All-star cast

Free range

In fact, you can do it for nothing if you download Windows Media Encoder 9.0 ( www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/encoder/default.mspx). This has its own, more basic, screen-capture tool, which saves videos in WMV format. This raw file can be titled and adjusted with another free application: Windows Movie Maker.

Whatever tool you use, there are some critical rules governing good screencasts. First, limit the screen resolution and number of colours displayed - if you can, keep it to 800x600 pixels or lower. This minimises file sizes, which is especially important when dealing with screencasts people want to download. Media Encoder is very unforgiving of large screen sizes.

Finally, I haven't talked much about screencasting audio recording hardware and software. While you should get passable results with a decent webcam's microphone, for professional results we'd recommend the Samson C01 USB - ($199 from www.elfa.com.au). Often, it's worth adding an audio track to the screencast after recording the video, for two reasons. You'll almost certainly have to edit the audio to get rid of the mistakes in your commentary and re-recording snippets of audio over the original always sounds noticeable. Equally, recording the audio later allows you to use the audio tool Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net or off the Cover Disc of the October 2006 issue of PC World Magazine), which lets you tweak the audio track more than in a screencasting application.

Getting it out there

One of the most exciting aspects of creating a screencast is publishing it to iTunes or another podcast service and letting the world see your work.

To make your screencast iPod-compatible, export it from Camtasia in QuickTime (.mov) format and, in the QuickTime options section, select H264 as the compression type, choose a size of 320x240 pixels and render the video (see a screenshot here). A lazier way is to simply create a standard QuickTime video, drop it into iTunes and, with the movie selected in the library window, right-click it and choose Convert selection for iPod.

Another tip: if you're prepared to shell out for QuickTime Pro - which is less expensive than Camtasia - you can convert any QuickTime-compatible media into iPod format simply by opening the screencast in QuickTime Pro and selecting "Movie to iPod menu". To make your screencast available to the wider world, first upload it to your personal web space and use a service such as Feedburner (www.feedburner.com) to create a wrapper that iTunes or other podcasting services can understand.

You can then upload your screencast from inside iTunes' own podcast section. It doesn't cost a cent.

Screenshot Tip

I can't pass by a column about screencasts without mentioning my favourite ways to take standard screenshots, those single-image poor relations of the screencast. Every Windows user should know that the confusingly named <Print Screen> button copies an image of the current screen. But fewer might realise that pressing <Alt>-<Print Screen> grabs the active foreground window only. Even so, this is still pretty limited, which is why I prefer to use a dedicated app like ScreenHunter 4.0 (www.wisdom-soft.com or on the Cover Disc of the October 2006 issue of PC World Magazine).

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Gorham

PC Advisor (UK)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?