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July 26th, 2006

Getting Ready for Screencasting: A Review of Video Screen Capture Software for Mac OS X

Video Screen Capture Software for Mac OS XI’ve been hooked on the idea of screencasting ever since Jon Udell started pushing it a couple of years ago.  He pointed out some very effective screencasts that others had made and posted several excellent screencasts himself, interspersed with articles on best practices, tools, and tips.  As Udell pointed out in “Movies of Software,” Apple has done a less-than-stellar job at making screencasting on the Mac as super-simple as other creative and educational tasks are.  He was also dismayed–well, at least, I was dismayed–to report that he was doing his screencasting on a Windows machine mainly because Microsoft had provided superior, free tools for doing so.  *Groan*  Let’s see… that was a year and a half ago!  I thought surely someone from Apple would have read his blog post and rushed an update to QuickTime Pro to make amends.  Not that it’s completely equivalent, because QuickTime Pro isn’t free, but at least Mac OS X users wouldn’t have to go hunting and pecking for a tool to do a basic job like screen-capturing.  The problem is, you see, that the world has moved on from Grab, and when I think “screen-capture” today, I don’t just think still pictures.  Heck, no.  I want to capture motion… I want to capture sound.  I want to capture software.

The sound part is easy, thanks to the truly superior tools Apple provides in iLife… in this case, GarageBand.  But the video… Like I said, *Groan*!  On a Mac, you can capture yourself making funny faces in both stills and videos… You can create little video miracles of your family at play… You can turn yourself into a budding American Idol with GarageBand and iMovie.  But you can’t do a simple thing like capturing the beautiful animations and user-interface delights that Mac users enjoy while working with their software.  In other words, you can’t capture videos of Mac OS X in action.

So, one of the categories of software I’ve been keeping an eye on–and cataloguing possible purchases in–has been video screen capture products.  I don’t think I’d ever have the time–or talent–to prepare true screencasts in the Jon Udell mold, but I have found myself wanting to capture small videos of Mac OS X software in action on many occasions.  In fact, little videos have been creeping into my software reviews and other blog posts for the last 6 months or so.

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