Screen Capture Software: SML Picks

In a Staunton Media Lab (SML) broadcast streamed live on April 27, Audio Director Coley Evans, President Steve O’Keefe, and special guest Max Cross discussed (and demo-ed on a Chromebook) their preferred screen capture and transcription software, with emphasis on their usability by the visually impaired, hard of hearing/deaf, and other uniquely-abled individuals.

Do you need screen capture software?

Screen capture software is a good tool for those who want to record video and take screenshots of their screen, share and edit images and video, and create add-ons like comments and shapes.

Screen capture software works best for, say, creating tutorials, though video capture software may be a better solution if you’re making high-quality video tutorials. Those two types of software are similar, but video capture software offers a higher-quality video end product, and you can control video formats and length better.

What to look for in screen capture software

The best options should be easy to install and shouldn’t take a lot of storage. The most important features you should consider are the capture and editing tools, ease of use, and file format compatibility. It also helps is the software is open-source, or is available for a free trial period.

Capturing and editing tools. If you need to add notes or highlights, or create instructions for a step-by-step tutorial, look for software that would let you to add shapes, comments, and captions.

Ease of use. This includes easy access to and navigation of the quick toolbar and settings, and important buttons such as “record,” as well as the ease of sharing your end product online, and on the social media sites in particular. Storing and moving files off and in the cloud should be also easy enough, if not intuitive.

File format compatibility. The mp4 format is optimal for web usage, and smaller files are better for sharing and storage. “Large files can cause problems for people using the shared folder,” noted Steve O’Keefe during the broadcast, advising users to “capture locally then move the files into the cloud.” Some software also allows you to import images directly from mobile devices, or the camera or scanner.

SML’s screen capture software picks

While there are many options out there, open-source and paid versions, we’re focusing on SML staff picks, with emphasis on accessibility.

Open Broadcaster Software (Max’s top pick) is open-source software for video recording and live streaming (file output to mp4 or flv). Some standout features include live-streaming to YouTube, game streaming, and support for webcams and capture cards.

Debut video capture software can record video from desktop, recording device, or a webcam (supported formats: avi, wmv, flv, mpg, mp4, mov, and more). Debut offers common output settings for HD and TV, plus you can create a custom output. This is useful if you’re sharing on Facebook, YouTube, burning to CD, or showing your videos on TV).

With Debut, you could:

  • Record the whole screen or any portion of it
  • Record video only or video and audio simultaneously
  • Record audio from your microphone and speakers simultaneously (useful if you’re recording a video conference, for example)
  • Use the time-lapse feature
  • Add time stamp and captions
  • Adjust color settings, video effects, resolution
  • Choose the size and frame rate
  • Burn directly to DVD

iShowU is realtime screen recorder for Mac only; created in New Zealand. Some distinguishing features include:

  • Built-in presets, and ability to create your own
  • Single-window interface
  • Recording timer
  • Mouse position capture
  • QuickTime compression support
  • It’s free!

Camtasia (by TechSmith) is a good tool for making tutorials, product demos, and lessons. You can add your end product to YouTube, Vimeo, etc., store it on Google Drive, and incorporate them into the PowerPoint presentations. Available for a free trial, $99 single user version, $49.50 for the upgrade.

Camtasia lets you:

  • Edit audio and video separately
  • Incorporate webcam
  • Add footage with TechSmith Fuse, a free mobile app; and also import existing videos, images, music files, and more
  • Remove noise
  • Edit (split, delete, and stitch)
  • Add ADA-compliant captions (those can be exported for translation too)
  • Add special effects including animation

screencastify button

Screencastify is a screen video recording tool for Chrome (see image above). You can record videos directly in Chrome and create screencasts from webcam or desktop. It runs on all platforms that support Chrome (Linux, Windows, OS X) and ChromeOS (Chromebooks and Chromeboxes), and doesn’t depend on any plugins.

Screencastify offers storage both locally and on Google Drive, and, since it’s integrated with Google Drive, your files could be published directly to YouTube, for example. You can configure keyboard shortcuts to simplify the navigation.

Screencastify Lite is free and is available in the Chrome Web Store. You can record up to 10 minutes with it. Unlimited recording is available in the paid version.

SnagIt (from TechSmith) works on both Windows and Mac, and is a popular choice for quick screen capture and screen recording. Pricing: Free trial; single user $49.95; upgrade $24.95.

Below are some features to consider:

  • Scrolling capture lets you a full-page screenshot even if it’s not showing on the screen
  • Import video and images from mobile (with TechSmith Fuse)
  • Save capture settings as a profile for future use (PC only)
  • Hide video controls

In the next post, we’ll look at the speech-to-text and transcriptions software and apps, based on last week’s SML broadcast. Stay tuned!

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