Which tool to use?

Which tool to use?

Ok..I need your help! Collective intelligence required for solution.


Running workshop on how to podcast and in part of the workshop they want me to teach the lecturers how to convert their PowerPoint into a movie (with their voices narrating the PowerPoint presentation).

Yes, I know should be an easy decision for me as I am into video podcasting :). Always the case the more you know the harder the decision.

[Image from misterjt]

What I can’t use

Must use technology that lecturers will have access to once they get back to their Colleges. This means:

  • Can’t use Mac technology – apparently they are an endangered species in TAFEWA
  • Can’t use software that costs money – in a TAFE organization purchasing software takes time (depending on the software can be months..)

Type of software I am after

  • screencasting software (i.e. software that records whole or part of a computer screen) because it is a valuable skills for lecturers to learn (e.g. create videos on “how to do” tasks for software applications; I also use to explain what I am looking for when editing student work)
  • software must create a movie in a format that be converted easily to .mp4 format as they will be uploading the movie as a podcast (to a podomatic account)
  • easy to use

Several people have suggested Photostory (save PowerPoint as jpegs, import images into Photostory and then narrate). Doesn’t quite fit desire to teach screencasting.

Options I have considered

Camtasia Studio 4.0

Camtasia is definitely a great piece of software. Can use it to create screencasts or movies from photos/videos from digital cameras. Can create movies in a wide range of formats.

Unfortunately does not fit into the free category. If I knew that all participants had access to this in their workplace then this would be my choice. It would mean I could also use this for creating movies from photos/videos rather than MovieMaker, and not have to teach MovieMaker. Camtasia is not the most intuitive program to use (would do their heads in going between Camtasia and MovieMaker).

Windows Media Encoder

Encoder is free to download if you run Windows operating system. This is the program that I normally use. It is okay. Creates movies in .wmv format. Being a bit temperamental tonight and crashing Media Player mmmmm is it Media Player or Encoder that is not happy?

Microsoft Producer

I believe this is only designed to screen capture with PowerPoint so that is not a good option. Important for them to be able use software with a range of programs.


It is free. Really easy to use. Creates movies in .avi format.

What haven’t I considered? Which would you use and why?

Probably need to also nag some people to help ….. Philip, Darrel, Gabriela, Hans …anyone?

11 thoughts on “Which tool to use?

  1. What sort of podcasts are they going to make?

    First of all I must say CamStudio is quite easy to use and it does allow you to create a clear video with sound of the actions you go through on the computer to explain a procedure. Great for “how to check your sound settings”etc. However, it might not be so intuitive for a non-enthusiast and can be frustrating. One thing that is annoying is you have to reset the options every time you open it (like minimize controller; reset mike) but that is a small problem compared with others:

    Is the file size large? file size: 88Mb for 2.5 mins – I assume you can compress it but it does seem rather big.
    CPU used – when I was making a screencast I did notice it was taking a very long time to open various windows so I opened up Task Manager and had a look; CamStudio was using up to 90% of the CPU which made everything slow down. It would be necessary to do a lot of editing (MovieMaker?) to remove the pauses.
    Lag: The availability of CPU space not only caused lag in opening windows but also a delay between voice and image. Thus I would say: “Click here and the window closes”, then you see the cursor move over to the “X” and the window closes while you are talking about the next action.
    Turn off: Well, it’s the first time I have used it but I couldn’t find how to stop the recording. I had minimized the Cam Studio controls and they weren’t on the task bar where I thought they should be. Alt+Tab showed nothing but eventually I found it on the right hand side of the task bar.

    Yes, it’s free and it makes good videos (I didn’t try out the captioning) but I think you are going to have a lot of problems teaching it – one reason because of the size and unfriendliness of the CamStudio controller.

    To return to the question at the top; if they are going to make “How to do something on the computer” podcasts, then yes, your only option is to use screencasting – nothing can show you better the steps to follow. If however, they are going to make “How to strip down the engine” or “How to artificially inseminate trout” videos, then go for Photostory; it’s so much simpler for them to follow.

  2. To continue
    An additional factor is the overall usefulness of “how to do something on the computer” how to videos. I do not feel they necessarily teach what is intended and I partly draw this conclusion from my experience of “Skillsoft” – the Canadian online computing teaching application available to TAFE staff. At the beginning I was enthusiastic and even led a few workshops at West Coast on how to access the activities. However, after a time I found my enthusiasm palled because I wasn’t actually able to PRACTISE meaningfully what I had learnt. You are shown (sometimes with animation) how to proceed, but as you are watching it on the computer, you don’t actually perform the actions. What is that old adage of learning by watching = 5% retention but learning by doing = 80% (%ages nominal)?
    A non-enthusiast anyway finds it tricky to have the Skillsoft and the application windows open simultaneously.
    If the process is short (e.g. check the volume control) you can view a screencast video and probably retain the info long enough to do it, but if you are learning something more complex like how to use layers in Photoshop, then I don’t believe screencasting helps. Unless you make notes, (which defeats the object of the system), it is difficult to apply your knowledge later.
    Witness the great initial enthusiasm for Skillsoft and the resulting non-completion of units.

  3. Just a thought. Have you heard of Slidestory yet?

    It’s is a free Web2.0 tool that allows you to create presentations online, and add your own narration. It gives you the option to embed the presentation into your blog/ wiki, but I don’t think you can export as media content.

    You could do all of that in Windows Movie Maker, which all of our Institute machines have, and export as a media file. But it’s Windows and Mac’s rule!

    Have a look at these examples (just click the first slide to run them)…

    Learn French – http://www.slidestory.com/?page=detail&cid=162

    Learn how to make a wiki – http://www.slidestory.com/?page=detail&cid=277

    There must be some web2.0 tool out there???

    We use Captivate, but that costs.

  4. Yes, Slidestory – that was simple here is my test:
    15 mins from reading the comment above so pretty quick to pick up)- I would still go for Photostory because it’s got more editing and other features, but for simplicity. this is tops.
    I like the way the caption is under the slide and not over it as in Photostory, making it difficult to read.

    there must be a way to export it…

  5. CamStudio is easy to use and good for the basics. For conversion I’d recommend the freeware program SUPER which converts almost anything that’s a movie file into any format you can imagine! Links for all of these are in the last section of the Podcasting etc. Biblio wiki (which you’re most welcome to add stuff to) here:


  6. As a novice at videocasting I posted .wmv files generated by Photo Story (as you say – free and easy suits our teachers) on Podomatic http://pinrpod.podomatic.com/. Although not large files (4 MB and 3MB) they never open from the site on my computer nor download to portable player. Converted to .swf using free xilisoft and uploaded – they open right away from the site but a colleague had only squels instead of commentary. File formats for video are too many!I continue looking for solutions …

  7. Hi Mar
    I thought I better point out that podomatic converts all audio and videos as you upload so that they will play better in their flash player. Reality is this is probably an issue for most podcast sites that use flash players.

    While podomatic states you can upload a range of formats – it is better to get it right because it can cause problems to the file when it is played in their flash player or downloaded to an ipod.

    Ideally record your audio at 44,100 hz. If this is not possible when you edit with audacity change the Project Rate (bottom left hand side). E.g. I use HotRecorder to record Skype interview – it records at 24,000 hz if I upload to Podomatic it then sounds like a chipmunk when it play in the Flash Player. So before I export as an mp3 I change the Project rate to 22,050 and then I don’t have a problem.

    I have found with my videos that .wmv will upload however when it is downloaded onto a video ipod the sound does not play. I convert all my videos to .mp4 format and then upload. Here is how I convert.

  8. hello Sue, thanks for your summary 🙂

    what about a combination of slideshare for the PPt, and eg odeo for the Voiceover (odeo lets you embed individual mp3 files with a player eg Conversations in ACE

    .. you’ve probably seen Beth’s coverage of the topic

    Leigh is a screencasting expert, and has suggested a portable version involving PDF and mp3 files. His early versions were similarly low-tech.

    there’s also a free software called wink, which i think allows voiceover (though it could be a bit clunky)

    thanks again, michael

  9. I have covered this topic in depth in a screencasting primer – the link above wasn’t correct

    You can find it here:

    How technically comfortable are the people you are training?

    While Camtasia isn’t free, it is the easiest one to use.

    If you are using free- there is wink and camstudio. I’m not a natural techie, so I found these difficult to use – but then again I tested them when I was first starting out and I wasn’t comfortable with the “grammar” of the interface for video editing and audio software. If your trainees comfortable, it should not be a problem.

    There is also the problem of CPU drain, lag, screensize resolution when you pull it into moviemaker, and other fun problems.

    So, for something free, you might use:
    -screencapture software – no audio – capture it with wink or camstudio (snagit is superior for this purpose and there is a free version you can download)
    -pull the .avi files into moviemaker
    -narrate in moviemaker
    -export into .avi
    -import into quicktime pro
    -export into your mp4

    One thing that you will need to test an notate is the exact screen resolution, size, and those settings. It’s tricky.

    Another way you could do this so the file isn’t so mega huge and you don’t have get into the difficult screensize/resolution crap – is skip the screencasting software.

    -export your powerpoint as jpegs
    -import the jpegs into moviemaker
    -narrate your slides in moviemaker
    -export as .avi (i have settings for this someplace in my flickr screen)
    -import into quicktime
    -export from quicktime into your format

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe By Email

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Skip to toolbar