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!

Technorati Tags: CamStudio, CamStudioPro, David Guindon, free and open source software, internet marketing, screen capture video

In recent years, Internet marketing has been somewhat reshaped by the introduction of multi-media into our efforts. To take full advantage of the different types of media, such as audio, requires special tools that will allow us to generate our message and then convert that to specific formats like mp3, iTunes, etc. and make it available to market.

The premier free and open source software tool for recording and editing sounds is Audacity. Audacity is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.

Audacity - logo

You can use Audacity to:

* Record live audio from microphone, line input, or other sources.
* Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
* Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.
* Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
* Change the speed or pitch of a recording.

Let's say that you have recorded a teleseminar where there may be some gaps or background noises. With Audacity you can play back the recording, cut out bad stuff, splice it back together and generate a clean recording ready to convert to whatever your required format. And it is all done as easily as clicking a mouse.

Audacity screenshot

Audacity is currently available in two versions, a stable release for most users that supports Windows OS up to Vista; MAC OSX up to 1.2.6; and Linux/Unix up to 1.2.6. This would be best for average user on Windows XP.

Audacity version screenshot

The latest release of Audacity is 1.3.12 (Beta). This version is recommended for more advanced users, and for everyone on Windows 7, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.6.

Audacity version screenshot

Audacity is extensible through the addition of plug-ins and libraries. Plug-ins can give you extra effects, or more audio generation and analysis capability. Adding libraries can allow you to import or export additional audio formats.

On the Audacity download page, click the link on the left of the page that says, "Plug-ins and Libraries." You will want to be sure to get the LAME MP3 encoding library. This allows Audacity to export audio in the MP3 format. To install the LAME library, click the link for the LAME FAQ.

Bear in mind here that some of the plug-ins I mention you may not have an immediate need for. I mention them only as reference. However, you will need the LAME mp3 for sure. You can always add the additional plug-ins as your skills and needs progress.

To install new plug-ins, place them in the Plug-Ins folder inside the Audacity installation folder. Basically, you download the plug-ins in the form of a .zip. Just extract the file and copy and paste the .dll files into the Audacity installation file under plug-ins. However, directions for installation are included with the file or on the Audacity homepage.

After installation, restart Audacity, then the Plug-ins will appear underneath the divider in the "Effect", "Generate" or "Analyze" menus.

Audacity has built-in support for LADSPA plug-ins and Nyquist effects on all operating systems. These plug-ins are mostly built for Linux, but some are available for other operating systems too. Audacity can load VST effects on Windows and Mac using the optional VST Enabler.

In addition to supporting LAME, the Beta 1.3 version of Audacity has experimental support for the FFmpeg import/export library. This allows Audacity to import and export many additional audio formats such as AC3, AMR(NB), M4A and WMA, and to import audio from video files.

If you miss the download for the LAME or FFmpeg don't sweat it. Just open Audacity and click 'Edit'>'Preferences'> 'Libraries'. This will open a dialog box that will tell you if Audacity has found those libraries. If not, there is a link to download them right in that box.

It all sounds a bit 'techy', I know, but it is a valuable and important part of marketing. Not only can you create your own podcasts an audio for your web sites, but you can repurpose content, such as telesimars that you have done, to create new products.

Give Audacity a try and you may find that you don't know why you haven't already included it in your Internet marketing toolbox.

Our next free software tool to discuss is Camstudio, which is a streaming video desktop capture software.

Till next time!

Technorati Tags: Audacity, free and open source software, free software tool, internet marketing, LAME MP3, multi-media, recording and editing sound

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