A big question for many Internet marketers is how to get screen capture video on their own sites and those of the video sharing sites.

An old favorite has been the free and open source software CamStudio.

CamStudio screenshot

CamStudio has been around for some time, since around 2005, and being open source software means that everyone has access to the code for the software. This means that there is more than one version of this tool available to you.

We will be discussing the still free version based on the original source code. This will give you an idea of what to expect from the free version and what to look for should you decide to go with a paid version.

CamStudio is able to record all screen and audio activity on your computer and create industry-standard AVI video files and using its built-in SWF Producer can turn those AVIs into bandwidth-friendly Streaming Flash videos (SWFs).

It works very well when used to create demonstration videos for a software product; classroom tutorials or creating video screen capture for information products. There is also a lossless codec available on the homepage that produces very good sound quality.

Like I said, there are some issues to consider with the free version 2.0.
The videos will not play in Firefox or Netscape Navigator(who uses this browser besides me anyway?) browsers.

Also, I picked this up from the website homepage regarding a couple of issues and how to work around them:

"A number of people have mentioned having trouble viewing SWF videos generated by CamStudio. It turns out there's a bug which means you can't see anything if you try watching them with Netscape or Firefox (Internet Explorer works fine) ...

The next update (2.5) will fix this but until then, here's a temporary workaround:

Open the related HTML to the SWF you've just generated and look for the line starting with the "EMBED SRC" command ...

Change the Width and Height values in this line to match values in the line starting with "OBJECT CLASSID".

Save the file and you should be good to go ..."


"If your computer's memory or virtual memory usage starts climbing rapidly when viewing a SWF authored by CamStudio to the point when your PC locks up so you have to reboot it, recreate the SWF from your source AVI file and in SWF Producer, make sure you select the Advanced tab and check the Memory Management tickbox (Manage Flash player internal memory). That should sort the problem out. Thanks to Ben Ward for the fix."

CamStudio can also add high-quality, anti-aliased (no jagged edges) screen captions to your recordings and with the Video Annotation feature you can even personalize your videos by including a webcam movie of yourself "picture-in-picture" over your desktop.

You can choose to use custom cursors, to record the whole screen or just a section of it and can reduce or increase the quality of the recording depending on if you want smaller videos (for emailing to people, for instance) or you can have "best quality" ones for burning onto CD/DVD.

CamStudio is fairly easy to use software. But, if you are technically challenged o catch a snag, it comes with a comprehensive built-in help file, so you can simply hit "Help" and get the answers you need.

On the CamStudio homepage there is a Beta v2.6 available with a stable version 2.5 in the works that will address the above mentioned issues.

If have not used screen capture software before, there is another issue to address. When using video capture software, whether this free version or the premium software, they are resource hogs to your computer.

You see, only a certain amount of system memory is allocated to your USB devices. So, if you have a wireless USB keyboard and mouse along with your printer and USB webcam, you may need to do some unhooking and rerouting to be able to be able to record.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several versions of CamStudio around that are built around the original source code. Most of these have had the playback in Firefox and Netscape issue resolved. And some now include the ability to add a redirect to the end of the video. I have seen those go anywhere from free, during a giveaway event, to around $5.00 and up.

The best, reasonably priced, version that I have seen is from David Guindon and his CamStudio Pro. Dave's version has several added features and since he continues to work on it, he provides updates and added features.

So, now we have added a streaming video desktop screen capture tool to your Internet marketing toolbox. Take CamStudio for a spin and even should you decide to go with a paid version, you will at least have a idea of how the software works and familiarize yourself with its operation and features.

When we return. we will have a look at a powerful free and open source replacement for notepad, NotePad++.

Till next time!

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