Oct 28, 2009

Screencasting Mechanics

I wanted to document the process I use for making screencasts. Most of the time I use Snagit 9 ($50) and Quicktime Pro ($30). It makes for a pretty flexible recording/editing package without breaking the bank. I’ve owned Snagit for years and you’ve seen the results in other blogs when I take screenshots and annotate them with circles, arrows and torn edge effects, so it’s useful for both screencasts and screenshots. QuickTime Pro has a lot of hidden power and supports a lot of codecs.   Sometimes when I really need to squeeze the size down I use Windows Media Encoder as the final stage. It is kind of a pain but usually will shrink the file anywhere from 1/2 to 1/10th the original. This video shows the soup to nuts process.
After I finished recording the video I went back and set the compression in WME to 15 frames per second with key frames every 6 seconds and exported again. The final size this time was 12.7Mb versus the 23.8MB size for the QuickTime export. The QT export looks quite a bit better though as it has none of the blurring and gray artifacts you will see in the video below. You can watch my screencast on Live Sync to get an idea of the quality of the QT export. 
UPDATE: I rescaled the video to make it a bit larger. I'm not used to using YouTube and in the future I will have to start using a fixed region for my captures and keep in in the widescreen aspect ratio that YouTube prefers. To make this bigger (and to show another feature of QT) I rescaled this video to a larger size and didn't maintain the aspect ratio. It is easier to see even if it does look a little odd.  The original WME version is still up on youtube.

Also it turned out that the WME encoded version wouldn't play at all on screencast.com, so in the future I'm probably going to live with larger file sizes and forgo the pain of using WME at all.

About Me

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Tod Gentille (@todgentille) is now a Curriculum Director for Pluralsight. He's been programming professionally since well before you were born and was a software consultant for most of his career. He's also a father, husband, drummer, and windsurfer. He wants to be a guitar player but he just hasn't got the chops for it.