Screen Video Capture, Screencasting, Software

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Screen Video Capture, Screencasting, Software

Xah Lee, 2010-07-21

This page lists some screen video capture software that i've tried, with comments on their quality and purpose.

My need for screen video capture are for 2 purposes:

  • Screen capture video games, in particular, Second Life.
  • Screen capture other non-game applications for teaching, presentation, purposes.

I am primarily interested in Windows version, and free ones. Also, i'm a programer, so, it is ok if the program is slightly technical. But am interested in flexibility. In ability to saving the video on my disk in standard video codecs/formats.

Camstudio Open Source

CamStudio. Free, but not very good. It offers pretty old codecs. The codec it offers are:

  • Microsoft Video 1
  • Cinepak
  • Intel IYUV

These are about 20 years old tech. Practically, what it means is that the video you created will have a low “video quality”/“file size” ratio in comparsion to modern codecs.

Jing

I tried Jing. Home page at: jingproject.com.

It's kinda modern social network thing. You can do screenshot and video catpure, then automatically upload it to a site.

It's well supported, free, commerical app.

But it's not designed for video game screen capture.

It saves your file as Flash and auto upload. If you want to save on disk or in some other format, or upload to YouTube, you have to buy the pro version. $14.95 a year.

Also, you need to signup to a online service that hosts your video you captured using Jing.

Overall, this is not a solution for capture video game play.

Note: if all you want to do is show your screen to friends, you can use Skype. It's free and can show a area of your screen to your friend in real time. See: Skype Chat Encryption and Screen Sharing.

WeGame

wegame.com. A commercially backed game vid blog service.

WeGame is similar to Jing. It is tied together with gaming video hosting website, and is commercially backed, high quality, and free.

It's very nice.

Camtasia

The company that makes Jing is TechSmith, it also makes the Camtasia Studio. $300.

Camtasia is a pro level tool for video capture. If video capture is only your hobby, then the price is probably too high.

Fraps

The most popular vid capture software for gaming is Fraps. Home page at: fraps.com.

It's a commercial software.

Fraps is designed for recording PC games only. You can't use it to record for example non-game applications. More precisely, it can record the app only if the app uses DirectX or OpenGL as a core runtime system.

Free version limits 30 secs of video, and with a watermark on your video. Full version costs $37.

The file format is “avi”, a widely supported file format. However, the code used is Fraps's own FPS1, a near lossless codec. That means, it's got high quality, but huge file size. 10 secs of recording, at 992x686 size and 30 frame per second, is 61 mega bytes. The FPS1 codec is proprietary. If you send your video to friends, they won't be able to play it, unless they also have Fraps installed.

To distribute your video or upload somewhere, you'll have to use some other tool to convert it to other codec. The fraps website recommend using “tmpgenc” or “VirtualDub” for this. But you can just use VLC media player. Go to the menu “Media‣Convert / Save”, then select a file. Then, click the “Convert/Save” button, then it'll show a dialog for you to enter a file name, codec to use, and file format to use. Here's the good codecs and container format you should use:

  • H.264 for video, AAC for audio, and MP4 as container format (file name ends in “.mp4”).
  • VP80 for video, Vorbis for audio, and Webm as container format (file name ends in “.webm”).

The first is most widely supported. The second is less supported, but is open source and owned by Google. Both are latest tech. Their quality are about the same.

If you are confused about codecs and container formats, see: Intro to Video Streaming and Video Audio Codecs.

Summary: If you do a lot video game capture, Fraps is the one to get. The downside is that it's not free.

Want to dash through walls?
Try Xah Tele-Dasher!

Others

Others i have to try:

For a full list of screen video capture software, see:

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