Screen Capture Video: Jing & CamStudio

It was interesting to read the tweets coming back from the Southern California Genealogical Society’s 2010 Jamboree a few days ago.

I was most interested to hear of the class on screen capture video recordings. A few days before the conference, I had made an exciting purchase. A USB headset. Now that I’m free of the college, I’m getting back to an idea that was floating around when I got distracted. Making videos tutorials.

CamStudioThere’s a few ways I know of going about making video of what’s happening on your computer screen. One is to use video screen capture software like Jing or CamStudio. (Both free.) Another is to make a PowerPoint presentation (or Impress using OpenOffice) and then record it while doing a voiceover. Another is to just leave your voice out of it but then people would have to follow your cursor around in silence and, who knows, might get lost. I know I would.

When I got out my old non-USB headset to experiment around, I discovered a few things.

One, I couldn’t hear myself on the recordings because, apparently, my voice doesn’t project further than an inch. And even with the microphone right up against my lips, if I spoke any louder I felt like I was screaming because I was screaming.

After checking all the sound settings, it was still no go. Translating from analog back to digital loses something in translation. In this case, pretty much everything. I had not yet considered that perhaps the age of the headset multiplied by how many times it had been dropped and stepped on over the years might have something to do with the problem.

Two, making a video is hard because you have to think on your feet. There’s no backspace or delete key. Except for a Pause button, it’s just straight ahead through all the ums and ahs and things that don’t work the way they should.

PowerPointThree, PowerPoint presentations are more controllable but way more labour intensive. At least, at first glance. Screenshots have to be taken one at a time, inserted, centered, text added, etc. Although, the re-takes on a video could put it at par for time involved.

I did a quick web search for headset things to look out for and jotted down my notes:

  • USB
  • stereo
  • noise-cancellation
  • uni-directional

In town, I found something to fit the bill for $56, got it out of its plastic wrap (that’s always the hardest part), installed the driver from the CD, plugged it in, did a quick recording and voila! Crystal, Clear, Pristine Sound. Even mumbling I sound like I’ve had elocution lessons.

Then, I had to experiment around with video size to suit the screen-size of most of the people most of the time, i.e. something that won’t overrun a 1024×768 monitor. 960×550 looks optimal on this site. If you’re ever wondering what your site looks like on a smaller screen, go to

After experimenting, I decided I prefer Jing to CamStudio, and either of those to PowerPoint. I wrote a post about Jing a long time ago and then put it aside. I live in a house with paper-thin walls so I can only do recordings when no-one else is at home. My landlady has already accused me once of talking to myself. The next thing she could be calling the local psych ward.

Since I’ve always been a writer, and not a speaker, and only comfortable in very small groups of people, (like 3 or less) exposing my voice to the world is one of the most terrifying things I could think of doing. But, that’s just me. Consider what video could do for your website if you have one. Or how to use screen capture video for communicating with tech support. Or …

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