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ALA has published my new book on screencasting! Screencasting for Libraries is now available. See more information on my Book page or browse the first chapter below.

Screencasting for Libraries

For those taking more time with your screencasts and looking for audio resources and sound clips to add to your screencast, two recent news items seem to have some potential to offer such resources:

  1. YouTube’s recent post on Video Editing presents: Audio Editing
  2. Phil’s recent post about Soundcli.ps

Soundcli.ps is a new site for sharing (would you believe it?), sound clips. Need a short sound effect? Browse Soundcli.ps for some ideas and potential audio additions. From the terms, it looks like these could be used by others.

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Techsmith announced today an upgrade to Camtasia for Mac to version 2.1. The announcements mentions two significant new features:

  • Clip Speed: Like in Camtasia Studio 7, Camtasia for Mac can now speed up or slow down a section of video
  • Green Screen: Add a green backdrop to a video and then remove that color to put the person in front of the screen. This feature is not yet available for Windows users

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For those of you creating screencasts with software that includes editing capabilities (Camtasia Studio, Captivate, Screencast-O-Matic Pro, etc.), here is a quick, one-minute video from Techsmith with several tips on when to use certain techniques. In particular, it covers

  • Using annotations to reinforce audio instructions,
  • Using zoom to draw attention to important actions, and
  • Adding transitions to show the passage of time

If (like me) you missed the first screencast in this series, video tip #1 covers four excellent basic tips on recording:

  • Write a script before recording
  • Run through your plan at least once without recording
  • Be mindful of where your cursor is
  • Speak with a fun, natural and easy to understand tone

and the post also includes links to an example script and blank template.

Techsmith released a new version of Snagit on Feb. 28. Snagit is a great, full-featured screen shot (still image) program. With versions 11 for Windows and 2 for Mac, Snagit now has much more robust screencast (video) capabilities as well.

Want to see it in action via a Webinar? If you are reading this in time, there is a webinar today at 1PM EDT (and another on March 22 at the same time). Register at Techsmith for these webinars that are supposed to include “real-life examples of how you can use the new Snagit.”

Note that with the launch of the new versions of Snagit, Techsmith is retiring Jing Pro. The free Jing is still available, but Techsmith decided that the Pro features are not better served with Snagit.

The screencast recording functions of Snagit do not include editing but do include easy uploading to YouTube, Screencast.com, and more publication sources. Here’s a quick demo about a Google Patent Fail uploaded to Screencast.com.

Techsmith has released a new version of Camtasia for Mac. The new 2.0 version features include the following:

  • Redesigned editor interface
  • Ability to Extend Frames
  • Callouts can be animated and customized
  • Tilt and restore animations
  • Mobile device frames graphics
  • Cursor effects (highlighting, magnifying or spotlighting)
  • Blur Effect
  • Faster production with higher quality output including Flash with HTML 5 fallback

Many of these have been available in the Windows version, but they work differently on the Mac. Since I don’t have a Mac, I can’t test it myself, but see Techsmith’s screencasts below for a quick look at some of the new features.

Just before last weekend, Adobe updated Captivate to version 5.5. The new features include the following

  • Gradients, shadows, and rotation
  • Updated quiz templates
  • Publishing to MP4
  • Ability to publish to tablets, smartphones, and iOS devices
  • Single click publish to YouTube option

Also new is a subscription pricing model. Pay $59/month on a month-to-month basis or $39/month with a year commitment.  Captivate is also sold as part of the Adobe eLearning Suite which is now at version 2.5. The suite includes Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Acrobat Pro, Presenter, and Audition. The Suite retails  for $1,799 ($599 for education version). The Suite is also available on a new subscription pricing plan: month-to-month ($135/month) or per year ($89/month). The new subscription pricing does not appear to be available for education purchasers.

Techsmith updated Camtasia Studio to version 7.1.1 last week. The maintenance release mostly includes various bug fixes,but the announcement also highlights:

  • Updating the My Screencast.com plug-in
  • Fixing the a problem where a lack rectangle or table of contents covers the video
  • and incorporated a requested option to show a rectangle around the area being recorded (as opposed to just flashing green indicators in the four corners)

Strangely enough, after installing the update and checking the version number under Help > About, the new version number is 7.1.1 (Build 1785, but it is dated way back to Jan. 13.

Version 7.1.1 build 1785 Jan. 13, 2011

If you have Camtasia Studio and have not yet updated, just go under Help > Check for Update to get the maintenance update and then install.

While their Twitter account still exists, Screenjelly has not posted for over a year. When I checked screenjelly.com today, it redirects to a strange SteinerSports picture and email request page (which is why I have not linked it). Parent Veodia.com (which also bought out ScreenToaster) ends up at a “You reached an inactive URL address” message. ScreenToaster which earlier went defunct now just results in an Apache “successfully installed” page. So they all seem to be defunct. I’ll be updating my software page to remove the links.

All the more reason to continue supporting, using, and Screenr and Screencast-o-Matic for free, online screencasting and hosting. Here are a few recent examples that I have tried on each:

  • Screenr: Google Scholar Settings
  • Screencast-O-Matic: Embedded small version below. This is an example for a forthcoming book (more on that later) and includes notes (comments) at two points in the timeline. I had not realized I could add those at Screencast-O-Matic in the past.

I’m not in Philadelphia for ACRL today, but there was an interesting session this afternoon entitled “Do Screencasts Really Work? Assessing Student Learning through Instructional Screencasts.” Even better, ACRL has posted the PowerPoint slides, the paper, and a handout with links and sources. These report on research from the University of Michigan library attempting to answer the question “do undergraduate students really learn from watching these videos?” The study included 15 undergraduate students who were pre-tested, shown two screencasts, and then post-tested on the same tasks (finding a subject-specific library database on the library’s website). The two YouTube-hosted screencasts can be seen at UMich’s site: Why Use Library Databases and Finding Library Databases, and both were created using ScreenFlow (Mac software).

The conclusion? “The results of this study indicate that screencasts facilitate student learning. By viewing instructional screencasts, most students learn how to successfully complete a multi-step research process, such as the series of tasks in this study. Most students are able to transfer their knowledge of the concepts involved in the process and apply it in new scenarios.” While this is a limited study it does show that instructional screencasts can be successful.

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