At one time screen recording software (including capturing) was a simple endeavor.  You recorded the screen, could change the screen size – as in full capture, a part, window, etc. and then add text boxes, lines, etc. for end users to see in the final product.

It was simple, so simple anyone could use it.

Nowadays new features are being added, some that are quite useful and others that leave you wondering, what the heck is going on here?

Valuable Features – New

Audio Recording and Editing

The ability to record audio in real time or post time makes a lot of sense and eliminates the need for using Audacity (albeit it is a wonderful and free product).

However, just placing the ability to record audio pre or post is not enough. Especially the post. There are more vendors who do not offer the ability to post – i.e. add audio afterwards it is quite amazing. Something so simple seems impossible for so many.

Editing Audio

People want to edit their own audio, but here is the thing. They are seeking multiple tracks for editing, not one track. Again, simple and yet again arguably with many vendors difficult to do.

Plugins

Virtually non-existent. There are dozens of free audio plugins available on the net, so why aren’t screen capturing/recording vendors offering the ability for the end user to add them?

There is something wrong when a free and open source product like Audacity can do it, yet a product that costs hundreds of dollars cannot.

Instead of offering 3D capability – which I’m sure virtually none of your end users are using, why not add something of value – that they will use.

Before you say, well we have the ability to add silence, fades, and some of the other basics, it just isn’t enough.  Plugins can really punch the envelope and people love plugins. If you doubt me, purchase Adobe Photoshop and see how many plugins are available through 3rd party – which should be a clear sign of the usage.

Video

In their rush to jump on the video bandwagon, many screen recording software companies are adding this capability. Frankly, I am a fan of it, but if you are going this route than offer the following:

  • Multiple tracks of video – rather than a track or two
  • Ability to add basic transitional effects – for those that want to use it 
  • Ability to convert various types of video formats to other video formats
  • Ability to add text, screen overlays and other feature sets that are of benefit but won’t drag down your cpu resources

I’m not overly sold on HD for online tutorials. Unless a person is viewing it on an iPad device or other tablets OR viewing it on their HDTV device or monitor, I just don’t see the gain.

Especially, when you need to maximize the capabilities over a period of time (i.e. 720 is out, 1080p is in, and now 1920 is appearing). The challenge is that many devices are not out with the latest HD pixels.

Another issue I have with many vendors who offer effects – again, I like that – is that they fail to mention

  • The total amount of time to save and publish video with effects is longer depending on the number of transitions and effects
  • Your CPU should at least have 4GB and a solid processor to handle the effects and transitions – especially if you have a lot of them. This would explain why you see your system hit crawl mode
  • That it is not a good idea to have multiple programs open while you are saving and publishing your video
  • If you have a good to excellent video card – it will make a difference. For most folks you need to upgrade your current video card, unless you purchased a system that had a video card that was not integrated, which is cheaper.

Note: When I say publishing I am also referring to preparing the video for final output.

Simple to say, simple to explain – yet, here it comes again – rarely mentioned to purchasers or potential purchasers.

Flash vs. HTML5

I am seeing many vendors still offering the ability to output screen recording and video to flash. Hey, some people just want to hold onto the tree branch as much as they can. That’s fine.

Less vendors are offering the HTML5 output, which seems to be strange, especially as more e-learning vendors as a whole are jumping right in.

Those who do offer both Flash and HTML5 are missing a simple and essential item to their arsenal.

The ability to convert a Flash video to HTML5  and Video to HTML5. (another vendor who offers both capabilities is sothink)

Again, this makes the most sense, and again there are products out there that do it (not in the e-learning space).  Best of all, they are cheap to buy. So, why isn’t this an important feature set, since a lot of people have flash tutorials and flash video files?

Take Techsmith’s latest version of Camtasia.  Rather than having the convert Flash to HTML5, they offer something called “smart focus”.  Awesome. 

I know when I think video recording tool, where most folks use in this space for online tutorials, the ability for the product to guess where is the best place to zoom into your videos, is a must for anyone.

I’m not sure what the thinking was behind this feature (although I can guess), but when you try to toss everything including the kitchen sink, sometimes it will backfire. I would love to know in a year from now, how many people are using this feature, and specifically, how many can’t live without it.

Speaking of feature sets, two features I love are located in Wondershare DemoCreator.

The features are

  • Ability to add your company’s logo to the video – at the bottom left of the screen – rather than just in the opening – a big win for those folks in sales or firms who provide online learning to clients
  • Support (as in output) to AICC/SCORM – a major win!

The SCORM capability again seems like a no-brainier. More and more folks are uploading their own video to their respective LMSs. The challenge though comes with analytics for these videos.  SCORM within the product takes out that issue.

But let’s not stop there.

Let’s say you already have a video course and want to convert it to a SCORM video course. Right now, there is really only one product out there that achieve it in a simple manner – SCORM ScoTube by Rustici software.

I already know a couple of companies who have been looking for such a solution.

Which tells me, if they are looking so are others. Sure, you could send your video to a 3rd party development shop, but why? With ScoTube, you have the control. Best of all, you can import your videos into your own LMS.

Think out of the box

I solution that I fell in love with is called Movavi Screen Capture Studio.

It does it all, from screen capturing to screen recording to video recording to audio recording and editing and significantly more.

Here is just a few:

  • Capture, merge and edit web cam video
  • Add filters, transitions and effects – yes, filters
  • Audio conversion within the product
  • Save videos in popular formats including MP4, DivX, online
  • Playback formats for iOS devices including iPad, media players, other tablets, Sony PSP and Sony Playstation 3
  • Upload screencasts to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo or S3 (and the program tells you the limits YouTube allows – something many vendors do not)
  • Share online recordings

The price? $49 for personal use, $99 for commercial, although who would know if you bought the personal one and used it, rather than paying for commercial? 

SCORM conversion does not exist, but again, using ScoTube would solve that.

Bottom Line

Screen capturing and recording software is evolving in our industry. Many vendors are slowly calling themselves video recording with the ability to screen capture too.

They use videos interchangeably with screen recording, so that folks trying to find the one size fits all, can do so without having to purchase multiple products.

But the problem lies in the details or more specifically the features.  Sometimes having a lot is not a good thing.

Sometimes people want simple, easy and robust.

Sometimes what they really want is a screen recording software with a nice editor, branching and quick click buttons.

Hopefully e-learning vendors will re-examine what they are doing and either create a new product or tweak their own.

But, I doubt it.

E-Learning 24/7

Note: the product mentioned is called WalkMe