How To: Creating Great Quality Screencasts

Making screencasts Lenovo X1 Carbon HP DesktopSeveral times over the past few weeks I’ve had to create screencasts or asked to advise how they are best created. There are a variety of approaches to this task, but I’ve found that my preferred technique is perhaps uncommon, and worth sharing.

Over the years there have been many times when screencasts were the most appropriate method for conducting user training or addressing specific support issues. At different times I’ve used various software tools in these pursuits. Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio was the most common solution in years past, although Adobe Captivate was also notable.

More recently I’ve sought a lower-cost solutions and settled upon the freeware CamStudio as a passable solution. CamStudio is apparently the open source progenitor of Camtasia Studio.

There are also a myriad of free, online services that do their magic by way of a browser downloadable applet. I have little experience of these as I prefer another approach entirely.

As in other matters, I’ve long held the belief that a more hardware-centric approach can hold a distinct advantage. This has become increasingly true as common PC screen resolutions have come into alignment with frame sizes common in HD video production. A screencast that looks as good a broadcast TV is likely going to be more than adequate.

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BlackMagic, Nexus Devices, MHL and SlimPort

As I tinker with various things around here I’m finding that I need some tools to be able to capture experimental results in a manner that provides assets for this blog. Recently I’ve added a couple of new tools which I though you might find interesting.

This process of “tooling-up” started last year when I purchased a BlackMagic Design Intensity Pro capture card. That card has been mentioned a few times previously. It allows me to capture video from an HDMI connected source.

The Intensity Pro card has been very handy for a variety of things. Since computers these days are capable of screen resolutions that are also common to HDTVs I have used it to record the output of PC desktops. That has included screencast tutorials as well as the output of specific programs, like Adobe Audition.

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Video Calling: My Own Motivation

Video calling has been around for a long, long time. However, it’s yet to become commonplace. There have been studies, some very recent, that suggest that people really don’t want or need it. Yet Skype reports that a substantial amount, around 40% if I recall correctly, of their call traffic involves video. Of course, events like last years volcanic excitement in Iceland highlight how valuable video can be when travel is impossible.

Beyond the more general cases I have my own reasons why video could play an important part in my working life. It happens that I travel a lot in the course of my work. The scope of my working duties is divided three ways; pre-sales demonstrations of hardware/software systems, post-sales commissioning, installations & training, and finally end-user support activity. The demonstration aspect of my travel could be reduced significantly if I were able to deliver the demonstration via online means.

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