Video screen capture is a great tool if you want to show how to use a program, demo a web site or quite simply show how something is done. It is often a much more effective way of showing people than simply writing it down in text. Nowadays it is also quite easy to create a video recording. The only thing you need is a video screen capture program and a microphone if you want to record audio to your screen recording. So what program to use? Let us start with the commercial programs and then move on to some free alternatives.
Adobe Captivate 3 is a powerful and simple to use program. Besides from the mandatory features like recording screen and audio and saving the file to flash video you can add interactivity to your screen recording. For example adding a quiz or asking the user to perform some kind of action and select what to show for the rest of the presentation based on what the user did. Adobe captivate is available free to try for 30 days and the price varies but is generally set around $1000.
TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio is also quite easy to use and I would say as powerful as Captivate. The program lets you do the usual recording and editing. It can export to Flash and a whole range of other formats. One of its more interesting features is a smart focus. The program can automatically zoom in and out from your cursor to capture what is happening without having to record your entire desktop and without you having to do anything. I had problems using my microphone with the program. It seems it only works with usb microphones, something worth knowing. TechSmith also have a video sharing site called screencast that is supported right from Camtasia, you can share your videos right when they are completed. Camtasia studio is available free to try for 30 days and costs $300.
So now lets move on to the free alternatives.
Jing project is a free alternative from TechSmith the people behind Camtasia. The idea behind Jing is to have a screencast and screenshot application always in reach. The program makes it really simply to record what you do in programs, capture screenshots and share the result. On the top of your desktop Jing shows a small transparent globe and as you move your mouse above it you can reach the recorder. Among the alternatives I have tested here Jing is without any doubt the most user friendly program and the fastest if you just want a quick screen recording. This is great if you want to explain something on your screen quickly. The downside with Jing is that you can not edit the results and there is no way to add annotations. The program only saves to swf. Even if you have one of the more expensive programs you should try Jing. It really fills a different purpose from more traditional screen recording software. Jing is my personal choice for quick recordings.
Wink is totally free screen recording software with almost all features of Camtasia and Captivate. The user interface is less flashy than the commercial programs but it has almost all the features of the other programs. The only problem with it I have found is that it does not support export to other formats besides Flash, swf.
Camstudio is free and just about as simple as it gets. You record the screen with video and save it as a video file. Nothing fancy you record to avi files and then there is a program to convert the finished avi to flash format. As with the other programs you can add text on top of the video in addition to recorded sound.
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