Software for creating screencasts have become essential and the products available are being used intensively for creating thousands of new videos every day. Screencasts are like all over the place now and were almost at a point where people start to expect them to be. Videos are simply great to deliver a message in a very short time and for most people bandwidth is not a problem any more. As a potential buyers of lets say a online software products it is quite important to see how it works when used before buying it. It give us trust and we are more likely to open our wallet. Bloggers use video feeds a lot to improve their presence and be more personal to their readers. youtype.com have millions of videos created and uploaded by users (actually youtube.com have an alexa.com rank of 4, which means it is in the top five of most visited websites in the world…). So lets agree that being able to create screencasts is a must. If you have not already found your favorite tools this post will help you make the choice.
Free Screencasting tools
A free open source program for capturing your on-screen video and audio as AVI files. It is supported on Windows only.
Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots, add explanations boxes, buttons, titles etc and generate a highly effective tutorial for your users. Wink is free with unrivaled features.
Screencast-O-Matic is a Java Applet-based screencasting tool that requires no downloads and will allow you to automatically upload to hosting. According to their site it works well with Macs and Windows machines, but does have some issues with Linux.
ScreenToaster is a web-based service. You don’t get any advanced editing tools but you do get full screen capture, support for picture-in-picture webcam video in the lower right corner, and audio for voice-over. When you’re done recording and previewing your clip, you can upload the video to ScreenToaster or YouTube, or download it as a MOV or SWF file. ScreenToaster is free and works with any Java-enabled web browser.
You can use Jing to capture anything you see on your computer screen and share it or short movie. This tool require that you sign up for screencast.com. There’s a Pro version of Jing that you can get for $14/ Year. This removes links to the jing website on your recordings.
This is a free capture program that records the video into AVI files, but can also do BMP photos. It’s Windows only and does not record audio.
Copernicus is a free program for Macs. It doesn’t just take screenshots, it’s a virtual photo gallery too. Take as many pictures as you like, then save them one at a time or all at once. Copernicus is perfect for taking many screenshots. Also useful for making quick and speedy films by recording the video to your RAM for quicker access. Does not include any support for audio.
If you’re a Firefox user, there is a great add-on that records your screen frame-by-frame. Add your voice and download as an .AVI file. Since it works within the browser, it is not OS dependent.
Screenpresso.com – Captured image files can be easily be shared. Many editing tools for manipulating and annotating the captured images.
Screenjelly.com – Screenjelly records your screen activity with your voice so you can spread it via Twitter or email. Use it to quickly share cool apps or software tips, report a bug, or just show stuff you like.
Tip Cam – This is a free screencasting software that can also record a remote computer screen provided your computer is running the VNC server.
Community Clips – Free screencasting tool from the Microsoft Office team can be used for creating quick screencasts from within Microsoft Office.
Live Screencasting – Procaster from Mogulus is a free software that helps you broadcast your desktop screen (live streaming) on the Internet to any number of users
Demo Studio – GPL-licensed screen capture application for Microsoft Windows (open source). DemoStudio records by default to AVI format, but you may use Demo Studio Producer for converting screencasts into Flash (SWF) files.
Screenr.com – Web based free recorder ideal for creating and tweeting mini cast via twitter.
Commercial Screencasting tools
Snapz Pro X is a robust offering of settings and compressions for screen captures of all sizes. It is fairly easy to use and captures great quality of video and sound. Video from this application is exported in Quicktime (.mov) format only and Snapz Pro X does not allow for video editing. Price of about $70, Mac only.
Camtasia Studio is one of the leading products in the screencasting space. Packed with features, Camtasia Studio makes it easy to create screencasts with presets for a variety of sharing situations like YouTube, HD displays, Screencast.com, and more. You can edit the audio and video independently so you don’t have to redo a whole segment just because of an oops in the audio or video portion. Special effects and edits are easy to manipulate thanks to fine control over the time line—you can select a portion of your editing timeline right down to the tenth of a second. It’s far from free, but Camtasia Studio is a well thought out and feature rich screencasting tool. Windows, $299
Offers a wide-range of presets that allows you to record directly into Quicktime and up to 1080P in both NTSC and PAL formats. Also does audio and the file is ready to be published as soon as hit stop. Mac only $29.95 USD, offer 30 days trail.
Outputs to Quicktime directly and can record your clicks and all on-screen activities. Offers a free trial and then $15.95 to purchase.
Windows only system for recording screen activity to AVI files along with system audio. Free trial with $39.95 for full version.
Capture in real time, add audio during recording or after completion. Can output to Flash, EXE, ASF, DVD, SVCD and VCD. Free trial available, Windows only.
Adobe Captive is a high quality product with features that will satisfy most users. Unfortunately the product is expensive compared to the others. So unless you really need the extra goodies for your recordings a pricing that starts at nearly $700 may scare you away.
With Turbo Demo, you can create screencasts in either Flash or Java. The screencasts projects can be exported to plain text files, that are editable and can be imported back into Turbodemo. In the screencast editing mode (after screen capture), you can change the cursor style or reposition the mouse anywhere on the slide. Priceing starts at $199.
ScreenFlow is a Mac-only screencast editor that fills a nice niche between the limited-but-free options and the car-payment-sized options. ScreenFlow sports advanced features, like the ability to decouple audio and video streams for independent editing and audio ducking (if you’re using background music it’s automatically adjusted during speaking portions of the video); the ability to freeze, speed up, or slow down the video to allow you to time lapse or zoom through a more tedious portion of the task you’re demonstrating. ScreenFlow also supports custom cursors and callouts for emphasizing the cursor or foremost window. Mac, $99
Qarbon patented the Screen Capture technology and prefer to call their flash movies as Viewlets which are basically .swf files. Qarbon seems to have the best Flash file compression algorithm around. However, another software called ViewletCam is required to enable moving screen captures. This is Windows only
This tool provides a good interface and can record full motion videos (like in Camtasia) or through manual screenshots (as in Qarbon Viewletbuilder). Demo Builder can automatically add visual hints (in the form of text balloons) at relevant points in the screencast (like closing a button with the mouse). You can also edit cursor motions after the screen capture. Price starts at $199.
How to use get started screencasting
Smashing Magazine have created a really good guide with many tips and links to resources you will need to get started: Screencasting: How To Start, Tools and Guidelines