I’ve tried several different screen capture solutions over the years.Â It’s hard to beat the ease of hitting print screen on the keyboard, however, this has limited capabilities and uses.Â For those who didn’t know what that button is for, when you press it…Â It takes a “screen-shot”, or a picture (for lack of a better term), of your screen and copies it to the clipboard (if you don’t know about the clipboard… Well, we need to talk).Â This allows you to paste that picture into any program that will accept it.Â I usually paste it into an email or into Photoshop to draw arrows and notes on it to send to folks at work.Â It’s great to show someone how to do something.Â Oh, and here’s a freebie…Â Hold down ALT+Print Screen and it will screenshot the active window only.Â Great for creating smaller windows to paste into an email without resizing your screen resolution.Â
But what about the times when you need to send someone a video of what you doing.Â For tasks that require multiple steps its very time consuming to create a demo from screenshots alone.Â And it usually entails typing pages of instructions to go with your pictures.Â So, wouldn’t it be great if you could just video your computer screen and do a voice over?Â Truth be told, this type of software has been around a long, long time…Â But you know something, there still isn’t a great free option!Â It’s annoying.Â I need to do a video like this every once in a while, not nearly often enough to warrant a $200-$300 piece of software like the “video-professors” (I know you’ve seen the info-mercials) use.Â So, what are my options.Â Below I’m going to through my list of choices.Â I’ve used each of these and I still haven’t picked a favorite.Â I’m hoping writing this will help me choose.Â I’d like to use one of them to make some basic computer demos to post here.Â How-to videos, you know…
Free software as a service…Â Made by TechSmith, who also makes Camtasia Studio, which is a great screen recording software.Â But again, it’s $299.Â Not really what I’m willing to pay at this point.Â Jing, however, is free.Â It records the entire screen.Â No options for zooming or annotation.Â You also cannot disable the microphone that I can tell. The upside of the software is how it integrates with another of TechSmiths products, screencast.com.Â Screencast.com lets you share video.Â Simply.Â With Jing, I capture a full screen video of me doing something, after I have re-sized my screen so it won’t be huge (You’ll see what I mean when you click the link below), when I’m done, I can click share, and Jing uploads my less than 5 minute video to screencast automatically and copies the url to my clipboard.Â I can now, open an email and paste the url of the video to share with whomever needs it.Â Pretty neat.Â It will do stills a well, and it does have some annotation options with stills, but they are no big whoop.Â You have to signup for a free account to use Jing and Screencast (one account, not two).Â
I have to say I’m impressed with this little guy.Â CNET.com also gave it high marks.Â It is made by utipu.com.Â Never heard of these guys, but if a software is available at download.com, I’m confident in installing it.Â This software does what many free software won’t…Â ZOOM!!!Â And it does it live in the recording!Â Just using hotkeys, that you can customize, you can zoom in and out.Â This makes it much easier to see what’s going on. TipCam also has a host of other features.Â The annotation feature I have been looking for… well, I’m still looking, but this one lets you draw on the screen, tele-strator style.Â I might just keep this one.
This one is an open source software available for free.Â It did a great job making Â zoomed in video and following the cursor, just as TipCam did.Â It’s not quite as nice of interface as TipCam and it’s annotation is pretty useless for me.Â But, It’s still better than full screen video capture.
Ok, don’t say it.Â I know this is a very expensive piece of software.Â I only downloaded it and tried it out to see how high the bar should really be set.Â This is a professional level software for screen capture and editing.Â It produces great video with great effects.Â Easy annotations and a familiar interface (At least for me, since I work in Adobe software all the live long day!).Â It cost $300+ retail, but I’m sure they have a volume licensing program or a charity license.Â I’m hoping for some kind of a break, because I really like this software.Â Merry Christmas, Adam!Â Ha! Not really.Â
Window Media Encoder 9:
Let me preface this one by saying, Windows Media Encoder is much more than a screen capture tool.Â It can stream live video the web, capture from external video sources, and a few other things…Â We actually use this free tool as a part of our live webcasting solution at First Baptist Church, coupled with a Windows Media Server for load balancing.Â I’ve been using this one for years to capture and create training video on my computer.Â Again, it’s a free download from Microsoft.Â They have an article on how to use it here (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/howto/articles/screencap.aspx). It takes some getting used to, but it works well.Â It won’t track your cursor, so it is a static full screen capture, but it’s free and works well.Â It has for me for years.Â It only saves files in .wmv, however, which means they have to be converted for the web.Â Something that isn’t an issue with any other software I’ve mentioned.Â I didn’t do a demo using it for this reason.Â It’s alittle cumbersome…Â Thus, my search for a new solution.
After writing this I’d probably have to go with TipCam for ease and quality of making web ready videos.Â If I were going to make a DVD of tutorials, I’d probably have to lay down my money and get Adobe Captivate.Â Sorry for the long boring read, but this has helped me make my choice, at least.Â Maybe it will help someone else, too.Â Sorry for you MAC folks, but I don’t own one, so I didn’t test one.Â I know Camtasia by Tech Smith has a Mac version as well as Adobe Captivate… So be prepared to pay!!