Home Presentation tools Comparing 12 Free Screencasting Tools

Comparing 12 Free Screencasting Tools

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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.

 

96 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Judy. I’m not sure what, specifically, in the Jing info was incorrect – I did notice that I had not included the PNG files for screen image captures, so I added that.

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  3. Sceenr stopped working after about 4 screencasts. The record button just kept looping back to the last screen cast. Updating java made no difference.
    Can’t recommend it.
    Screencastle never finishes the uploading process.
    Can’t recommend it.
    Any tips for an app that actually works properly?

  4. […] Mas, realmente, você não precisa nem mesmo possuir uma filmadora ou webcam. Você pode criar vídeos de suas fotografias e músicas no Animoto e no Masher. Se quer ensinar algo que está no seu monitor, como um software tutorial, use um programa de screencasting. Aqui está uma excelente comparação de 12 programas gratuitos para screencasting. […]

  5. […] But really, you don’t even need to own a Flip or webcam. You can create videos out of your photographs and music at Animoto and Masher. If you want to teach something that’s on your monitor, like a software tutorial, use screencasting software. Here’s an excellent comparison of 12 free screencasting programs. […]

  6. You should check out community clips as well – super simple to use (sits in your taskbar, click on it and select record and which application, or the whole screen). Files saved to your desktop or uploaded. Originally designed as a way to share tips and techniques for microsoft office products (no longer a project of theirs) the screencast tool continues to be available for free.

    http://www.officelabs.com/projects/communityclips is where you can get it.

  7. The biggest drawback with Jing is that it saves the file as an .flv, which basically makes it uneditable. Ditto with some of the others. Sometimes, it’s good to pay for things, and Camtasia Studio (which I love) gives good educator discounts. $99 for the Mac version is a bargain!

  8. I’ve using techsmith products (snagit, camstasia) and I really like it… sure Jing will also be good! 🙂

    thanks for sharing

  9. I agree. Selecting a good eLearing tool can be such a challenge at times. I recently read this white paper that lists important keep in mind points while selecting an eLearning tool that supports multimedia. Might help. http://go2see.it/acc

  10. […] Geschrieben von Jörg Heeren am 26. Februar 2010 Den Beitrag als PDF herunter laden: tweetcount_url='http://lernenzweinull.de/2010/02/26/4-vor-feierabend-screencast-tools-ressource-zu-e-learning-lehrende-und-das-web-2-0-e-learning-qualitaetskriterien-2/';tweetcount_title='"4 vor Feierabend": Screencast-Tools, Ressource zu E-Learning, Lehrende und das Web 2.0, E-Learning-Qualitätskriterien';tweetcount_short_url='http://bit.ly/bqY3WL';tweetcount_cnt=0;tweetcount_src='RT @LernenZweinull';tweetcount_via=false;tweetcount_links=true;tweetcount_background='fef61a';tweetcount_border='000000';tweetcount_api_key='R_b22351571f742d01376f59d0fa5a16b3';1. Vergleich von 12 freien Tools zur Erstellung von Screencasts […]

  11. I work for Ontier, and we make Pixetell. We have a great screencast tool. There’s a 21-day free trial with no credit card required. After that’s it’s only $9/month.

    Please let us know how you like it.

  12. Screenr.com also allows for download as .m4v files (Ipod/Iphone friendly formats) that can be edited in any video editing software (this feature only becomes available on your screencasts, not others’). It also integrates with twitter and allows for iPhone/iPod touch viewing off of the site directly which is something that no other screencasting suite can do currently (other than ones that allow you to upload to youtube).

  13. My name is Dave and I work for Screenr. Saw this and just thought I would comment that Screenr’s videos are recorded in lossless MP4 format, and can be downloaded as well.

    Anyway, thought I would give a heads up.

  14. I tried Jing a few days ago. I was able to record video, but I was unable to record audio. I was able to record both with CamStudio. I will be interested to read the remainder of your reviews.

  15. Thanks Brian, for the clarification of screentoaster’s ability to download files as .mov files. I’ll update the post to reflect that shortly.

  16. Thanks for the comment Pierre – I’m sticking with the free apps for my initial look into screencasting tools – there’s so many to choose from, and a lot of my readers appreciate knowing what’s out there for no cost. Of course, Camtasia is a major player in screencasting, and I am curious to know more about it, so I’m sure one of these days I’ll be checking it out and blogging about it, especially now that you’ve pointed out the availability of the 30 day trial!

  17. You *can* download a screentoaster.com recording as a .mov file before uploading it to their site. Choose the option on the right side before the upload step.

  18. Great collection yet what a pity since majority of freeware don’t support video editing features. I hope there are more screen recording programs providing more features soon.

  19. You’re not looking at Camtasia Studio? This is the Techsmith flagship (Jings big sister) and something different than the free CamStudio.
    It isn’t cheap (educational offer is good though) but they offer a fully functional 30 day trial (no limits in functionality, no water marks in output etc) which should give you plenty of time to evaluate it.

    Note: I’m in no way affiliated to Techsmith although I do use their product and like it.

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