Seth's Tech Answers & Tips


I've been asked this question several times.  It came up most recently in a delightful conversation I had recently about the future of the law, freelance practice, and the role of technology in the law office. 

A video that records what is happening on the screen is called a "screencast" and they are often used for software training. I use them all the time and are a standard component of my training programs and support for my sites and clients.

 Don't confuse screencasts with screen capture or screen shots, which are pictures of the screen.  I use screen shots as well. If you want make screen shots every Mac and most versions of Windows Vista can do right out of the box.  On a Mac it's called "Grab" and Windows Vista it's called the Snipping Tool. As always the fasted way to find either is to use OS's included index search feature.

I use a Mac and do my screencasts with iShowHDpro. My programmer uses basically every operating system but is partial to Camtasia for the PC.  If you use iShowHDpro and want the effects for the mouse clicks they are available on the Advanced tab under Mouse Options - I got that question a couple times on YouTube. 

I have also heard good things, and know a couple lawyers who use Screenflow for the Mac.    Camtasia also just came out with a Mac version that looks pretty good.

If you have a Mac running OS 10.6 Snow Leopard the new Quicktime X Player includes the ability to make screencasts. I make the Expose All Windows video with Quicktime.

Quicktime X and iShowHDpro, and I'm sure the others, have presets for YouTube's format. Once you record a video you can even upload it to YouTube directly from the application.  Editing video and controlling who can see your video is little trickier, time consuming, and expensive.  But there are some options to buying a server, hiring a programmer, and building your own secure site.

YouTube allows users to make a video private but accessible to 25 people.  MobileMe accounts come with video hosting for private and invite only access.  You can even record a video with iPhone 3Gs and upload it directly to MobileMe (or YouTube). Google Apps Premier Edition gives users in the domain what amounts to a private YouTube.  Or you could just have us build a private library of custom training videos for you.  

I recommend that everyone record their screen to demo their stuff, share their ideas, and capture their expertise.  It is often faster and more effective than any other method with the power of modern computers.  And don't worry if the first 10 takes don't turn out, just have fun with it. 

If you have a video relevant to this site, screencast or not, posted to YouTube of elsewhere let me know and we can include it in the OSLC Video Gallery and give you credit as a guest.  

Posted in: Demos and Sharing

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