Making videos using free screencast software is easy and fun, once you get past the first TAKE!
Ok, so you’ve never made videos, or maybe this is your first romp in the screencast software market, it can be a little confusing. Let’s spend a moment going over what a screencast is, then we’ll cover some of the best free screencast software tools for creating them. Sound cool?!
What is Screencasting?
Screencasting is what you would call a video version of a “screen capture” (which is still as simple to do as combining (ctrl+printscreen) on a PC or about 10 ways on a Mac. It’s a technique of producing a faceless video by capturing a video image of the users screen while working through some type of process, whether it be a software installation, setting up plugins or how to get past a tough level in your favorite video game. Screencasts usually show the viewer how to use a particular component of Linux, Windows or Mac, or perhaps a certain kind of software program, or as in the video below, how to do a screencast! They are primarily used as teaching aides and do a very good job of getting a point across.
Screencasting is great for those folks who are a little camera shy. There is no need to put on any makeup or pretend to be an actor for you to gather a fan base. All it takes is a little background knowledge in a subject and the ability to walk someone through the task to produce some expected results. Many of the “How-To” videos that are made as walk-thrus for anything related to computers, even building one, are done through one form or another of screencasting or faceless video.
Some of the Best Things in Life are Free
I’ll be honest, there are several different free software suites that are all good at producing top quality, finished results when it comes to video capturing. When I got started in this industry, I didn’t know which software to use so I started on Google and tried a few out. However, free doesn’t necessarily mean free for commercial use! Be sure to read the license agreements with any free software files you download. These are a couple of really good freebies that you can use commercially, if free is your thing. It certainly is mine! So first, I’ll cover the free one’s I like best in this article and move on to paid versions in another article down the road.
Jing by TechSmith
If I were to recommend any free software for screencasting, I would start with my favorite, by far, which is Jing by TechSmith. It’s a great little screenshot/screencast utility that doesn’t cost a dime, is fully capable of capturing screenshots and video (videos that are under 5 minutes in length). The thing I love about Jing is that everything is in one little program that can be brought up with a single function key or resides as a little sunny face on the edge of your desktop. You also have the added luxury of textual and graphical markup of your screenshots to add more information to your liking as you see fit. Please note, Jing captures video in .swf format only.
Jing‘s bigger brother is known as SnagIt ($49) and is found under the products section in the top menu bar of that same website, along with what I consider the Grand Daddy of all screencast software which is called Camtasia.
Now Camtasia comes with a significant price tag attached to it ($299) but does offer a free 30 day trial if you want to check it out. The thing I love about TechSmith software is that they have married all of their screencast and screenshot software with online elements that allow all of there products to work together seamlessly. This would also be my number one choice for any marketers out there because of several of its unique call-to-action features.
I’ll be putting together my Camtasia Review HERE in the coming days, so be sure to come back and take a look.
CamStudio the Open Source Answer
Maybe you’re big into Open Source (I know I am!) But, if you Google CamStudio, (Camstudio.org) don’t be surprised to find a bunch of bad reviews on this one, but don’t let that startle you. I didn’t provide a link to the .org site because the reason that these bad reviews exist has some merit. USER BEWARE! I DO NOT recommend downloading and installing from the .org website!
The commercial software installation package that CamStudio is incorporated with contains some optional software add-ons that could be considered “malicious” (though they’re really just a nuisance). They vary at times, but are usually browser search bar plug-ins that can wreak some unnecessary havoc on your machine if you’re not careful to avoid installing them during the initial setup. As a side note, CamStudio captures video in .avi format only.
I recommend you avoid the commercial software download unless you’re technically inclined and capable enough of avoiding these problems. You can bypass all of this headache by using this direct download link at SourceForge. This link will lead you to the latest stable release of the software without the pain of the commercial installer. It is not the advertisement-supported installer found on the main .org website.
No viruses have been reported from the main installer (but PUP’s or “Potentially Unwanted Programs” are reported with all the fanfare and red-text warnings that viruses are nowadays….) Nuisance-ware is what I’d call those! Anyway, the above version works just fine – better, in fact, in some ways, since the new version managed to break the function keys operation while trying to appease Minecraft players…
Try Jing first. Then if you want to challenge yourself from a technical perspective and create longer videos, then try the SourceForge link for CamStudio. But again, BEWARE! The optional software that is included with the commercial version of CamStudio found on the .org site has caused some people, that were unsure of how to protect themselves, to run into some serious computer problems.
In order to run CamStudio you will also be required to download either the Open Source “JK Lossless Video Codec” in .zip form at Sourceforge or you can also download the CamStudio Lossless Codec v1.5 windows installer below the software download package on CamStudio.org. There is both a 32-bit and 64-bit version of the video codec in the .zip file, it’s best to install the 64-bit version if you are running a 64-bit operating system.
I’m sure many of you open source gurus or video aficionados are wondering why I didn’t include Open Broadcaster Software in this review. Well, there are two reasons:
- Open Broadcaster Software (O.B.S.) is primarily a live feed video streaming software package that can do screencasting, but there are many more bells and whistles than what a newbie, looking for a simple screencasting tool, will ever need. The beginner may get a bit intimidated.
- The latest release for this open source gem came out on Oct. 2, 2015 and I have yet to get it installed to do a full-blown review, but be advised, it’s on it way! Look for it in a stand-alone review in the near future!
When You’re Ready to Graduate to the Big Leagues
Below is a link to a short screencast video about making screencast videos! This was put together by my good friend Kyle over at Wealthy Affiliate. There are also a couple other non-affiliate links to a few more video software packages that can be used for creating your own professional screencasts! Check it out!
When it comes time to edit your video files, there are also a number of free choices available to you. You’ll find those reviewed in an upcoming article. If you’re a Windows user, you can simply load your videos into Windows Movie Maker, which is supplied by Microsoft as a free download. If I have enough interest, I’ll be happy to do an article showing how to use that program also!
In the mean time, enjoy your video making adventures and when you’re ready to move up to the paid software packages, you can return here for my reviews on some of my favorites like Camtasia (as I mentioned above) and Corel Video Studio Pro, which is a very reasonably priced suite of video production tools that you can order online or buy off the shelf at your favorite software retail store!
Until then… SMILE! You’re on… well, you get it! Be sure to leave a question or comment below!