How to capture screen action with CamStudio

CamStudio is one of the free screen capture software packages that allows to create a simple demo in no timel. After you download and install CamStudio, you will need one look only before you start recording the demo. The graphical interface of CamStudio is very intuitive and you won't get lost in it.

1. Before you start recording, you need to choose what the scope of your recording will be. To choose what to record, open the Region menu and select one of the available options: Region, Fixed Region or Full Screen. If you select Fixed Region, you can set its height and weight and its vertical and horizontal positioning.

2. Another step that you might want to perform before you start recording is to choose whether you will record audio as well or not. From the Options menu, remove the tick in front of Do Not Record Audio option, otherwise you will record a mute movie. If you decide to record audio, you can choose the audio input device - a microphone or speakers - and configure their options (again, they are accessible from the Options menu). If you are in a noisy environment you will hardly choose speakers because later even the most powerful audio processing software will be helpless to remove the noises from the recording.

3. Unlike most of the software you have used, CamStudio requires to select the output format before you start recording. The available formats are two - AVI and SWF and they can be chosen by pressing the Record to Flash / AVI button. If you need a Flash demo and forget to select it beforehand, do not worry - you can convert an AVI file to Flash later by choosing SWF Producer (Converts AVI to Flash) from the Tools menu.

4. Now you are ready to press the Record button or to choose the Record option from the File menu. If you have chosen to record a Fixed Region you will see a green placeholder which shows the coordinates of the area you are recording. The main window of CamStudio shows the number of frames you have recorded, the length of the movie, its dimensions, etc.

5. If you want to temporarily stop the recording, press the Pause button or from the File menu choose the Pause option. If you want to end the recording, press the Stop button (alternatively, you can select it from the File menu).

6. When you press the Stop button, the Save Avi File (or Save SWF file, if you have chosen to save the output as Flash) dialog appears. Type the name for the file and press OK. Now you can bravely preview your movie.

You might be a little bit disappointed but the tradeoff for the free CamStudio is that it does not offer any options for editing of recorded movies. You can change neither the sound, nor the video. There are only two players (one for AVI movies and one for Flash) that come with this free software. The only postproduction task you can perform with CamStudio is to add Screen Annotations and Video Annotations. You can configure what cursor (if any) to appear on screen and also what keyboard shortcuts for Record, Pause, and Stop to use and more or less the capabilities of CamStudio are up to here. If you need more features, you will have to consider purchasing a commercial package, like Camtasia Studio or Macromedia Captivate.