So it was time to put my money where my snout was… After waffling about screencasting, I decided to give it a go. Downloading the Windows Media Encoder was not too bad. I played a bit, not really sure of the various settings for the encoding.

Anyhow, I recorded an 11 minute quick attempt at showing wide range of RSS feeds we provide in the Maricopa Learning eXchange, and then how you can copy them over to our Feed2JS site, create a cut and paste JavaScript, and then put them into a site.

I sketched out my topics, figured out which URLs to have open in Firefox (you have to love tabbed browsing, apparently that has not boarded the cluetrain in the MSIE shop), and gave it a go. I am not nearly as smooth as Jn Udell, and one of my demo links was kafloooey (bad), but oh well. It is a go. It ended up as a 16 Mb .wm file. Big.

Since some folks do not like sending their Canadian dollars to Macromedia, I did a quick check out and downloaded a trila versions of SwishVideo to convert the big file to Flash format.. which somehow managed to end up as a 16 Mb .swf (I tried a range of settings to make it smaller, this was as tiny as I could get)

Okay so here that are, but remember, I am an amateur:
http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/mlx/show/ocotillo05/mlx_rss.swf
http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/mlx/show/ocotillo05/mlx_rss.wmv (does not stream but downloads)

In summary, it was not all that hard to do, and with practice, I can see that it is effective. I need to get a better grip on the software settings and features. Stay tuned to my new category.

The post "My First (sloppy) ScreenCast" was originally slapped on the butt by a cigar smoking doctor yelling "It's a post!" at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2005/05/first-screencast/) on May 12, 2005.

13 Comments

  • D'Arcy Norman darcynorman.net

    Nicely done, Alan! The text was entirely readable on the .swf version (didn’t bother with the .wmv version), and the presentation went smoothly (certainly smooth enough to follow along without frustration).

    I’ll definitely be trying some of this for Pachyderm!

  • Very, very cool. I won’t even ask about the open source MLX version of this. I’ll never have time to use it anyway, but these younger geeks that are starting to enter the NWP blog work… maybe someday…

  • What did you use to make the initial recording? I’ve been playing with Captivate, but have heard from a colleague that Swish was nice to use.

    While D’Arcy found the text “entirely readable” on the .swf, I did not. I don’t know what would account for the differing experience, except maybe screen resolution. I’m browsing at 1280 X 1024, if that helps for feedback purposes.

    I DID try the .wmv, and found it looked much, much better than the .swf.

  • P.S. The little red circle with a white arrow in it shown in the upper right hand corner of your Firefox window means there is a critical update available. In this case it’s probably one that fixes a pretty severe vulnerability for which the only fix was to disable javascript. Go get 1.0.4 when you get the chance. :)

  • The screen recording was done with the free Windows Media Encoder, the same software Jon Udell uses. It is not very hard to use, although there are a gizzillion settings that you may not have to fiddle with (I tried som many different options foir Video output that I forgot what the final ones were, I have to get back to the laptop and see the session details).

    Like written, this was a sloppy one off. I set up a fixed area on the screen to record, and tried to make it not too big, but was still something like 988 x ????.

    It produces the *.wmv file. Swish was used only to churn that into a *.swf file, and again, I was quickly picking some settings to try and make it smaller (the first one was like 25 Mb) and lowering the quality settings made the text on the screen a bit more fuzzy. I did not have time to run it through something like Media cleaner to make a quicktime version.

    The *swf on my test machines was viewable, but not as clear as Udell’s.

    PS Thanks for the Firefox update tip… of course everything on the PC is vulnerable.

  • I too, inspired by John Udell, recently tested the screencast waters. Take a look and let me know what you think. It is a really brief, tour of some Audacity features, but really isn’t anything special. Nonetheless, I was able to pull this together pretty quickly using Catasia Studio 2. I’m hoping folks will be interested in posting a variety of screencasts, such as the one that you did, to the EDUCAUSE site on the hopes that it increases exposure for that content. I’m personally interested in ones for Moodle, LAMS, Sakai, and Drupal. I just don’t have the time or expertise with these products to produce any, but hopefully others will get on board soon.

    http://blog.educause.edu/mpasiewicz/archive/2005/05/10/1573.aspx

    Cheers,
    Matt

  • Oops, that should be Camtasia Studio 2.

  • Very clean Matt. I like that the way Camtasia Studio apparently exports that you get a screencast with a video controller at the bottom (stop, play pause, skip ahead, etc).

    And you clearly show that it is rather simple to do.

    My question is can we think of something with a bit more “ooomph” than ‘casts of how to use software? It’s nice, and I can see where it is useful in explaining how to use systems which do not explain themelves very well ;-) but isn’t there a more, compelling, interesting, way to sue the technology? It’s the marginal leap from lectures to podcast lectures which give me fits.

    And I also fail to see the “repository” model of asking us to load them all on the EDUCAUSE site. Why do they have to be in a big pile? If anyone who publishes a screencast to a blog, and uses the descriptive phrase “screencast” wouldn’t Google, Feedster, and other tools allow a decentralized, model to thrive?

  • Good to see you’re still innovating and experimenting Alan. I also found the quality of the screencast was pretty poor (1024×768 res 32bit colour) but the concept is great. We’ve been using synchronized Camtasia screen recordings for some time to produce either user-guide demos, to help in evaluating development works-in-progress (usability studies), or when we are going to be presenting in environments where we can’t guarantee an internet connection. We’ve recently upgraded to Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio 2 which enables us to produce the all important Flash video files (flv). With post-processing flv can be made to generate events at cue points)so that the video stream or download can then be synchronized with other resources, e.g. other flash slide, or URL flips … a poor person’s Breeze:)

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  • I think a decentralized, loosely joined model can thrive (and will eventually), but I’m not confident that the tools are there for everyone yet. If you’re an information junkie like me, I think it is fine, but I think for folks just trying to get up to speed on a technology and/or for folks looking for screencasts (or about any other topic) but only those that are relevant and germaine to higher education, many folks seem to look to EDUCAUSE as a sort of clearing house so that they don’t have to sift through all the other information out on the web. Some folks don’t have much time and still haven’t mastered the art of an information junkie. They don’t know about tagging, RSS aggregation, technorati and the like. Now, that being said, I do believe that an EDU_RSS like offering will be an interesting addition to the suite of information offerings that we provide. By the way, that was a very good question and it is quite contemporary here at EDUCAUSE. If you have any other thoughts, please send ’em my way.

    As to your other question regarding content that provides a bit more “ooomph” … well, sure, I think it is great if we can find all sorts of ways to use any given technology. Personally speaking, I guess I just feel that the moment is ripe and there is a void to fill in terms of demonstrating software and various uses of it (for higher education) … especially for OSS.

    I hope that makes sense …