Software for Video Capture and Screencasting

By Xah Lee. Date:

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:

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 particular, the software should let me save the video to disk in standard video codecs/formats. So that i can for example use other software to convert it to other formats, or edit it.

Camstudio Open Source

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

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 comparison 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 capture, then automatically upload it to a site.

It's well supported, free, commercial 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 sign up 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.

Haven't tried ti much. Seems very nice for casual game video to be hosted on their site, but may not be good if you really want to make video movies for later edit.

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. $37. A free version limits 30 secs of video, and with a watermark on your video.

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 run-time system.

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:

This is the most widely supported and highest quality. Be sure that the file name ends in “.mp4”.

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

Software for Streaming Screen

Here's a list of software for streaming your desktop screen. (like pointing your webcam to your screen)

Note: you can share screen one-on-one with friends using Skype. See: Skype Chat Encryption and Screen Sharing

ManyCam lets you send your screen as video stream. That is, instead of using webcam as input stream. Home page at manycam.com

WebcamStudio at http://code.google.com/p/webcamstudio/

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