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A screencast is a digital recording of computer screen output, also known as a video screen capture, often containing audio narration. Although the term screencast dates from 2004, products such as Lotus ScreenCam were used as early as 1994.[1][2] Early products produced large files and had limited editing features. More recent products support more compact file formats such as Adobe Flash and have more sophisticated editing features allowing changes in sequence, mouse movement, and audio.

Just as a screenshot is a picture of a user's screen, a screencast is essentially a movie of the changes over time that a user sees on his monitor.


[edit] Uses

Screencasts are useful for demonstrating and teaching software features. Creating a screencast helps software developers show off their work. Screencasts are a useful tool for ordinary software users as well, to help report bugs (the movie takes the place of potentially unclear written explanations) or to show others how a given task is accomplished in a specific software environment. Screencasts are excellent tools for learning how to use computers, and several podcasts have started to teach computer users how to use software through screencasts.

Considering the high cost of instructor / faculty led training and the relative ineffectiveness of typical computer based training (CBT) systems, screencasting is likely to become a very popular technique for imparting high-quality knowledge at a low cost.

For example, organizers of computer related seminars may choose to routinely record complete seminars and make them available on DVDs to all attendees for future reference and/or sell these recordings to people who cannot afford the fee of the live seminar or don't have time to attend it. This will generate an additional revenue stream for organizers of seminars and make the knowledge available to a broader audience, so generating a win-win situation for everybody.

This strategy of recording seminars is already widely used in fields where using a simple video camera or audio recorder is sufficient to make a useful recording of a seminar. Computer-related seminars need high quality and easily readable recordings of screen contents which is usually not achievable by using a video camera to film the desktop which is usually projected onto the wall by a projector.

A drawback of most commercial screencasting programs for Microsoft Windows is their inability to make videos of OpenGL applications, though Demo Builder, Fraps, and Growler Guncam can cope with this.

More recently, the popularity of inexpensive desktop screencasting software has created a cottage industry among internet marketers claiming that their screencasting techniques will increase sales for online businesses like eBay and monetized blogging.

[edit] Origin of the term

In 2004, columnist Jon Udell invited[3] readers of his blog to propose names for the emerging genre. Udell selected[4] the term screencast, which was proposed by both Joseph McDonald and Deeje Cooley. His "Heavy metal umlaut" screencastis a well-known example - which explains how Wikipedia works, illustrating the history of the Heavy metal umlaut Wikipedia article.

It should be noted that the term ScreenCam or ScreenCam Movie" is sometimes used to refer to the same concept, especially given Lotus/IBM's pioneering work in producing a screen-recording utility back in the 1990s. However, ScreenCam is a term originally trademarked by Lotus Corporation and really refers to the name of a software product. The trademark of the term has since changed, and is currently held by a software manufacturer, SmartGuyz, Incorporated, who is producing a software product that in like manner records the screen and allows creation of editable, self-playing movies. Hence the two terms, "ScreenCast" and ScreenCam, while related, are not interchangeable, as one refers to generic creation and playback of screen movies, while the other refers to a trademarked software product produced by a commercial entity.

Since 2004, the term screencast has gained widespread use and has been adopted as part of Internet and Computing vernacular.

[edit] Hardware for screencasting

An alternative solution for capturing a screencast is the use of a hardware RGB or DVI frame grabber card. This approach does not have the OpenGL limitations mentioned above, and places the burden of the recording and compression process on a machine separate from the one generating the visual material being captured.

[edit] Software for screencasting

Several screencasting software applications with varying capabilities are on the market, including ScreenCam, Captivate, Camtasia and Camstudio for Windows users, and ScreenFlow and SnapzPro for Mac users. Web-based screencasting services such as Screentoaster, Screencast-O-Matic and ScreenCastle are also becoming increasingly popular for on-the-fly video screen captures.

[edit] Notable screencasters

As the genre has become more popular, individuals have become specialist screencasters creating screencasts for specific areas of technology. These include:

  • Don McAllister - Mac Based ScreenCasts - (Screencastsonline)
  • Molly McDonald - Screencasts about emerging Web 2.0 tools (DemoGirl)
  • Michael Pick - WordPress tutorial screencasts (
  • John Basile - All purpose Screencasts (

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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