In this post I will walk through the steps for creating a screencast using free tools that aren’t specific to any Operating System. In other words, regardless of whether your machine is running Windows, or Mac OS, you can create a screencast.

What is a screencast?

Simply put, a screencast, or video screen capture, is the recording of a computer screen, often with audio narration, while various tasks are being performed. In the same way Kleenex is used interchangeably with facial tissue, Levis with jeans, and Rollerblades with inline skates, Screencam is often used interchangeably with screenast. Screencasts are often used to teach people something, or to show software bugs for technical support. They are also often used to run through the slides of a presentation, which is again, often used to teach people something. They are of particular benefit on the Internet to complement “how to” type articles.

2 Free screencast tools

The two tools below are free to use and each have pro upgrade features. I will explain the features of both the free and paid versions, and how to use them.

1) Screenr.com

screenr

 

To use Screenr you simply visit the site and click the “Launch screen recorder now” button. From there you specify the mic to be used for voice capture, then resize the screen and click the red button to start. A 3 second countdown will begin and the recording will start. Most notably, the free version has a 5-minute recording limit. However, once the recording is done, you can login with your Twitter, Facebook, Google, or Yahoo account and get access to the HD video. You can either keep it published on Screenr or publish it to YouTube (or both).

There are various levels of “upgrades” on Screenr ranging from $19 per month to $289 per month. You are able to record longer videos and store more of them (up to 7,500) with all upgrades. You can also embed the recorder in your site for tech support and bug reports. Analytics are inlcuded in the upper packages.

 

2) Screencast-o-matic.com

screencastomatic

 

I actually dismissed this tool for a long time because I was put off by the hyphens in the domain name. I decided to check it out today to offer a comparison to Screenr (that I use(d) regularly). The biggest standout in the free version of Screencast-o-matic.com when compared to Screenr is that it offers 15 minute recordings, 10 minutes more than Screenr. It also allows the recording from web cam and the screen at the same time.

The drawback is that it includes a watermark within the free recordings. However, to wipe away that watermark, all it costs to upgrade is just $15 per year. Now, that is cheap! Both Screencast-o-matic.com versions (paid and free) let you publish to YouTube in HD, and to MP4, AVI, and FLV. The upgrade includes: publishing to Google Drive and Vimeo, it lets you publish screen shots, removes the watermark as mentioned, and provides editing (including simple and advanced overlays), scripts, and screen shot tools.

It allows you to switch off screencasting and just record from the web cam, and lets you draw and zoom while recording. Truthfully, the only thing Screencast-o-matic.com doesn’t seem to have when compared to Screenr.com is the ability to embed the screencast tool into your own site for use with tech support. As a result of writing this post I bought a yearly subscription for Screencast-o-matic.com and I suggest you do the same if you have any use for screencasts in your marketing and your business.