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Snow Leopard comes with the brand new QuickTime called X (Ten). This version add a few ‘previously pro-only’ features such as trimming and exporting, and also ‘brand new’ pro features like screencasting and sharing.
Trying to create a screencast has been one of my to-do-later items. I never get around to do it since there were always things that get in the way. But with the arrival of this QuickTime X, I thought now might be the perfect time to try and offer readers a QuickTime X review.
Screencasting made easy
Honestly, I was expecting a series of difficult steps to take to produce a good screencast. I couldn’t be more wrong. Screencasting using QuickTime X is as easy as pressing the record button.
- The first thing to do is to activate “Screen Recording” mode by going to “File –> New Screen Recording” menu or by using Command + Control + N shortcut keys combination.
- Then a small screen recording window will appear with the “Record” button in the middle. By clicking the small arrow button at the bottom right corner of the window, you can access a few settings that you can meddle with: the microphone to use, the quality of the movie and the location to save the screen recording.
If you have a decent external microphone, plug it in and choose “Line In” in the microphone setting to have better sound quality. Otherwise choose “Internal Microphone” to use your computer’s built-in microphone. If you don’t want to put any sound in the screencast, choose none.
- Click the “Record” button. A confirmation window will pop up. Click the “Start Recording” button.
- The screen recording window will disappear and everything that happens on the screen will be recorded (with your voice as the narrator in the background).
A little tip here: close or minimize other open windows during the screen recording so the screencast will not be distracted by the mess. You can also try to do the screencasting in an empty virtual desktop by switching Spaces (“Control + Arrow Buttons” or “Control + Number Buttons“). Another trick to have a clean background for screencasts is by opening an empty text document (or a picture) and enlarge it to fill the whole screen.
- You can stop the recording by clicking the stop button in the menubar or by pressing the key combination of “Command + Control + Esc“.
Your movie will automatically be saved in the location that you’ve set before, and will be opened for you to be evaluated (and trimmed if necessary).
Please note that the screen recording process using QuickTime X will record the whole screen. This setting will result in a movie as big as your screen with a very large filesize. And if you convert the movie into a smaller size, the text will be unreadable. It would be very nice if there’s the option to record only a portion of the screen.
Trimming the screencast
QuickTime X also gives users the ability to trim the movie. This way users can shorten the long screencast and keep only the important part.
To enable trimming mode, click on the share button (second from the right on the play bar) and choose “trim” from the option window.
The play bar will change into an iMovie-like scene bar. You can slide the left and right edges to the position that you want before clicking the Trim button. Everything inside the block will be kept and everything outside will be trimmed out.
However, users can’t trim out portions of the movie clip in several places like the previous Pro version of QuickTime. Again, it would be nice to have that feature added to QuickTime X.
Sharing the screencast
For a short wrap up to this quick screencasting thing, let’s look at the sharing option.
QuickTime X makes it easy for users to upload the movie to YouTube by clicking the “Share –> YouTube” menu.
A YouTube login window will appear. Fill in your user name and password and click “Sign In“.
Provide some additional information about the movie, click “Next” and your movie will be on its way to the virtual world.
In general, I think QuickTime X is a decent screencasting tool for common users. It still lack several necessary features to make it a good one, but it has a lot of potential to grow and the future looks promising.