Talking Tech Friday – Screencast-o-matic

I was so inspired by Christine’s presentation on screencasting on Tuesday that I decided to give it a go myself!

What is it?

Screencast-o-matic is a free, web-based screencasting tool.  Unlike Camtasia or Captivate, you don’t have to install anything onto your computer…well, except the latest version of Java.  More on that later.

How does it work?

Getting started is super easy – you just have to make sure that you have at least Java 1.5 installed in your browser.  When I first started, I was getting an error that the Java applet wasn’t loading, so I did have to go and install the latest version of Java and restart my browser.  After that, though, it worked just fine.  However, this is probably something to be aware of, and may cause a little consternation if you’re not very familiar with the use of Java applets.  Don’t let this deter you from the the fun of screencasting, though!

Using Christine’s suggestion, I also downloaded Sizer, so that I could resize my browser window to specific dimensions.  I used the 800 x 600 size, which Christine also recommended.

So, when you’re ready, click “Create” to start.  You then can choose the size of the screen you’d like to capture, and then whether or not you are also recording sound.  I just chose 800 x 600, without sound.

Next, a window with a black toolbar at the bottom appears.  Click and drag on the toolbar in order to position the window where you’re planning to record.  Think of it as your camera viewscreen – everything within the borders will be recorded.  Once it’s positioned, you click the Red Circle button to record.  Hit pause to pause, play to view what you’ve recorded, and then once you’ve recorded what you want, click on the black “X” in the lower right corner.

You are then taken to a screen showing your screencast, and you can add data about it, such as a title, description, and viewing permissions.  You can also add notes to your ‘cast, which is very easy to do – just play your screencast and pause it where you’d like a note to appear.  Enter in the note and click okay.

Here’s the screencast I did on how to subscribe to RSS feeds using Google Reader.

Once you’re finished, Screencast-o-matic asks you to register, but all you need is an email address and password.  Very refreshing, and I was happy to do it at the end.

Options for sharing your screencast include just linking to it, as I did above, you can embed it on a website (which I didn’t do because of my usual complaints about WordPress), or you can download it to your computer in Quicktime format.

In order to make things super easy, Screencast-o-matic also has screencasts to show you how to make a screencast.  Very helpful to those of us new to screencasting!

Screencast-o-matic is still in Beta (meaning they’re still developing it), so I wouldn’t be surprised to see more robust tools popping up in the future.  It clearly can’t compete with paid services like Camtasia or Captivate, but for a simple screencast for free, I think this is a great tool.

Possible Library Uses

I think screencasting in general is a fabulous tool for libraries – you can create a variety of great tutorials for your users or staff.  It only took me about 3 minutes to do this screencast, and I’m looking forward to trying out some more complex ones in the future.  Screencast-o-matic is a great way to dip your toes into the screencasting pool!



~ by Anali on August 29, 2008.