By Martin Stut, 2014-08-05
Occasionally, you need to explain some piece of software, or a website, to a diverse group of potential users. Not everyone loves reading long manuals or text descriptions. Some (many?) people prefer watching a live demonstration with audio comments and/or textual explanations. In other words, an instructional video with your computer screen as the main image source, a so-called screencast.
In the last few days I dug a bit into this area. I ended up trying and loving Wink. Here is the
Path to my Conclusion "Wink is it"
- able to record audio
- able to do editing after the recording session, e.g. add annotations (some call them callouts), add audio, skip times of "nothing visible happens" (program is working without interesting output)
- offline on the local computer. No content touching the cloud.
- little or no cost
- no time limit or watermark
- no crippleware/nagware
Comparison Articles on the Web
If you want to make up your mind by yourself, you may find these articles helpful:
Of course Wink is not the only screencasting program. Here is a list of alternatives and my reasons why I chose to not try them:
- Camstudio : the closes contender of Wink. But http://www.screencast.be/tutorial_camstudio.html writes:
You might be a bit disappointed but the tradeoff for the free CamStudio is that it does not offer any options for editing of recorded movies. You can change neither the sound, nor the video. There are only two players (one for AVI movies and one for Flash) that come with this free software. The only post production task you can perform with CamStudio is to add Screen Annotations and Video Annotations. You can configure what cursor (if any) to appear on-screen and what keyboard shortcuts for Record, Pause, and Stop to use and more or less the capabilities of CamStudio are up to here. If you need more features, you will have to consider purchasing a commercial package, like Camtasia Studio or Macromedia Captivate.
Active Presenter Free: Freemium business model makes me sceptical - probably some important feature is available only in the full version. Bur even the free version can create one of those e-learning formats.
EzVid : Feels too commercial.
ISU : Editor costs money. Forget it.
Project Home page: http://www.debugmode.com/wink/
Wink produces small files because it optionally creates a screenshot per mouse click, not a full video.
Wink is a "Windows mostly" program: the Linux version is quite old, there is no Mac version.
It's rewarding and doesn't take long to go through one of these. Knowing the concepts is really helpful before recording your first screencast.
Experience when Recording a Test
- Recording Audio requires more CPU Power than a 2011 netbook has.
- UAC Prompts are not recorded, not even when WInk is run as Administrator.
- Either record only a region or else remove the icons from your desktop. Recording a region, e.g. the area of an explorer window, works well - read a tutorial to learn how.
- Audio is slightly distorted, but still o.k.
- Using the "save compressed" option is important.6 minutes uncompressed, with audio create a 320 MB .wnk file. Save compressed reduces it to 10 MB.
- Recording audio later to a frame works well. When adding audio to a frame, the audio duration adds to the time the frame is displayed. This is good, as you don't need to add "stay in this frame" time for every frame containing audio.
- I can recommend input-driven capture (Alt + Pause), because it produces a lot less frames than timed capture (Shift + Pause). You can add a manual screenshot (Pause) to an input-driven capture session. This is useful e.g. when showing a program that runs for a while without user interaction, e.g. a download progress.
- I highly recommend to make the task bar permanently visible, so you can see the Wink icon, indicating recording mode.
Wink exports essentially Flash
This may be almost killing it. No current mobile platform plays flash without additional software.
Flash Capable Mobile Browsers
- for Android: FlashFox Browser (plays Flash, free version has ads).
- for iOS: Skyfire (not tried)
Convert .swf to html5
No working solution found:
- Google Swiffy https://www.google.com/doubleclick/studio/swiffy/ - online only, so not suitable for confidential content. Output is dependent on external libraries, so Google will be able to track viewing etc. Does not support sound in iOS, Android, Firefox. File size is limited to 1 MB, which rules out all but the smallest tutorials.
- http://www.flash-to-html5.net/ online service of sothink. Does not even support buttons. 3 MB size limit; 15 minute waiting time before you can attempt downloading the result. Even after the wait, the download button did not work (no action on click).
Use the HTML or PDF export
Works, but the result contains only pages, not a movie, so you lose
- mouse movement (instead, it jumps)
- timed progression to the next slide
File size is a lot bigger in HTML or PDF: 5 MB instead of a 1 MB flash video.