One solution to this problem is SMRecorder [No Longer Available], a versatile free recording program for Windows. SMRecorder can record audio, video (from a webcam) or your desktop, and it provides a number of setup options for each choice. Let’s take a look at why this lightweight recording software kicks butt.
Starting A Recording
SMRecorder opens as a small window with a few buttons on it that aren’t labeled by text. To start recording you first need to click the button to the very left, which looks like the new file icon found in Microsoft Word.
This will bring up the New Recording Task window, which is where the meat of your options appear. There are three recording modes available with SMRecorder, and they are listed in the Capture Type drop-down menu at the top of the window.
- Desktop Video – Records the activity taking place on your Windows desktop.
- Camera Video – Records from any attached webcam.
- Desktop/Microphone Sound – Records from a microphone.
The options that are available in the remainder of the New Recording Task window are dependent on the Capture Type you choose, so let’s take a look at each option in turn.
Desktop Video Recording
Selecting desktop video recording will let you record whatever is taking place on your desktop. It’s the perfect way to make tutorial videos to put up on YouTube, but could also be used to record a game or video you want to make a commentary on. There’s just one limitation that will put a barrier on how you use this program – the desktop video option does not record desktop audio, but rather audio from your microphone.
The main options to change can be found in the General tab. Audio Input needs to be set to the appropriate source, of course, and it should default to whatever audio recording device you typically use with Windows. Capture Size is also very important, as it determines what part of your desktop will be recorded. You can record your entire desktop, or just a small section. The size of the capture area will impact performance, so keep that in mind if your computer seems to become unbearably sluggish while recording. Finally, the Duration tab lets you choose the maximum length of your recording in minutes.
The Video and Audio tabs also have a number of options. The default setting are fine, but will result in slightly choppy video. You can reduce this by increasing the frame capture rate, and you can also improve overall quality by upping the compression quality. Similar things can be said of the options in the Audio tab. They’re fine by default, but can be improved if you desire. Remember however that the file size of your desktop video will become larger.
When you are ready to record you simply press the OK button. The SMRecorder window will disappear, but can be brought back by pressing CTRL-P. This will pause the video. You can then continue the recording or, if you feel that you’re finished, stop and save the recording.
Video Recording & Audio Recording
The Camera Video recording options are simple. The main options to concern yourself with are the Video Input and Audio Input, as they need to be properly configured in order to record video. If you have a default webcam and microphone installed, they should be selected by the program automatically, so you likely won’t have to configure anything at all.
You can also mess with the duration in order to limit the length of the video. The Audio Settings tab only has one option available, and that’s adjustment of the volume.
Audio recording is also simple. You must select your input device, and you can set a length limit. The Audio Settings Tab also lets you adjust the Sample Frequency and the MP3 Encoding Rate. Choosing a higher encoding rate will improve audio quality, but will increase file size. The default option of 128 bit/s is fine for recording a podcast, particularly if you don’t have a great microphone.
SMRecorder is a great piece of free recording software. It’s very lightweight, so it should have no problem running on computers with limited processing power, and its ability to record desktop video is excellent. I can see myself using this to record video tutorials in the future – but what would you do with it? Let us know in the comments.