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Screencasting opens up new avenues netspeak

It is the process of capturing computer screen shots and converting them into video files


The availability of several free, simple-to-use screencast generation tools has enabled even a lay netizen to adopt the screencast technology with ease.

This edition of NetSpeak reviews the latest developments/tools available in the screencasting arena.

The process of capturing computer screen shots, organising them logically with necessary comments/voiceovers, and converting them into video files in popular formats (such as AVI and SWF), is called screencasting.

As discussed in the past ( http://www.hindu.com/biz/ 2005/12/12/stories/2005121 200801700.htm), screencast tools facilitate the creation of educational and product demonstration screencast vid eos with ease.

We have already featured several free easy-to-use screencasting programs like CamStudio (http:// www. camstudio.org/). Here, we discuss the latest product/service offerings in this realm.

JingProject

A screencast tool tried out by this author recently is the JingProject (http:// www. jingproject.com/). This free software, from TechSmith, lets us generate/share a screencast with a few mouse clicks. After installing Jing, to create a screencast video, click on the ‘capture’ button, select the frame (area of the screen) to be captured and select the ‘video’ option. During the screen capturing process you can insert audio content by just speaking over the microphone attached to your computer. Once you are done with the screencast, you can save it on your local storage. What makes Jing distinct is its facility to upload this screencast on to the service www. screencast.com for sharing it with anyone on the net. For this, just click on the ‘share’ button. Once the screencast is successfully uploaded on to the service, Jing automatically places the screencast’s URL on the clipboard for you to share it with others.

Jing project can be used in multiple contexts. For instance, if you need to share an Instant Messenger conversation (say, with a client) amongst colleagues, just capture the conversation as a screencast, upload it and send its URL. Or, if you wish to explain/demonstrate how to generate audio content using a voice recording software (such as Audacity), JingProject could prove very handy.

To create a screencast (and host it online) with Jing, you need to download/install the client software.

Now, if you wish to create a screencast without having to install any program on your machine, take a look at the free online screencasting service ‘Screencast-O-Matic’ (http://www.screencast-o- matic.com/). This service enables you to generate screencasts inside your browser — no need to install any additional software. To initiate the screencast creation process, access Screencast-O-Matic and click on the ‘create’ button. Once the screencast is generated on your browser, you can save it as a movie file (.mov) on your local storage. Besides this, the service allows you to upload the screencast for viewing it online. After uploading the screencast successfully, the service provides a link (like this: http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cij3Xx4j) to the screencast for sharing it with others.

The availability of several free, simple-to-use screencast generation tools has enabled even a lay netizen to adopt the screencast technology with ease. This has resulted in the generation of a variety of screencasts. Blogs featuring screencasts help you keep up with the latest developments in this segment. In this regard, you may find the blog ‘What to do’ (http://screencasting.blogspot.com/) that presents a variety of screencasts quite valuable. For instance, the screencast titled ‘How I do screencast’ (http://screencasting. blogspot.com/2007/08/how-i-do-screencast.html) could be of use to beginners in this field.

Video directories

Many educational videos are being released through video sharing sites like Youtube, Google Video and the like. For instance, students of maths (and teachers too) may find the video series, ‘Video Math Tutor’ ( http://www.youtube.com/user/videomathtutor) quite valuable. ‘Science Talk’ (http://scitalks.com/index.php), which hosts videos of talks/interviews by and with eminent people on different subjects is another site worth a look.

Though videos of all genres are available in plenty, finding the relevant/authentic ones from the ever-growing video collection is increasingly becoming a difficult task. In this context, the video rating service, SuTree ( http://www.sutree.com/), could serve a purpose. The service indexes educational videos spread across different video storage archives on the net.

To find the appropriate videos, some kind of human intervention would be ideal. The video search engine ’Science Videos Search’ (http://sciencehack.com/videos/index) is built with this intent. The advantage of this search service is that its database is a human edited one.

Newser

In the past, this column has featured several online news services that aggregate news stories from multiple news sources (like Techmeme). Newser ( http://www.newser.com/), is the latest addition to this segment. The service scans news from around 100 news sources and its editors present a summary of important stories.

J. MURALI

He can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com

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