With all the screencasting going on in the blogosphere lately, what with tutorials running rampant across all different video sharing websites…I thought I’d share a few screencasting tools for those of you looking for a free alternative to some of those higher priced utilities. This review covers both PC and Mac utilities, and not wanting to leave anyone out…one for those running Java.
AviScreen captures screen activities and converts the output into an .avi file or alternatively into several images. It does include that very nifty feature often referred to as “follow the cursor” which means you can create a smaller dimension video and the software will automatically follow the curser to the location so that the user watching doesn’t miss anything.
AviScreen is very easy to use and I really like its “follow the cursor” feature. There is also a ton of help information.
The one thing I don’t like is that it does not support audio and the GUI seems clunky sometimes. Other than that, its a good program.
OS: Windows only
CamStudio is a nice capture program that records all screen and audio activity and creates standard .avi files. CamStudio has its own built-in SWF Producer and can turn those .avi files you converted into stream-friendly Flash video .swf files. CamStudio uses their own lossless codec that produces nice, clear results all the while at a smaller file size than most other popular codecs (so we’re told).
OS: Windows only
Copernicus is for you Mac people out there. It prides itself on being very fast allowing the program to record directly to your RAM for super fast access. Use it to easily create screenshots or simple how-to movies.
OS: Mac only
Screencast-o-Matic is a neat online application that creates videos. This one actually allows you to create video recordings all from your browser. Like all other great web apps, this is in beta, but it’s got potential that’s for sure.
The simple fact that it integrates so nicely using Java will be enough for many to catch on. Creating a screencast is as simple as anything ending in “o-matic” usually is. Just click Create on the website and you’re in business. Screencast-o-Matic starts recording video and audio as soon as you hit the red record icon and gives you a nice 15 minute window of time. That should be enough time to explain something…not all things, but some things nonetheless.
This really is a simple tool to use with options of creating titles, descriptions, notes at certain times in the video, and even allowing comments and making the screencast searchable. Or, if you’re not feeling like sharing just yet, export it to a .mov file for viewing later. There’s even a Screencast to show you how to screencast.
Caveat: Java Required
OS: Who cares, its Java!
Jing isn’t just another great screencasting application. Jing is an interesting “project”. At first glance, I wasn’t sure I knew exactly what Jing was all about. It seems to rely heavily on TechSmith’s (Jing’s Creator) Screencast.com service and provide an interesting “social” sort of feel about it.
Basically, it goes like this:
- Download and Install Jing
- Run Jing and click the Capture button and select something
- Grab an image or even record a video
- Edit the image or preview your directorial masterpiece
- Share your creation when your file is uploaded to Screencast.com, Flickr, or your own FTP server and the URI is copied to your clipboard
- Use that URI anywhere you want to share your screencast.
It should be noted that after setup, Jing requires you signup for a Screencast.com account. Even if you plan on using your own FTP server for your Jings, if skipped, this step will close down Jing.
After signing up, I was able to start my Jing experience. My first Jing was created simply and after supplying my FTP info into the Preferences, I was uploading small .swf files to my server for viewing. It was tremendously painless and easy. I think Jing has the most potential of becoming a great application.
OS: Windows & Mac
Any great screencasting tools out there not on this list? Let us know in the comments.
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