Screencasts

I stayed in my pajamas all day, mourning the loss of my cat. She loved my computers…they were warm and made funny noises.

I lost myself in work for a time, developing a GarageBand screencast that I want to use with my class next week. I’m using SnapZPro, from Ambrosia Software; it seems to be the accepted Mac screen capture program and has Intel capability. (I’m working on a MacBook Pro and thinking about investing in a desktop. But that’s another posting altogether.)

I spent most of the day creating just over five minutes of narrated video. I started by experimenting with screen shots, thinking I could import them into GarageBand and make a video podcast. But they were different sizes, and taking a good screen shot was harder than it looked. I ended up choosing to make a video, using a set window frame in which I worked. That way, I could just work through the program as I normally would. With just one difference…

Having done this before, I knew that it was important to leave time for speaking. You can go much faster in terms of opening a program, naming a file, etc. if you don’t have to verbally tell someone else what you are doing. So, as I recorded the actions of opening GarageBand and creating a podcast, I mentally ran through a possible script, doing things as I got to them in my narration. It actually was pretty easy. I have used iMovie a lot; last semester I created a tutorial that we used in the Media Center.

The more difficult issue has been quality of video output. The video created by SnapZPro was very clear and reasonably small. It used something called Apple Animation for compression. The pixel size was huge: 1017X696 and it was only 16 megs. I imported it into iMovie and something weird happened. It got blurry. I lost a ton of quality.

So, before I headed out to discussion boards, I decided to play with Quicktime Player. I have the pro version and I used it to edit an audio file last week, very impressed with its ease of use. I like a simple program that only tries to do a few things well for not very much money! So, I got the audio I had created in iMovie by exporting it from one of the Quicktime movies I created as I experimented with output. I added it to the file created by SnapZPro. I exported using the same size and compression: 50 plus megs. I changed the size to 640X480, thousands of colors, and got it down to 22 megs. Still good quality, I think.

I posted the first few examples on my .mac blog. The final one I uploaded to a different server and linked to it because the .mac blog limited the size of the window. Here’s the weblog: http://web.mac.com/witchyrichy/iWeb/Witchyrichy/Blog/Blog.html

So, here are the questions:

1. What have I learned today?

Today, I have learned that there are a variety of ways to export video. I also learned that there is an issue with importing video into iMovie. I want to do some investigating. Plus I’ve been in touch with Troy. His suggestion after the first ones were done was to make the pixel size bigger.

2. How did I learn it?

Experimentation, trial and error, observation, email exchange with Troy
3. Could I have learned it better/differently?

Hmm…I might have started at discussion forums as I’m sure someone somewhere has offered suggestions for appropriate formats for these things. I guess part of the problem is that I have two conflicting goals: I’m assuming that you are going to download them rather than try to watch them over the web so I am probably more concerned about quality than size. I am, however, offering them over the web so even 22 megs is pretty big. I tried doing web streaming using their settings and got a 6 meg file that has crummy quality. I suppose you offer both. Anyway, I will go out and explore the forums but I like to play around myself first sometimes to see what I can figure out.

I tried out my first screencast as part of the podcasting workshop we did last spring: http://www.ivyrun.com/screencastkwr.mov. Actually, it is pretty good quality as I re-watch it after a few months. The format is AAC, Stereo, 32.000 kHz
H.264 Decoder, 320 x 240, Millions…it’s too small…need to be at least 640X480. Wonder how that would affect its size. Right now, it’s 8 megs.

4. How could I use what I’ve learned to benefit someone else. (In other words, could I teach/coach/help someone to learn more effectively based on my experience?) Well, I could make a screencast describing the various trade offs of different formats 😉

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  1. 1 GarageBand Screencast Update « In Another Place

    […] I posted about my screencasting project that I started last week. […]




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