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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Meta: Screencasting Using The BlackMagic Design Intensity Pro

blackmagic_design_intensity_pro There’s a new tool in the office and I’m actually pretty excited about it. For several months I’ve had the Black Magic Design Intensity Pro video capture card. It’s a little PCIe card that has a variety inputs, most notably HDMI in and out.

In my currently working life this is part of a video monitoring solution. I take a SMPTE-292M HD-SDI feed from one of our products into a Black Magic Design Mini Convertor ($300) that converts HD-SDI into HDMI. Normally I take the HDMI feed into a consumer HDTV for display. This is dramatically cheaper than a proper broadcast monitor with an HD-SDI input.

While that arrangement works for real-time viewing of the HD-SDI stream, I had hoped for some way to capture the stream to disk. Back in February I tried the Black Magic Design UltraStudio SDI but ran into trouble with the USB 3.0 interface under Windows.

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m0n0wall Traffic Shaping For VOIP Screencast

After several months of thinking about it I finally got around to recording a screencast tutorial about setting up the traffic shaping feature in m0n0wall to accommodate VOIP traffic. Phillip Cooper’s series of screencasts were the inspiration for this. In going though his work (thank you!) it occurred to me that  documenting the settings that allow my VOIP systems might be useful to others.

I have a new (ish) Comcast cable modem service here in my office, which gave me a testbed to setup another router and go through the setup process from scratch.

The finished screencast is not online yet. I’ve passed it to the m0n0wall project leads for comment & revision before making it public. It should be available in the next few days.