Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Screencast Options for Windows

One of the best ways of explaining a process on your computer is through a short video tutorial called a screencast. Software records what is on your screen and makes a video that you can post almost anywhere for your students to watch, such as YouTube. You will find examples at: http://www.youtube.com/trainerob 

The best software to do this on Windows is Camtasia. But at a cost of $179 per teacher, it is not the cheapest. I wanted to share with you a few resources I have found that have a price tag of free to let you give it a try.

As the name implies, this product looks easy. It is new so I couldn’t find much out on how well it works.

CamStudio is entirely free, though they ask for donations, and allows you to create robust screencasts without much trouble.

Features that you’ll find useful in CamStudio:

• Screencast your entire screen, a specific region of your screen, or a particular window.
• Autopan will cause the screen capture to follow your mouse.
• Cursor highlight for when you want the viewer to track your mouse.
• Capable of recording system sound and microphone.
• Screen annotations in various stylings.

Open Broadcaster Software, commonly known as OBS, is the absolute best screencasting and streaming tool when it comes to free.

Features that you’ll find useful in OBS:

• Add image and text overlays to your video output.
• Multiple sources for picture-in-picture (such as putting your webcam in the corner while the rest of the output sources from your screen).
• Multiple scene layouts so you can transition back and forth easily.

For screencasting novices, the learning curve will be rather steep. Once you’ve got it set up, OBS is a breeze to use.

Screencast-O-Matic is a quick and easy solution for casting your screen if you don’t want to mess with loads of settings and setup. It’s web-based so as long as you have Java installed you can begin recording your screen with a single click. If you prefer a desktop version, Screencast-O-Matic has that too and it’s just as simple to use.

Features that you’ll find useful in Screencast-O-Matic:

• Free video hosting for those made with Screencast-O-Matic (15-minute limit).
• Capable of recording screen OR screen and webcam, but not webcam only (Pro).
• Supports MP4, AVI, and FLV formats.
• Can publish directly to YouTube.
It’s too bad that the free version is capped at 15-minute recording segments, has a small watermark, and doesn’t record system audio (only microphone). For $15, you can get a 1-year Pro subscription which enables the following features:

• No recording time limit.
• Removes the watermark when publishing.
• Allows for webcam-only recording.
• Zoom and draw while recording.
• Can publish directly to Google Drive, Vimeo, and more.

Hope this is useful. Look for a future post when I select the best free tool. Feel free to let me know what you think as well.

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