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Comparing 12 Free Screencasting Tools

by Kelly Walsh on January 10, 2010

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Combing through the basic functions and features of a list of tools I’ve become aware of, to select some for further testing.

ScreencastingLogosOver the course of the week, the list of Screencasting tools that have been recommended to me, or that I’ve otherwise learned of, has grown to a dozen.

I have a goal of trying identify a free tool or set of tools to use to create stand alone tutorials by combining screen images and screen motion with audio. I would also like to have some editing capabilities, so I could combine multiple captures and rearrange the order of these pieces if needed, and to be able to re-record audio annotation if possible. I would also like to have screen annotation capabilities, at least for the screen captures.

Given this set of desired functions and features, and the long list of tools, it’s only logical that I briefly review each application to see what they can do. Based on these initial fundings, I’ll select a number of tools to take for a trial run, much as I did with Jing last week.

I realize that in a quick overview like this, I may miss something important about how one or more of these apps work, so if anyone notices any errors or important omissions in my summary table, please comment and let us know about them. I wish I had the time to actually try all of these tools out, but I don’t, so I am sticking with this broader approach of learning a little about each app and using that info to inform my decision about which to spend more time with.

[ED NOTE: As of late January 2012, 3 of the original apps in this listing are no longer available, so they have been removed, leaving 9 apps, not 12. - KW]

Feature/Function Summary Table

Application File Format(s) Sharing Files Editing Capabilities
Jing.com  Videos are saved as SWF (Shockwave Flash) files, images as PNG files Files are created on the local PC (the app runs locally, not on the Internet). SWF files are stand alone and can be shared like any other file (and viewed with any SWF compatible viewer), or via Screencast.com. Limited
Other Jing Notes: Presentations are limited to 5 min. in length. Inexpensive Pro version ($14.95/yr.) provides add’l capabilities (such as MP4 file format).
Screenpresso.com  PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP Captured image files can be easily be shared. Many editing tools for manipulating and annotating the captured images.
Other Screenpresso Notes: Screenpresso is just for image capture, not for screen motion capture (it really doesn’t belong in this list!).
Screenr.com  Unknown Presentations (stored on the site) can easily be shared via email links, and can also be embedded on websites. [I have since learned that files can also be downloaded as .mp4 files. KW 1/24/10] None
Notes: Screenr’s main focus is sharing screencasts via Twitter.
Screencast-O-matic.com  .MOV Files can be exported, and therefore easily shared or uploaded to sites like YouTube. Presentations can also be stored on the Screencast-O-matic site and accessed by URL or embed code. None (in free version)
Other Screencast-O-matic Notes: Videos can be up to 15 minutes long. There is a Pro version that allows files up to 1 hr. on length and provides more functionality.
Screencastle.com  Unknown Presentations (stored on the site) can be shared via email links, and can also be embedded on websites. None
Other Screencastle Notes: Screencastle does not use log ins, so all casts are instantly available to everyone, and are not linked to individual accounts. One interesting feature of the site is the availability of widgets for automated screencasting from within WordPress and some other tools.
Webinaria.com  AVI, FLV Files are stored on the site, and can easily be shared via email links, and can also be embedded on websites. Files can also be downloaded in .FLV format, for viewing with any Flash compatible viewer. None
CamStudio.org  AVI, SWF Files are created on the local PC (the app runs locally, not on the Internet), and can therefore easily be distributed. These formats can be uploaded to YouTube and other video sharing sites for web based sharing. None
Faculte.com  Unknown Presentations (stored on the site) can be shared via email links, and can also be embedded on websites. There are a number of editing capabilities, including the ability to add captions to video.
Other Faculte Notes: Faculte is really intended to be a paid tool. The free option limits presentation creators to just 200 views of their presentation.
Debut from NCHsoftware AVI, WMV, FLV, ASF, MPG, 3GP, MP4, MOV, and more Files are created on the local PC (the app runs locally, not on the Internet), and can therefore easily be distributed. These formats can be uploaded to YouTube and other video sharing sites for web based sharing. There are a number of editing capabilities, including the ability to add captions to video.
Other Debut Notes: There is a paid “Plus” version of Debut available, with various add-on applets available as well to provide additional functionality.

 

Summary of Findings
A couple sites don’t meet my criteria and therefore won’t be further considered (Screenpresso is just for images, and Faculte’s free version limits the no. of users who can view presentations). Screencastle seems to be provide just screen motion and audio capture with no editing capability and the resulting captures can only be published right on their site (I much prefer a tool that allows files to be downloaded, providing more flexibility for distribution, and the potential for combining clips with a tool like Windows Movie Maker to create a desired end result). This leaves Jing, Screencast-O-matic, Freescreencast, CamStudio, Webinaria, and Debut to consider for further review. I’ve already test Jing a bit (see last week’s post for more on this).  Debut looks like it has great potential, with it’s editing capabilities and available paid upgrade. It also allows for screen image capture or screen motion capture, like Jing. Of the rest, based on a review of the information on their websites, I would rank my interest (most to least), as follows: Screencast-O-matic, Webinaria, then CamStudio. [Ed Note - After writing this article, I learned that Screenr.com allows files to be downloaded, and after trying this tool, I really liked it - KW 1/31/10]

Of course, you may have different goals than I, and some of these tools may meet your needs even though they are not necessarily what I was looking for, so you might wish to check ‘em out further.

Next Week
Based on my findings, I’m going to take the free version of Debut for a spin next week, with a few others to follow. In the meanwhile, I’m sure some readers will have some feedback on some of these products, and I look forward to reading some informative comments, so please weigh in if you have anything to add.

Related post(s) (if the above topic is of interest, you might wish to check out …):
Creating brief instructional videos (and more) with Jing
Free screencasting – easy; free video editing – not so much
Using Internet story telling tools in education

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About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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