Further Investigations Into Free Screencast Software

jingBeth Kanter has got me thinking more about screencasting since I wrote my post on Quick Tips for Improving Screencasts because Beth loves Jing while I have mixed feelings. As Beth is way more experienced at screencasting, and my background is scientific research (yes I have kept that quiet), the only option was to investigate Jing deeper.

The Jing Project by TechSmith is currently allowing people free use of Jing and their web-hosting service screencast.com to capture images (and add notes to the images) or record it as a screen cast which you can then share free online at screencast.com.


1. Very easy to use

2. Easy to share images and screencasts

3. Superior quality
It does not change or diminish the resolution of your content which means the quality of the screencast is far superior (check out this screencast hosted on Google Video with this created with Jing). This means you could easily record the entire desktop and viewers would still be able to read the text in the screencast.


1. Have to download two applications

To use you need to download both Jing and Microsoft .Net Framework 3.0. Some organisations are not keen on installing Microsoft .Net Framework 3.0.

2. Screencast is saved as .swf format.

The whole idea of Jing was they wanted to keep it very simple for very fast sharing of content. Unfortunately .swf is the hardest format to convert to another video format — which you need for: editing with MovieMaker, iMovie or Camtasia Studio); embedding in PowerPoint presentations; or playing on a mobile device. Trouble is people often do not realise the .swf format is an issue until then need to convert. Here is Jing Projects explanations for why they have limited file format — read the comments and you will see many have an issue with this format.

3. Will it remain free?

TechSmith explains that Jing is free to use, and to be hosted free at screencast.com for the duration of their testing. TechSmith traditionally sells software. They do state “As we learn what you want from this, we’ll have a better idea what the pricing and business model might look like in the future.”

TechSmith has been doing some interesting free product releases at the moment:

These are older versions of both software — which is not an issue for me with Camtasia Studio because I have not used it a lot but SnagIT 7.2.5 is nowhere near as good as the current version.

4. Causing my computer to start up slower

While making the application easier to use — they failed to make it obvious that you need to quit the application 🙂 (probably a Sue thing). Refer to diagram for how to shut down.

Comparison to Camtasia Studio 3.1.3 and CamStudio

1. Better video format options with Camtasia Studio and CamStudio

Camstudio records as .avi whereas Camtasia Studio can produce movie as AVI video , MOV (QuickTime Movie), WMV (Windows Media video) and Flash (SLV/FLV format). Means easily converted for mobile devices and easily edited to remove bits you don’t like.

2. Decreased quality of Camtasia Studio and CamStudio when hosted on video sharing websites like YouTube and Google Video

You will need to used fixed region, autopanning and certainly worth considering using use zoom/pan (as suggested by Beth) to optimise quality of screencast. None of this is required with Jing hence screencasts are tricker and slower to create using these two applications.

But hosting on sites like YouTube and Google video means you can embed easily in blogs which is not possible with Jing.


Thanks Michele Martin for starting this conversation on screencasting even though the topic was originally on Evolution of a blog post (this is a good example of evolution 🙂 ) and thanks to Beth for sharing your expertise – check out Beth’s great screencasting wiki (especially her detailed sections: screencasts , resource list, examples of screencasts).

Very hard to recommend which is the best application to use for screencasts because it will come back to personal preference and what you are trying to achieve. My twitter network gave these various responses to their preference:

  • Jing is incredibly easy, CamStudio can be a bear to get codecs right, Camtasia seems fairly intuitive…plus the webcam option! ( Since Camtasia (older version) is now free, it wins) – John Maklary
  • Camtasia worked fine for us when we were making tv – mainly for web captures. For games/SL I prefer Fraps skribe
  • another option maybe wink – James Neill
  • I like CamStudio for its simplicity – Wink also good for larger projects – Marg O’Connell
  • I am for CamStudio too so easy to use and because it’s free – can’t comment on Jing haven’t used it. Wink would be 2nd choice – ozysteph1992
  • fan of CamStudio (free and easy). Currently looking at Camtasia – more features than Studio (hence not as simple)- so far like it – Lance Treloar
  • personally prefer CamStudio – got rid of Jing after to many conflicts – just got CamTasia and Snagit – Simon Brown
  • I like Jings simplicity, but would go for Camtasia owing to its depth. My favourite is still Captivate though! – Andrew Brown

Would love to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons of the different free screencast software.

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My Everyday Tools

In the last couple of days I have noticed people blogging on tools that I have been using for quite awhile – I assumed that everyone knew about them – wrong assumption. So I thought today I would post about tools that I use all the time:

1. SnagIt snagit2

Don’t care that it costs money – was worth every cent – they let you download and trial this software for a month – give it a go. Thanks Evil Sue for putting me onto this great screen capture software. This is how I create all the great “How-to-do” images for my web sites (check out “how to create instructional videos” must transfer this to Mobile Technology in TAFE wiki).

2. Microsoft LiveWriter live

All my blog posts are written using LiveWriter. Definitely much quicker and easy than using my blog dashboard. Thanks Frances for getting me to try it. If you have not tried LiveWriter – TRY IT

3. Flickr Creative Commons photos, Lynetter’s Interesting Snippets, Flickr Storm

I use these to locate photos that I can legally use. Lynetter’s Interesting Snippets contains great images with excellent quotes that I have been using for some of my different web sites. These snippets have inspired me to create some of my own. [Snippet by Lynetter].

If you do not have your own Flickr account (online photosharing website), I recommend you get one – here are some of the reasons why I have a Flickr account.


4. fd’s Flickr Toys

This site has so many excellent toys that you can use to create posters, badges , mosaics etc from Flickr photos. Thanks Robyn for putting me onto Flickr toys and Storm.

This is a magazine cover that I created using Flickr Toys. Yes – we can all agree that I am not that creative – so I shall not be leaving my day job yet – tip if you want the photo to work it needs to be 619 pixels wide by 800 pixels high.

5. Audacity, MovieMaker and SuperC

I use Audacity for creating audio podcasts, MovieMaker for my video podcast (would like to use a Mac for video – but that is a really long story) and SuperC for converting my videos from .wmv to .mp4 format (less problems when I upload to my podcast site). Here are my instructions on “how to create audio podcasts“, “how to create video podcasts” and “how to convert .wmv to .mp4“.

If you have time, please give me your opinion on which tool to use – screencasting software, Photostory or MovieMaker (definitely worth time to read this post and the comments because of the differing in opinion by my readers).

6. Managing my online World

I use Skype, Google Talk, Twitter, iGoogle, Google Reader and del.icio.us to manage my world online. My preferred method of communication is now through chat – have to admit Google Talk is now my favorite because you can search gmail and chat history to easy locate information you discussed.

I am really into my Personalised Google Home page because the homepage makes it easier to manage my online world. Also there are so many Gadgets (Widgets) you can add to your Google Homepage (just click on add more stuff).

If you liked this post on My Everyday Tools then I suggest you read my post on Tools of the Trade (about Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, delicious, blogs that I recommend every lecturer should use and why. I also suggests ways they can use these tools with students).

Read my detailed tips for managing your World online if you want to know more.

Image editing software

After reading the latest blogs I thought it was time to read some articles from my technology news feeds; one of which is PCWorld.com “Most popular downloads of the week”. Dare I say it; Google Picasa is one of the top ten downloads for the week. While I had read an article posted by Phillip Nichols on “How to do simple graphics editing with Picasa” back in February I had not got around to giving it a go. So when I saw the PC World article it reminded me that Phillip said it was a great program and I decided to give it a try.

Unlike a lot of Google applications this one you actually download and use on your computer. It is definitely cool. Goes through and scans your hard drive then places all the images and videos from all your different folders (not just My Pictures) into folders that are easy to access from its library. Their library is so easy and nice to scroll through.

There are lots of photo editing options as well.


Definitely an excellent option for fast editing of photos. The only feature I would like to see improved is picture resizing. Here is a collage I made quickly using it. Refer to their information on “How do I create a collage” to see how I did this.

My final thoughts:

  1. Google Picasa is definitely fantastic free software that organises all the photos and videos on your computer into one library and lets you locate and edit them much easier than any other program I use. Much easier than using Windows Explorer and trying to remember which folders pictures are in. Definitely give it a try!
  2. SnagIT – while it is not free – is great for screen capture, editing and adding call outs. Thanks to Sue Hickton for putting me onto this program
  3. Picture Manager is great for resizing photos

How I create my screen capture “how to” tips

I know that one thing that some people like about my Mobile Technology in TAFE wiki is the pictures that explain “how to do” a particular step when using a software application. People from other countries have even asked if they can use them.

If you want to make your own pictures, quick and easily, then I suggest you give the program I use a try. SnagIt allows me to take Screen captures, edit the pictures, add notes, call outs and so much more. I strongly recommend you to download their 30 day trial and give it a go. Brilliant program and definitely worth it. I was using Photoshop but SnagIT is a really quick and easy way to do fast creations of pictures.