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ScreenCasts – Simple Video Podcasting (and a look at screencast software) January 12, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Screencasting.
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I had a query this week from a faculty member who is going to be travelling for a few weeks this semester and wouldn’t be able to make it to the regular class time. She wanted to keep the students on a regular schedule, and no one else was available to teach. What was my recommendation? Podcasting of course.

She described her regular class to me as her speaking, using slides with a presentation software from her laptop, and occasionally bringing up another screen on her laptop to show examples or type something new (text editing software, browser, etc.). My further recommendation? Screencasting.

A screencast is a recording of your computer screen, with audio voice over, published as a video file. In this case, the professor could sit with her computer in her hotel room and conduct the class just as she would if she were in front of the class. The contents of her laptop screen would be recorded along with her speaking and saved as one video file. That video file can then be compressed or converted and uploaded to her website. A quick edit of her RSS file to include the new podcast, and her students now have a new class on their computer or portable device to listen to.

So, what screencast software is out there for you to get started with? What’s the best screencast software? Which screencast software works best for podcasting? Which screencast software do I, and my clients, use? How many times can I get away with “it depends” until you all quit listening to me?… but truthfully… it depends.

My usual advice is to download the trial version of 3 to 5 screencast software packages, using them once in a real life situation, and then buying the one that you got the best results out of and though was easiest to use.

  1. Best results: I go with this first because if you’re a podcaster, you know that there are a lot of companies and podcasters with money out there that can make a good product. Lots of production time, great cameras and lighting, the software to add all the cool effects… a screencaster has to make sure that what he or she is putting out, first and foremost, looks good.
  2. Easiest to use: Ease of use is very important. I know of many people who, if they dread doing what they’re doing, will stop. The software you pick must be intuitive for you to use, or else it will take you longer, and you won’t want to do it. With that said, the first thing to look at is results… so you may have to do a bit of learning with that piece of software that looks the best.

Where to find information on screencast software?

I don’t want to send you down any paths to waste your time, but I do believe it’s important for you to find the right software. So, go to http://www.podhive.net/wiki/index.php?title=Software_Screencast and scroll down to the screencast software listings. Follow the links to the various websites and download the free trials. Try them out, see which one works for you.

In my experience, on a mac, I like to use Snapz Pro X. It matches with both of my requirements above… it puts out great videos and is easy to use. I do also have Camtasia Studio for the PC (though I only have it through work because the price tag is too big for me to justify it with personal use). It is very easy to use.

Once you’ve downloaded a few demos and decided how much you can spend, check out some of what other users are saying. You may find someone in a similar situation as you, and they recommend doing something a bit different:

Comments»

1. Raj - July 11, 2007

Jeff, we had a similar requirement from a school on a trial basis where we stored a lot of bed time stories along with morals dictated by the teachers and while on Bed Daddys can dial a number and select a story using an IVR and give it to their child. A Cheap solution right..!!!! Never mind..

2. Raj - July 11, 2007

Oops i enjoyed your blog.

3. Daniel - August 26, 2007

Useful links – thanks.

I tried some screencasting tools, most of em give you a reasonable trial. Camtasia is ok, but it’s not easy to use IMHO. My fav is flashback: does flash, avi etc. http://www.bbsoftware.co.uk/BBFlashBack.aspx

4. Jeff - September 28, 2007

Nice… thanks for the link.


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