Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Screen Capture: Screencast-O-Matic

I'm lucky enough to have Camtasia Studio on my work computer; as such, it's easy to get spoiled having immediate access to software for creating video tutorials. To create screen capture projects on my home computer, I've been exploring free options, specifically one that I would not have to download. I found Screenjelly, Screenr, Jing, HyperCam, and most recently Screencast-O-Matic. This summer, students in my technology class were very interested in using Jing and several wrote interesting reviews on the product. On the verge of downloading, I decided instead to try Screencast-O-Matic.

"Screencast-O-Matic is the original online screen recorder for creating screen capture video recordings (aka screen casts) with free hosting all from your browser with no install!" -- Welcome page (8/24/10)

Several reviews noted five minute videos were free, but the web site FAQs state fifteen minute videos (subsequently hosted on YouTube) are free. It is necessary to have java installed with your browser to access the product, but it does not seem to differentiate when using updated versions of either Firefox or IE8; I have used both browsers to create screen casts without issue. I was happy to learn it is possible to export completed projects directly to YouTube as an HD movie, as an MP4 file, or an AVI file for Movie Maker.

The product is easy to use and intuitive; it
  • provides opportunity to select video size from a list or adjust the screen to suit your needs
  • includes a pause button (or alt+p) during capture
  • starts each capture, both fresh video and after pausing, with 3,2,1, go!
  • has an option to reset the video and start again
After making screen casts on my work computer and on my personal computer, I noticed choice of microphone makes a significant difference, my $3 work microphone audio narration sounds a bit "tinny," however my $9 home microphone provides adequate results. There are interesting visuals included on the screen cast, it highlights mouse movement with halos and short bursts as the video producer moves through the story. I did not notice these features when creating the video, but when processing the finished product there is opportunity to opt out of any and all of the colored (yellow and blue) highlights.

Since I opted to use the free version, there is a Screencast-O-Matic watermark on the bottom, left corner of the video. It is less obvious than the Animoto markings and I found it easily ignored. If you do not want or like the watermark, pro accounts are reasonably priced ($9 per year) and provide editing tools and options of one hour video lengths.

Below are two videos recently created with Screencast-O-Matic. I elected to keep the mouse highlights on both videos; each was exported to my YouTube account, saved as MP4 files, and later embedded in separate project. This is a great product to create free screen cast videos, especially when taking into consideration it is not necessary to download prior to use.

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3 comments:

Jess said...

I'm a big fan of Screencast-o-Matic so much so that I recently upgraded to the pro version which is currently $9/year. The editing features are pretty easy to use and let me zoom in on search screens, for example. I've been making all of our library videos with it. I feel like a bit of an evangelist about it, but it's a great option, and fairly recently, it was the only way I know of to create a video and direct export it to YouTube for free.

Diane Schrecker said...

The zoom option looks great on your ebsco videos, it gives the user a better idea of what they will see in the database.

Like Animoto, the yearly subscription fee for Screencast-O-Matic (the name is fab) is very reasonable, especially considering the additional options/perks that accompany the pro accounts.

Ron Starc said...

My Screen Recorder Pro is an screencasting tool. Records your screen and audio from the speakers or your voice from the microphone - or both simultaneously. The recordings are clear and look great when played back on your PC or uploaded to YouTube. It will record directly to AVI, WMV, MP4, or FLV. Just perfect for creating tutorials, demos, and presentations. Plus, java is not required and there are no limits on recording length.