Creating Screen Capture Videos

Screen capture videos are exactly what the name conveys. The software allows you to define an area on your screen, from the entire monitor to a smaller window and record whatever happens in that area.

This is excellent for demonstrating software or computer techniques because it gives a chance for the instructor to show the viewer what is happening on their computer screen. The P.I. Machine course makes great use of screen capture video to help users follow along.

The Mac comes with a screen capture utility as part of QuickTime (a video playback software). I am not certain if Windows offers a similar screen capture utility or not.

Many screen capture programs are available. Two I am aware of are Voilà and Screencast Maker. I prefer to use  Snagit by TechSmith. As I'm recording this,a single-user license for Snagit is only $49.95. If you have an older version, you can upgrade for 25 bucks.

There is also another program by TechSmith called Camtasia. Camtasia is a full video editing software that also includes a screen capture utility. So if you want an inexpensive screen-capture program and a video-editing program, Camtasia might be the way to go. For a single user on Mac, it’s only $99.

I’m going to give you a quick explanation of Snagit. If you would like a detailed step-by-step video rundown, check out the P.I. Machine Module Two Video Lessons available for Kindle readers at a special rate.

Snagit runs in the background on your computer. There is a tab at the side of the screen with a record button that pops out when you hover your cursor over it. When you click the button, your cursor will be replaced by crosshairs. By positioning the crosshairs to the edge of an open window on your monitor, a frame will snap around the selection. You can also click and drag a rectangle to select an area.

In the corner of the crosshair selection area, the program will tell you the size of the frame as you make your selection. I try to size my windows to 1280 x 720, which is the recording size for the HD videos I shoot.

Below the selection, a control bar will appear. You can snap a picture, record video, return to crosshairs to redefine the selection or cancel the capture. If you select the photo option, SnagIt will create a still image and open it in the SnagIt Editor, where you can add text, arrows and other graphics.

When you select video capture, a window will appear that tells you it is ready to record. It should also show the system audio has been uninstalled so you don’t get feedback, and which microphone you are using to record any voiceovers. For video voiceovers, I use my Blue Snowball for quality sound. If you need to change microphone inputs, that can be handled in SnagIt’s preferences.

Recording a screen video is as simple as pressing the record button. You will see a countdown, and the video will begin to record. Every word you say, every cursor move you make and anything that happens within the selected area will be captured.

To finish, you simply hit the stop button. SnagIt will then render the video, which you can save to your computer. At that point it is ready for your editing software.