furnace, he could remotely program the
temperature in his house from his office at work.
- A library contacted us to share how they had integrated SnagIt into their
software with SnagIt's COM Server. This way, they can use SnagIt's text capture
feature to automatically capture and import the title and description of
media sources as they process them to create electronic indexes.
- Many law enforcement units around the country use SnagIt to capture digital
and online criminal evidence. They then use the images in computer forensic
investigations and courtroom reports.
- A company uses SnagIt to capture images from a super electron microscope
using microscopy applications, and then uses the images inside image analysis
Geetesh: Do you use SnagIt - how do you use it.
Tony: Honestly, I use SnagIt almost hourly. That's the great thing about a useful utility product - you can always find ways to use it to make things easier. In the office, the ways I use SnagIt are really endless and although my profession calls for the use of numerous screen captures, I've found just as many ways to use the product in my personal life. To show you how integral it is, I've broken down how I use SnagIt into a bit of a timeline:
- Reading e-mail, I capture important articles I find in newsletters and ezines and share them with the staff.
- While monitoring our Web content, I capture areas that may contain typos or need slight changes and mock them up in SnagIt's image editor. Then I send to the Web staff as an attachment in an e-mail.
- I capture graphics, logos, and even special charts from Microsoft Visio or Project to implement them into PowerPoint presentations I am creating.
- While creating sales reports, I will capture data that cannot be copied from our reporting system and embed that content directly into Microsoft Excel for easier manipulation.
- I capture images of SnagIt itself and use its editor to demonstrate new design ideas.
- I capture screenshots of important content from webinars I participate in - especially since that information is gone once the presenter changes slides.
- If I find bugs while testing software, I use SnagIt to capture the error messages and send them on to our Quality Assurance department.
- When doing competitive research, I will capture images of competitor's banners, promotions, and even pricing to enable me to keep an electronic library of my competition's marketing activities.
- I use SnagIt to capture receipts of online purchases.
- I snap pictures of items I may be bidding on in online auctions.
- While on mapping sites, I capture an image of the directions.
- I use it to edit and organize photos from my digital camera.
- I can create visual shopping lists of items I need or want.
This is certainly just a sampling of the ways I routinely use SnagIt, but it provides a flavor of the diverse ways in which SnagIt helps me do tasks that would be otherwise impossible - and makes communication with colleagues and within presentations clearer than ever.