Testing Screencasting Software (GHD019)

"GHDR Goal" Saturday was surprisingly productive, perhaps because it was a Spring-like 55 degrees outside instead of being in the -10s! The major GHDR-related project for the day was setting up screencasting software on both the PC and the Mac in preparation for the first Project 1404 Music Composition videos.

Screencasting Tools

I am seeing screencasting as a way to have more conversational interactions with people, perhaps a stepping stone to doing Google Live Hangouts or other realtime exercises. I have the software and gear from other work-related projects, so why not use it? I think it would be cool to capture not just the screen but also my talking head in the webcam, so you can see my reactions to what I’m seeing and doing, in all its messiness.

Camtasia Capture starts by displaying the control panel at the bottom, allowing you to select what to record.Camtasia Edit is the main editing application, working on your captured screen videoScreenflow Edit has a similar appearance to Camtasia Edit, but the controls and editing is a little less obvious

My screencasting arrangement is a little different from my recently-revived podcast setup.

  • I have a Blue Yeti USB microphone that I sometimes use for video conferencing when sound quality is important (or I just want to sound MORE AWESOME). Reviewers like it a lot for its flexibility and ease-of-use. I like how it’s supported on both Windows and Mac OS X, includes headphone monitoring and gain control. It’s solidly built, and has a variety of sound pickup patterns so it’s useful as a single vocal microphone as well as an omnidirectional or even for two people facing each other. Since it’s USB-only I can’t use it with the regular podcast setup, though there is the Blue Yeti Pro which has USB and an additional XLR input for use with a mixing board. However, I’ve read that the Pro has had problems with its USB drivers in the past as it is different hardware (the regular Yeti doesn’t require additional drivers at all), so I’ve steered-clear of it.

  • For recording on the PC, I have a Logitech c930e Business Webcam which is notable for its 90-degree field of view (FOV) and hardware-accelerated HD video encoding. That means it can see more of the space around me than regular webcams so I can move around as I talk, and the hardware assisted video encoding means smoother high-resolution video on Skype. On the downside, it doesn’t work with the “fun” software that consumer webcams come with, but I never use that stuff anyway. The screen capture software is a freshly-upgraded Camtasia Studio 8, which I’ve used before to make some rudimentary how-to videos for the Gantt Excel Chart and Modifying the Compact Calendar. Camtasia is a nice piece of software, easy to use for making annotated screencasts fast.

  • For recording on the Macintosh, I’m using the built-in webcam of my Macbook Pro and a piece of software called Screenflow 5, which I picked-up as part of a Humble Bundle years ago. It has comparable features to to Camtasia Studio, though the UI is appreciably different. I haven’t used it much at all, but it’s apparently won two Apple Design Awards. I also have my old webcam, a Logitech C910, that I can use for recording from a different angle if I don’t want to use the Mac’s the built-in webcam (which frankly isn’t as good).

Screencasts

I recorded two brief test sessions! The first one is the PC version recorded with Camtasia Studio and the Blue Yeti USB as I flip through YouTube videos.

The second test is the Mac version recorded with Screenflow and the same Blue Yeti USB microphone, this time trying Reason and YouTube. I’m having some sound level issues that I will have to deal with, and the video aspect output it not quite correct, so a bit of tuning left to do on that…

I can tell already that these video sessions will be random and weird, and maybe even embarrassing, but I think I can get over it. Also, while I’m pretty sure that the use of the video in this way is fair use under US Copyright Law as “criticism/commmentary”, YouTube’s automated takedown tools might wreak havoc with the channel. I guess we’ll find out!

Stuff Learned and GHDR Points Earned

I scored 38 points, which is higher than usual (so far). Today was also notable day in that I got a lot of other things done too, such as mopping the floor of the basement and washing out the cat litter box, taking out bags and bags of trash, transcribing some video game notes, and picking up something for my sister at the local Asian market.

POINTS DESCRIPTION
10 Shared stuff I know (the gear)
10 Result fulfilling need, making future result possible! (screencast workflow)
10 I also set up the Mac version for mobile screencasting
5 Helped myself by using a past result (the screencast workflow from making those earlier videos)
2 Posted words about the work! (this post!)
1 Researched related subjects (the gear links in this post)

I also bought prunes to see if I actually liked them now that I’m older (and probably need the fiber)! A pretty good “me” day, all-in-all, especially after I logged out of my Facebook account to make it harder to waste time on it. It’s surprisingly relaxing to not know what other people are doing, and focus just on getting some work done. I’ve left Facebook Messenger running, so people can still reach me, but otherwise I am planning on keeping off Facebook as much as possible for the near future.


About this Article Series

For my 2016 Groundhog Day Resolutions, I'm challenging myself to make something goal-related every day from February 2nd through December 12. All the related posts (and more!) are gathered on the Challenge Page.

2 Comments

  1. Donald Wheeler 1 year ago

    Are you finding it easier to do the recordings on Windows or the Mac so far?

  2. Author
    Dave Seah 1 year ago

    Donald: Both platforms are pretty easy. For me, the experience is slightly better on the Windows platform for a number of reasons:

    • Camtasia Studio 8 having a somewhat better workflow than ScreenFlow 5. I’m finding that Screenflow requires additional clicks to do the pans/zooms and titling, and there are small irritations like a poorly-designed audio level meter and fewer on-the-fly modifiable properties of screen elements. Coming from the Adobe Creative Suite, I found Camtasia Studio to be more familiar in operation despite the way it looks. Then again, I have used it before. I would say Camtasia Studio 8 on the PC has the edge in polish over Screenflow 5 on the Mac just based on my initial tests, but both are comparable in their capabilities. Screenflow isn’t terrible by any means, and it is quite usable. It can also record from IOS devices, which is super cool.
    • A technical consideration is that the Mac is being recorded at Retina resolutions, so burns through disk space faster at its 2880×1800 resolution versus the PC’s 1920×1200. I’m not sure if Screenflow is capturing native resolution or scaled resolution, actually…I should check that.
    • The PC is also just a bit more comfortable to work with because it has the detached webcam and I have a much larger 27″ monitor on it, versus the Mac’s 15.4″ screen running the same resolution.

A message from Dave:

I believe we all benefit when we respectfully share our perspectives on common experiences. My house rules are "please be respectful of divergent views" and "enjoy the flow of ideas!"

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