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AbleReach

Screencasting Tools

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I'm going to be making a series of simple tutorials with screenshots and screencast videos. A lot of screencasts are hard to learn from because both the screen and the audio are fuzzy. There's nothing worse than opening a promisingly named screencast and being confronted with a wandering mouse pointer on a fuzzy desktop, accompanied by slurred words punctuated with a lot of "ummm, aaand then you click over here" on some otherwise unidentified place.

 

I can take care of the wandering narrator effect by planning ahead, but what about the screen clarity?

 

What tools are out there? Free? Paid?

 

Which tools allow you to choose what part of your desktop is captured for the screencast?

Do screencasting tools take care of figuring out an optimum screen resolution, or is that up to me?

Are there mouse effects that you've found to be helpful? I like screencasts with a highlight-yellow disc around the mouse pointer area.

What tools are there for cleaning up the image and sound, afterward? Is it better to clean it up or junk it and try again?

 

What have I forgotten?

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Jing is free and does audio (some free ones don't do audio).

 

What part: usually you draw/size a rectangle

 

Optimum resolution: nope

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Jing looks good!

 

I downloaded a 30 day trial of Camtasia Studio - yummy, not free.

 

This is fun. :-)

 

One problem -- I'm starting to drool over expensive sound systems.

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I think Camtasia is the best tool for the job, though Jing is probably what you'll settle with :)

 

You mean microphones or audio speakers? I suppose a good microphone would help your screencasting greatly.

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Hey Ablereach,

 

I bought Adobe Captivate about a Month ago, I really like it. Its kind of pricey, but I think its worth it. One of the really nice features for software demos is the ability to turn the presentation into a quiz. That way after watching you do the demonstration they can attempt the same procedure themselves...and recieve real time feed back if they still don't get it. I think the included sound editor is adequate for most projects There is a 30 day trial..so you can try it out and see if it fits your needs before you make the investment.

 

 

Walter

Edited by Walter

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I got sidetracked and didn't install my Camtasia trial. I should install Camtasia and Captivate side by side, and compare them!

 

Thanks for the recommendation.

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I've used both Jing and we have a full version of Camtasia at work. Jing is very good for a freebie but not as much control as you have with Camtasia. I guess it depends on if its worth spending the money on.

 

Let us know how you get on?

 

Dave

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Walter:

 

I'm in the free trial of Captivate and considering you have a few years experience perhaps you can share a tip?

 

I'm playing with the quiz function which really provides a lot more interaction than standard web text. I'd really like to be able to offer links to related content during the review slide. In other words, something like this...see more on this subject

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Ken,

 

I never became an expert at Captivate. However, I think you can accomplish what you want be creating a "click box" and then setting the action for the click button to "open url or file.

 

Keep in mind that a lot of times With Captivate you need to create the "look", say a button, and then place something like a click box over it. So in fact, the button doesn't really do anything, its the trasparent click box thats over it that does the actual work. Again, its a common theme in Captivate.

 

There are a lot of little oddities, required work arrounds and such with Captivate. But the community is very active and helpful. (Lots of teachers) Google will end up being a great resource.

 

I'd really reccomend googling a free 24 hour pass to lynda.com. They've got some extensive step by step training on Captivate. Its nicely formated . . . videos of about 5 minutes each on how to do specific things. It will give you a real jump start and help you get the most out of your trial of Captivate.

 

Hope that helps Ken,

 

Walter

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Walter:

 

Doesn't seem like a link function can work within the quiz area. No great loss. Cool gizmo to play with. YouTube has been the great resource! I will look into Linda. I didn't realize they had a 24 hour training session.

 

One thing I'm not familiar with is using an html5 or SWF file and whether or not the html5 is viewable in most browsers today? More important, what's the benefit of one over the other. That's a field I have no knowledge of.

 

My first quiz (640 x 480 screen resolution) had eight slides, 818 frames, with 24 bit quality. The file size was over 3meg. BUT the elearningART.png files are what takes up most of it. I'm guessing, as there is no animation I can probably reduce that substantially with a much lower frame rate from the default 30. I did lower the slide qualities to 8 bit and the size was reduced to 1.1meg..but still, way too large.

 

I'll look into that tomorrow. Otherwise, very cool program. Popcorn is on the back burner now.

 

Thanks

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Hey Ken,

 

 

Doesn't seem like a link function can work within the quiz area

 

Yeah I just tried it and there isnt a easy option for this, Whether there is a more complicated answer, I can't say, but Im guessing there is if it was a critical issue.

 

 

My first quiz (640 x 480 screen resolution) had eight slides, 818 frames, with 24 bit quality. The file size was over 3meg. BUT the elearningART.png files are what takes up most of it. I'm guessing, as there is no animation I can probably reduce that substantially with a much lower frame rate from the default 30. I did lower the slide qualities to 8 bit and the size was reduced to 1.1meg..but still, way too large

 

This is a frustrating problem that occurs a lot with Captivate Projects. As I recall, if you rename the captivate project when you're done and then create the finished file from that renamed project you'll find the file size to be substantially smaller. Its like a bug, almost like it caches your changes as you go along. But remember its been awhile since I've worked with it and my memory isn't great. Try googling terms related to large file size and captivate..

 

I did one demo project, I think it turned out ok. Its what I was able to do after taking the into class at lynda.com. You can look at it here if you want:

 

http://imbilly.org/f...tmeasurept.html

 

Its a tutorial on how to accomplish a task on a machine tool so the topic isn't generally very interesting. What I thought was slick about Captivate was the ability to create interactive learning tools. You can try that bit, just click on the screen anywhere and it will prompt you if you're wrong. There is also a demo on how to preform the task.

 

Good Luck Ken. Capitvate can be a lot of fun and I think if a person worked at it they could turn our some really nice projects.

 

Walter

Edited by Walter

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Pretty happy with BSR Screen Recorder as it has one of those studios where you can easily edit it without having to learn another enormous user interface. When you install if you get an error you need to click the logo of the company 10 times to not install a redistributable. Very weird but works a treat and have used it for video on my ecom with good results.

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