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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Completely free screencast tutorials

I finally managed to put all the tools together to come up with a system to allow anyone that I collaborate with to create screencast tutorials from anywhere for free with minimal hassle. Some of the issues were technical and some were psychological.

A key point is to distinguish between screencast tutorials that must be very short (1 min max) and entire lectures that are about an hour long.

For short tutorials:
1) Download the free CamStudio.
2) Set the frame capture rate to 5/sec (record frames every 200 ms)
3) Turn the audio off.
4) Record the screencast and upload the resulting avi to Ourmedia.
5) Place a link to the tutorial in the appropriate wiki. For example: for my CHEM 241 class, instructions to faculty and educational gaming tutorials.

A one minute avi will be about 4 Meg, which will upload and download almost as fast as streaming with broadband.

One reason for turning off the audio is that it creates a smaller file. A more important reason is that there appears to be a lower psychological barrier to recording mute screencasts. I discovered this by talking with students who were trying to create tutorials and can attest to it myself.

After playing around with the Flash Convertor in CamStudio for a while, I have not been able to make it work properly. At least in version 2.1 of Camstudio, the convertor takes an enormous amount of time to process (compared to Camtasia) and the resulting Flash files have a broken progress bar. Finally, converting avi to Flash is really unecessary for such short recordings.

For hour long screencasts, I am still recommending using Camtasia, converting to Flash and uploading to a server. The avi files are about 200 Meg/hour and really need to be converted for streaming.


  • A good option for free screencast is freescreencast.com. The recorder is a free download. You can save your screencast on your local drive or post to freescreencast.com with a single click. Code to embed screencast in a website or blog is provided (a simple copy paste operation) as well as a direct URL link.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:21 PM  

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